jkaem: "Renegades without a doubt saved my career; I am very glad for the opportunity they gave me"

Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad talks about his return to the top after a tumultuous personal period as he prepares to compete in the playoffs of a Major for the first time in almost four years.

"Let’s do that interview if we reach top eight," jkaem wrote to me before the start of the New Legends Stage. "That way there will be more hype."

Suddenly, I found myself cheering for 'The Boys'. After all, interviews with the Norwegian player have been quite a rare occurrence these days. Plenty of messages went back and forth month before we finally managed to chat to discuss his rise from the ashes in a new region with Renegades.

jkaem had publicly revealed in the summer of 2017 that he had been battling depression for over a year, which in part stemmed from his weight gain and struggles to play to the best of his abilities. Once touted as one of the game’s most promising players after helping G2 to a top-four finish at the DreamHack Open-Cluj Napoca 2015 Major, the Norwegian was far below his prolific peak while playing under FaZe, which led to his benching in September 2016 and ultimately to his departure, six months later.

jkaem is enjoying his best run of form since the G2 days

Many believed that a move to Dignitas alongside three former teammates of his would reignite the fire, but that project went up in smoke after just a few months and two LAN appearances - at the Europe Minor and at the offline qualifier leading to PGL Major Krakow -, leaving the Norwegian contemplating retirement before Renegades eventually came knocking.

"The truth is that I was very close to quitting and leaving the dream of coming back to the top behind me," jkaem tells HLTV.org. "So I was very happy when they reached out to me.

"My mindset was that I had nothing to lose, so I wanted to play my game and hope for the best. It was supposed to be for just three months, so I did not really have big expectations. I just wanted to prove that I still had what it takes to play at the top."

jkaem quickly found his way in Renegades, and what was supposed to be a temporary fix turned into a permanent solution. "I think one of the key factors is that I am living in North America and there is nothing from the outside that makes me lose my focus," he says. Away from the distractions that had halted his progress back home, the Norwegian found himself enjoying the game once again, even if results were not always encouraging: in his first six months with Renegades, only twice did the team make it out the groups at Big Events, while the sole title that they claimed came at the rather underwhelming Asia Minor.

Before the end of the year, Renegades opted to revamp what had become a stale roster and found upgrades to Karlo "USTILO" Pivac and Noah "Nifty" Francis in Jay "Liazz" Tregillgas and Sean "Gratisfaction" Kaiwai while bringing back coach Aleksandar "kassad" Trifunović. The two new players had very little international experience yet made an instant impact, helping the team to a top-four finish at Toyota Masters Bangkok and to a playoff appearance at the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals - very encouraging signs ahead of the qualifying process for IEM Katowice.

"2018 was a bumpy road, we had some very bad results and some results with which we were happy," jkaem says. "The top six in Odense was a good way to end the year.

"Our goal is to become a consistent team, one that almost always makes the playoffs, and then keep climbing from there.

"We have all the right pieces, so I think it is very doable."

Renegades began 2019 by defending their Asia Minor title, albeit not without some hiccups along the way as they dropped maps to ViCi and Grayhound. But when the going got tough, the team found a higher gear, cruising through the New Challengers Stage 3-0 and coming out of the New Legends Stage with only one defeat to their name - against the tournament’s red-hot favourites, Astralis.

'The Boys' will be facing MIBR for a semi-final spot in Katowice

All of Renegades’ players have been contributing in the fragging department, but there is much more to this team than just raw firepower. With victories on five different maps at the Major, they have shown that they possess a wide map pool and that the time they have spent in Katowice since the start of this Major cycle has been put to great use.

"Consistent good practice and everyone putting in 100% effort have made our preparation very good," says jkaem, the team’s second highest rated player at this Major at 1.08. "And the fact that we have been here for almost two months without having to fly across the world like nine times has really helped us as well."

Confidence is sky high in the Renegades camp after they became the first Australian team to qualify for the playoffs of a Major. "I know that this has been the dream for everyone and we have worked hard to make it here," jkaem says. "So in a way, it feels like we are being rewarded! I have not had the time to enjoy it too much yet, though, we are still in it to win!"

Irrespective of what the rest of the tournament brings, Renegades will leave Katowice as one of the Major’s winners. For jkaem, returning to the biggest stage on the planet after a two-year exile is also a personal victory, and he celebrates it as such. "It’s been a long rollercoaster since Cluj-Napoca, and I need to say that I did not think I would be a Legend again after 2017," he admits. "But after I joined Renegades I knew it was possible, and here we are."

Renegades enter the playoff stage as the No.8 side in the world, their highest ranking ever, and jkaem is determined to continue to make history with the team to repay the faith that they showed at a time when many looked at him as a gamble.

"Renegades' offer without a doubt saved my career. I would not be playing here if it were not for them. I am very glad for the opportunity that they gave me."

Australia Karlo 'USTILO' Pivac
Karlo 'USTILO' Pivac
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
720
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.15
United States Noah 'Nifty' Francis
Noah 'Nifty' Francis
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
791
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.09
New Zealand Sean 'Gratisfaction' Kaiwai
Sean 'Gratisfaction' Kaiwai
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
669
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.12
Norway Joakim 'jkaem' Myrbostad
Joakim 'jkaem' Myrbostad
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
898
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Serbia Aleksandar 'kassad' Trifunović
Aleksandar 'kassad' Trifunović
Age:
33
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.75
Maps played:
99
KPR:
0.52
DPR:
0.73
APR:
0.13
Australia Jay 'Liazz' Tregillgas
Jay 'Liazz' Tregillgas
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
705
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.16
Good
2019-03-01 10:32
bad
2019-03-01 10:36
I mean good for him
2019-03-01 10:38
Good for Renegades cause they will beat m16r
2019-03-01 11:13
#51
 | 
Brazil MITOElementt 
Mibr is thash, but not that much to lose for renegades Ez4m16r
2019-03-01 11:18
#56
mOE | 
Azerbaijan yaboiiii 
renegades aint trash, took map against astralis and they have been looking very good. I think we will see a 3 map series
2019-03-01 11:35
#62
 | 
Brazil MITOElementt 
I think it too, for sure it will be a great game
2019-03-01 11:45
#64
mOE | 
Azerbaijan yaboiiii 
+1 still hoping that mibr wins for the sake of my pick em :D
2019-03-01 11:48
Lol? Why fan of renegades then?
2019-03-01 13:29
Just because you're a fan of something doesn't mean you have to be delusional
2019-03-01 14:10
#113
 | 
Canada LARRATT 
+1MIL
2019-03-01 14:52
Nice words. But you arent fan of renegades.
2019-03-01 14:56
Just because I don't have the flair doesn't mean I'm not a fan
2019-03-02 03:27
Head Shot
2019-03-05 04:56
16-6 chupa!
2019-03-01 17:11
hahahahahahahahaha 16-6
2019-03-01 17:10
Goddamn you must be fun at parties
2019-03-01 17:42
Oh yes! Come over so I can bully you! =D
2019-03-01 18:24
#85
Xizt | 
Italy HeSY 
Luck
2019-03-01 13:12
#3
 | 
Canada YankeeM 
God
2019-03-01 10:32
#135
 | 
Poland Ryunar 
Renegades saved him from being completely irrelevant into being a bot
2019-03-01 20:33
#139
 | 
Australia CaZeR01 
Poland talking
2019-03-02 03:50
#141
 | 
Poland Ryunar 
poland speaking truth
2019-03-02 04:23
#142
 | 
Australia CaZeR01 
0/8
2019-03-02 04:27
#143
 | 
Poland Ryunar 
nice 0/2
2019-03-02 04:27
#144
 | 
Australia CaZeR01 
9/11
2019-03-02 04:34
#146
 | 
Poland Ryunar 
7-1
2019-03-02 15:22
#155
 | 
Argentina XaiDN 
He was drepressed , they save his life. OFC Poland bro don't understand because yes
2019-03-06 11:26
yeah no shit
2019-03-01 10:32
Nice! Rip first comment LUL
2019-03-01 10:33
Nt choker
2019-03-01 10:33
6th
2019-03-01 10:34
#9
 | 
Estonia naityflatroo 
Hyped
2019-03-01 10:34
#10
 | 
Switzerland Tiiger 
Yeah the boiis
2019-03-01 10:34
#11
 | 
Denmark devnr1 
jkaem > rain
2019-03-01 10:34
#17
 | 
Poland Crai9Xen 
+1
2019-03-01 10:36
+2
2019-03-01 10:39
+3
2019-03-01 10:58
#46
 | 
Norway AndersBreivik 
+4
2019-03-01 11:12
#49
 | 
Uzbekistan NoVodka4u 
+5
2019-03-01 11:13
+6
2019-03-01 11:20
#57
 | 
African Union OllieMaN 
+7
2019-03-01 11:35
#59
valde | 
Ukraine ffaN 
+8
2019-03-01 11:39
+9
2019-03-01 12:18
#78
 | 
Korea ecsta_s1 
-46
2019-03-01 12:31
#82
 | 
CIS ShimonSS 
In terms of last couple of monthes for sure
2019-03-01 12:41
+47
2019-03-01 15:59
#126
 | 
Russia Valanis 
+10
2019-03-01 16:09
#131
NEO | 
Macedonia ElGancho 
+12 COMBO BREAKER
2019-03-01 17:49
+13
2019-03-02 02:23
+14
2019-03-02 04:47
#156
 | 
Argentina XaiDN 
+15
2019-03-06 11:26
God JKAEM
2019-03-01 10:34
Verry underrated player. Doing his dirty job like a boss jkaem!
2019-03-01 10:34
#14
nitr0 | 
Sweden ScineLy1 
UNDERRATED
2019-03-01 10:35
#15
 | 
Poland Crai9Xen 
We love u JKAEM The best scandinavian player and savior of au CS
2019-03-01 10:35
Best scandinavian?? f0rest >> Olofm>> Rain>> jkaem Valde>> Astralis>>>>>
2019-03-01 15:27
#124
 | 
Poland Crai9Xen 
It's just a joke calm down swedistan
2019-03-01 15:47
hes doing great in renegades
2019-03-01 10:37
#20
 | 
Australia |bruh| 
<3 jkaem
2019-03-01 10:38
I honestly expect them to take mibr later today. Their recent form and succes, will be the difference maker!
2019-03-01 10:38
#55
 | 
Latvia iliketurtels 
+1
2019-03-01 11:34
no worries jkaem, 8th place at a major is still good
2019-03-01 10:41
Nt toothpaste
2019-03-01 10:52
+1
2019-03-01 11:00
Haven't heard that one yet, not bad But Netherlands best country still
2019-03-01 11:38
#104
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
wut ?
2019-03-01 14:24
mint toothpaste spotted
2019-03-01 15:28
#73
 | 
Sweden Cruxor 
Lol nice one, +1 for creativity
2019-03-01 12:03
Gained respect for jkaem, YTB
2019-03-01 10:43
#25
 | 
Other Phinks 
Good daddy joakim
2019-03-01 10:44
#26
REAL | 
Norway strifer- 
jkaem has been playing very well for RNG, crazy aimer and his gamesense has improved a lot. Glad his talent is not going to waste like most Norwegian CSGO players
2019-03-01 10:46
#30
 | 
United Kingdom EKersh 
rain...
2019-03-01 10:48
He said most not all
2019-03-01 10:55
#118
 | 
Mongolia Sythapilla 
rain wasted his talent.... sad wahhahahahahah
2019-03-01 15:21
'like most'
2019-03-03 11:20
Feelsgoodman
2019-03-01 10:45
jkaem_best_norway
2019-03-01 10:46
Im so happy for him. Good job Joakim.
2019-03-01 10:48
YEAH THE BOYS
2019-03-01 10:49
This is a great story. He almost kinda disappeared for a brief while and not many orgs were after him, he had a big slump, and then a complete turnaround. He fits Renegades well and has been playing very good. Signing him was a bit of a gamble for Renegades and that gamble paid off nice.
2019-03-01 10:49
i thought rng were done once naf left, didnt think it was possible for them to get someone half as good as him. However this new RNG reminds me of NRG in ways, playing as a team rather than relying on pure talent to get wins. Obviously you've got star players that will do work, but overall it's a way more balanced lineup.
2019-03-01 10:51
#34
 | 
Australia Dadecum 
what a good bloke, i was skeptical at first when rng picked him up but he's slotted in perfectly and im so happy we snagged him up.
2019-03-01 10:51
"we". Are you manager for Rng? :O
2019-03-01 11:01
#47
 | 
Brazil kaiknux 
it's not like we don't refer ourselves the same way about brazilian teams
2019-03-01 11:12
+1 autists are so uptight. Fans are a massive part confidence from the support they give and at the end of the day they wouldnt have a career in esports if we didnt cheer them on. A small part of the team but part of the team none the less
2019-03-01 11:57
#105
 | 
Brazil kaiknux 
in the end fans and supporters are part of what the team represents. and even if it weren't, what a shitty thing to do, harassing people by the way they call the team they are fan of
2019-03-01 14:26
#87
 | 
Poland aLEKAYYY 
Australians have a warped sense of community - Renegades belong to the whole of Australia, it's like a part of national identity to them now... which is nice
2019-03-01 13:19
#98
 | 
Australia Dadecum 
its very common for fans of sports teams to refer to the team as a collective including themselves, i.e saying 'we'
2019-03-01 13:53
#35
 | 
Portugal wiseGOD 
Jkaem is so humble. Glad he had this opportunity .
2019-03-01 10:52
#38
 | 
Norway ludvik33 
theeee boiiiis
2019-03-01 10:56
He is right. Also jkaem is good player
2019-03-01 10:58
#41
 | 
Belgium Septa 
What an incredibly humble dude. The amount of respect that he has for the Asian and Oceanic scene and the fact that he stayed true to it is just awesome. Let's win that Major! YTB!
2019-03-01 10:59
What about ence?
2019-03-01 13:40
#102
 | 
Belgium Septa 
Good point. Imagine them playing the final. I wouldn't know who to cheer for if I'm completely honest.
2019-03-01 14:08
I pointed it only because of your flair
2019-03-01 14:37
#116
 | 
Belgium Septa 
Yeah, I know. Still a fan of both, not just for the memes and the hype.
2019-03-01 14:56
Good boi
2019-03-01 15:32
#44
 | 
India Noobdian 
The boys!
2019-03-01 11:06
#45
 | 
Brazil kaiknux 
god jkaem gr8 player
2019-03-01 11:11
ez
2019-03-01 11:13
#52
 | 
Australia maarket 
feelsgoodman
2019-03-01 11:20
Feelsgoodman
2019-03-01 11:30
#61
 | 
Australia JingleBells 
so glad they kept him
2019-03-01 11:44
TaZ should see where jkaem is now
2019-03-01 11:48
#65
 | 
Australia |bruh| 
what happen between him and taz?
2019-03-01 11:52
#68
 | 
Syria SyrianViking 
Yea i wanna know to
2019-03-01 11:56
#71
2019-03-01 11:58
When VP were on top jkaem said they were confident to beat them (in a poorly worded manner) bcs their playstyle suited them. TaZ was infuriated and stated the words "jkaem should see where he is now". It made the hltv newsline. No big deal tho since jkaem apologised moments later.
2019-03-01 11:58
#66
 | 
Norway PeteZz 
Incredible tournaround. Goes to show how much confidence and stability matters. Big respect to Renegades for gambling on him. Everyone knew his potential was in there somewhere, just needed to be nurtured. YTB<3 jkaem_richest_family
2019-03-01 11:52
#67
 | 
Australia .depuTy 
great article im glad jkaem is one of the boys
2019-03-01 11:52
#69
 | 
Ukraine SiriusB 
i want them to beat MIBR today. That would be nice.
2019-03-01 11:56
#74
 | 
United Kingdom MansNotHot 
<3
2019-03-01 12:13
congrats on reaching the semis
2019-03-01 12:13
Good
2019-03-01 12:28
#80
g0d | 
Brazil L4x @.@ 
Nice
2019-03-01 12:34
doesn't need to apply for an australian citizenship already considered as one of the boys #YEAHTHEBOYS
2019-03-01 12:39
#140
 | 
Australia CaZeR01 
He took niftys au citizenship xd
2019-03-02 03:58
#86
HUNDEN | 
United States DervGuy 
Yeah the fucking boys, yeah let's go jkaem
2019-03-01 13:18
#88
Canada px2 
Incoming AUG War because they only win rounds with 4 augs
2019-03-01 13:20
jkawho?
2019-03-01 13:20
#91
 | 
Australia Xplicid 
Props to (you), Jkaem for stickin through that early stage of RNG and stickin depression in the bum bum :)
2019-03-01 13:23
#92
jks | 
Australia Mosski 
love him
2019-03-01 13:28
Renegods will make semis
2019-03-01 13:30
#96
 | 
Brazil AmbOoNi 
All respect to Renegades, but this major already has owner, GO MIBR!
2019-03-01 13:49
Ryan Gosling
2019-03-01 13:50
#99
 | 
Bulgaria mango_csgo 
expected
2019-03-01 13:54
#100
 | 
Other WorldIsAFuck 
ez for my boy
2019-03-01 13:59
Hes been playing super good
2019-03-01 14:28
#108
 | 
Australia MatthewJKS 
Really happy for him and the boys! Hopefully they can finish strong in the major.
2019-03-01 14:31
YTB, jkaem >>>>>>> trash rain
2019-03-01 14:51
#117
 | 
Canada LARRATT 
false
2019-03-01 15:07
#114
 | 
Netherlands dabadpad 
in Gratisfaction glorious mustache we trust
2019-03-01 14:53
Congrats, i honestly thought he was done, going to one shit team to another But he's really proved he's got guts, grinding back to the top. gg!
2019-03-01 15:36
#123
 | 
Brazil Felpz 
jkaem thinks he can beet us KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK
2019-03-01 15:45
#127
 | 
Brazil YAGOOOO 
renegades is shit
2019-03-01 16:45
#133
 | 
CIS followDeiMoZ 
glad valakas?
2019-03-01 18:41
For a second I thought it said "Renegades saved my pickems"
2019-03-01 18:50
"he had been battling depression for over a year, which in part stemmed from his weight gain and struggles to play to the best of his abilities." "I think one of the key factors is that I am living in North America and there is nothing from the outside that makes me lose my focus," Have nothing against jkaem, he's a good player imo. But when I was reading the article the first thing that came to my mind was: "So it's about drugs or girls". And also I gotta say that the format of the interview is quite strange. Either jkaem is not so communicative person or just really nothing to say because results of the guys were only on regional asian qualifiers except this major run. Credits to MIRAA for his senior level of work, because it 's hard to write an article when it's only few sentences at your disposal.
2019-03-01 22:45
#147
 | 
Korea clarityyyy 
hey at least he accomplished something noteworthy in his career
2019-03-02 15:24
He's a great player, I have no doubts about this, mate! Just my thoughts during this read
2019-03-02 16:43
#151
 | 
Japan papa_smurf 
or maybe you saved Renegades?
2019-03-04 15:23
#152
s1mple | 
Sweden DiTzZ 
+1 this is true as well!! good shit
2019-03-04 17:18
gl renegades looking like they are finally making it
2019-03-05 17:29
#158
 | 
Poland KasPro 
Szpero looking ass
2019-03-07 08:46
hh
2019-03-08 21:49
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