Today, April 27th, marks the 32nd birthday of Griffin Benger. Under the alias “shaGuar” this Canadian talent lit up Counter-Strike servers for seven years, finishing in the top four of all three of the major tournaments of his time (CPL, ESWC and WCG) as well as finally capturing the previously elusive and frustrating big title with his NoA team at CPL Winter 2004. shaGuar was known for his aggressive AWPing style and flamboyant personality, but also his interaction with the community, releasing demos and movies and writing articles which helped shape the competitive game.
shaGuar now operates under the alias “flush_entity”, referencing a message shown on screen in Counter-Strike when one is experiencing a very specific kind of internet problem, and has achieved success as a professional poker player. He can boast over $6,500,000 in online winnings and $3,888,000 in offline play. A large portion of the latter stack came as a result of his final table finish at the last World Series of Poker Main Event, where he placed seventh and took home $1,250,190.
When shaGuar began releasing frag movies the scene surrounding their creation was very much in its infancy and showed consistent growing pains. Very few well known players released enough POV demos, in an era when HLTV demos were far too poor to use effectively, for a full length frag movie to be created, nevermind participated in aiding their creation. shaGuar found a movie-maker to help make him a movie and actively took a role as producer, helping select the kills and dictating what music be used. This was a game changer in the frag movie world and shaGuar’s body of work stands out as some of the best examples within the genre, though highly varied in the level of quality.
Today we celebrate shaGuar’s birthday with a retrospective of his five frag movies.
[Note: the site seems to indiscriminately have issues embedding the videos at random, so if one isn’t working then refresh the page]
Name: Final Reality
In late March of 2003 shaGuar released his first of many collaborations with Sebastien ‘seb’ Poirier: final reality. Playful and yet packed with high level and previously unseen footage, including kills from private scrimmages, the movie helped further establish shaGuar as both a popular and skilled professional player. It also laid the basis for his movies featuring a nu-metal soundtrack, the vogue music of North American youth culture at the time.
Name: zEx at ESWC
October of 2003 brought shaGuar’s second movie, as he and seb celebrated his team’s successful runner-up finish at the Esports World Cup (ESWC) from the Summer. Limited by featuring only frags from a single offline tournament and being forced to use HLTV demo footage, the movie served its purpose but was not the same level of frag quality as other efforts.
Name: The fellowship of NoA
In late April of 2004 shaGuar and seb continued their collaboration with another movie celebrating team success, as they highlighted the first performances of NoA, playing at the CXG qualifier and finishing second at CPL Winter 2003, the latter in emphatic and unexpected fashion. While similar problems plagued the movie as the zEx movie, the editing saw a leap forwards in the techniques used and actual graphical level on display. With players like method in this team, there were also more impressive frags.
Name: Final Reality 2 trailer
March of 2006 saw a trailer released for the sequel to final reality, shaGuar’s personal frag movie series. At the time he was playing for Team3D and many were excited to see what a modern movie featuring him would look like, as his kill contributions to the much lauded ‘Ruination’ had been spectacular. Even more tantilising was the new collaboration, which saw shaGuar teaming up with the creator of the aforementioned movie, having also helped reflex secure some of the POV demos to create that movie. With one of the hottest movie-makers in the world and one of the most explosive AWPers working together, the world could but anticipate what might be possible, as the trailer showed some ridiculous shots in its two minutes of running time.
As it would happen, the full movie itself would never be released, abandoned and long thought forgotten entirely. A leaked but incomplete version would come out a number of years later.
Alas, your author could find no copy of the trailer online and the use of copyrighted music dissuades him from uploading it to a streaming service himself.
Name: NoA – The Two Continents
Editor: xenoq and ez!kel
When the celebrated movie studio Chillside decided to create this movie celebrating the NoA team, which had been gone for more than a year in that incarnation by its release, shaGuar played the role of “executive producer”, helping oversee some elements of its creation. It does not feel like a shaGuar movie or feature practically any of his fingerprints, so one is left to wonder to what degree he shared input with the creators.
Name: Final Reality 2 (leaked)
Out of nowhere, a copy of the incomplete final reality 2 appeared online and quickly spread around the internet. The leaked version clocked in at around 50-60% complete, still providing a highly enjoyable viewing experience. Even this much of what would have been, in his own words, shaGuar’s “Magnum opus” proves an incredible frag movie. The kills are absurdly high level, with his insistence of chopping and changing what made the cut a part of why the movie took so long to produce and was eventually abandoned. Again there is a lot of scrim footage and again it allows us to see kills and sequences never before seen and of a very high level. Even incomplete, it qualifies as one of the best frag movies ever created.
Your author can attest to shaGuar’s diligence in the creation of the movie, being in contact with him during its early period and hearing how much time he put into it and ensuring he constantly upgraded the weaker frag sequences which newer material he had recorded. Years later, having already disappeared from the gaming world, shaGuar sent me a more complete copy of the movie, perhaps 70% finished. As referenced in our interview last year, I sent him the more complete version, but I have left it to his discretion as to whether to upload it anywhere or not and he does not appear to have yet.
I conducted an almost two hour long interview with shaGuar regarding his careers in esports and poker last year:
Learn about shaGuar’s long and thrilling Counter-Strike career in this in-depth article.
Happy birthday, shaGuar!