device: "I had a lot of time to reflect on my career and how I can create my best possible legacy"
The Danish AWPer spoke about his motivations to join NIP and his expectations, both for himself and for his new team.
Nicolai "device" Reedtz and NIP CEO Hicham Chahine gave a press conference following the announcement of the star AWPer's signing for the Swedish organization, in which the two spoke about the surprising transfer of the Danish player from Astralis, for whom he had been playing for the past five years, to the outfit under the orders of head coach Björn "THREAT" Pers.
"There were a lot of deciding factors," device said kicking off the press conference. "I've lived in Sweden for a long time now and there was a lot of, not stress, but a lot of time put into going back and forth between Denmark and Sweden. The energy it takes [to do that] is something that I could put elsewhere, into becoming a better player, and I think opening up the possibility of me putting that into training hours is a big factor for me."
The second factor, he added, was the Swedish organization's commitment to creating a performance culture. "I didn't have that much knowledge when we started talking. I just knew NIP is investing in the same things that I believe in, so I'm positively surprised about the setup here and I really think that I've landed in the right place to elevate myself to a new level.
"Everyone on the team knows they're very talented and that the sky is the limit. I hope I can bring that experience and know-how in some elements and the performance team can take care of the rest. I think those were the biggest deciding factor."
device leaves Astralis behind after enjoying a fruitful five years with the Danish organisation, during which he won four Major trophies and several other international titles. He is looking forward to this new chapter of his career and has his sights set on winning his fifth Major title in the home of his new team.
"I had a lot of time to reflect on what I want for myself in my career and how I can create my best possible legacy as a player and achieve my goals," he said. "The challenge here at NIP is a brilliant one, bringing a Major trophy to Sweden with the next Major [being] in Stockholm, and in general achieving championships in another home. That's probably what defines you the most.
"It's not only because we had a few bad results at Astralis, that had been the case many times before, and I believe the team will be able to get out of that small slump. When you look at Astralis we still competed in playoffs, but that's just not enough."
The arrival of a player of device's pedigree is enough to create a new level of expectation and change the dynamics of a team. This is especially true in a young squad like NIP's, in which the calling duties are shared by Hampus "hampus" Poser and Erik "ztr" Gustafsson. The latter, 17, came out of relative obscurity in February when he was promoted from the academy squad following Simon "twist" Eliasson's departure. Unlike device, he's still not listed as an official member on NIP's website.
"There are no changes to ztr's role, he has been calling on two maps and that will continue," Chahine said. "We have over the last two years been building a performance culture of having no egos on the team, and that ethos continues now.
"ztr is very young. If you look back, he came out of nowhere to our Young Ninjas academy team and he will obviously be a little bit starstruck, but that's something we're aware of and the performance staff and coaching staff are working on it, but I don't see any big issues with that. I think this will only be positive and my big hope for this transfer is that device will activate all four players to a different level than they're activated today to achieve consistency."
device agreed with Chahine regarding what he wants his contributions to the team to be, saying that he hopes to "push the players and the team to elevate the consistency and to lift trophies" while assuring that he does not want to impose his will. "There are a lot of different ways that I think I can contribute, but the most important one is that I don't come with the experience I have and say: 'this is how we did it at Astralis.' I'm coming into a culture that works."
device currently holds more MVP awards (18) than any other player and has been in the top five in every HLTV Top 20 player of the year ranking since 2015, though the No.1 spot has continued to elude him. "It's a side goal for me," he said. "I've always wanted to be the best in the world. It's one thing I don't have." For now, however, he is focused on bringing NIP back to the top and helping the team to win their first Major title since ESL One Cologne 2014.
"I think I will leave a better legacy and mark in Counter-Strike history if I can actually [win a Major and create an era] in another team rather than becoming the best player in the world, which is always going to be subjective in some way," he said.
"Achieving the ultimate goal, which is the Major, and creating an era with NIP are actually my biggest dreams. If I become the best player in the world while doing that, or if one of my teammates becomes the best player in the world while doing that, it will make me immensely happy, honestly."
For NIP, who have undergone profound transformations over the past few years — from being the most dominant team in the early days of CS:GO and the home of legends of the game such as Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, to struggling for results and becoming a squad that is now fighting to once again scale the mountain and reach the top by betting on a renewal of the Swedish scene while fostering a new generation of talent —, the signing of device at the player's request is a sign of progress and a testament that the organisation is moving in the right direction.
"It has been four or five years of really hard work rebuilding Ninjas in Pyjamas," Chahine said in an emotional closing statement. "I'm hyped to get device on the team, it will be absolutely awesome to watch the games, but what warms my heart the most is that we've gotten NIP to a place where device wants to come to us.
"That's the most important part for me and also seeing the smile on the team's face when device was here for the first time today. That really makes me happy and I'm super excited to see what we'll deliver through the rest of the year."