How GamerLegions' misfits became open-circuit poster boys
Become immersed in the stories behind the players who rocked the European RMR and are seeking to do the same in Brazil.
GamerLegion came out of nowhere to take the European RMR by storm, running top quality squads like FaZe and Spirit all the way to multiple overtimes and besting G2 in series play. Their excellent showing earned them qualification to the IEM Rio Major, an even more impressive feat considering they were by far the lowest-ranked team to do so, No. 60 in the world at the time.
What made GamerLegion's run even more compelling, beyond the underdog story of the squad as a whole, was the fascinating storylines of the players as individuals. Their in-game leader Kamil "siuhy" Szkaradek is on a quest to prove himself after a wildly successful stint in MOUZ NXT did not earn him a callup to the main squad, whilst their AWPer Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand is another MOUZ castoff searching for redemption after a woeful 2021. Nicolas "Keoz" Dgus is a rifler who experienced a bizarre journey to the top, having gotten there via both the CIS and French scenes, with Isak "isak" Fahlén and Mihai "iM" Ivan, the stalwarts of the organisation, surviving the previous failed GamerLegion lineup to serve as the foundation for the current, already more successful one.
When the IEM Rio Challengers Stage commences on October 31 GamerLegion will still find themselves amongst the underdogs, despite their run at the RMR, but considering the form they have shown themselves capable of it may well be foolish to bet against them. Dive with HLTV into the tales behind one of the most intriguing teams gracing Brazil's shores, and get acquainted with the roster that just might make a shock run deep into CS:GO's premier competition.
The vindication of siuhy
siuhy will arrive in Rio riding high on the knowledge that his first steps beyond MOUZ NXT have, so far, been a roaring success. The man who led the MOUZ academy project to four WePlay Academy League titles has continued to build upon that body of work by taking a brand-new GamerLegion roster to the Major against the odds, and the Major itself provides an opportunity to further inflate his stock.
It may very well seem like a vindication of the young Pole to many after he was never provided an opportunity to step up to the main MOUZ roster, an opportunity that three of his former Academy teammates have enjoyed. There are plenty of young pros who would resent the fact that immense success was not enough to garner them a shot to impress with the senior squad, but siuhy takes a mature and thoughtful stance on the issue.
"Playing for an academy team, there is always that thought of "it would be nice to get promoted," but I never made this my main goal, I didn't want to only focus on getting promoted to the main roster."
Four WePlay Academy League trophies provide solid evidence that the 20-year-old IGL and his teammates most certainly had their eyes on the prize whilst they plied their trade for MOUZ NXT. Not only did they dominate the academy circuit but they also tested their mettle in a plethora of tier-two online events, where they took impressive victories over the likes of SINNERS and FORZE and made deep runs, further cementing their tier-one potential. For siuhy, the experience was more important than the success.
"I've never had goals to win this, win that. I always told myself to use the chance I have right now to work on myself and to improve for the next opportunity. I believe that success comes with time if you approach it correctly. Gaining the experience that I have already gained was a success on its own, not many players get the chance to improve and get the opportunity that I received at such early moments in your career."
This success and experience was garnered with not just the one roster. siuhy had to adapt throughout his time with MOUZ NXT, incorporating new and raw talent into his squad on multiple occasions as first Ádám "torzsi" Torzsás and then Jon "JDC" de Castro were whisked away to bolster the ranks of the main team. He cites this as a vital part of his development.
"I gained the perfect experience from MOUZ NXT. I had the opportunity to play in my first international roster and then I had the chance to experiment with different players which taught me how to deal with different players and different attitudes on the team. It helped me take a huge step forward in my career. We had our ups and downs but we always worked to solve the issue."
The proof that siuhy's time spent adjusting to new players from different cultures lies before our eyes, as in mere months at the helm of a new team, he has led them to the promised land of the Major. In doing so he and his squad ran top-quality teams in the form of Spirit and FaZe all the way to multiple overtimes at the RMR, and also defeated G2. Such an impressive performance came out of the blue for most pundits and viewers, yet siuhy's hard work on MOUZ NXT left him feeling confident about leading his new squad.
"When I was joining GamerLegion, I was feeling ready for this step-up, my time in NXT was a preparation period for this moment. I feel like I have given the team (GamerLegion) something fresh, and they picked up on it really quickly and they have trust in me to continue doing my thing. I want to continue growing as a person and as a player here in GamerLegion, this is my opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the world."
The Polish tactician exudes maturity and quiet confidence, and as such clearly bears no ill will towards his former organisation. MOUZ, however, may end up ruing their decision to let him go. They will commence their campaign in Rio on October 31 alongside GamerLegion, and there is every possibility that the two squads may meet in Brazil. Should that match go in favour of siuhy, or should GamerLegion progress to the Legends Stage whilst MOUZ do not, there will be plenty in the MOUZ camp who will be left pondering what might have been had siuhy been at the helm of their squad.
The redemption of acoR
acoR burst into the consciousness of the tier-one scene playing with Tricked, alongside a roster full of talent that would eventually find its way onto top-tier teams. Considering the players' now-established pedigree, it is understandable that the squad managed to grab an at the time surprise victory at the V4 Future Sports LAN in 2019, where they bested a field featuring the likes of MOUZ, Ninjas in Pyjamas and MIBR.
Eventually, the team signed for MAD Lions and continued their rise, grabbing another trophy in the form of Flashpoint 1, and picking up a litany of top-two and top-four finishes at tier-two events. They also displayed their ability to hang with the very best, beating then-world No. 4 MOUZ and world No. 3 fnatic during DreamHack Masters Spring 2020. acoR was not surprised by the team's success.
"We had very good chemistry and everyone was playing well etc. I expected us to go in the Top 20 at some point with the players we had. I could feel we had the potential, we just needed to unleash it."
Throughout acoR was the team's premier fragger, AWPing to an elite level as the main carry force. The squad was unsurprisingly picked apart by bigger organisations and acoR found his way to MOUZ, where he linked up with the likes of Robin "ropz" Kool and David "frozen" Čerňanský on a roster that seemed, on paper, to have the potential to anchor themselves in the top 10.
Unfortunately for the Danish AWPer, his time on MOUZ was only just short of a disaster. The team did manage some brief highlights, grabbing a trophy at Flashpoint 3 in mid-2021, but outside of this, it was almost exclusively early exits from tournaments and underwhelming performances, from the team and also the Dane personally. His rating dropped from 1.14 for 2020 to 1.03 for 2021.
"I liked MOUZ as an organisation, but the team just didn't feel like a "team", it was more like five individuals trying to accomplish something instead of a unit."
Not only was the project a disappointment, with the 25-year-old struggling to find his best form, but he also suffered some horrific abuse as a result.
"To some extent, yes, I think it was fair to criticize me, up until the death threats and more severe comments I and my family was getting."
acoR was benched from MOUZ at the beginning of 2022, and spent almost six months out of action as he awaited a chance to go elsewhere, eventually finding himself alongside another MOUZ alumni in the form of siuhy on GamerLegion. It was a fresh start for a player whose career had hit a substantial stumbling block, and he took the opportunity with both hands.
acoR has refound his best form playing for his new team, his rating during his short time with GamerLegion thus far sitting at a monstrous 1.27 across 27 maps. This includes a 1.31-rated effort in a narrow defeat against FaZe, and more impressively a 1.32-rated carry performance in a 2-1 series victory over G2 at the RMR. The Dane is back to carrying games against some of the best squads in the world, and he feels time on the bench helped him to rediscover himself.
"The organisation is really nice and we hit it off chemistry-wise as well. We all want to work, nobody is complaining about anything, and everything feels nice in the team. Personally, I've been grinding a lot in my time on the bench, and had some time to think about how I work individually and in the team for the future."
What is certain is that acoR is well on the way to redeeming himself after his difficult time on MOUZ, and a deep run at the IEM Rio Major will do wonders in further expelling the demons of that tough period. With his personal level up in the rafters and his team riding a high, expect acoR to do some damage come October 31.
Keoz’s unique journey
21-year-old rifler Keoz has enjoyed an interesting career thus far in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Despite sporting the Belgian flag on HLTV he is also half-Ukrainian, and therefore fluent in both French and Russian. This unique cultural identity offered him a wider range of opportunities than many aspiring pros may have access to, and his entry to the professional scene came with Syman.
"Naturally when I was coming up in the PUG scene, I got to meet and play with people from both the CIS Scene and the French-speaking scene, and then my ascension to the pro side of CS:GO just happened to be with a few of my friends from the CIS scene."
His time in the CIS squad brought a reasonable amount of success, including a smattering of solid placings in tier-two events, but the pinnacle of the team during his tenure came in the form of qualification for the StarLadder Major Challengers Stage. Gaining experience at a Major at the tender age of 19 will have done wonders for Keoz's development, and similarly to siuhy he had the opportunity to play with a range of different iterations of the Syman squad, which would eventually be signed to K23. This development showed on the server as the youngster's ratings began to improve, and he ended his tenure with the squad by winning the European Development Championship, posting a 1.21 rating over 11 maps in the process.
After spending the better part of two years playing in the CIS scene Keoz took the leap to the French scene, signing for LDLC, switching to playing in a different language and with players from a completely different environment. Keoz identifies the switch to a new experience as something he was actively searching for.
"I don't think there is a deeper reason for it, definitely no negative feelings towards my Russian-speaking ex-teammates. I simply felt like there was time to try something new in my career and this time it happened to be with the people from the French scene."
His stint with LDLC brought little success outside of regional tournaments and eventually he would move to the roster that quickly became Falcons. The move to Falcons bore far more fruit with the team establishing itself as one of the better in tier-two, emphasised by strong showings like a second-place finish in the OMEN WGR Europe Challenge and a winning effort in the ESL Challenger League Season 41. Unfortunately for Keoz his time with the French squad was short-lived, as he was benched to make room for Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and Kévin "misutaaa" Rabier after only a few months. Not to be deterred, the Belgo-Ukrainian sought another drastic change of scenery, this time making the move to an international roster in the form of GamerLegion.
"I'd been benched from Falcons so I tried my best to bounce back as fast as possible in a good project because my hunger to compete was really high as the RMR quals were really close after my benching. So we did some research with my agent about projects that are kinda rebuilding and I managed to get a trial here in GamerLegion and it went really well as on my trial we qualified into the RMR."
Despite seeming like something of a journeyman at this point in his career, having played with six different teams since 2020, the 21-year-old feels every step he took was a natural one, including his move to his current squad.
"Although it might look like I switched a lot of teams, outside of the change from playing in Russian-speaking teams to French, I feel like the transitions were smooth. For example, both neaLaN and n0rb3r7 (for Russian) and hAdji and Maka (for French) were part of previous iterations of teams I was also a part of, and we took the following steps together. Naturally, this was all before GamerLegion, which indeed was the most contrasting change, and it was all done because I believe in the idea of the team and I consider it to be exactly what I needed in my career."
What is certain is the rifler's ambition, his desire to constantly press forward with a willingness to do so no matter what that might entail. He hopes that his current path will include long-term success with GamerLegion.
"Yeah definitely I have high hopes for the future if we keep doing the work we've been doing since the beginning of the team, I'm pretty sure we can install ourselves solidly in tier 1."
The core of isak and iM
Whilst the current GamerLegion lineup can be credited with helping to raise the profile of the organisation in the eyes of the majority of the Counter-Strike audience, there have been multiple lineups playing under the GamerLegion name since as far back as 2019. Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans were part of the very first iteration of the team. Many players have come and gone since then, however, two members of the current squad have been stalwarts of GamerLegion for the past 18 months: isak and iM.
For Swede isak, his move to GamerLegion came after some time grinding the lower echelons of Counter-Strike with his countrymen where he showed glimpses of potential, but he truly stepped up his game in his final months playing for Lilmix. A string of six tournaments saw him post a 1.20 rating or better in five of them, and this strong form earned him his shot with GamerLegion.
"In the last months of Lilmix I had a good period I would say, and at the time GamerLegion was doing roster changes/trailing new people. I knew eraa since earlier cause he has always been a good friend of mine so I spoke to him a bit about their situation and he told me to ask ash about a potential tryout for me. Ash researched me a bit and I got a tryout and they liked me."
iM spent a long time waiting for his opportunity, with over three years of experience garnered on the Romanian Nexus squad before getting his shot on an international team, and he was their best-rated player for the majority of that period.
"GamerLegion saw something in me when I was playing for Nexus and they gave me the chance to play against "big dogs", I'm happy that they have a lot of trust in me even with the new project and I'm glad to be a part of it."
The roster they joined achieved little of note, generally only making deep runs in what could be considered tier-three events such as the William Hill Cup, and at their peak resided just inside the top-30 for a few months. This wasn't enough for the organisation and coach Ashley "ash" Battye, who stated in an interview when the new roster was put together that "We hit a little period where we weren't really progressing as much as we could be doing. It's been a long process and it's been sad to say goodbye to those three guys, but it's something we're hoping to make ourselves more competitive." isak and iM were trusted to serve as the building blocks for the next iteration of the roster, and isak cited a strong relationship between himself and the organisation as the reason for the now long-term partnership.
"I feel like GamerLegion is a really good organisation to grow with as both a player and a person, everyone working within the org is very nice as well and I felt very welcomed when I first joined GamerLegion, so I feel comfortable here."
Since the two stalwarts were joined by acoR, siuhy and Keoz, the initial signs have been positive. Following their impressive and successful run at the European RMR the team qualified for the Elisa Masters Espoo LAN ahead of teams like Movistar Riders and Sprout, and on top of this they have coaxed strong form out of their individuals, particularly acoR and iM. With their appearance in Brazil around the corner, isak is optimistic about how the new squad is shaping up compared to the previous version.
"It's two different teams which both have their good and bad. I really liked the roster we had with the last team, but sometimes things don't work out and you need a change. I feel like this version of GamerLegion has more experience and a higher skill ceiling. We all connect really well with each other and I feel like we can problem-solve situations in a good way."
This GamerLegion squad's success represents everything glorious about the open Major circuit that CS:GO is blessed with. Young talents able to prove their worth against the very best, an older head able to revitalise his career, and a raft of players proving that nationality and country borders can be overcome in pursuit of glory. Most importantly, all of this has been earned. GamerLegion fought for their right to be in Brazil, battled their way to a chance to write an exciting new chapter in their stories. Join them on October 31 to see what the next chapter holds.