It’s an ironic state of affairs that historically those who have lost direction look North to find their way back home. If Counter-Strike was the navigational compass by which sailors lost found their way home, then after 2018 – and a terrible start to 2019 – you go seemingly anywhere but North.
On the 27th of January, 2019, Jonas “whimp” Svendsen – the Director of Esports at North, made a tweet calling their performance at the minor “worthless” after being eliminated to massive underdogs, Vici Gaming. Considering the deterioration of the situation, where they went from being in the winner bracket finals, then losing best of three’s to Ence, Vitality, and Vici Gaming to be swept out of even the play-ins, the statement might be seen as a harsh reaction coming from such a central figure.
Their performance across 2018 could be described as tumultuous, with fans and pundits wondering where the potential might have gone. Having had their star player benched, and subsequently poached by OpTic – speculation being that Maelk, their Chief Director Gaming who defaulted to OpTic, being the one who facilitated that mood – North was still able to get their hands on Astralis’ major MVP – Kjaerbye.
This is not okay! A worthless showing of CS from start to finish, and I have never been more embarrassed in my life.
It will take a long time to recover from this, and we will have to question our approach from a to z.
Sorry to everyone who cheered for us! We deserve nothing!
— Jonas Svendsen (@whimpCS) January 27, 2019
Still, the North squad – infamous for being paid one of the largest salaries and being supported by one of the best infrastructures, having arguably the deepest talent pool to work with in Denmark – should have been able to rise back to a comfortable top five ranking. Having Kjaerbye and Valde, two of the biggest candidates for Astralis’ next round of roster changes, and MSL as a proven in-game leader, North should have come back up.
Results were shaky at best when North failed to do anything of substance at a premier event. And despite winning some tier-two LANs – Dreamhack Opens mostly – the embattled squad looks more unsure of itself as ever.
Yet, MSL was given a longer tenure. This seemed to pay off, when mere weeks before the Major, Dreamhack Masters Stockholm rolled around and it seemed like he had bolstered the entire North lineup by reinventing his own game as an AWPer. There were raised eyebrows and murmurs as North somehow managed to meet and beat Astralis twice in best of three’s to win the tournament.
Despite the wins against Astralis, North continued their downwards trajectory. When the London Major rolled around and the team finished 17th-19th – a slot so low that there wasn’t even any prize money dedicated to it – it proved there was some uncertainty. Their losses during the Major came against Hellraisers, Spirit, and Vega Squadron. All were considered underdogs.
Meanwhile, Casper “cadiaN” Møller was having success as the in-game leader of the North American squad Rogue – having almost bested the eventual champions Astralis in a best of one with a far inferior roster. A tantalizing prospect, one that North was quick to trade their own in-game leader for – a gambit in hopes of somehow managing to get some kind of success.
Despite their terrorist sides initially looking like they might have some added flair to them things did not improve with the addition of cadiaN. In fact, North limped past four LANs where they finished in the top four only once.