One for the future: meyern
The fifth installment of our 'One for the future series' features its first-ever player from the Americas, 16-year-old Argentinean Ignacio "meyern" Meyer, who is currently in the ranks of his country’s top side, Isurus, and is set to face off against ENCE in their DreamHack Masters Dallas opening match.
Isurus have just started to swim in the deep waters of international Counter-Strike. In the second round of ESL Pro League Season 9 Americas, they faced Renegades, MIBR, and Complexity, and are now gearing up to play ENCE in their opening map at DreamHack's flagship Masters tournament in Dallas, Texas. Coming from a scene that has struggled to get a starting five capable of such feats, Isurus and meyern will be in the spotlight against some of the world's best teams this week.
meyern started playing Counter-Strike during the late 1.6 era, like some of the players profiled in this series who caught only the tail end of the pre-Global Offensive days in casual manner. In meyern’s case it was in 2012, at the age of nine and surrounded by the dying embers of the game, that the Argentinean took his first steps, going on to play competitively soon thereafter with a local team. Continuing a tradition that has seen a lot of young kids go on to surpass their elder siblings, meyern was following in the footsteps of his older brother, as did Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, or Marcelo "coldzera" David before becoming players of the year.
It wasn’t until 2015 that meyern picked up CS:GO with the goal of making Global Elite in Match Making, something that now looks like child's play through the rearview mirror. After having made some friends and participated in some lesser tournaments, meyern took the pick-up game route, grinding on platforms like GamersClub and ESEA. Slowly but surely, he started to make a name for himself, landing an offer from Keymotion in 2017. The early days weren’t easy for the then 14-year-old, whose first LAN event on record saw his team suffer a devastating loss in which they were unable to muster 10 rounds across two maps. meyern had a record low 0.44 LAN performance that series and received loads of criticism from the community. "Entering the competitive scene back then was a tough time for me,” he recalls.
meyern spent another half year with Keymotion and with an Uruguayan team under the Furious banner, where he met his current Isurus teammate Maximiliano "max" Gonzalez. With that lineup he had a mixed bag of performances online, but his potential was already peeking through. In 2018, after the Uruguayan lineup had split, he took a step forward and teamed up with one of Argentina’s most talented players, Luca "Luken" Nadotti, once again under Furious. “I started playing with Nacho [meyern] last year," says Luken, "when I found out he was free, Nahuel "nhl" Herrera, meyern, and I had the idea of competing for fun, but we also knew that there was some potential there.” The 22-year-old AWPer immediately saw a special talent in the youngster, noticing meyern’s strong individual and mechanical skills, an innate ability that could be molded into something great, and a proficiency in making quick and constant decisions in the server.
With this Furious lineup, meyern showed that he could also perform on LAN, at least at a local level, pushing through the rough beginnings he had endured with Keymotion. He averaged 1.20 and 1.21 ratings over eight maps at the two regional events he played with his new team, Musimundo Gaming Week 2018 and La Liga Pro 2018, where Furious lifted both trophies. Luken made an observation regarding the youngster’s character and ability for growth, stating that “he doesn’t have the damaging attitude that leads one to think he does everything well, but rather, if he sees someone doing something wrong, he can talk about it to help those around him get better, and when he makes mistakes he listens to others to learn how to overcome his own failings.”
After qualifying for WESG 2018 with Furious, bigger fish in the sea were lurking, and meyern got the call from Isurus, who had been undergoing a series of transformations since WESG 2017. In Haikou, China, Nicolás "Noktse" Dávila was wondering what would come of the team in case their then star player, Nicolas "NikoM" Miozzi, left to play elsewhere (which he would shortly afterward). Should they look for team players? Could they survive without a star? After several changes, Isurus found themselves with a mix of solid team players that fostered a certain stability, something that in hindsight seems to have been for the better, but it was ultimately after a period of tonic immobility that Noktse and company decided to bring in meyern and his teammate max. The young Argentinean player, carrying with him the extra fragging power that was needed, helped the sharks take a leap as they became the first non-Brazilian side to win ESL’s Latin America League, following it up by qualifying for DreamHack Masters Dallas and beating Complexity in a best-of-three series on LAN at ESL Pro League Season 9 Americas.
“I met meyern when he was 14, we used to play PUGs together at night,” says Noktse. "He has been growing in many ways ever since, but the things he has improved the most are his understanding of the game conceptually and his mechanics. When I say he has improved mechanically, I don’t mean he frags harder now, but rather that he understands some aspects of his style that he had to keep polishing in order to get closer to being able to play at a top level. He’s a lot more careful with his movement and with his decision making, especially when it comes to the details, and that is making him become a better player day by day."
The signing occurred naturally, as Noktse and meyern had been messaging each other for a while since it became apparent that the youngster could fit Isurus’ philosophy and understanding of the game. The 16-year-old played his first matches with his new team in December 2018 after having parted ways with a squad he had grown to be fond of, but coming in with his friend and teammate max helped smoothen the transition. After one month playing from home, meyern moved to Isurus’ gaming house in São Paulo, Brazil, something for which he is very thankful to his family, who are very supportive and haven't hindered his dream of becoming a professional CS player.
meyern’s most important matches to date came at the end of last month and in early May, at ESL Pro League Season 9 Americas, where Isurus played on LAN against some regional rivals as well as some of the best teams competing in the American continent. Across 14 maps in six matches, the youngster averaged a 1.22 rating, the second-highest in the team, behind AWPer and leader Noktse. The tournament saw meyern leave behind an all-headshots USP ace against MIBR on Overpass for the books, as well as a solid performance in his team’s 2-1 victory over Complexity. “Playing some of the best teams during this last LAN was an incredible feeling," says meyern. "It was something I always wanted to do, although it was a learning experience for me because I made a lot of mistakes that I have to fix."
When first watching meyern, the two most obvious factors that pop out of the screen immediately demanding the viewer’s attention concern his mechanical ability. The first one is movement: meyern can at times glide seducingly in and around corners, but can just as easily switch gears and catch opponents off-guard with relentless aggression—much like the mako shark after which his team is named, the fastest shark in the ocean—, to the point where he can surprise rivals either early enough in the round that they are not yet settled in their positions, or with quick peeks and repeeks.
He is also very proficient at taking angles after already having been spotted, particularly on the CT side, catching opponents off-balance when defending and putting himself in positions to get defensive multi-kill rounds. The second point, which is what affords him the ability to make risky plays on both attack and defense, and is something that makes meyern deadly in opening duels—with a very strong 1.16 opening kill ratio to show for it—is his pixel perfect high-sensitivity aim, something that can be seen when he is tracking as well as when he flicks, or just with the speed at which he clears different angles.
Such crisp aim, while impressive, is also a double-edged sword: the tendency to rely on it against weaker opposition can cause problems when facing higher IQ players that know how to gain positional advantage or pick better timings in duels. This could be seen at the ESL Studios earlier this month when meyern was caught out in the open on several occasions, unable to retaliate as even his calculated movement and quick crosshair control were not enough to compensate against opponents that will punish even the smallest of mistakes. The 16-year-old wants to keep improving his aim and become more meticulous and creative, two characteristics that will be key to his success as pairing smarter plays with an already impressive aim will allow him to be in a better position to win duels without having to rely so much on reflexes.
One part of the game in which meticulousness and creativity would help meyern, for example, is during retake situations, perhaps one of his weaker points, as he sometimes puts himself in overly disadvantageous situations that make him an easy target, especially when playing against opposition of a level that he is not quite used to yet. Lesser opponents may not be able to take as much advantage of having the upper hand, and meyern can win situations thanks to his lightning-fast aim, but the players he is now starting to face aren't going to be as forgiving.
On the offense, meyern tends to either be an aggressor, trying to get his team the early round advantage, or goes in second/third to trade and clear out sites. In standard plays, he has also been seen playing for map control at times, even stepping away into the periphery without his teammates, although this is the exception. Perhaps the weaker of his two sides, meyern can tilt the scales in his team's favor with explosive plays or multi-kill rounds, but he also tends to fall off early in rounds when things don't seem to be working out for his team.
On the defense, his duties change from map to map, but he has a tendency to be given important positions, like Outside/Mini on Nuke, where he makes good use of his skills with the AUG, a weapon he also likes to use around the A site and Ladder Room on Train. A rotator on Overpass, he can also play aggressively when called for, and he has been seen picking up the secondary AWP on Dust2 to scope down Mid through double doors. Although he does use the AWP on occasion, he does not use it to the extent or in the way that a full-fledged AWPer would, but with 9.35% of kills with the sniper rifle this year he is not that far off from one of his idols, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač.
Argentina is a country where egos run rampant, where players can’t team up because of problems outside of the server and squads are akin to a game of jenga, with different pieces getting moved around before eventually crumbling under their own weight. It will be crucial for meyern to learn how to navigate the scene and keep his feet on the ground as he starts to get more attention from players, teams, fans, and press. In Luken’s words, it’s important that meyern, “a player born with the innate talent that is necessary to become one of the best,” does not just "have that talent, but is also able to harness it.” Something he says that meyern can do by applying things “that he can be taught by players with more experience, like Noktse, in order to keep progressing in his development."
Staying humble and keeping an appetite for glory, according to Noktse, will be key to the youngster's progression, as well as staying firm in his convictions about the proper way to practice and play CS. For meyern, himself, this is the second big tournament he’s going to play on LAN. "It is not just any tournament," he says. "My focus is to keep climbing and to continue getting better and better all the time."