Counter Strike: Global Offensive

meyern: “I want to give my all to compete with an Argentinian team at big events; I’m going to chase that dream”

Ignacio “⁠meyern⁠” Meyer made his return to the servers last month with Furious, on loan from 9z, after taking break from competition in October 2020. The first event in his new endeavour was a success as he and his teammates qualified for the Aorus League regional finals with wins against the biggest teams in Argentina.

Following their victory, we sat down with the Argentine youngster to learn more about him joining forces with Furious, the reasoning behind his long break, how he sees his return and the different possible routes he could have taken when considering his options.

meyern believes Argentina has what it takes to put a team on the world scene

The 18-year-old, who lived two intense years abroad playing in Brazil, Europe and North America with teams like Isurus, Sharks and MIBR, has now set the goal of trying to get Argentina on the map by teaming up with Jonathan “⁠JonY BoY⁠” Muñoz and a trio of young up-and-coming players in the South American country. To understand how meyern got to where he is now, we revisited some of his past experiences and picked his brain on his current situation and what the future could bring in a burgeoning Counter-Strike scene in his native country.

Let’s start off by going back in time to your big break on the international scene, when you joined MIBR. What was that experience like?

When I joined MIBR in December 2019 we did OK at the beginning. We had close games against some of the best teams in the world and we bootcamped in February, practicing up to 11 hours a day against all of the top teams. I think we were fairly strong at the time, we were doing well in practice and we were pretty united as a group. We spent all of our time together, talking about the mistakes we had to fix and the things we did well.

Then the Major got cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. We were in California at the time and we lost the Flashpoint final, as well. After that, our results started to go downhill, we had a lot of meetings in which we talked about possible solutions and proposals regarding how to get better. Despite everything, it was a nice period. It was a beautiful experience to be able to play against the best teams in the world, alongside the best players in the world, and I really learned a lot.

I took away good things from everyone there and without a doubt it was a time in which I felt good about myself. I was playing all day and working on finding the best version that I could be, but in the end, they decided to cut me from the team. I had to accept the decision and I took it in stride, even staying at the gaming house a few extra days before flying back home.

During my time in MIBR I got to play on LAN with a bit of a crowd and I had the chance to bootcamp in Poland, which was also a great experience. To live and breathe Counter-Strike all day long was something amazing. Living with the team was also quite an experience. Waking up and walking down to your PC to sit next to FalleN, TACO, kNgV- and fer, people who know so much about the game and who are always giving you something new to think about, was a constant learning process.

Why weren’t you able to adapt to the team? Was it because of the roles in the server? Lack of experience? Something else?

I wasn’t able to fit in because I have a bit of a special personality, I don’t think I was contributing enough to the team at the time, inside or outside of the server. At first, I was playing okay, but I was playing new roles because they already had all of their fixed roles and I was the one who had to adapt. So in some ways, I wasn’t able to contribute enough with communication and other things, but I tried to give as much as I could and to learn as much as I could to get up to speed. I was never able to get on their level, and looking back, I just think it wasn’t my time. I was there to learn and become a better version of myself, but they needed something to work out faster. I tried to give as much as I could, but it just wasn’t my time yet.

Did you think that joining a struggling team at such a young age was a problem?

Being so young was one more setback. I was in a very beloved team with an incredibly huge following and I was feeling a lot of pressure. They were also already struggling before I came into the picture, it’s not like they were winning before I joined, and when we couldn’t turn it around I think it made them want to look elsewhere and try something new, which is something that I was the first person to understand and agree with.

Where was the pressure coming from? Was it self-imposed or was it external?

The pressure was mostly from within, I wanted to become the best possible version of myself, although I also felt the pressure of having such a huge following — there were so many people rooting for MIBR. The pressure was both internal and external.

meyern felt the pressure of standing among giants of the game during his time in MIBR

What was your biggest takeaway from that time?

I learned a lot while I was in MIBR, especially as a teammate, trying to make the person next to you better so that they can also be the best possible version of themselves. Striving to reach the highest level and trying to find perfection in the game. That’s something very crucial and I always seek it out now, perfection — even if such a thing doesn’t exist, you want to be as close to it as possible. The things I experienced during that time filled me up for the future, so I take it as something positive. Now I’m just trying to put to practice all of the things I learned back then.

You didn’t let much time elapse after leaving MIBR and you teamed up with 9z soon thereafter, albeit somewhat briefly. What happened there?

I joined 9z in July 2020. It was a different team than what I was used to, a lot of young guys but also experience on the side of bit and zakk. It was a team that I struggled to gel with at the beginning, but they were always there to help and did everything for me to fit in with the group. They’re a very good team with a solid future ahead of them. I’ll forever apologize to them, but it just wasn’t the right time for me to join a team, I wasn’t feeling well back then. I was a bit depressed, so to say, a bit tired of the game.

Nothing was the same when I returned [to Argentina] and I just didn’t have the same motivation as before. I tried to force myself to give as much as I could to the team and the organization, but in the end I hit a wall and realized that I needed to take some time to myself. It had nothing to do with them, quite the opposite, I got along with everyone and they had great energy. But the truth is that at that point staying on the team didn’t do anyone any good, so I decided to take some time off, get my affairs in order and hit the reset button.

Do you think the experiences you lived at such a young age, before joining 9z, were heavy on you?

I started playing when I was really young and I left home when I was 16. Having so many experiences at such a young age eventually made me hit a low point, emotionally, and I think that reaching the heights of playing with MIBR and it coming to such an abrupt end… In a certain way, it was great because of all of the things I learned, but in other ways, it hit me emotionally. Being so far from my family and not having a lot of contact with them for so long, it all played into me feeling a bit down. I left home at 16, first to Brazil with Isurus, then to Portugal and Texas with Sharks, and finally to California with MIBR.

meyern took some time to himself after almost two years abroad, a journey he started at 16

All in all, it was nearly two years away from home and it did affect me. I don’t think it would have been the same had I been living in Argentina, but on the other hand, I’m so happy that I was able to do all of those things at such a young age, and I know that all of it will help me in the present and in the future. Like any period, it had its ups and downs, some things were lost and others were gained, but now I’m ready to look forward and use what I have learned.

What did you do in your time off to get the flame burning again?

When I took a break from Counter-Strike, I set more time aside to be with my family and friends. I used my time to connect with them while also getting my own affairs in order. Although even then I still kept up to date with the game. I played with friends, I watched streams and tournaments, but it was all just a bit more relaxed. It was a time to figure out how to come back in the best possible way, both inside and outside of the server. It was a crucial break for me, after which I’m ready to start practicing seriously and playing tournaments again. More than ever, I’m ready to start striving and achieving new goals.

Did you have many offers while you were on the sidelines?

I had several offers from Europe and North America, I was very close to signing with a team based in North America. I was literally one step away from leaving, but I realized deep down that it wasn’t really what I wanted. What I wanted was to return with an Argentinian team.

I believe that my future is here and I want to give my all to compete with an Argentinian squad at big events. That’s my goal now, so I turned down international offers to start a new journey here, with that goal in mind. It’s my dream and I want to make it reality, I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen. Language barriers or leaving the country weren’t a big deal for me, I could have done it, but I truly believe an Argentinian team can make it, so I’m going to chase that dream.

You ended up making a return with Furious. What led you there? And can you tell me a little bit about the team itself?

One big takeaway from my early days was the importance of teamwork because tomorrow it won’t be you winning all by yourself, it will be with your team. Fruits are borne from hard work each and every day, with the whole team on the same page and having the same goals and dreams. I believe the most important part is group work, to get good chemistry and good energy going. I believe that the teams that become successful are the ones that are united. That’s something I feel with Furious. Even if we’re going slowly and step by step, I think we’re on the right track.

We just started out, but I’m sure we have everything we need to move forward. It’s a complicated time with the coronavirus pandemic still out there, which makes bootcamping and other things hard, but we’re going to do everything in our hands to give as much as each of us possibly can. I believe we’ll be able to achieve beautiful things with time, we just need to keep up our routine and the progress we’re making so that things will work out in our favor.

JonY BoY was one of the players meyern looked up to in his early days

Furious is made up of nacho, abizz and Owen$inhoM, three young players that may not be famous but that have huge potential. They’ve been playing together for a while now and the truth is that they have what it takes to make it, they’re very devoted to the game. They’re always trying to figure out their mistakes, working on becoming better players, and they’re very motivated. They may not have a lot of experience, but they’re getting better day by day and they also work on making the team a strong, cohesive unit.

On the other side there’s JonY BoY, who has been through a lot. When I started playing I was a huge fan of his, so being on a team with him now is incredible for me — I’m very happy that it worked out the way it did. We have a nice group going with our coach, Xiguinilster, and our analyst, Muse. We work well and I know that what we’re doing now, which we do to chase our dream, will be rewarded in the future. We have a lot of ambition and we put in the work to go with it.

You beat Isurus and 9z in your first outing, the Aorus League Season 2 Southern Cone qualifier. What was that win like for the team?

We only had two weeks of practice before the Aorus League Season 2 Southern Cone qualifier, but we won all of our matches, except one against 9z, and qualified for the event. We started ahead against 9z, but they came back and won 16-14. We had a good T side on Nuke, but our CT side wasn’t great and they punished us for it. After that, we beat Coscu Army, Isurus in the semi-finals and 9z in the final. It was a very good tournament for us, we were always fixing our mistakes and constantly improving after every match.

It’s incredible how every player is constantly trying to become better and the work they put towards doing it is amazing, it makes me very happy. When I came back to activity I told myself that I’d give my best in every single tournament we play and that I’d live every experience in the best possible way. Now we need to keep this up at every upcoming tournament.

You’re on loan with Furious until the end of the year but still under contract with 9z. How do you see the future playing out? Do you think you’ll stay in Argentina or is there a chance you’ll go to a bigger region?

I haven’t really thought long term, and it’s not something I’m very interested in doing just yet, but I can say that the chance of going international and living that experience again is always there, sure, the door is always open. But right now, more than anything, I want to concentrate on the present and focus on the experience of playing with Furious.

I’m happy playing in Argentina and I’m happy that this opportunity arose, and although it’s just a loan right now — which is something that has to be respected —, I’m just focused on being present and going all in with this team. I’m just playing as if every match with this team were the last one and giving as much of myself as I can in order to win everything we can.

It seems to be a good moment to be playing in Argentina, the region is currently in a period of growth, living through a golden age.

I’m very excited about the current state of the Argentinian Counter-Strike scene. It’s full of people that are really supporting the game and we have a huge fan base. We also have a lot of teams that are starting to make waves like Durany, River Plate, Isurus or 9z. I think if we keep going we’ll be able to reach a pretty high level. The Argentinian scene hasn’t always been very strong, but we should be proud of the way things are going at the moment.

I dream that one day be we’ll be recognized globally. Our next step is to qualify for bigger tournaments, as 9z did. They went on to beat none other than Vitality. That meant a lot to us, it made me so happy when they won. I worked with the 9z guys and seeing them win was a real pleasure. I’m going to keep working hard so that we can bring fans more joyous moments like that. I know that everyone is working hard for that to happen and it makes me very happy.

Counter-Strike is suffering in a lot of regions, but in Argentina we’re lucky to have guys like Luken, try, max… well, max is from Uruguay, but that’s a country that we fraternize with a lot. I think that having a lot of positive influences has helped the community grow. These days it’s huge, people don’t talk about it much, but there are a lot of people joining in and supporting the local scene.

Players like Luken are important pillars for the game’s growth in Argentina, meyern says

There are also a lot of very talented players appearing, players who have been working hard to carve out a place for themselves. This is something that has slowly been happening, it seems like it’s new, but I’ve been watching talented players in our amateur circuit for a while now. I think that hard work and consistency are really helping us become a bigger community.

Organizations like 9z, Isurus, Furious, they’re very big at our regional level, and in large part it’s thanks to them that more and more people are joining the scene every day. It’s almost impossible to say that we can be like Brazil, the cradle of Counter-Strike in South America — they’re at a very high level with a lot of great teams —, but it’s something we can try and mimic to reach similar heights. We need to keep supporting each other and treating each other with respect, in the end, we’re all chasing the same dream. If anyone from Argentina wins something, we should take it as a victory for all of us. We all need to be pushing in the same direction and I believe that we’re on the right path.

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Counter Strike: Global Offensive

GeT_RiGhT steps down from professional CS: “Shocking to say that I’m not going to compete anymore”

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.

GeT_RiGhT will cease competing as he wishes to pursue other opportunities

“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 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 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.

GeT_RiGhT was part of the iconic NiP roster that went 87-0 on LAN and won the 2014 Major in Cologne

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.”

GeT_RiGhT wishes he had the chance to have a proper farewell at a LAN event, preferably in Sweden

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.”

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