The moments that defined MSL's career
HLTV recaps the career of one of CS:GO's most divisive in-game leaders after he announced his decision to retire from competition.
Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen, three years after his last tier one LAN, has hung up his mouse and keyboard for good.
His brief was often to lead Denmark's second-best side, one that put him in the pathway of talent like Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye, Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke, and Emil "Magisk" Reif at key moments in their careers.
On occasion, however, he could leap clear of that label, most notably with victory at EPICENTER: Moscow 2016 and DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018. Results have not materialized since then, even once he dropped to tier-two play after the pandemic, and a convincing tier-one offer never arrived through his letterbox.
Before COVID, though, MSL was a mainstay of the Danish scene, his story running back to Source and the very first big events of Global Offensive. To commemorate that, here are just five key moments that dictated his story.
Finalist at Copenhagen Games 2013
MSL began his career in Counter-Strike: Source as a teenager, and was sporadically in-game leading even before Global Offensive released. At the start of CS:GO, however, he was under the captaincy of Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander in Western Wolves.
It was a solid team, too, one that placed second at Copenhagen Games 2013 in one of the few Big Events of the year. They were not strong enough to topple Ninjas in Pyjamas, who beat them 16-2 in the BO1 final, but then again, few were.
The project fell apart after gla1ve and Nicolaj "Nico" Jensen put a halt on their careers to finish their education, but it was an experience that put the 18-year-old MSL in good stead for the future.
The aizy partnership
MSL first led in-game in GO with Reason, placing 9-12th at the DreamHack Winter 2013 Major and Summer 2014. The best was yet to come, though, and the first team MSL really stamped his identity upon was Dignitas in 2015.
This was the year MSL and Philip "aizy" Aistrup began their partnership in earnest and in which aizy hit a 1.14 rating 1.0 for Dignitas. That was enough form for aizy to be poached by the pioneering international side of G2, and it would not be the first time MSL's stars left him needing to rebuild.
EPICENTER Moscow 2016
The next entry pack rifler MSL would get the best out of was Kjaerbye, who filled aizy's boots with aplomb. His 1.13 rating as a 17-year-old attracted the attention of Astralis, which reset the cycle once more.
The new star this time around was k0nfig, another to benefit from MSL's selflessness as a captain in-game. There were few easier roles in CS than to be the rifle second into a site after MSL in this period, who would often fling himself round corners to give aizy, then Kjaerbye, and now k0nfig to trade.
The lineup did not last. aizy came in for support player Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel after results didn't stick, and both k0nfig and Magisk were controversially replaced by the start of 2018. But it was this lineup that was arguably MSL's best, the perfect mix of experience and talent.
DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018
So far we have mentioned MSL's knack for finding upcoming star riflers, but he never had the same luxury with his AWPer. René "cajunb" Borg was a serviceable player with it, but was never the star player the role sometimes required. Daniel "mertz" Mertz came in, but was also not up to scratch.
North won at DreamHack Open Valencia with Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas standing in, but switching to English communication was not seen as a long-term solution. With Liquid making a largely five-rifler setup work, a different solution was offered: MSL as the in-game leading AWPer.
It was a bold move, but was one that resulted in one of the unlikeliest victories in Counter-Strike history at DreamHack Stockholm in 2018. North's semi-final started horrendously, losing 16-0 to MOUZ on Dust2 before turning it around to win the series 2-1.
Astralis, in the midst of their dominant era, awaited in the grand final. Map one, naturally, was Dust2 — but North had learnt their lesson from the MOUZ game. In stunning fashion, they beat Astralis 16-1 on a map they had lost 16-0 less than 24 hours earlier.
A 16-6 loss on Train should have meant the resumption of normality, but the fairytale was completed on an Overpass decider to make North champions against all odds. MSL, thanks to a 1.24 rating in his side's map wins, was even awarded the HLTV MVP, which remained the only one of his career, to complete a fever dream of an event.
The way down
If Moscow was the zenith, Stockholm was the second peak. But over the crest of the hill, MSL's career could not get back up to the heights it once reached.
MSL had barely found all of the confetti from the win in Stockholm before he was removed in favour of Casper "cadiaN" Møller, a disastrous FACEIT Major the final straw in what was, other than Stockholm, a patchy year results wise.
MSL went in cadiaN's place to Rogue, and then to OpTic to re-unite with k0nfig, but the American organization's acquisition by Immortals (the company that owned MIBR) meant all funding to the Danish roster was cut and the roster was eventually released.
A return to North wasn't fruitful either, and the organization folded during the pandemic to spell the end of MSL's career in tier one. Projects like the one with TITANS could have revived his career, but MSL could not halt his decline in fortunes. It ended much the same way as the last dances with aizy in South and then NtK and Sashi: No results to speak of, and his eventual removal.
Despite these false starts, MSL retires with plenty to look back on fondly. His MVP may be doomed to become a piece of trivia, but the Dignitas roster of 2016 was a serious contender, one that showed MSL at his best. He also should be proud of his player development, the role he played in the careers of aizy, Kjaerbye, k0nfig, Magisk, and more.
There were negatives. Liberal and sometimes abrasive shows of self-belief on social media, the perception of him as a rigid, strict, captain, and weak individual form all will have contributed to a fairly early point of retirement at 28 years of age. These weaknesses — ones that contributed to his lack of star pieces post-2016 — meant he could not become a truly legendary in-game leader, winning just those two big events.
But he is firmly in the tier just below the Mount Rushmore level greats, a tactical mind that contributed greatly to not just the Danish scene but the Global Offensive era. Great in-game leaders do not grow on trees, and though MSL could not come back stronger this time, he should be remembered for when he did.