One of the most celebrated teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is back to fielding its full roster. But the move comes at the expense of a player who’s in the middle of a pretty extraordinary professional comeback. Are Ninjas in Pyjamas right to replace Mikail “Maikelele” Bill with Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi?
Yes and no.
It’s an absolute shame that Maikelele, a veteran of the scene, may be out as many as three months given how much he’s been contributed each time he’s competed with NiP. But at the same time, pyth deserves a second shot with the team after being sidelined with an injury, especially considering his form beforehand.
Sweden has always been a proverbial smörgåsbord of talent in Counter-Strike history, a consequence of the Nordic nation’s infatuation with the FPS title and its early foothold in the game’s competitive aspect.
In CS:GO this was most famously illustrated, in modern times at least, with LGB eSports’ early 2014 roster which contained four of the five players that currently make up Fnatic’s current roster. These players include Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansson, Dennis “dennis” Edman and Simon “twist” Eliasson. Those are names that today are part of even the most casual CS:GO fan’s vernacular, but only two years ago were fighting for the chance to be considered the best in Sweden.
Among that group of competitors was also, at one point, a fifth player known at the time as eksem. Today he is known as Maikelele. He enjoyed none of LGB’s eventual, and brief, success after being removed in February of 2014. But he did succeed in showing the world what he’s capable of when he was recruited by Sweden’s very own CS:GO dynasty, Ninjas in Pyjamas, on Nov. 4.
He was unceremoniously released by the organization just a few months later despite two straight final appearances at DreamHack Winter 2014 and MLG X-Games Aspen. But he recently competed at several tournaments with his former teammates after a hand injury knocked NiP’s fifth man pyth, out of commission.
And similarly to the first time Maikelele joined forces with the squad in 2014, NiP looked reinvigorated at the StarLadder StarSeries Season 2 LAN finals, as the team earned its second tournament victory of 2016.
Naturally this caused almost immediate speculation on whether Maikelele would remain on the roster even after pyth’s eventual recovery, which ultimately didn’t end up being the case. The fluidity in which Maikelele adapted to the team’s strategies nearly two years after he last played with the squad seemed to indicate that his style of play, which some see to be too flashy—aggressive and risk-taking at times but also inconsistent—can similarly give NiP an edge over most competition.
Granted, all of this paints Maikelele up as a perfect teammate, something which at several times throughout his career has proven to not be the case. It also reads as if Maikelele is a superior player in regards to pyth, which is not the case since pyth has consistently proven to be one of the team’s top players overall. A position the 23-year old has worked hard to reach and has rightfully earned.
People rarely stay the same, however. In an interview published just today, Maikelele told SlingShotEsports that he attributes some of his hardships to “a lot of bad luck, but you are making your own bad luck.”
Likewise in an interview at the StarLadder StarSeries Season 2 LAN finals in September, Maikelele was asked to describe if he felt different about competing with the same four players again. He responded that he was much calmer during matches, and had found the ability to take things easier when in-game. His statement was backed up by NiP’s franchise player Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund in a separate interview with HLTV:
“He’s grown… so much that I’m impressed by him, sometimes I remember when we played with him before that he stressed a lot, which affected me when I played, and now he’s the guy actually calming people down when it’s getting stressful ingame, which makes me calmer.”
This isn’t to say that Maikelele belongs in NiP more than pyth. But with the top teams and talent in Sweden locked in place until the next major, odds are that Maikelele will be relegated to the sidelines until then.
And we all know that a few months in esports is a long, long time.