Dignitas CEO Michael Prindiville: "People might look at these guys and say that they are veterans, but I think they've got something to prove and will surprise a lot of people"

The North American organisation's CEO discusses returning to Counter-Strike, joining Flashpoint, and bringing back the iconic NiP squad.

"We’re building a dynasty."

Prindiville made quite the splash in September, when he announced Dignitas' plans to re-enter men’s CS:GO, more than a year after the organisation had last fielded a male squad.

When he took over as CEO, in May 2018, Prindiville inherited a CS:GO team languishing in 92nd place in the world rankings that had just been relegated from ESL Pro League. Appointed to steady the ship and make Dignitas a force to be reckoned with in tier-one esports titles, he found himself with a group of players who to this day are still struggling to make it out of tier two. It was not a pretty sight for an organisation that has been involved in the Counter-Strike franchise since 2004 and that had been home to some of the game's brightest talents, including the Astralis trio of Nicolai "device" Reedtz, Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth.

Michael Prindiville, CEO of Dignitas Photo credit: Riot Games

Dignitas quickly dispensed with the services of that squad and entered a period of hiatus which lasted until that September night. It was a time of fierce competition as 100 Thieves and Complexity were also looking to make moves, but Dignitas were not intimidated: four months later, they brought back the legendary 87-0 and Major-winning NiP roster, with Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson combining the roles of General Manager and coach, and rising talent Håkon "hallzerk" Fjærli taking up the AWP. The model draws inspiration from Vitality's old approach, with a young sniper dictating the tempo in the server and opening spaces for the veterans.

Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable to picture players like Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund in a jersey other than NiP’s. But perhaps just as strange was seeing Dignitas embark on its most ambitious project in Counter-Strike after Prindiville had complained about the high costs of running a top team. During their time away from the game, prices had continued to rise, so what prompted Dignitas to throw their hat into the ring once more?

The answer is simple: Flashpoint happened.

"When I made the announcement that we were coming back, it was based upon the B Site, or now Flashpoint, and the model that had been developed," Prindiville tells HLTV.org. "We really believed in this particular model, and at that point we were absolutely convinced that we wanted to go out and get a top team that could compete in this league, that could play at the highest level and, quite frankly, that could entertain."

Prindiville has always been an advocate of the franchise model in esports. Earlier this year, Dignitas returned to Riot Games' League Championship Series (LCS), the top North American competition in League of Legends, following a merger with Clutch Gaming. Flashpoint, where partner teams have to pay a $2 million entry fee but take a portion of the revenue in return, offered Dignitas an appealing way back into CS:GO, at a time when sustainability was the Holy Grail for teams and tournament organisers across the globe.

"For the last few years, since the PEA [Professional Esports Association] tried to put together something like this, the brightest minds in esports have been working together to try to figure out a league that is sustainable for esports organisations and we believe that this is the league that has done that," the Dignitas CEO explains.

"The fact that we came up with the model and now have executed upon that is incredibly exciting. I know we would not be in the CS space if it weren't for this league."

But if the "brightest minds in esports", as he puts it, have been involved in Flashpoint since its conception, why were the top organisations in Counter-Strike so reluctant to embrace the project? "I think people always have allegiances," he explains when asked about some teams' preference for the ESL Pro League, insisting that Flashpoint is playing the long game and that, over time, the best players in the game will be convinced by a product that will be "second to none".

"We always knew, going into this, that in the opening seasons there might be teams we would like in the league that would not join," he says. "But our goal is to put out the most entertaining product possible and to put out a model that players realize is sustainable in terms of revenue, their health and wellness, and I believe that will be proved over the first two seasons.

"Players will see it and will come to this league one way or the other in future seasons. In the meantime, the teams we have in this league, with the rosters that people are putting together, I think they make for fantastic narratives. There are fantastic players and we have the best talent and the best production team."

As far as storytelling is concerned, Dignitas are blazing a trail in Flashpoint. Some of the organisations in the league have made little to no effort to fit in (I’m looking at you, c0ntact), but Dignitas seem to be fully invested in the project. The organisation has been hard at working creating video content about the team, including a docuseries called 'Off The Record’, and launched a limited-edition "Icons" t-shirt to celebrate the legacy that these players created. The plan is to appeal to the hardcore followers of the old NiP squad but also to connect to Dignitas' own fans who may have lost touch with the organisation over the years.

"Everybody's psyched, right?," asks Prindiville. "We think it's a really good story to be telling. These guys had an incredible run back in the day, and their fans are over the moon as they want to watch these guys together again. The response has been very positive.

“I think that we're telling the most exciting story in CS:GO. People might look at these guys and say they are veterans, but I think these guys have got something to prove and will surprise a lot of people."

It’s safe to say that the early signs are encouraging. Dignitas navigated through the harrowing qualifiers for the Europe Minor, where Counter-Strike purists will purr over the prospect of a clash between the old and the new versions of NiP. And if there were questions about hallzerk’s ability to perform as the tip of Dignitas’s spear, those were quickly dispelled: he is averaging a team-high 1.24 rating and has at times stolen the show, like in the overtime victories against GamerLegion and fnatic.

This Sunday, Dignitas will play their first match on LAN, albeit without the Norwegian AWPer, who will be missing due to visa issues. He will be replaced in the lineup by Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, a player who, just like his temporary Swedish teammates, has a point to prove, adding an extra layer of intrigue and excitement to the team's LAN debut.

Is this the right team to build a dynasty like Prindiville mentioned in September? Doubtful. The Swedish quartet have their best years behind them and haven’t won a Big Event title in years, while hallzerk still has to show that he can consistently put up the kind of numbers to rescue the team from trouble. But let’s not debate on that for now. Instead, let’s just rejoice at the reunion of the old NiP gang and at the sight of legends like GeT_RiGhT once again playing with a smile on their faces.

"What I saw [in this team] was championship-caliber players who previously told an incredible story and were looking to expand that story," the Dignitas chief says. "We were convinced that was the story we could tell, a comeback story, a story of veterans who had been here, who know the landscape and know how to win together.

"Quite frankly, I still think that this team is incredibly hungry, so I go back to my words in September. They are hungry to get back together, to compete at the highest level and to win titles."

Slovakia Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1482
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Denmark Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen
Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1573
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.14
Sweden Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' Alesund
Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' Alesund
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1638
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.15
Norway Håkon 'hallzerk' Fjærli
Håkon 'hallzerk' Fjærli
Age:
19
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
322
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.10
Denmark Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1453
KPR:
0.78
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.13
Denmark Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1630
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.17
Sweden Robin 'Fifflaren' Johansson
Robin 'Fifflaren' Johansson
Age:
32
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
537
KPR:
0.60
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.15
Sweden Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1665
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
#3
 | 
Sweden GM_Highlander 
GO DIG
2020-03-15 15:00
keep fooling yourself with bullshet
2020-03-15 15:40
why are u so mad?
2020-03-15 15:46
#61
s1mple | 
Ukraine YUR4S 
0/8 mad idiot
2020-03-15 16:30
#62
 | 
Sweden GM_Highlander 
Go and buy more toiletpaper
2020-03-15 16:33
GO DIG OR GO HOME
2020-03-15 17:04
#68
 | 
Czech Republic TECHNICKER 
but theyr digs, so theyll go home..
2020-03-15 17:15
Why all the hate? Most of us don't care if they win or lose, they don't need to prove anything anymore or to anyone. I respect them for what they did & what they are, never had big drama issues and basically they are a bunch of good sports, 0 toxicity even when they were untouchable :) for that reason I kind of like Astralis too So good to see f0rest and gtr back together, leaving NiP to make this team with gtr after he was dropped is the nicest thing, or should we go all in for guys like s1mple that has like daily threads about him being so imature? I respect him as a N1 player in the world, but the kind of behavior he promotes is just bad GOOD BOYS ONLY, it's just a game - stop the toxicity, it's bad for your health bro 5/8 at least, thx
2020-03-15 17:38
#80
 | 
Sweden tossebossejr 
+1
2020-03-15 17:46
+1
2020-03-15 18:21
+1
2020-03-15 18:43
#114
North America TL0 
you simps saying "only positivity, no toxicity" are part of the problem, you're cringe af kid. who are you to say what toxic is, s1mple hurt someones feelings? SO WHAT go fucking cry about it somewhere else little idiot
2020-03-16 21:49
Haha, easy there, you insecure, low testosteroned little beta cuck kid.
2020-03-18 19:56
damn bro that's a high tier roast
2020-03-19 10:24
#131
North America TL0 
Yike "high tier roast" btw lmfao. More like projecting his own insecurities
2020-03-24 01:55
Yeah yeah let your anger out on strangers on an online forum. Let's see what that accomplishes for you
2020-03-23 12:15
#130
North America TL0 
lmfao pathetic you assume facts are "anger" just because your feelings are hurt LOL
2020-03-24 01:54
Keep taking your anger towards your parents on me. It's OK bro, I understand :) if you need to talk to someone, you can write a long reply to this message. I will probably not read it because you aren't worth my time, but at least you'll get your feelings out on paper, right?
2020-03-26 03:02
#133
North America TL0 
anger towards parents? LOLOL WTF hahahaha
2020-03-26 20:31
Y so mad kid?? smole pp >>>??
2020-03-26 20:40
Dig will win flashpoint league, then they will head for the big teams. They already almost beat fnatic in 2 straight maps in bo3 match. If they can give a team like fnatic run for there money then they definitely can beat many other top teams as well.
2020-03-15 18:16
online xD
2020-03-20 11:19
Feck off
2020-03-15 18:27
+1
2020-03-15 15:52
#54
 | 
Portugal TwistedJayPee 
+1
2020-03-15 16:11
#60
s1mple | 
Ukraine YUR4S 
+1
2020-03-15 16:29
#69
 | 
Estonia Mrkruvi 
+1
2020-03-15 17:15
#73
 | 
Sweden Fizze 
+1 mannen
2020-03-15 17:31
#4
sh1ro | 
Russia R3YBAH 
cool
2020-03-15 15:00
#5
s1mple | 
United Kingdom aF1_ 
lul
2020-03-15 15:00
#6
HS | 
Estonia qoznyyy 
yea but i arent think that
2020-03-15 15:00
#8
 | 
Sweden 1stWorldMuslim 
washed
2020-03-15 15:00
#74
 | 
Sweden Fizze 
nice b8
2020-03-15 17:31
ok
2020-03-15 15:01
Gonna surprise vs a tier 3 team tonight
2020-03-15 15:01
#13
Quake | 
Uzbekistan s1v9mple 
Boomers
2020-03-15 15:03
No
2020-03-15 15:03
Wtf is he saying, makes no point at all.
2020-03-15 15:04
#16
 | 
Poland Hanse 
Hahahhaha it is always surprising when they barely beat #50 teams
2020-03-15 15:04
And your dad beats you.
2020-03-18 14:11
#17
 | 
Japan Fanta_machine 
88-0 incoming
2020-03-15 15:04
0/88
2020-03-15 15:20
#18
 | 
Netherlands PATOZR 
Team dignitas > DIG Old logo > new logo team is gonna be good tho but org needs a change
2020-03-15 15:04
#DIGLOSE
2020-03-15 15:06
no matter how much you wish it was like that . sadly its not. dignitas will be shit in 1 month
2020-03-15 15:08
Slovenia opinion HEHe
2020-03-18 14:11
toilet cleaner, allo? come dirty toaletto pls
2020-03-19 07:56
you have no toilets, you shit on your moms chest.
2020-03-19 22:47
Retirement home KEKW
2020-03-15 15:08
whatever you say man
2020-03-15 15:09
#23
 | 
Czech Republic hermelinn 
they've surprised me already haha
2020-03-15 15:10
SO freaking nice, now GTR just gotta stop be a BOT, and xizt start fragging again and they can become top 5 (all other teams are useless international teams with zero potential), so top5 iz ez.
2020-03-15 15:09
#27
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
GTR has played better, for now it’s: f0rest and hallzerk carry GTR/ friberg solid output Xizt fragging bad but at least calling
2020-03-15 15:14
#70
 | 
Estonia Mrkruvi 
+1
2020-03-15 17:19
#25
JD | 
Poland PSZ 
HAHAHA
2020-03-15 15:10
#26
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
BOSS, Dignitas is here to stay
2020-03-15 15:13
Veterans are not meant to be winning and place high in the rankings, veterans are veterans! They'be remembered as veterans somewhat legends, but there should never be any high expectations from veterans and I hope dignitas realize that. I hope diggies can still place well and ill be happy if they win and event here or there occasionally, but in the long run any team that signs legendary players should realize that players do age, mentality slightly changes and even if you're desperate to win still like you were 7 years ago, thats not always enough for those who've played the game for close to 20 years, including 1.6, source etc, time flies fast, but GL!
2020-03-15 15:16
(c) ceh9
2020-03-15 15:33
For me they are better than NIP
2020-03-15 15:18
They are better than new nip.
2020-03-15 17:26
#88
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
+1
2020-03-15 18:35
They may win against t2 teams like faze and nip but surely they dont have any chance against the likes of t1 teams, even E0-16G is better than dignitas
2020-03-15 15:19
Faze 32-0 dig
2020-03-15 15:52
0/8
2020-03-15 16:13
+1
2020-03-15 15:23
#33
 | 
Spain SPQR_CAESAR 
That's just being delusional. We know they will not win anything, they still have my admiration and respect though.
2020-03-15 15:27
yeAH, YOU KNOw EvERYTHIngG hEueHEHE.
2020-03-18 14:12
#34
 | 
Portugal dracø 
One thing doesn't invalidate the other lol They are veterans. They want to win again. I wish them luck even tho I don't really believe they'll actually achive anything close to what they did during their prime years.
2020-03-15 15:29
#36
 | 
Germany leftist 
respect boomers pls!
2020-03-15 15:37
lmao since ODEE left dignitas its been a downhill for this org so now they all can retire after this last meetup, right?😋
2020-03-15 15:38
#38
 | 
Brazil oldStar 
#IBELIEVE
2020-03-15 15:39
How they will surprise? I think this guy has no clue what the word surprise means. Ah I see a flashpoint article (can you make it more clear plz). useless article like the league itself.
2020-03-15 15:44
Lmao what a clueless dumbass, these guys are about 6 to 7 years past their prime, he obviously knows very little about cs
2020-03-15 15:43
#59
 | 
Sweden hilebard 
man they won tournaments in 2017. hltv.org/events/2956/iem-oakland-2017 That was 3 years ago. F0rest still has his form, friberg has better form than he did in 2017, hallzerk is better than draken ever was. It's just whether xizt or get_right can step up, and it seems like they can. Sure, I doubt they will perform like they did in 2013, but there's a chance. Even if it's small. And it seems like this guy thinks they have a chance to surprise
2020-03-15 16:26
#42
 | 
Sweden Goudi 
#DIGWIN
2020-03-15 15:44
#44
flusha | 
Cambodia PigFace 
I can see them winning some Tier 3 Dreamhack event but they will get ran over from the top teams with ease. Not enough fragging power and if Hallzerk and f0rest dont perform they might as well just call GG
2020-03-15 15:51
#45
 | 
Canada Kry^tech 
"past prime" I would put money down on this lineup as oppose to the current NiP line-up.
2020-03-15 15:51
Even though i disliked them because of rivalary with Fnatic before i really wish Get_right gets back to form together with Friberg and hallzerk becomes a really good player. Would be awesome to see Fnatic - NiP (dig) again :)
2020-03-15 15:54
Longest title ever
2020-03-15 15:54
#50
 | 
Croatia Netkov 
Ok, prove it.
2020-03-15 16:04
#51
 | 
Singapore eriknords 
Hype is real!
2020-03-15 16:04
Dignitas CEO should tell us how many players did they fuck up for money till now first before we read interview
2020-03-15 16:07
That was the old one I think, ask him first
2020-03-16 20:11
#53
 | 
United Arab Emirates knowledgeAAA 
Respect for legends <3
2020-03-15 16:08
they are washed up af,YES
2020-03-15 16:15
expected what another could say CEO of their squad? xD
2020-03-15 16:15
#58
 | 
Ukraine martnlo1 
Ez major for DIG!!!
2020-03-15 16:21
forest will still carry and do best like hes 20y old what a Legend <3
2020-03-15 16:44
#64
 | 
Finland tiktoklover 
30yo boomers
2020-03-15 17:01
Imagine Not even knowing what a boomer is
2020-03-15 19:32
#107
 | 
Finland tiktoklover 
imagine getting b8ed
2020-03-16 10:00
For me this base team f0rest-GTR, can be always an surprise to win any tournament, they have so much potencial yet, and the experiencie its all too !
2020-03-15 17:02
?? any tier 3 tournament maybe but they haven't won a tier1 event in like 4 years minimum
2020-03-15 17:43
#89
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
Newfag? It was 2,5 years since their last T1 win
2020-03-15 18:36
was still a while ago and that was the flukest win ever, theyve been shit since 2016 dont be delusional like that
2020-03-15 18:59
#102
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
Beat #1 and #2 team in a BO3 and BO5, how is that a fluke? Still won four T1 events 16-17, but after that they’ve been bad. Not wierd though, since they kicked their IGL, best player (draken) and lost their coach. Since then they’ve played with a IGL who isn’t a real IGL (Lekr0) and been uncoordinated. Dig looks better than new NiP
2020-03-15 21:14
Fluke in that context= massive overperforming event that they never replicate and were never expected to do, and saying they're better than nip is quite a strange argument as nip is literally garbage
2020-03-15 21:28
#106
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
For sure a great event, but I’ve never understood the argument that performing great is something bad. They didn’t replicate it, but they would have had a better shot if the management didn’t destroy the team. I agree NiP looks bad ingame but they still are ranked #11, which shows it’s realistic for Dignitas to reach top 10
2020-03-15 23:19
Nice they will conquer csgo again
2020-03-15 17:02
#72
f0rest | 
Mongolia 22joyZz 
we trust in old dudes to show us some good cs and top 10 performance
2020-03-15 17:27
All they will prove is that they are washed up
2020-03-15 17:34
"I think they've got something to prove and will surprise a lot of people" They already have achieved everything in this game mate
2020-03-15 17:40
meh
2020-03-15 17:42
#81
 | 
World ayyypepito 
If we look at Vitality roster in 2019 and what they have done, why not. Plus they never raise the white flag when the game does go their way..
2020-03-15 17:53
#90
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
+1
2020-03-15 18:37
This might backfire.
2020-03-15 18:15
#85
 | 
Libya animeTRASH 
DIG top 1?
2020-03-15 18:22
#87
 | 
Brazil xacinero 
Ok, I'd like to believe that, too.
2020-03-15 18:35
I think it is a top 10 team easily. I don't know how people think a team consisting consistent f0rest and hallzerk with madly high ratings and now inform GtR can not make it with aimer like friberg and xist as fragging IGL
2020-03-15 18:45
#93
 | 
Germany t1meey 
AND WILL SURPRISE A LOT OF PEOPLE" he was right about this haha
2020-03-15 18:55
this is gonna age well
2020-03-15 19:17
#97
daps | 
North America JC_123 
Prove they can lose to tier 2 orgless team
2020-03-15 19:39
#98
 | 
Germany ToiletShitter 
xaxaxaxaxaxaxa
2020-03-15 19:43
#99
KRIMZ | 
Denmark slacking 
then you wake up to realize top30 is the best they can achieve
2020-03-15 20:14
#100
method | 
United States f0xes` 
They say Legends Never Die, but sometimes I wish they would and stop further tarnishing the remnants of their legacy.
2020-03-15 20:14
#104
Dosia | 
Europe topkek8 
> they didn't win anything since iem oakland 2017 nov > THEY WILL SURPRISE A LOT OF PEOPLE keep dreaming mr Prindiville
2020-03-15 22:12
ez 4 DIG
2020-03-16 14:30
same shit team tier5 for life
2020-03-16 16:03
Do they have no dignitas?
2020-03-16 17:11
Line up will accomplish nothing and you're insane for buying them if you bought them.
2020-03-16 17:15
why u do dis
2020-03-22 01:57
Can't wait for them to change the 5th guy for another 2 years.
2020-03-16 21:20
"Veterans" - No. "Washed up Check-Stealing Swedes"-Yes.
2020-03-17 16:02
#116
 | 
Belgium twentyfourJE 
your new logo sucks balls compared to the old one
2020-03-17 18:13
said every CEO ever.
2020-03-18 12:03
This guy probably hasn't watched cs before
2020-03-20 22:02
Will never win a t1 tournament
2020-03-22 03:57
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