The Nordic Journeymen of CS:GO

A journeyman in the context of sports is one who is exceedingly reliable, to become the superstar or seek the spotlight, but rather looks to be in the grind, and act as the workhorse for a team’s momentum. Looking at CS:GO, we see that the vast majority of players don’t possess that innate ability, that spark to transform from an average player into a star. This doesn’t mean, however, that these players are suddenly journeymen. To become a journeyman you must have consistency and tenacity through those high pressure, gruelling five game series. One must posses an ability to play the raw fundamentals of the game to a tee, whilst being fully aware of your own individual skillset and never trying to over-extend past the well explored and familiar bounds of your own talent. So while there might be many players that are fully capable of explaining and executing every aspect of the basics of Counter-Strike, how well do these basics hold up in the grand finals of a major? When everything is on the line, and the team is in dire need of a frag to start the round, a simple 1v2 exchange to hold a site, or being the person to take the damage in a double peak.  A journeyman can’t be the focal point of the team, they can’t – like a vast number of players do – rely purely on aim talent and try to out headshot their opponents, rather they have to be much more cerebral and nuanced in their play. Rather than try to line up 3 fast-twitch one taps in consecutive fashion, a journeyman in favour of consistency will try and turn that situation into a series of 1v1’s to maximise his chance of winning the exchange. This is the art and creed of the journeymen: consistency no matter what, and from the grand finals of ESL One Cologne 2015, to the semi-finals of CEVO Season Pro 9 Finals, when it counts you will find a journeyman of some sorts that doesn’t necessarily get the recognition he deserves.

krimz

The most famous player that could be described as a journeyman of sorts is the master of positioning, and Swedish legend Freddy “Krimz” Johansson. Known for his fundamentally flawless mastery of the bare basics of counter-strike, Krimz is as Duncan ‘Thoorin’ Shields says “the model from which all players should learn”. However that is not to say he is the world beating superstar of his team, rather, since his time as one of, if not the best player in the world in late 2014 has taken a much less noticeable and showy position in his team. The most poignant example of Krimz’s journeyman mindset would be in the game that would cement Fnatic’s dynasty, the grand finals of ESL One: Cologne 2015. Whereas the two other stars of Fnatic during this era in both JW and Olofmesiter might’ve fallen away from their historically explosive and unpredictable play, Krimz never faltered, and most importantly never looked phased by being down eight match points. At this point when all hope had seemed lost and defeat was imminent, the true character of Krimz as a player shone through and a near perfect spray transfer combined with strong positioning would lead to three consecutive kills and completely turn the game around for his team. Krimz’s ability to hold CT positions no-one else wants, be the support player in a team full of superstars, master the basics of a mechanically complex game to perfection, and have the mental fortitude to be able to execute these basics in the most intense moments of his career makes him the most outstanding example of a journeyman in CS:GO history. Krimz’s tournament results alone makes it difficult to not call him the greatest journeymen of all time, but if we were to remove results from the equation a player who would definitely be in contention for the title would be Jacob “Pimp” Winneche.

pimp

Pimp is not a player that is well known for his ability to land headshots across the map, hold down entire sites on his own in epic fashion, or even for having a flamboyant and charismatic personality. Rather his traits lie in his never ending hustle for reliable fragging in game, and his refusal to give up or let his team lose faith outside it. Pimp has an undeniable tenacity to deal with the short end of roster politics, and most importantly an ability that is rarely found within the greater CS:GO community, let alone the Danish scene, an ability to buckle down, ignore the scoreboard and grind out rounds. He has showed this incredible willpower in two key series/games while playing for Team Dignitas over the last couple of months. Once in a Bo5 against Tempo Storm (now Immortals) at the CEVO Season 9 Pro Finals, and again at ELEAGUE in a Bo3 against CLG. In game 3 of their series against CLG in ELEAGUE, Pimp and his team were down a staggering 14-3, and all hoped seemed to be lost on the CT side of Overpass, but as journeyman, Pimp pulled his team back to a 15-14 situation. Although they ended up losing this game and the series to CLG. Pimp showed a characteristic that is often lost in the narrow scope of what we think makes a player great. Too often do we focus on the extremes of spray control and headshots, and can easily lose sight of a player who can find frags regardless of the score, place in the tournament and the team environment, this is the hallmark of a willpower fuelled journeyman, this is Pimp. What’s more this isn’t an isolated incident against. Another example is Dignitas’s game against Tempo Storm in a Bo5 at the CEVO Pro Finals, Pimp was the driving force behind the series close finish. Regularly finding frags, deep into games and series is something very few players can do, and most importantly do consistently. Pimp is a journeyman in every sense of the word: his playstyle, his ability to change team to team, game to game without losing any percentiles of consistency and most  importantly love of work in the server. 

In a game that glorifies the individual skill of its superstars, it can be easy to not only overlook, but completely disregard those that choose to accept and refine the intangibles of the game: tenacity, consistency, mental fortitude and a love of the raw basics. We call these players that choose to walk down this less trodden, but not necessarily less important path ‘journeyman’. The type of player to turn to when the team needs it the most, when the stars have fallen from their perch and they need a special type of person to remain an indomitable bedrock for the team to stage a comeback. These players are as rare as they are uncelebrated, and Krimz and Pimp remain perfect examples of these players known as journeymen.

Photo Credit: hltv.org

Written by Max Melit – @max_melit

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Max Melit

I write CS:GO and Overwatch content for Break the Game. Outside of writing, watching, and thinking about esports I listen to far too many podcasts, study full time as a student and watch my local Rugby Union side lose every Saturday.