How Bad News Bears emerged from the ashes of Chaos to keep NA's dream alive

The North Americans want to prove they have more than just a puncher's chance in Cologne.

In a region that has had its playerbase ravaged during the online era due to a multitude of factors, only a few names below the upper echelon have shone through to represent North American Counter-Strike.

If one had looked at teams at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there were plenty of promising rosters - Swole Patrol, Orgless, Chaos, New England Whalers, and Triumph, to name a few. But following the release of VALORANT, the cuts to the ESL Pro League team slots, and a lack of organisational interest and support for North America as a region, those once-strong tier two contenders have had their players flock to Riot Games’ FPS by the dozens, leaving the pool of talent a fraction of what it once was.

One of the region’s few remaining experienced in-game leaders, Joshua "⁠steel⁠" Nissan, departed for the new esports title, and his former team Chaos, who housed two of NA’s hottest prospects and secured tournament wins over the likes of Liquid and FURIA at the end of 2020, were unable to find a new home. With that lack of financial security, the remaining players on the roster started to take their leave, putting another nail in the coffin of North American Counter-Strike.

With the team’s in-game leader, Anthony "⁠vanity⁠" Malaspina, departing for VALORANT alongside Nathan "⁠leaf⁠" Orf, and Erick "⁠Xeppaa⁠" Bach moving to Cloud9, a plan was hatched to make use of the Chaos ESEA MDL slot that remained. The new roster would mark the reunion of Jonathan "⁠Jonji⁠" Carey and Peter "⁠ptr⁠" Gurney, who had previously played together on Riot Squad and Bad News Bears, with Michael "⁠Swisher⁠" Schmid, Nick "⁠alter⁠" Jackson, and Gabe "⁠Spongey⁠" Greiner - two relative rookies, and a solid supporting pillar - making up the rest of the squad.

IEM Cologne marks the first time Jonji and ptr will reunite in person since Riot Squad

For the team that emerged from the ashes of Chaos, what followed was a laborious journey to arrive at IEM Cologne, one that has become a bastion of hope for the North American region: Months of grind through playing against the same teams, taking part in as many ESEA Cash Cups as possible in order to survive off the prize money, and qualification for ESL Pro League by topping ESEA Premier. They have a relentless drive to prove that NA still has it, not just for results or money to continue competing, but also to keep alive their hope of joining an organisation that can give them the chance to pursue their dreams. For Jonji, this is also the chance to bounce back after his team disbanded, and to make a grand return at the first LAN tournament since the start of the pandemic, one that he’s been watching since he was 16 years old.

"Honestly, being part of Cologne and it being the first LAN back as the world tries to get back to normal is a dream come true," Jonji tells HLTV.org "I think the pandemic, for everyone, has probably been really rough in many ways. I think the gym closing and my team of really good friends - Chaos - dying when we were showing that we could hang with anybody, waiting for our chance to go to Europe to prove ourselves finally, made it incredibly hard for me for a while. Since then I’ve been finding new ways to cope with the stress that is being an NACS player, and experiencing something I never thought I would.”

One of the key factors behind the stress Jonji refers to is the ongoing search for an organisation. Despite posting strong results, which began with early Cash Cup victories and converted into winning ESEA Premier Season 37 to earn a Pro League spot and a ticket to the IEM Cologne Play-In, the team have found little success in earning bids. But even with the lack of interest, the 21-year-old Canadian remains hopeful that the return to LAN and consistent performances from his team can prove that they are worthy.

"I believe when DreamHack Open events and LANs come back to North America we will see more organisations either come back to CS or gain an interest," Jonji explains. "And if not, we as Bad News Bears are trying to show everyone and ourselves that nothing is impossible and that if you really want to do something you do not need to always take the lazy route and wait for things to come, you can take it into your own hands and do it yourself."

Those haven't been just empty words, either. Amid the uncertainty and ahead of their Cologne trip, the team partnered with Boston-based Big Chillin, a fellow ESEA Premier organisation, to release a limited run of apparel in order to help support the players on their trip abroad.

The entire collection sold out after a little over two hours.

“The support has been unreal and this whole experience of actually trying to do something with Bad News Bears just gives the word excited a new meaning,” Jonji says. “We get to learn something new every day, practice expressing our creative sides, and learn some business/management tips and tricks.”

It was only two days later that Leetify announced they would sponsor Bad News Bears in their IEM Cologne and ESL Pro League campaigns, offering them both financial support and collaboration on future video content, something which the players were already attempting on their own.

“Leetify wanting to partner with us was just another breath of fresh air that made us feel like we were on track and doing things properly, and will always welcome with a big bear hug anyone that wants to collaborate,” Jonji stated. “The team and myself really appreciate the time, support, and energy people give us.”

Shakezullah took up leadership duties for Bad News Bears following his departure from Triumph

With the security of a sponsorship, merch sales, and fan support behind them, Bad News Bears can now fully turn their attention to the IEM Cologne Play-In, where they will take on MOUZ in their opening match. The match not only marks the team’s first chance to play in Europe, but their first true test since adding Alan "⁠Shakezullah⁠" Hardeman in place of alter. Their clear status as an underdog does little to unnerve Jonji, who remains confident that Bad News Bears can make their mark despite limited international experience.

“I’m not going to be one of those people who lie and say we dominated every scrim and look the best we ever have because that just was not the case,” the 21-year-old explained. “However, we took every practice match and bit of server time as seriously as we could and really just put our heads down and did not hold anything back when reviewing, even in practice.

“It means the world to me to finally get a chance to play these teams. I've been playing in NA and making it to a few tournaments here and there, but I think my way of coming up and having a few unfortunate maps not go in my favor taught me a lot, and turned me into the player I am now - the one who is ready to be around for longer and make a mark. I have every single bit of faith that if our team plays our game, doesn’t let the small things worry us, and we just shoot the bad guys and have fun while doing so, I think we could beat anyone. Personally, I would like to make it into the main event. I have waited too long to come here to lose a few games and be gone, that’s not why I came here, and not why we came here.”

For the community at large, expectations of Bad News Bears coming into IEM Cologne may be low, especially when one considers that they are the second lowest-ranked side in attendance, only behind ViCi. But despite being the only team without an organisation among the field of 24, spirits are high in the Bad News Bears camp, and complacency on the part of any of their opponents is something the team is looking to punish.

For the North Americans, simply getting to play in Europe isn’t the goal — it’s just the start.

"I hope we can put on a good show for you guys," Jonji says.

United States Peter 'ptr' Gurney
Peter 'ptr' Gurney
Age:
31
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1105
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.61
Canada Jonathan 'Jonji' Carey
Jonathan 'Jonji' Carey
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
912
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.71
United States Nathan 'leaf' Orf
Nathan 'leaf' Orf
Age:
18
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
254
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.69
United States Gabe 'Spongey' Greiner
Gabe 'Spongey' Greiner
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
587
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.62
Canada Joshua 'steel' Nissan
Joshua 'steel' Nissan
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
617
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.69
United States Michael 'Swisher' Schmid
Michael 'Swisher' Schmid
Age:
23
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
363
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.69
United States Anthony 'vanity' Malaspina
Anthony 'vanity' Malaspina
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
609
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.66
United States Alan 'Shakezullah' Hardeman
Alan 'Shakezullah' Hardeman
Age:
23
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
609
KPR:
0.61
DPR:
0.64
United States Nick 'alter' Jackson
Nick 'alter' Jackson
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
274
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.72
United States Erick 'Xeppaa' Bach
Erick 'Xeppaa' Bach
Age:
21
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
367
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.68
ez for sexy swisher
2021-07-05 02:33
15 replies
MOUZ will rekt NA kids
2021-07-05 02:33
9 replies
-1 Bear is bigger than puny mouse, easy win for da bears
2021-07-05 02:55
2 replies
+1 shake will outbrain dexter and jonji will dump a fat shit all over mousesports ezpz
2021-07-05 03:12
+1
2021-07-05 10:16
0/8 ptr >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> acoR
2021-07-05 06:05
Kids? Ptr is like 30
2021-07-05 08:52
4 replies
and he still looks like a 20 year old :DDDDDDDD
2021-07-05 10:49
2 replies
I mean he has had the same picture for like 4+ years if I am not mistaken
2021-07-05 17:39
1 reply
ah would make sense
2021-07-06 18:50
just checked and holy shit ptr is 31
2021-07-10 18:44
#11
 | 
United States Rayduh
+1 and Shakezullah
2021-07-05 02:36
+1
2021-07-05 02:56
+1
2021-07-05 05:58
Really want them to get destroyed and disband, cocky mfs who think they can play CS, pls play 2 games and go back to fucking NA
2021-07-05 10:26
+111
2021-07-05 14:16
#2
 | 
United Arab Emirates Gooneev
nice
2021-07-05 02:32
#3
 | 
Finland Cucumber))
nice
2021-07-05 02:32
2 replies
nice
2021-07-05 04:41
nice
2021-07-05 07:41
BnB to the moon!!!
2021-07-05 02:33
#6
 | 
Brazil Brunoow13
poor team
2021-07-05 02:34
#7
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
unlucky but mouz gonna fuck them
2021-07-05 02:34
14 replies
#12
 | 
North America drac0z
nt acor
2021-07-05 02:36
#13
 | 
United States Rayduh
probably cuz mouz rekt every EU team in flashpoint 3
2021-07-05 02:36
+1 really unlucky for them, sad theyre going to get ass raped by the goat of cs, ropz and his successor godzen, it it what it is
2021-07-05 02:50
11 replies
#25
 | 
United States NABOT
Ropz is not goat
2021-07-05 02:51
10 replies
flag
2021-07-05 02:52
9 replies
#30
 | 
United States NABOT
Peak niko and cold could outaim ropz easy, ropz has to hit new peaks and be good throughout his career to even be considered goat
2021-07-05 03:00
8 replies
#39
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
Niko's mouz <<< ropz's mouz
2021-07-05 03:19
7 replies
#42
 | 
United States NABOT
Ok? NiKo peak faze> ropz entire career
2021-07-05 03:28
6 replies
#44
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
2021-07-05 03:32
#45
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
how could i even reply to that b8, men u dont deserves "nt"
2021-07-05 03:33
4 replies
#50
 | 
United States NABOT
Arguing with a biased ass mouz fan
2021-07-05 03:59
3 replies
+1
2021-07-05 09:20
2 replies
#102
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
Ok poortkye with an Armenia flag, gł in life
2021-07-05 11:16
1 reply
Ahha, butthurt. Danish arrogance at finest
2021-07-05 13:27
#8
 | 
Brazil S0N1CANGEL
Cheaters
2021-07-05 02:35
4 replies
LULW NA = XITERS
2021-07-05 02:45
2 replies
BRAZILIAN STILL MALDING ABOUT CHAOS KEKW
2021-07-05 06:05
1 reply
KEKW
2021-07-05 14:44
leaf > literally every MIBR player ever
2021-07-05 14:55
#9
 | 
United States Rayduh
MAKE US PROUD :)
2021-07-05 02:35
1 reply
#117
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
Nt
2021-07-05 17:15
#10
 | 
North America drac0z
in 2 weeks HOW BAD NEWS BEARS OVERCAME ADVERSITY TO WIN IEM COLOGNE
2021-07-05 02:35
7 replies
that title sounds like some essay I'd write if I was in the grade school
2021-07-05 02:52
3 replies
#31
 | 
United States NABOT
Sounds like something that was on HLTV hltv.org/news/31892/how-dexter-overcame-..
2021-07-05 03:01
2 replies
#33
 | 
North America drac0z
lmao
2021-07-05 03:03
HLTV articles written by grade school kids confirmed
2021-07-05 06:06
+1 lmao
2021-07-05 03:06
1 reply
would be the stuff of fairytales if it did somehow happen, still, hoping they do well enough to not look bad. NA scene needs another decent team or two badly
2021-07-05 12:21
#118
 | 
Denmark theHeniek
Nt
2021-07-05 17:16
#14
 | 
Chile cristiaan
NA CS Pog
2021-07-05 02:36
#15
 | 
United States t1rbr
hopefully mouz and bnb both make it to the main event
2021-07-05 02:37
BNB IEM COLOGNE WINNERS REMEMBER THIS COMMENT
2021-07-05 02:39
1 reply
I remember it
2021-07-12 13:24
i get the pun
2021-07-05 02:41
BnB gonna get bad news soon
2021-07-05 02:42
#20
 | 
North America kw13
TO THE MOON
2021-07-05 02:45
Love me a good article
2021-07-05 02:46
#22
NAF | 
Albania Zhurma
BNB TO THE MOON
2021-07-05 02:48
when mouz scores them 16-0 that "american dream" will be over hahaha
2021-07-05 02:49
3 replies
#34
 | 
North America drac0z
bnb> mouz imo
2021-07-05 03:04
1 reply
+1
2021-07-05 07:55
where's m0nesy?????
2021-07-05 04:36
EZ 4 THE BEST REGION IN CSGO also go check out their youtube channel, give them some love youtube.com/channel/UC7KMQ-kuSBrgTQ1KczI..
2021-07-05 03:10
#35
 | 
United States B0b3rT
Let’s fucking go bnb to the moon baby!
2021-07-05 03:06
#37
 | 
China HEIDASHUAi
If they beat LDLC I will be very impressed
2021-07-05 03:07
Shout out to my boi PTR
2021-07-05 03:26
#41
 | 
Germany ninja_pc
BnB had tons of firepower and individual skill, when they brought in the IGL and mindset of Shake, that's what is going to continue to take this NA roster to the top. Really looking forward to see them develop as a team moving forward.
2021-07-05 03:27
3 replies
its csgo bro....relax
2021-07-05 09:41
2 replies
#144
 | 
Germany ninja_pc
your on a gaming forum directly focused exclusively on just cs:go and your commenting like you think your some chad that is too cool for school, i think you need to relax on the comments you post.
2021-07-12 08:29
1 reply
no ur just way too hyped about a mediocre team in a dying game
2021-07-14 06:53
im sorry but how did this team "emerge from the ashes". Damn even hltv is trying to revive NA cs
2021-07-05 03:28
#46
 | 
Korea sensou
ez for bnb
2021-07-05 03:39
#47
DD | 
Andorra breasts
U S A
2021-07-05 03:43
#48
 | 
Russia ToughGuy
why tier4 team gets so much hype just cuz they're from NA? stop this bias shit, noone f*kin cares seriously
2021-07-05 03:47
4 replies
There are still a lot of NA fans and much less good NA teams than before. BNB has a lot of fans, probably more than Russian teams at the same level
2021-07-05 04:02
1 reply
The next juggernaut lmao
2021-07-06 13:20
navi fan tier20 team
2021-07-05 05:22
1 reply
actually navi have more % wins in CIS and EU than Extra salt in NA
2021-07-05 06:25
Liquid No 1 NA tho
2021-07-05 03:47
4th of july easy for usa
2021-07-05 04:06
EZ FOR GOD PTR
2021-07-05 04:13
GL for them, hope a ORG will give them more opportunities
2021-07-05 04:19
#55
 | 
Japan Peine
>implying it is alive
2021-07-05 04:29
Great article, thanks Nohte
2021-07-05 04:59
GL to Ptr, Swisher and co.
2021-07-05 05:00
last place
2021-07-05 05:01
Sad that they suck =(
2021-07-05 05:03
GOOD LUCK BOYS
2021-07-05 05:04
extra salt: am i a joke to you?
2021-07-05 05:18
3 replies
ES aren't in Cologne though
2021-07-05 07:56
2 replies
ES is the only NA team thar can hang with Furia and TL tho
2021-07-06 05:34
1 reply
fair
2021-07-06 06:07
Xaxa NA SCENE IS TIER 4 BNB ONLY? XAXA
2021-07-05 05:36
Will be a sad day for NA, when they go out with no wins to mouz and LDLC.
2021-07-05 05:48
na cs lul
2021-07-05 06:07
they will get destroyed by any bad eu team but playing in tier 1 tourney pls stop with dumb threads hltv..
2021-07-05 06:20
BNB TO DA MOOOOOOOOON!!!!
2021-07-05 06:42
Imagine having ptr the cringelord as one of the top players in your scene. Yikes. youtube.com/watch?v=ZJOOdTaX6_o
2021-07-05 06:45
12 replies
#78
 | 
Sweden fawku
Should take a look at your own scene before talking shit lol. That's a bigger yikes buddy
2021-07-05 06:50
9 replies
I'm talking about NA scene, therefore the comparison is EU scene. Nice try.
2021-07-05 17:50
8 replies
#122
 | 
Sweden fawku
So you're admitting to dick riding other countries success
2021-07-05 23:11
7 replies
Says the american fakeflagging as a swedish guy. What's the matter? Too embarrassed to put on your own flag?
2021-07-06 08:51
6 replies
#129
 | 
Sweden fawku
Classic misdirection....
2021-07-06 10:14
5 replies
ok fakeflagger.
2021-07-06 14:13
4 replies
#133
 | 
Sweden fawku
Misdirection again. Ashamed he's dick riding
2021-07-06 18:59
3 replies
You mean like you misdirected from what I posted by asking who is my countries top player even though NA is not a country? Ok fakeflagger.
2021-07-06 22:36
2 replies
#138
 | 
Sweden fawku
Jesus your logic lol
2021-07-07 01:18
1 reply
Ok fakeflagger.
2021-07-07 08:47
Who's the biggest player in your scene? Perkz? Wait he's a LoL player
2021-07-05 07:55
1 reply
An American following CS:GO in 2021, looks like you need a new hobby. Try Valorant maybe.
2021-07-05 17:52
#79
 | 
North America drac0z
TO THE FUCKING MOON
2021-07-05 07:09
Get them an ORG
2021-07-05 08:16
1 reply
+1
2021-07-05 08:24
#88
REZ | 
Hong Kong Opekp
HOW BAD , NEWS bear EMERGED FROM THE ASHES OF CHAOS TO KEEP NA'S DREAM ALIVE
2021-07-05 09:20
1 reply
That bear is a phoenix
2021-07-05 10:56
Bad news! What? It's the dacia sandero!
2021-07-05 09:28
#BNBTOTHEMOON
2021-07-05 09:45
NA’s dream in 2021 more like not getting smashed on the first round
2021-07-05 10:32
1 reply
Hey I’m lookin for my boy howard you know where he is?
2021-07-05 11:40
#95
 | 
Brazil Zer0k
NA CS
2021-07-05 10:33
get em pete
2021-07-05 10:38
Like mouz but cheer for BnB to keep NA CS alive
2021-07-05 10:57
Man I really like both Mauz and BnB, hope they both make it through the Play-Ins
2021-07-05 11:02
#105
 | 
Sweden frozze90
Shakezullah! <3
2021-07-05 12:27
lets go ptr
2021-07-05 13:23
Good article.
2021-07-05 13:49
#109
 | 
Turkey v3z
a little hope for na cs. i would like to see them and other na teams in lans. gl mouz and bnb
2021-07-05 14:11
#111
 | 
Brazil Anarchybr
“ With the security of a sponsorship, merch sales, and fan support behind them, Bad News Bears can now fully turn their attention to the IEM Cologne Play-In” Fan support? Lmao they must have like 100 or 200 fans, mostly the players family members 🤣🤣🤣 Anyway, even with Jonji being an asshole, GL to them since Godzullah deserve it.
2021-07-05 14:20
Man... I was looking forward to Spongey and his dad hot tub stream... Guess it's not happening anytime soon eh...
2021-07-05 14:30
1st real test my brazilian a$$
2021-07-05 15:17
who cares about these guys with meme team name i automatically dont respect you
2021-07-05 23:58
Tier 4 team, that will get rekt, because on LAN, the tier 1 teams will be hungry to win it
2021-07-06 05:33
#BNBTOTHEMOON
2021-07-06 05:47
#134
 | 
Other Bactuga
BNB emerge from ashes very dark horse for this tournament trust me
2021-07-06 19:53
#137
 | 
Cyprus aazk
WELP
2021-07-07 00:12
F
2021-07-08 10:49
#141
 | 
Austria Grundz
pfffffhahahahahahahahahaha
2021-07-09 07:26
What dream?
2021-07-11 17:07
is it a joke or sth like that? You can't be serious. Are NA's dreams on the hands of BNB?
2021-07-12 13:28
ahahahahhahahaha
2021-07-13 11:19
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