The Little Danish Engine That Couldn't: Jacob "Pimp" Winneche
As a community, we're naturally drawn to those who demand our attention. The superstars; the ones who can be defined not only by their own impossible highlight clips but also by a hypnotic ability that makes spectators believe that in an instant, regardless of even the very mechanics of the game itself - anything can happen. They can carry this hypnosis into the server and leave their opposition contorting their playstyle to preemptively react - changing, in fear of knowing what just one player can do.
However, it's easy to romanticize over these players who reside on a veritable pantheon; their status as superstars is already cemented in the annals of time. Their position amongst the community is already so set, that written praise only contributes to an echo chamber of the same message in different prose. As such, these players, and their stories of heroism, greatness and victory, dominate our screens with an unparalleled hegemony.
What about those whose place amongst the greats is not yet set in stone, and will likely never be? What about the players who vied for the highest of highs and worked within the confines of their natural talent pool to the highest degree, but in the end, came up short? What about the ones who, through no direct fault of their own, will have a legacy defined by promised potential rather than defined results?
For these players, their trials and tribulations largely go untold - their journey is just a footnote in the chapters of others. In general, this is for good reason, mediocrity doesn't inspire clicks and nor should it; but on occasion, a players resume bares only a fragment of his story and his skillset. One of those exceptions is Jacob "Pimp" Winneche, and his archetypal placement, at least in the present, as the little Danish engine that just couldn't.
When Wolves Ruled Denmark
If Counter Strike: Global Offensive as a game suddenly stopped and no tournaments were ever played past the end of 2013, then Pimp would surely go down as one of the most promising and storied riflers Denmark has produced. Originally starting out as an AWPer in 2012, Pimp was forced onto the rifle after Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen joined the soon-to-become Western Wolves roster in December of 2012. This Western Wolves roster of Pimp, Nico, Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, and Nichlas "Nille" Busk is considered to be one of the greatest (and in my opinion most underappreciated) Danish rosters of all time. Before Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen and company, burst onto the international circuit with a run of consistency in 2014 as Team Dignitas, Western Wolves had represented the apex of Danish CS:GO dominance.
Although they never could best the indomitable Ninjas in Pyjamas, that Western Wolves lineup bought a high-level tactical aptitude at a fertile time when tactics where ousted in favour of raw talent. Playing under a strict system of set executes and hard mid-round reads, all masterminded by their leader gla1ve, Pimp flourished. Functioning as the rifling star to support Nico's AWPing prowess, the two worked in tandem as the firepower to regularly dismantle the other best teams at the time - a VeryGames who were struggling to integrate Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, and the Danish iteration of Fnatic (Friis, trace, Xyp9x). They boasted a second place finish at one of the most stacked events of the year - Copenhagen Games 2013, top two and three at Mad Catz Vienna and Birmingham respectively and top-eight at DreamHack Summer where they dominated NiP in the most convincing fashion out of any team in the history of the Swedes lineup on NiP's home map - Nuke.
On occasion, a players resume bares only a fragment of his story and his skillset
The Western Wolves were an undisputed top-three team in the world, even at times nudging their way into the second spot behind NiP. From this sample size and international tournament resume alone, Pimp had a foundation to launch a career built around being a core rifler on the best teams Denmark had to offer, and become a mainstay on rosters for consistent play. Furthermore, the youth of the CS:GO scene meant that experience and a strong resume of finishes could really carry a player far. If Pimp had the right players around him, the world was at his feet.
You Can't Sit at Our Table
As Western Wolves disbanded in late 2013, there was a void left in the top end of the Danish scene. A slew of players started scrambling to create another top roster from Denmark that could replicate the success that Pimp and company had. Fetish's Copenhagen Wolves team looked to be quickly rising to meet that watermark, with a stacked lineup that had legendary 1.6 and CS:GO AWPer Michael "Friis" Jørgensen, rising stars Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann and Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz, and an already decorated Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth rounding out the roster.
Although Pimp was in the conversation as one of the best riflers in Denmark, and seemed to have an easy-going personality in a scene infamous for its emotions and politics, he was left on the outside looking in. Even when Dev1ce had to step down from this Copenhagen Wolves roster, and Pimp was called up to replace him, the change of tactical systems from gla1ve to Fetish was too much for the youngster to perform, and when Dev1ce could once again play, Pimp was once again left out in the dust.
Fetish went on to acquire one of Pimp's former teammates - René "cajunb" Borg - and then join the Dignitas organisation to become a top-four team in the world and receive international acclaim. Pimp's time at the top was short-lived; his skill ceiling reached but never with any consistency to make him a great player. After being replaced by Dev1ce, Pimp played with anyone and everyone who could prove themselves as a potential tier one Danish talent. There were countless lineup changes, multiple organisation swaps, and almost nothing to show for it. Once heralded LAN stats were marred by multiple disappointingly expected last place exits with teams of equally disappointing stature.
While Dupreeh and Dev1ce were heralded as the rising duo to potentially surpass Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund's infamous pairing, Pimp was struggling to keep his Copenhagen Wolves teammates together and qualify for LANs. Pimp's turmoil in 2014 is evidence enough that simply being the main protagonist of your own story does not breed success. The hero can fall, the underdog can lose, and just because Pimp can say, "I think I can, I think I can," doesn't mean that he will.
There Can be More than Just One
As the New Year of 2015 saw Dignitas part ways with the now well known roster of Xyp9x, Cajunb, Karrigan, Dupreeh and Dev1ce, (with that lineup joining Team SoloMid), opportunity arose for the tossed aside Pimp. The Dignitas organisation picked up his roster (the second best in Denmark at the time), and Pimp now had a stable organisational backing to support the familiar looking roster of Philip "aizy" Aistrup, Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, Nico, MSL (who replaced Fetish soon after the org switch) and himself. Pimp's new team wouldn't become world-beaters, as they wouldn't win an international LAN, and would also greatly struggle to qualify for majors. But just as in all our stories, for the scope of Pimp, success is relative.
With a similar set-up to his Western Wolves days, Pimp finally found a roster that had not only consistency, but also a real potential to run as a dark horse in tournaments. Just like Western Wolves that saw Nico as their star, Aizy would be the brightest light on Dignitas, and just like in 2013, Pimp would be the consistent, high-performing base that allowed his teammate to shine. Also working under another tactical system - that of MSL rather than gla1ve - meant that Pimp would be given a familiar environment to do the job he is best at, in the most comfortable way possible. With this favourable set-up Pimp's Dignitas managed to consistently stay in the top-10, beating the likes of Flipsid3 (with Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev), Na`Vi, and Titan in best-of-three series on LAN. They could even take single maps off some of the best teams in the world at the time, like EnVyUs, Na`Vi, and TSM, and regularly beat out dangerous contenders looking to enter the top-10.
The Curse of the Big Green
Considering the tumultuous nature of 2014, and just how far Pimp had fallen, this life at the bottom end of the top-10 was something that he could be content with. However, this stability that Pimp had been craving for so long was being put in jeopardy by a string of failed qualifiers. Rather than passively letting this Dignitas roster fade into obscurity, like many of Pimp's other roster, the core members of the side made the drastic roster change of removing their primary AWPer Nico. Rifler Jesper "tenzki" Mikalski would later join after a failed stint with Swedish veteran Andreas "znajder" Lindberg, which left the overall team with five fairly strong players, but a massive hole in their game - no primary AWPer. Taking action meant that Pimp was no longer a victim of fate, but rather of his own ability to play in a greatly unfavourable position.
Just because Pimp can say I think I can, I think I can doesn't mean that he will.
Although Pimp had started out his CS:GO career as a sniper, it had been years since he needed to fill that position, and it showed. With rifles, Pimp could at his worst bring a passive consistency and at his best a position dominated prowess, but with the AWP, he was a completely different player. Easily beaten in duels by more experienced snipers, thus being pushed more into a utility role, Pimp's numbers and impact for his team plummeted. The once famed intangibles of consistency and tenacity that he had built a career from, failed to break through in a sea of red statistics.
To make matters worse, as Pimp's impact tanked, Aizy's individual game flourished, making not only the prospect of Aizy leaving Dignitas a reality, but also highlighted Pimp as the most proven weak link. So on the same day as Aizy went on to bigger and better things, joining one of the most popular names in gaming - FaZe, Pimp, through failing to play at a position he was never engineered for as a player, was kicked to join a team on an even greater downwards trajectory than Dignitas - SK Gaming.
The Little Engine that Couldn't
With SK Gaming, Pimp made the best out of a bad scenario. Fortunately back on rifling duties, his team of raw and unproven talent managed to admirably place second at CEVO Season 9 Finals, most notably over his former teammates Dignitas, with Pimp working alongside another rising Danish star in Emil "Magiskb0Y" Reif to secure the silver medal. Exceedingly under average performances in tier two or three European qualifiers put Pimp back down at the lowest level of his career.
However, just because his team helped form the detritus of European competition didn't mean that Pimp's individual level had taken such a massive fall from grace. Still posting the consistency that we'd come to expect from Denmark's most resistant rifler, just on a more scaled down level, he was still more than capable of outclassing opposition. Furthermore, as a part of SK, he cemented himself as a player capable of working through any emotional or mental barriers, reguarly carrying his team over the line with a tenacity and sheer will that few can match.
While SK Gaming was in a rough spot, across the pond in North America, Team Liquid was in more dire straits. With a lineup that couldn't rely on the Ukranian prodigy s1mple, they required a consistent rifling base to allow stars Josh "jdm64" Marzano, Spencer "Hiko" Martin, and Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella to make individual plays. As such, there was no one more available or more suited to join the Liquid roster to make a drastic career change outside of Pimp. Although the initial shock of seeing a Danish flag among a sea of stars and stripes took a while to surpass, Pimp's transition to Liquid has been relatively smooth, with the Dane posting solid numbers in online American play, and being reliable enough in their LAN matches.
However, he still doesn't have any big results to show for it. Sure, a top-four at ESL One New York is something that can't be snuffed at, but overall the Pimp to Liquid move has been anything but impressive, and everything to do with mediocrity. While Pimp has been in North America, once again his former team ascended without him. Dignitas, with his long-time in-game-leader MSL, and former teammates Magiskb0y, and Cajunb, became not only the best team in Denmark, but a top-three team in the world - in a tactical fashion similar to Western Wolves reign in 2013. Considering the financial backing of his team, If Liquid can’t materialise any results in the coming months, Pimp could once again be cast out into the wild of Danish or American uncertainty, an environment all too familiar, yet grossly uncomfortable, for such a veteran of the game.
So Pimp, the little Danish engine who couldn't, is once again left on the outside looking in. Whether it be watching TSM/Astralis with the Karrigan, Device, Dupreeh and Xyp9x core, or Dignitas with the MSL, RUBINO, K0nfig, and Cajunb core, Pimp has been on the sideline as every Danish side since 2013 has risen to the top without him; this is in spite of a resume, skill set, intangible attitude, and proven ceiling that few can match.
Although his career is one that cannot be defined by success, after looking at the countless hurdles, big and small, failed and completed, you have to at the very least make his story one of heart and tenacity. He is the player who's road to the present is paved in a persistence through failures rather than an ostentatious glow of victory. While this path might not be as glorified as the latter, it is still one that should be looked over with a respectful and studious eye as to what the other side of trying to enter the top percentile of a craft can yield.
What are your thoughts on Pimp's career? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Written by Max Melit - who has the "little Australian engine that couldn't" of Twitter accounts, which you can find here (@max_melit).
Business email is firstname.lastname@example.org.