floppy's path to the Pro League Finals: a journey three years in the making
Ricky "floppy" Kemery has been a burgeoning star in the North American scene since he first made his appearance in ESEA Premier in 2016. Now, having finally made his way past MDL onto his first professional team after nearly three years, floppy and ATK will look to make an impact as they prepare for their first big event appearance at the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals in Odense.
At the age of three, floppy was thrust into the world of video games when his parents bought him an Xbox and a computer of his own. The two platforms allowed him to play a variety of games growing up, including all of the Call of Duty titles, Guild Wars, and Battlefield. However, he would not touch a Counter-Strike title until he turned 14, but from there, it took him just two years to make an appearance in the sub-top of the professional scene.
floppy’s interest in playing CS:GO was first piqued when he observed League of Legends player Marcus "Dyrus" Hill streaming the game in 2014. Specifically, one of the primary factors that drew floppy to the game was the ability to make individual plays and single-handedly win rounds by clutching, an appeal that did not exist in a game like League of Legends as it involved working far more with your team, and relied on players in different lanes playing well to achieve victory. At first, floppy’s attraction to the CS:GO was helmed by the ability to improve and rank up, grinding through deathmatches and pick-up games on ESEA to improve his mechanics, but quickly, the focus shifted to winning matches and playing the game at a higher level.
The young rifler’s first breakthrough came in early 2016 during his second season of ESEA Main, where he achieved a playoffs berth alongside a handful of familiar names from North America, including Alex "aproto" Protopapas and Chad "Oderus" Miller. A victory over ANIXIA in the quarter-finals, a team that featured Yassine "Subroza" Taoufik, earned floppy and company a spot in ESEA Premier Season 22, kicking off a three-year-long quest to make the Pro League.
He quickly gained notoriety from there, partially for his strong, aim-based gameplay, but also from his attitude in-game and his continuous posting on the ESEA forums, leading to some considering him to have a large ego. "I was actually the IGL during that [Main] season as well because 16-year-old floppy was stubborn and thought he knew everything about the game so he wanted to tell everyone what to do every round," he tells HLTV.org.
It was just one season later, when Premier evolved into MDL, that floppy’s mentality started to shift. A last-minute addition for floppy to the L4SALARY roster ahead of the playoffs of Season 23 saw him post an incredible 2.47 rating on Overpass against eUnited in his third-ever recorded match on HLTV, but the single map victory was not enough to claim a victory in the series.
Despite his statlines during the season, floppy knew that his overall game required a vast amount of work to improve. “From the start of Premier/MDL I was really bad at team CS," he says. "I didn’t have an in-depth understanding of how the game was really meant to be played because I just played pugs all day in my free time. I didn’t have someone to actually teach me so I had to teach myself by making tons of mistakes every season.
"Watching my own match demos in 2016 and 2017 made me feel like a complete noob, like a lost puppy really. But I think it’s a good thing because it allows me now today to fill in any role/position that a team might need."
That process of improving saw floppy spend the next one and a half years on a variety of MDL lineups, missing out on the playoffs for four seasons in a row despite posting strong numbers. The lackluster period left him on the brink of quitting the game until he was approached by his long-time friend, Jake "kaboose" McDonald, with an offer to join F1-racecar-PEEK mid-way through Season 28.
It was that move, combined with the team signing for Vision not long after, that gave floppy the direction he needed to continue playing. After attending and winning his first LAN, Tokyo at Tulsa 2, floppy helped Vision eek into the ESEA MDL Season 28 playoffs as the seventh seed, with floppy leading the way in the team's heroic run to the grand final with impressive displays in the quarter-finals and in the semi-finals. Although they fell short to Bravado in the grand finals, floppy was not dissuaded.
“I think it was incredible that we made it that far considering I had joined the team in the middle of Season 28," he says. "We won Tokyo in Tulsa against BlackOut as well. Things fell apart after a bad showing at Fragadelphia 12, and we made roster changes to pick up vSa and aproto. We won the Gexcon Cougar CS:GO Open together and then I left for Vireo.pro."
Another two seasons of MDL under the Vireo.pro banner saw floppy attend his first international event, ESEA MDL S29 Global Challenge, where he impressed by averaging a 1.19 rating against the likes of 3DMAX and Kinguin despite his team finishing 5-6th. Less than two weeks later, floppy attended the NSG Eastern Conference Championship, where he averaged a 1.40 rating over five maps to help Vireo.pro to a top four placement.
His performances both online and offline led to an offer to join Singularity alongside Ryan "ryann" Welsh, Ian "motm" Hardy, Cameron "cam" Kern, and Josh "oSee" Ohm heading into MDL Season 30. It was with this roster that floppy’s statistical performance skyrocketed, a showing which floppy partially credits to ryann.
“Singularity was definitely my breakout roster," he says. "Playing at WESG in China, MDL Finals, the Americas Minor, and Copenhagen Games 2019 was huge for all of us. It was my first time travelling internationally so that was very exciting for me personally, especially playing in Germany. I think the community definitely started noticing us as a viable team. Individually I peaked on Singularity stat-wise because ryann would run in for me and I would bait and get one or two kills every time. Singularity was also the first time when I lived in a gaming house, which was definitely an interesting experience."
It wasn’t until MDL Season 31 that floppy would have the opportunity to qualify for ESL Pro League once again. In the meantime, he attended WESG 2018 World Finals - where he was labelled as one of the players to watch - and the Copenhagen Games 2019 BYOC Qualifier, averaging 1.12 and 1.23 ratings, respectively. Once the online MDL season got underway, floppy continued to top the board, averaging a 1.35 rating over 22 maps to earn Singularity a spot in the offline grand finals against FURIA, with the winner earning promotion to Pro League.
Rinaldo "ableJ" Moda Junior's visa issues ahead of the event forced FURIA to field their coach, Nicholas "guerri" Nogueira, in the grand final, leaving floppy with his best chance to earn a move-up. Despite the handicap, FURIA were able to prevail in a two-map series, with only floppy going positive for his side with a 1.19 rating. As the team also fell short in the pre-relegation and in the relegation tournaments, floppy looked resigned to another season in MDL, but then ATK came knocking.
The ex-Denial team had also failed to earn promotion to the Pro League and decided to make a power move, parting ways with three of their South African players to bring in floppy and oSee from Singularity, while also re-adding Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek, who had just been benched from Envy after three months on the team. The roster change had the additional benefit of reuniting floppy and oSee with motm, leaving the team with a core of the former Singularity roster from MDL Season 30.
As ATK began preparations to compete in floppy’s eleventh consecutive MDL season, it was announced that the Ghost and ex-Luminosity rosters would be disbanding, leaving two empty slots in ESL Pro League Season 10. While the community were left in the dark as to the future of what would happen with those spots, floppy and the rest of ATK received word that they would be invited to fill one of the vacancies, alongside Singularity, who had recently signed MDL frontrunners New Identity as a new roster.
“I actually knew about the ATK moveup a few weeks prior to it being announced,” floppy tells HLTV.org. “It was a very well kept secret. When it was official, we were all excited at the ATK house. motm woke me up from my bed screaming, 'Ricky!' I was proud of myself and the team considering our showing for ECS Season 8 Week 2 against INTZ/MIBR/Sharks, winning the entire week, so I felt that we had earned it with our individual past achievements on previous teams and ATK."
The only caveat of the promotion was that ATK and Singularity were put in a group with Liquid and Renegades, leaving them little chance to top the first group stage. Sure enough, both teams made short work of the newly promoted sides, but it was ATK who emerged victorious against Singularity to earn a place in the second group stage. A 0.89 average rating in those three matchups for floppy was a far cry from the stellar offline showings he had become known for, a performance which he immediately looked to improve on a month later, when ATK returned to compete in the second stage. There, against Envy, Singularity, and DETONA, floppy posted a 1.17 rating as ATK dropped a single map to top their group and qualify for the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals in Odense. Not only had floppy finally ended his three-year long crusade to make it to ESL Pro League, but the team had secured qualification for the LAN finals in their first season, making it the first Big Event appearance for a majority of the roster.
Players such as Gage "Infinite" Green, Sam "s0m" Oh, and Owen "oBo" Schlatter have received far more notoriety in the community, but floppy’s consistent performances offline have seen him average a 1.20 rating on LAN, leaving one to wonder how his name still needs to go largely unmentioned despite him posting better numbers against similar calibres of opposition. Still, floppy’s first true trial now awaits in Odense, where he’ll be offered the opportunity to further build upon his record as he and his gang of newcomers will take on some of the best and brightest in the game.
"If you’re ever going to become professional at something, you are going to doubt yourself along the way," he says. "It’s just human nature is all. Times get really tough mentally and you sometimes think, 'Is this really worth it?' Not getting offers on teams, playing bad individually, not enjoying your time with your team. Considering the circumstances, I’ve had a lot of support from my parents along the way, letting me play CS 120 hours every 2 weeks through high school. So that always helps. But I firmly believe that we are all self-made. That if you truly grind hard enough and have the right mindset, you can achieve whatever you want. Philosophy definitely comes to play in this aspect. There are many other people who have helped me in my career and they know who they are when they read this, so thank you, fellas."