When the news was announced that a combination of Sweden's best CS:S and 1.6 players would be coming announced for CS:GO it wasn't seen as that much of a surprise, even if some did want to put their heads in the sand and pretend it wasn't happening.
When they revealed their tag however, there was uproar. Taking one of the most revered team names in 1.6 and using it for a CS:GO team? Well, it wouldn't even matter that the team comprised of players who represent some of the best to have ever pounded the sand of de_dust2...
Still, it's not as if the team doesn't have some connection to the great past of both games. With Emil "HeatoN" Christensen resuming managerial duties for the first time since CGS, Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg considered the greatest 1.6 player of all time and of course Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson, one of the great Swedish CS:S players who also did his spell in CGS, the team has real pedigree.
We spoke with Robin about the furore, the feelings and the future of the team.
I guess first things first, what made you all decide to resurrect the NiP name given the history behind it?
Well, I really didn't know anything about it until we flew over for the photo shoot with the new team. We were all under the impression that we would be Heat-Gaming until we went to lunch with HeatoN and he told us that they are reviving the NiP name as a start of a new era of counter-strike. Some people might think that it was a shame to bring NiP back given the huge amount of success the organisation had back in the days. But we created this team for one purpose and that is to win. I feel that we have a great variety of players coming from both 1.6 and Source, and we will do everything that we can do make justice of the chance that we have been given with the NiP tag.
Some of the 1.6 community might think it's been done to "bait" or aggrevate them into a response, while I'm sure others don't care. Were you worried about taking a name with such 1.6 history given the way the community reacts to anyone who plays any other iteration of Counter-Strike besides 1.6?
Given the fact that I've been playing Source since 2005 I've gotten quite used to dealing with the 1.6 community. I know that they are just trying to protect the game that they love, something that I have been doing with Source as well, but I am more open minded to other games. I feel that everyone have the right to play the game of their choice. Same goes for CS:GO, we are not trying to force or aggravate anyone into playing CS:GO. We are just trying to bring new light to the tunnel. And for us, that is to play CS:GO. A game that all 5 of us really enjoy playing. It has never been about money, we love counter-strike as a whole. and we want Counter-Strike to succeed in e-sports just like everyone else that's a fan or a player themselves. I love the 1,6 community for the amount of love they share towards a game. I just hope that they come to realize that it's still Counter-Strike we're playing, just an updated version and that they bring that love and passion over for a new fresh start of something new.
It's not just been the 1.6 community that have been venemous though... Even some of the CS:S players have talked badly about some of the players slotting alongside the likes of GeT_RiGhT and f0rest. The attacks on your chum Friberg have been particularly heavy going. Why do you think that is and do you think that any of it is justified?
There will always be haters out there. There is really nothing you can do about that. They exist in every single sport out there. It's just something that you learn to deal with after a while. I am sure that nobody out there likes to get mean comments directed towards them. As for friberg, I really don't think any of the flame is justified. I've known friberg for over 4 years, he's one of the nicest guys I've ever had a pleasure to meet. I've always lived with him for almost 2 years now, we share the same computer room and I sit beside him on a daily basis. He's one of the best aimers we've had in the Swedish source scene. People might not agree with me because of the lack of results from LAN tournament. But one player does not make a team. Everyone who plays competitively should know this by now. And honestly, I am sure that a lot of people out there just wants a chance to play with the best. friberg has been given that chance and I hope that people get motivated to keep playing to improve themselves in the game. Because one day, they might be given the same opportunity and I doubt that there is anybody out there that wouldn't go for it if the chance was given to them.
So, how long have you all known each other? Did it come together all of a sudden or has it been the plan to make a CS:GO team together for a while?
The first time I met GeT_RiGhT and f0rest was at the latest Copenhagen games. It's been planned for a while though. Heat-Gaming really wanted to form a team with both 1.6 and Source players for CS:GO so they approached GeT_RiGhT because he really wanted to play CS:GO and f0rest was also interested so I'm guessing that they were looking into which 2 players from the source scene they would want to play with, and here we are!
Can you shed any light on why the team didn't end up part of SK Gaming?
We just felt that NiP is a better fit for us. We all know HeatoN and fiskoo from before, and both GeT_RiGhT and f0rest have worked with budak in SK so we all felt that it's the perfect fit.
Most people would presume NiP was just a name... What can you tell us about the backing the team will receive?
We will be announcing our sponsors within the upcoming weeks. I can't tell you too much about them as of yet. But the obvious ones would of course be Heat-Gaming and also Inferno online. More to come!
What is HeatoN's involvement with the team? What contribution will he be making?
HeatoN has a day to day involvement with the players of the team, making sure that we put down the necessary hours to succeed. he's also very involved when it comes to our upcoming tournament and online games. HeatoN along side Fiskoo are also in charge of our sponsors, making sure that NiP as an organisation is up to par when it comes to making our sponsors happy, as well as making the players happy, they manage everything related to "back office" stuff. He will also step in as a party planner for some of our events if needed and will also be there in case we need something extra before an important game.
OK, let's talk about the game... You're all entering something new. How have the 1.6 players and CS:S players found the game and who, if anyone, is finding it easier to adapt?
I think that we are both adapting in different ways. Since it's being played on the Source engine me and friberg are used to that. As well as the maps, 1.6 maps are very clean, not a lot of "crap" on them. whereas you have Source maps with a lot of "crap" on them. So in that way it's easier for us to adapt to the maps and the engine. But as of the latest update, they have made things to have a bit more 1.6 feeling, the way you throw nades etc. So of course they will have it easier to adapt in that sense. And of course, when it comes to weapon control, we are all adapting at the same speed. It's a new game for all of us.
And what are your personal feelings about the new game? In terms of it being a competitive FPS do you think it's ready and do you think it can win over both communities as it is at the moment?
I think that it's improved a lot! The latest update really fixed a lot of issues. I think that the one thing valve really needs to work on though is a better way to spectate games. At the moment for the people who haven't played the game yet can only really view streams, and it's still a bit bugged when you spectate someone else, in regards to recoil etc. I am really hoping that the CS:GO TV will be something new and unique. I've heard that the dota 2 spectate option is very solid, maybe that's something for them to look into implementing for CS:GO.
What do you think will be the biggest stumbling blocks for people accepting the game?
I think that people just need to learn how to be open-minded. It's a new game, it will not be exactly like 1.6 or Source. Games develop, engines develop. Just give it some time, I understand that it's hard for people to go over to a game and "start over" But it's the same for everybody! You are not alone in playing a new game. We are all doing it, and for us in NiP at least, we are enjoying every minute of it!
With CS:GO getting picked up by events left right and centre are you worried that it might be a case of history repeating itself? We saw the WCG pick up Source in 2005 before it was ready for big competitions...
I think this time around it's a lot different. Back in 2005 when Valve released Source it was no where near ready. There were so many bugs and the game just did not measure up at all. I've been playing CS:GO for a few months now, and I can tell you that they have really learned their lesson in regards to releasing a game way too soon. And back in 2005 the 1.6 scene was still going strong. A lot stronger then what it is at the moment. If you compare Source back in 2005 and CS:GO right now, you wouldn't even think that it's the same company who made the game. Everyone makes mistakes, valve just took a bit too long to sort out all of the issues source had, if they have acted a lot sooner then I think we would have seen a lot stronger Source scene then what we've had along the years. History will not repeat itself.
Do you think Streaming needs to hit CS:GO in the same way it has other games for it to be successful?
I think that it is really needed for it to succeed yes. But the thing is that CS in general is really lacking really good commentators. We still have some left. Like Joe miller and on an occasion Redeye ( Best commentator that's ever commentated CS ), I think that the streaming side of CS really needs to grow a lot. Just look at LoL, Dota 2 or SC2, they have such dedicated Shout casters that live for the game that they stream.. it really makes a big difference to watch a game with a good commentator than to watch a game with a mediocre commentator.. I really hope that this will improve in CS:GO. So for all the shout casters out there, keep going! WE NEED YOU!
Finally, What events will you be competing at and what are the immediate plans for the future?
Well we will try to attend everything that's worth attending. We will be attending DHW and also ESWC. We'll see what the future holds for CS:GO. But you will for sure see NiP at a lot of events!