THREAT: "I truly believed we would win a Major with device"
The Swedish coach made an appearance on HLTV Confirmed to talk about several subjects, including his time in Ninjas in Pyjamas and his plans for the future.
Björn "THREAT" Pers made his third appearance on HLTV Confirmed on Thursday to discuss his latest stint in Ninjas in Pyjamas and the reasons for his departure, talking with the panel about what the future holds for him as well as his wishes to return to a head coach position.
The Swede first touched on his return to the team in 2020 and described the year as a very tough one due to team results, alongside the pandemic situation that moved all events to an online setting. "2020 was by far my worst year as the coach," he said. "We went to Katowice, and mid tournament COVID happened. So I had to adapt to that new environment, and I think I handled it quite poorly, to be honest."
After a tough first year back, 2021 was a period of innovation for the Swedish organization. They were one of the first to launch their academy, the Young Ninjas, and were certainly not shy to give their youth players a chance in the main team. "The biggest thing in 2021 was the Young Ninjas squad, when we had youngsters putting a bit of pressure on the main team."
"I had a very good team behind me, we had a very solid system at that time. I know we were ahead of the curve compared to most tier-one teams. We practiced with Young Ninjas, we really used the scrims to the maximum. We were very efficient and also brought in mahone [full-time analyst], he helped me a lot with preparation."
Several players went in and out of the main team, with Erik "ztr" Gustafsson, Linus "LNZ" Holtäng, and Love "phzy" Smidebrant all getting a prolonged taste of tier-one action. "We wanted some more energy by bringing in ztr," reflected THREAT on the first addition from the Young Ninjas squad. The youngster also fulfilled calling duties, but he was soon out of the door after five months in the main team.
"There eventually comes a big discrepancy in experience that will catch up with the new players after the honeymoon period," THREAT said on the change. "After Flashpoint, we played really well, then we changed to LNZ. My mindset at that point was that I didn't want the year to become another 2020, when I was way too passive. LNZ and ztr are very evenly matched as players, so looking back that change might have been unnecessary."
The Ninjas in Pyjamas roster was still fully Swedish at that time, but doubts about whether that is the way forward were starting to creep in. "We were still a full Swedish lineup, and all of the other really good domestic talents were in other teams. At that point, we tried to make a Swedish team the best in the world. For that, you have to look outside the box, at the new up-and-coming players, and you might as well give them a chance immediately."
"We always asked ourselves if we wanted to go to an international team. But we wanted to keep the Swedish identity, we thought we could do it and we believed in Swedish CS."
THREAT also touched on the surprise addition of Nicolai "device" Reedtz to the lineup in April of 2021, something that caught the entire community off guard. "We had a list of players who we decided that if we can get them, we will get them. And device was on that list," the Swede said about the signing.
"I truly believed we would win a Major with him, he is the best player I worked with." When asked to expand on the latter point, he compared the Dane to greats such as Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg. "The difference is that device also has structure in his life, he is working really hard and that really works for him. But maybe if GeT_RiGht and f0rest were born later they would have the same career as device, that's how I see it."
After the device move failed to work out and the roster was once again thrown into disarray, Ninjas in Pyjamas eventually turned into an international team. They first signed Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen and later went out of the Nordic scene to sign young AWPer Daniil "headtr1ck" Valitov. "We went international after we saw we needed an AWPer, we were pushed into a corner. You could try to play around with it, but if the true end goal is to win a Major, it is very hard to justify keeping it Swedish."
At the end of 2022, THREAT departed the team to look for other opportunities. "When we brought Aleksib in, I was supposed to move further away from the teams and oversee all of them from a distance, which is what eventually led to my exit. I thought I should have more direct impact with the team, and I struggled to find my place once we signed Aleksib."
"I've had a few discussions with some orgs, but it hasn't materialized. I want to find something I really want. I truly believe I could have a good impact if I get the right team, and it would be really nice if I win a Major before I end my career. I believe I will have the most impact as a head coach, and I really miss it," THREAT revealed about his future plans, while also not ruling out a broadcast role in the near future.
To see what else THREAT had to say, you can check out the complete episode embedded above, or navigate to it here. You can also find other episodes of HLTV Confirmed on our YouTube channel, where there are also weekly news recaps, episodes of Counter-Quiz, and more.