Both Mikail “Maikelele” Bill and Joona “Natu” Leppanen have announced that they’ll be leaving their current teams. That means two of the biggest names in European Counter-Strike are on the move, but their destinations are very different.
Bill’s announcement was hardly a surprise to fans of his now-former team, LGB Esports. The Norwegian side had recently begun playing with long-time veteran Preben “prb” Gammelsaeter in place of Bill. Rather than let the mystery linger, Bill took to Twitter to announce that he had been let go by the team.
The stated reason for the departure was the language barrier between Bill, who is Swedish, and his Norwegian teammates. It’s in some ways an ironic fate for Bill, who was removed from Swedish team Ninjas in Pyjamas earlier in the year in a very public fashion.
Bill was replaced by Finland’s Aleksi “Allu” Jalli. In that case, a squad actually took on a language barrier in order to move on from Bill; here, a team is citing just such a barrier as the reason they can no longer work with him.
Bill did promise that he would continue pursuing his career as a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, though where he will go from here remains to be seen. It was only a few months ago when he was widely considered the top performer at DreamHack Winter under the impressive Ninjas in Pyjamas banner, but times change quickly in competitive Counter-Strike.
For Leppanen, the move is one of his own choosing. Leppanen has been involved in the professional Counter-Strike scene for well over a decade. The peak of his competitive career may well have been 11 years ago when his Destination Skyline squad placed in the top four at CPL Summer 2004, one of the biggest Counter-Strike events of the year.
He has since transitioned into the role of veteran leader, and now has finally decided that his competitive career has run its course. Leppanen made his announcement on YouTube, and he did make clear that he’ll be remaining involved with the game even as he steps down from his role as a player with 3DMAX.
Leppanen has recently picked up casting duties at professional Counter-Strike tournaments, perhaps hinting at what his future may hold. A popular figure in the community, Leppanen might also be a strong choice for an ambassadorial role similar to those taken up of late by Spencer “Hiko” Martin and Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson in service to streaming platform Twitch.
Screengrab via NatuCSGO/YouTube