Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund bursts into laughter as I show him one picture from 2014. He is sitting on the floor of the ESL One Cologne Major stage, right next to the trophy that he just won, confetti all around him, his hands covering his eyes as he struggles to hold back tears. Almost seven years later, that image is still etched into the memory of countless Counter-Strike fans.
It is because of such iconic moments — and there were plenty of those throughout his playing career — that GeT_RiGhT is still to this day one of the most recognisable figures in all of esports, even though it’s been a long time since his prime years. Today, he officially walks off the stage as a professional player to move to streaming and content creation. It’s the end of a chapter, yet GeT_RiGhT refuses to use the word “retirement”, almost as if playing competitively is an itch he feels he’ll need to scratch at some point.
“I’m not going to say that I’m retiring, because you never know, one day I might feel the urge and the need to compete again,” he tells HLTV.org in a call. “But for the time being, I’m taking a break, and that break could be extended into retirement or not. Who knows? The future will tell.”
GeT_RiGhT says that he began thinking about the next stage of his career in 2016, when he was still competing at the highest level. The transition to a content creator role within Dignitas — the last organisation that he represented as a player — feels like a natural fit for him. “As years went by, I felt more interested in things other than just being a professional gamer,” he explains. “Those who are close to me know that I’m passionate about a lot of other things. That also means developing the scene and also my personal brand.” He says that he will play a variety of games on stream — “whatever I feel like playing because I’m not going to force myself to play a specific game for the viewers” — and not just VALORANT as many had been led to believe by the teaser released on December 26.
He hopes to capitalise on the popularity that he has gained ever since he emerged as a raw, teenage CS 1.6 sensation in 2007 in the highly-competitive Swedish scene, spending the next years on some of the country’s elite teams, most notably SK and fnatic. He lost out to Yegor “markeloff” Markelov and Filip “NEO” Kubski in the races for the title of the best player of 2010 and 2011, but he got on another level once CS:GO came around and played a central role as NiP created a dynasty during their incredible 87-0 LAN run. He was named the best player in 2013 and 2014, winning a Major title — that title in Cologne — in the latter year, at a time when many were already doubting him and his team.
The winds of change were already sweeping through the scene by the time the Cologne Major started. NiP were no longer the team that had dominated the field during the game’s infancy, and they had finished in second place at the previous two Majors following heart-breaking losses to fnatic in Jönköping and to Virtus.pro in Katowice. A blowout defeat to Epsilon in the group stage was followed by tales of doom, but the Ninjas managed to overcome their woes and beat Cloud9, LDLC and fnatic — all in three-map series and with nail-biting decider maps — en route to the title.
After posing for photographs, GeT_RiGhT sat on the floor, holding the trophy and hugging it to his chest, almost in disbelief. Moments later, the tears started rolling down.
“It felt like a big motherf****g relief, to be honest,” he recalls. “Doing it with such a great group of people, it meant the world to me. I still don’t have an answer [as to how I felt]. A lot of relief, a lot of happiness, a lot of sadness. It was a mixture of everything.
“We were coming off a bad period. I wouldn’t say we were a horrible team, but we weren’t performing at the level we used to. People started doubting us, and I think it was a bit too soon to do that, but I understand it. The scene was starting to make a big turn and a lot more teams were getting the opportunity to win tournaments. The Danish and the Polish guys were on the rise, fnatic was really good that year as well, there were a lot more stable teams and we were starting to slip up.
“It just felt like make or break for the team, at least that’s how I looked at it. It felt so meaningful and the most important victory of that team and that lineup. It was for all the years, through 1.6 and CS:GO, all the hard work, the dedication I had put in towards the teams and the game itself. I think that’s why I crashed on stage.”
NiP were unable to stay on that winning path and found success hard to come by in the years that followed, settling for second place at the following two Majors, DreamHack Winter 2014 and ESL One Katowice 2015. As for GeT_RiGhT, he began to fade somewhat into the background as players like Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, Marcelo “coldzera” David, Nicolai “device” Reedtz and Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski took center stage. He made his last appearance in an HLTV.Top 20 in 2016 at No.18.
As years went by, GeT_RiGhT’s health problems, some of which he has openly discussed, also started taking a heavy toll on his form. He suffers from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease, which on some days causes him excruciating pain. Maintaining a high level of performance at an elite level, with long practice hours and constant travel, under such conditions becomes a challenge in itself.
“Throughout my career, I’ve been battling different kinds of personal issues, like mental health states,” he says. “I’ve never been that honest about it, only to some extent, but not in a way that people could understand the whole picture.
“My personal life completely crashed for a couple of months in 2016. We were still competing, I had to travel around the world. I was in the hospital for a couple of weeks because of my stomach disease, I didn’t have a home for a couple of months, then I finally got the opportunity to buy an apartment. Things obviously got better with time, but everything started escalating around that time.”
GeT_RiGhT ended his long association with NiP in September 2019 after some rollercoaster years, and headed back into familiar territory just a few months later as he reunited with his old teammates under the banner of Dignitas, who were looking to make a grand re-entrance in the scene.
Things initially looked promising as Dignitas qualified for the Europe Minor, but their progress hit a stumbling block once the coronavirus pandemic hit and cancelled in-person events. To make matters worse, they were without Håkon “hallzerk” Fjærli for several weeks during Flashpoint 1 and had to field Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács as a stand-in. The team spent the months that followed the league trying to catch up to everyone, but without success. In September, GeT_RiGhT and Richard “Xizt” Landström were moved to the bench.
“It just felt like the right time, when Dignitas benched me,” he says of his decision to stop playing competitively. “On the spot I felt already that I was done as a professional player.
“It’s not really shocking news. I mean, it’s going to be shocking saying that I’m not going to be competing anymore. I think it was the right move because of my health and how I’ve felt for the past couple of years. It doesn’t help that I’ve had panic attacks, issues with my arm, neck and head. And also the stomach disease that I have, the ear issue…”
The video message that was shared today, he says, feels incomplete. Just like on that stage in Cologne seven years ago, he experienced a rush of emotions trying to express his feelings. “I knew after it was recorded that I had so much more to say,” he admits. “But at the same time, it was a beautiful moment and I almost start crying every time I look at it.” He would have liked to have had the chance to say his goodbye at a LAN event, especially one in Sweden, to repay the support shown to him over the years, even though he believes he would probably struggle to find the perfect words. “I already had it planned out in my head, what I was going to do, because I wanted to give back to the fans, I wanted to do it for them. A little bit for me too, because it needs to be a good ending chapter, I guess. These are my last 30 seconds in the spotlight in a way, and it would have been good to get out the message that I wanted. It would have been awesome to do it in a live tournament, but I’m lucky to have had such a great career in general, and I’m grateful for everyone that has always been there for me.”
GeT_RiGhT has spent half of his life living and breathing Counter-Strike. He is not only one of the most decorated players in the history of the franchise, with countless trophies, ten tournament MVP medals (joint third in the all-time list) and six consecutive appearances in the HLTV Top 20 across two games, but he also holds a reputation as one of the most beloved players. As he prepares to walk away from playing the game professionally, reality still hasn’t hit him. “I haven’t thought about how I’m going to feel,” he says.” For the last couple of months, I’ve been working towards this goal and getting ready for this next stage in my career. Maybe I’ll have the energy to actually read the comments because the last couple of years haven’t been that positive for my family, for my friends and for myself.”
In a trophy-laden career like GeT_RiGhT’s, it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing, but the victory in Cologne perfectly illustrates some of the many aspects that made him one of the game’s greats. Beyond the talent, he displayed a spirit of sacrifice to rise to the many challenges thrown his way — the doubts, the criticism, and above all, the never-ending health problems —, embracing the spirit of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which used to be his alternative nickname. “The song has stuck with me for so many years, it means so much to me, those three words,” he says. “Maybe other people see it differently, but for me, it makes complete sense because that means that you should never give up on your dreams. That has stuck with me.”
For all that he’s achieved, he is surprisingly coy when the conversation switches to his legacy. So I ask him instead about how he wants to be remembered.
“I want to be remembered as a guy who came from Sweden, from a scene where it was very tough to establish yourself as a professional,” he says. “As someone who was fighting for a dream that basically no-one believed in. I had a lot of people against me in the beginning because they thought I didn’t deserve the chance to be a professional player.
“I want people to remember me that way, that this is a person who gave everything for the game, for himself, for the fans. At the end of the day, I’m just lucky to have become a professional gamer. I want them to remember that this was a stubborn guy who never gave up, no matter what.”