When my organization made me aware that I had become the highest paid player in Counter-Strike (from prize money) and what a milestone it was, I felt proud.
Not because of the money, but because it is an undeniable sign that I’m on the right path, and that my choice to dedicate myself to this career has paid off, even more so experience wise than money wise.
My youth was nothing extraordinary. I went to school, played football, handball and video games, and delivered newspapers.
I guess I was about 9 years old when I first discovered Counter-Strike. That was Counter-Strike 1.6.
Many of the other professionals in CS:GO are former Source players but 1.6 was the superior game if you ask me.
Like many of those other guys, I was hooked onto the game through someone else. For me, it was my brother. He played it non-stop actually.
In fact, the only difference between us is that he eventually stopped playing. He probably could have been a pro player too if he was interested.
I was always pretty naturally talented at computer games. I could play anything and probably be the best out of my friends.
It’s funny because it’s the opposite now. Sometimes I’ll try playing something else and realize that I’m really bad now…
Counter-Strike was just the game that kept my interest the most. So when my time was limited in school, I started playing it almost exclusively.
It was in my high school years that I started making serious progress in my career. It was a pretty stressful time in my life because I was travelling to some events, which meant I got a lot of warnings about my attendance.
My mornings and evenings were spent catching up on homework and projects from school that I had missed while playing a tournament somewhere.
Esports was not the same back then. There certainly wasn’t any guarantee that CS:GO would become something that I could turn into a career!
I was probably making a couple of hundred dollars a month from the game, so school was definitely the priority.
In fact, things didn’t really get going with Counter-Strike until we signed with TSM back in 2015. We had been playing together for a while and even had some success in previous organizations, but TSM kind of pushed us to the next level in terms of salary and “fame”.
I remember once, my parents went out for dinner with some of their friends for whatever reason. One of their friends had a child who had told them about me. This was before all the money and fame.
The friends told my parents “Your son is a famous Counter-Strike player, didn’t you know?”
They knew I was playing the game a lot and going to some events, but they didn’t know how big the scene was and that there would be people who knew me from the game alone.
My parents were never really negative about the fact that I played video games a lot. All they cared about was school and my social life. If this was well, I could do basically anything I wanted. I think for them it was mainly surprising that I could make money from it, or have “fans”.
Honestly, I don’t think about the money a lot. It’s a great bonus, and the fact that we have been able to turn a hobby into a career is amazing, but it doesn’t really cross my mind when I’m at an event or playing a match.
Having fans is much more important to me. I will never get tired of signing autographs or taking a photo. Without the fans, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do, and their support probably means more to us than they even know.
A lot of people now refer to me as the best “support player” in the world. It’s strange because while I do appreciate the praise, it is sort of a weird label in the first place.
In each team, there must be certain roles, but everyone must carry their weight regardless of what their primary role is. If I am a support, then my job is to sacrifice myself, set up teammates, or do the job myself.
I’m there to make the team better. Is that so different from the other roles?
After the “support player” idea, I think most people probably know me for clutches.
It’s funny because it’s almost like there’s two sides of me – Andreas and Xyp9x. It’s not that my personality changes much, I’m pretty quiet both in and out of the game, but when I’m on the stage, I can find another level of focus that I can’t really access elsewhere.
I like to make the comparison to a rock climber that doesn’t have himself clipped to the rock with ropes. In that situation, they cannot just “try” to succeed, they just have to climb the rock or their life is in danger.
Counter-Strike is slightly less dangerous than that, but the principle applies.
“I have to win this duel”
“We have to win this round”
“We have to win this game”
I have experienced that at times in my personal life, but it’s most prevalent in my professional life.
It also helps me to keep my emotions under control. Sometimes I have a little celebration if I manage to do something really good, but usually, I’m quite reserved. The main feeling I get in those situations is relief… I’m relieved that I could help the team out of a bad situation.
You don’t get a lot of time to readjust in Counter-Strike – just 15 seconds between the rounds – so you have to keep your emotions under control. I don’t want to take time shouting and cheering to my teammates when gla1ve could use that time explaining our strategy for the next round.
We have experienced life at the top before this current run, and we have also experienced a fall from the top. Since then, it’s been our goal to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. You can really only get so far with talent. You need talent, but there is a ceiling to it.
Astralis is all about structure, and how we can help the team improve in any way.
There have been days where we’ve gone into a server and practised strategies more freely as a team, just to allow creativity and new ideas to form. We always have a clear objective with our practice even if it is to be innovative and come up with new stuff.
Similarly, I have personally become a lot better at allocating my time. You see a lot of teams go to event after event and never really appear as strong as they could be, and it’s because they are constantly moving.
Our approach is very methodical and analytical. To us, it’s about longevity and long-term success.
If we participated in every tournament out there, we wouldn’t have the time needed to reset, re-focus and prepare properly. What sense does it make to participate in 20 tournaments if you only win 4 because of mental and physical fatigue? I’d rather have us go to 10 and win 8.
Ultimately, what makes this career such a joy is all of our fans and getting to play on the biggest stages in front of them. But if we fail to even reach that point, because we drop out too soon, then we have failed.
Recently I went to see my friends in another part of Denmark for a few days and didn’t touch a computer or think about the game for the entire time. The realization that it was the longest break from the game I’d had in a while was quite funny.
But there was definitely another feeling too.
I was ready to get back to work.
Image Credits: RFRSH Entertainment and ESL