To get a feeling of what it's like to be a rookie at a Major, we asked the ten players who are going into a Major for the very first time in Atlanta four questions.
The Majors have been the zenith of CS:GO since the first one was introduced in late 2013. Now, with hundreds of thousands of people watching and the best teams in the world in attendance, many of which have gone through a grueling qualifying process, the Majors have become a showcase for some of the best Counter-Strike ever played.
Rookies like Aleksi "allu" Jalli, who made the grand final on his first attempt with NiP, or Lincoln "fnx" Lau and Epitacio "TACO" de Melo, who took the trophy on their first go with Luminosity and then repeated on their sophomore attempt under the SK banner, have forged their fates at the Majors.
On the other side of the coin, a select group of French, Swedish, and Brazilian players who have won a Major more than once—including GODSENT’s trio of Markus "pronax" Wallsten, Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, and Jesper "JW" Wecksell, who have won it three times—will be amongst those fighting for the title of best players in the world in Atlanta.
|Patrik "Zero" Žúdel||18 years, 128 days||HellRaisers|
|Denis "electronic" Sharipov||18 years, 142 days||FlipSid3|
|Emil "Magisk" Reif||18 years, 323 days||North|
|Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran||20 years, 040 days||mousesports|
|Martin "STYKO" Styk||20 years, 334 days||HellRaisers|
|Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun||21 years, 159 days||fnatic|
|Bence "DeadFox" Böröcz||21 years, 341 days||HellRaisers|
|Abay "HObbit" Khasenov||22 years, 249 days||Gambit|
|Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson||23 years, 204 days||GODSENT|
|Christophe "SIXER" Xia||25 years, 276 days||EnVyUs|
The first question we asked concerned the qualifying process. What was their qualifying process like for this Major, and what had their past experiences in the Minor system been? Had there been decisive moments on their road to the Major?
We then asked them about their thoughts on the Major system as a whole, the nine Majors before the upcoming one, and how it feels to join the exclusive club of players who have competed at a Major.
Since most teams have had a long time to prepare for the ELEAGUE Major coming out of the off-season, we asked the players how they and their teams are getting ready for Atlanta and if they think putting in a lot of hours is crucial.
It took the core of this HellRaisers lineup several tries to finally make it. After having lost six maps that would have got them into a Major at different qualifiers, they were finally able to edge past Cloud9 in the very last match at the main qualifier in Atlanta to earn a spot at the ELEAGUE Major.
It was definitely a rollercoaster ride. We were up to 2-0 and then we started losing. When we were 2-2 I feel like everyone started thinking “what if we will not qualify after being so close, again?” But we just went all-in and did it. We had to qualify the hard way but I am glad we did—it gave us experience. The decisive moment for me was getting Johnta and DeadFox on the team, they changed our team dynamic and they both fit in great.
Now having qualified for one, Zero says a dream has come true.
Ever since I was 15, watching the Majors has been very emotional. Seeing people make history was very inspiring. I have always wondered if I would ever make it there, if I would ever manage to leave a mark in the game I have played for so long and have my name in it. This was just an unimaginable dream back then—now that I am here, I will strive for higher goals.
For some of the younger players, studying and playing at the same time can be a challenge.
We are playing as much as we can, the same as everyone else. For me it's more about the quality of the hours than the quantity. Having to balance school and practice these days is all about spending time efficiently, it isn't perfect for me but it's the best I can do as of right now.
But Zero, the youngest player in the fray, still hopes to become a Legend.
Having already fulfilled one of my dreams by getting here, my next goal is to reach the top 8 and become Legends.
electronic was one of the players who got signed for a team in the Legends pool, but that doesn't mean he didn't try and qualify for a Major before.
Of course, the game against Gambit at the very first CIS Minor in Minsk comes to mind. It was an incredible match-up—we played on Cobblestone for almost 3 hours. I even got a nosebleed afterwards. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that match.
At the Katowice Major qualifier we had two rough games. We lost a game against Cloud9 (12-16) because we lost too many silly rounds as T, which made us lose our pace.
Coming into the next game against dignitas, I knew that we had good chances to beat them on Nuke. The map veto went as we wanted it to and we had a good start, but a weak T-side led us to a second loss. We were in a pretty bad mood after that.
electronic does not want to tarnish the list of 206 players before him that have played at a Major.
Every tournament for me is a new challenge. I need to give it all, do my best for the team to win. I’m pretty sure every player dreams to get into the “Major’s club” and I’m no exception. Joining this “club” makes me want become the best (as always), or, at least, to not become a shame to this list of players.
While many of the players adhere to quality over quantity, that's not necessarily the case with electronic.
As of right now I spend all of my free time playing CS (that’s about 10-12 hours daily, training my aim a lot), and I feel that the practice isn’t in vain. Every player should be training for a tournament of that caliber with the maximum concentration. The team should be ready to face any kind of problem inside and outside of the game, that is why we are doing our best to find and fix problems. That is the only way we can surprise everyone.
electronic wants to play his best and not disappoint.
Foremost, I hope this Major won’t become a disappointment for my team. I just want to do my best. I believe that we can succeed and show some decent results in Atlanta.
Translated from Russian by Alexander "Lk-" Lemeshev
Not long ago, Magisk was still unsure of his chances of playing against the best. Now, the #14 player of 2016 will have a chance to prove himself on the biggest stage of CS:GO, a Major.
It’s really tough for up and coming teams to qualify for the Majors, so for me it was a really big chance to play with North since I already knew how good they were before I joined them. Getting the opportunity to join this team was probably the moment I knew we would have a great chance of qualifying for the next Major.
Playing ELEAGUE Season 1 was the tournament I realized that I could compete with the best players in the world and play on such a high level. Going into the ELEAGUE Major qualifier I was feeling very confident because we had showed some good high-level CS. To finally qualify was one of the best feelings I have ever had before.
As for many players, competing at a Major is a dream for Magisk.
Ever since I started playing CS:GO the Majors have always been the biggest tournaments and a tournament that I have always hoped to play in one day. I have watched every single Major, and watching those tournaments is special since you know that the best teams in the world are competing there to win.
Finally getting to play my first Major is really special for me, since it’s always been a dream to play in one. It’s by far one of the most important tournaments for me to compete at.
While Magisk thinks preparing properly with the team is most important, he will not spare on the quantity of time training.
I will bootcamp with the team, and we will be playing 10-12 Hours per day. I’ll also play FPL and DM after practice so I feel ready for this upcoming Major. I don't think playing as much as you can is the most important thing, but rather playing with the team and preparing properly is most important.
Once they're out of groups, Magisk hopes to go all the way.
I hope that we will at least get into the top 8, but anything can happen at this Major since every top team is there to compete. I do, however, think that if we manage to get out of the group stage we will have a great chance to beat any of the teams in a best-of-three.
I think our first goal at the ELEAGUE Major is a top 8 finish, but we also trust we can beat any of the teams at the Major and perhaps with a good tournament run even win it all.
loWel started out his career in Spain, which is usually synonymous with disappointment on the international plane.
Honestly, it was always very hard for me. The first time I almost made it was when I was 17 and playing for Wizards. Funny enough, we lost against my current team, mousesports, 16-14 on both maps if I recall correctly.
A little later I made it to a Cologne qualifier with OverGaming but it was too much for us and we got eliminated. Since I joined mouz I was confident that sooner or later we were going to make it, even if we had some bad results here and there, and indeed we finally made it.
loWel's dream is to play in front of a big audience, which if his team can make it to the playoffs, could come true at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
The last Majors have all been incredible, and I was really surprised at ESL One Cologne 2016. I was there doing some promotional work and I had time to watch a lot of matches and take in the atmosphere and it was amazing.
Being a part of a Major and being able to play at one is a dream come true for me. I hope I get to play in front of a huge crowd, this is what I have always wanted, and I think it’s a dream for any player—to play at a Major against the best players and teams in the world.
We prepared the same way we always do. We bootcamped in Germany for a week, tried to play as much as possible and prepared the maps as best we could. Honestly, I’ve never checked the number of hours I play and there’s no goal I want to reach. I think it affects every player differently. Some need many hours to stay at their peak while other may need less.
mousesports' objective will be to make it to the playoffs.
Our main objective is to end top 8 and become Legends for the next Major. It will be very hard, though, as every team there will be extremely prepared.
To be honest the biggest reason we qualified for this Major is our latest lineup change. We swapped out oskar for DeadFox and we started to work with our new coach Johnta.
That roster move made us strong and, more importantly, consistent. Consistency is key when you want to improve steadily. We rely on our teamplay and strategy more than ever before, too, another reason I think we finally made it to a Major.
For STYKO, failing at failing to qualify was more important than succeeding at qualifying.
I was always somehow involved with the Majors. I saw the 1st Major live in Jönköping at DHW 2013 after we failed to qualify in the BYOC tournament, which took place at the same venue as the Major.
Then I went to visit during the Katowice Major with some of the friends I played with at the time. I have watched all the Majors up until now, when I will finally get the chance to be a participant.
It is a weird feeling. After qualifying for the ELEAGUE Major I didn’t feel anything too special. For me it was like I was happier that I didn’t fail to qualify than that I qualified, if that makes sense. I had already been one map away from qualifying to a Major six or seven times and I didn’t want this to be one more disappointment.
But not everything that glitters is gold, as STYKO has been struck by a lack of enjoyment in the game.
We are preparing six days a week, eight hours a day, at least. On top of that I personally play 2 extra hours after team practice, individually, and a warmup session of 30 minutes before practice. I am trying to play as much as possible despite having exams. I am dealing with a weird problem that never happened to me before in CS which is that I do not enjoy the game. I do not like playing FPL, FACEIT, ESEA, or DM because I do not enjoy it. I feel bored.
I do not think it is lack of motivation because I reached a Major, I just cannot find a good grip and feel enjoyment. I thought that the Christmas holidays would help me get through this but it didn’t and I am now stuck playing 10 hours of CS per day while hardly enjoying it.
I don’t know how to fix it yet, but I am trying. Many hours could positively affect my performance, but having too many hours would hurt my play, I believe. I do not want to overplay and over prepare and feel exhausted during the Major itself. I am putting enough hours to learn and practice everything I might need in important matches and that is how I see effective training. Grinding 14 hours of CS per day is not for me.
History showed us that it is possible to be a rookie and win a Major. The thing is everyone is so equal in terms of skill and tactics that everyone at this Major can beat each other on any given day. I feel like experience will win this tournament, and we are lacking a lot of it. We are here to fight nonetheless, and my personal goal is to achieve a top 8 finish.
Being qualified for the next Major is something that saves you a lot of preparation time. You do not need to face teams at Minor qualifiers, Minors and then at the Major qualifier—which is always stacked with great teams.
I am not saying it is impossible to get three wins in the Swiss format in Atlantas, but it will be really hard and we have to be on point, winning our rounds and clutches to reach our goal.
The younger of the two Swedes in the list wants to erase his Minor blunders with Epsilon from memory.
I wouldn’t say that there were memorable moments since we [Epsilon] lost some hard matches at the DreamHack Tours Minor which we really shouldn’t have lost had we been more experienced.
disco doplan thinks he's lucky to have been spared the qualifying process.
To play a Major is, I think, one of the bigger achievements in CS:GO, and it feels kind of unreal. Personally, going from trying to place top 2 at a Minor for a chance at the Major qualifier to getting a “free” spot in a Major is just very lucky and I really hope I will perform as if I earned it.
And he subscribes to the idea that the number of hours played affects performance.
I will play as much I can, deathmatch more than I have before, and just try really get on-point. I’d say them minimum hours of playing is around six or seven hours per day. The number of hours you play definitely affects performance.
Finally, disco doplan wants to prove he belongs.
I hope to have the best event of my career and prove that I deserve to be there, and of course what everyone hopes for—to win the entire tournament.
With STYKO and Zero saying his addition to the team was one of the reasons they qualified for the Major, DeadFox is thankful he didn't have to be heartbroken six times like his teammates did to make it through.
I’m happy that we made it through because not a lot of players can say they made it this far. I know that my team had some struggles to qualify to the Major before and some of them had this opportunity twice in a row and couldn’t make it.
I think a decisive moment was when I finally wrote to ANGE1 and told him that I was ready to be, you know, be tested, and I’m glad they said yes in then end.
DeadFox went from 4th place at the first EU Minor to a Major in one year.
I watched all the events so far and I really liked every one of them. Back then I was just wondering if I will ever be that player who can make it to the Major, it was like a dream for me. Now that this dream became true, I don’t know if there is a limit because I wasn’t even close to being in a Major before. Back when I managed to get 4th place at a Minor, that was my closest to qualifying.
DeadFox is a warm-up before practice kind of guy.
We are going to play as much as we can to solve as many problems as possible. Personally, I’m not a player who needs to play 100+ hours to reach the best performance. I’m more of a warm-up before practices player than a play-a-lot-of-hours player. I never had some insane number of hours. Obviously it’s different for every player, and some need to play more.
HellRaisers will be shooting to become Legends in Atlanta.
I already reached my “first” dream if I can say it that way, but my second would be to reach top 8 and become Legends. So yeah, I would say making top 8.
Having not attended a Minor before, HObbit went from high school straight to the pros.
Actually, I haven’t even been to a Minor or Major qualifier :). I've always had bad luck in closed qualifiers. Ping was too high, the conditions were not good, some of the players in my team’s internet didn’t work… and I lost a lot of important games against cheaters in the closed qualifiers for the Minors. But I always tried to get through.
HObbit sees Majors as the CS:GO equivalent to football's Champions League.
A Major for me is like the Champions League in football. To be at the Major was my big dream. I’m very happy, and I’m already feeling the atmosphere. Every Major was great and I think this Major is gonna be the best!
Even on their day off, Gambit still try and talk about the game.
We are working a lot as a team and playing a lot of pracs. We only have one day off a week, but we still, even on our day off, try to talk about the game. Personally, I have devoted myself to the game and spending a lot of time in the game. I train for hours, watch a lot of demos, and read motivational books.
For HObbit, who won the MVP medal at DreamHack Winter 2016—his third international event—, everything is possible.
I hope we will make it to the playoff stage. This is our first goal, but I also hope that we will win. Everything is possible.
I think the biggest obstacles or tough periods in making it to the Major were the shuffles and the pressure and limited time we had after them, and that me and the team had to live up to every expectation in 2 or 3 days instead of working out our game plan and creating some structure.
It took us quite some time to get the pieces together, although they aren’t perfect yet. But with what we managed to learn and fix, the results at the ELEAGUE qualifier were what we had been playing for.
For Lekr0, attending a Major will have been his greatest achievement
I’ve always watched the Majors, time after time, and I think it’s the best and most prestigious event you can play in if you are—or want to become—a professional player. To be able to play in one of them is my biggest achievement.
GODSENT stayed home from WESG after feeling they needed time to fix a lot of things.
I think we have a lot of things we need to fix before the Major and I think my teammates feel the same way. We are going to go over our worst flaws on the maps we play, both on attack and defense, and try to improve that way.
Personally, I don’t really have a need to play above a crazy number of hours. I think the most important thing is that when I enter a DM session I should be able to feel like I do when I’m at my best.
If I don’t play or have that feeling when I play or practice, then I have to put in the extra hours. There are a lot of things you can practice but I think it’s best to practice what you feel you need the most.
Lekr0 expects a top 8 finish but hopes to win.
I’m expecting us to make it to the top 8, and I’m hoping we win :).
We started losing the two first matches and it seemed we weren’t going to do so well at the qualifier, since we were really close to being knocked out. After those two losses, the team discussed the situation and we all agreed that we just had to give everything we had since it’s not over until it’s over. Everyone wants to participate at a Major tournament and we didn’t give up until we qualified.
It’s my first CS:GO Major and I’m really excited to have made it to one. I’ve been really surprised and satisfied playing with EnVyUs.
SIXER needs to play to stay in shape.
We just got back from the WESG finals in China, and I don’t think we’ll be able to practice before the Major. I try to play every day five to eight hours, as I’m a player that needs to be playing constantly or I can’t keep my level of play up. Playing 90 hours in two weeks would be great for me.
Being a player who attended major tournaments in 1.6, and was even #13 in HLTV's top 20 of 2010, the term rookie applies a little bit differently to the 25-year-old.
Our goal is to play as a team, make it through the first stage, and go as far as possible in the tournament, of course.
I played a lot of tournaments in 1.6, but every once in a while I still feel like a rookie in CS:GO. It’s normal, though, I came back just over a year ago and have only been playing at a high level for four months out of that.
CS is so much bigger now... be it in viewers, the number of tournaments there is, the level of the teams attending, the amount of money being moved through salaries, prizes, etc. I did live through all of this before, but it was at a quite smaller scale than it is now—I think this is great.
Out of the 206 players to have participated at a Major, many have come and gone. Ten rookies will now have a chance to make history as they head to Atlanta to compete in CS:GO's tenth Major.