As the dust settles from the 2020 DreamHack Open Fall tournament, another competition looms on the horizon, as the BLAST Fall tournament is set to provide an additional tool to gauge the participating teams’ power levels across the board.
For Ninjas in Pyjamas, who came off a semifinals exit for the second time within three months, the tournament is more about paving the way for Sweden’s next generation of CS:GO superstars to keep progressing. On BLAST media day before Group A's start, Inven Global spoke with the team’s AWPer, Tim "nawwk" Jonasson, regarding his career and personal evolution since his beginnings in the Swedish scene.
As far as you're concerned, it's been quite a journey in the Swedish scene, from playing B-tier tournaments to Ex6tence and GamersLegion, then filling F0rest's shoes within NiP. A lot of things have happened since you were called Yung-gun-killa. Please tell me a little about that growth.
It's been a long ride. I started playing in late 2014 with some friends, matchmaking. Made my way to Global. After that, I started playing with some teams with some friends, and some other people we met in matchmaking. Then I made my jump into the Swedish scene in the Swedish Pro League in 2017 when it started. People saw me; I made a team with some friends, called PAPERPLANES. We started growing and improving a lot; we made it into the Mt. Dew League in ESEA.
After that, BARBARR asked me if I wanted to join his new lineup with Plopski, in ex6tence. After that, we joined GamerLegion, and now I'm here.
"I think we have a really good group. Some might see us as an underdog, but after this DreamHack run, I think we're looked at as one of the top two finishers for sure."
A lot of things have happened since playing in those circuits, and PAPERPLANES' anecdote on the illuminati cheating ring as I've heard on Frankie's Clinic. But let's talk about your growth as an individual as you started playing in A-tier and S-tier tournaments, especially when it comes to communication. Granted, you already know Plopski and Hampus from before, but you're also working with REZ, Threat, and twist.
I would say that it's a bit more structure here in NiP, but it's not too far stretched from GamerLegion. I played with Dennis, who's really recognized in the S-tier scene. But it's not too much of a difference: Threat helps a lot, he is very calm, REZ as well. We're a very young team. We might not have the best communication, but we're learning day by day.
Exactly, you're a young team. Granted, the brand that you represent is super storied. Now let's go back in time: back when you started in 2014, NiP was at the peak of its strength for quite a while. Looking back, what did you see in them?
It's a pretty cliché answer, but I saw quite a legendary team: GeT_RiGhT, F0rest, the whole lineup was very skilled. Of course, I looked up to them, and I've always wanted to join a big Swedish team — either FNATIC or NiP.
Any player you drew inspiration from in terms of gameplay from that lineup?
I guess I looked up to F0rest since he picked that AWP sometimes, and he's also a really good rifler. If I had to pick a player, it would be him; but I don't think I looked up to one individual: it was more like I wanted to play in that team. I didn't have a favorite player.
"We tried to find our biggest flaws, overall trying to work like we said before on communication. We worked a bit on decision-making sometimes, and the way we play situations."
Now that you are there, you are part of their rebuild — and it is going pretty well for a rebuild since the team is actually competitive. Recently, you reached the semifinals of the DreamHack Open and reached Top 4 at ESL Cologne. There have already been quite a few moments where NiP hit hard. What can you tell me about that experience, and about NiP coming into shape?
I joined NiP in January this year, went to BLAST Premier London, and ended up third. Then there was Katowice as well when we went out pretty early, I would say. After that, we tried to find our biggest flaws, overall trying to work like we said before on communication. We worked a bit on decision-making sometimes, and the way we play situations.
We were just trying to improve overall. I think we've done a pretty good job: we went to semis in Cologne, and it was a pretty big achievement. It wasn't at LAN unfortunately, but it felt really good. Now, as well, going to semis once again in Dreamhack. It's really good for us since we're a really young team, and we can only improve from here.
One of the ways you can keep demonstrating improvement is the upcoming BLAST Fall tournament. Although the time gap between DreamHack and BLAST is too small, it's still an opportunity for you to show what you can do, especially going against Na'Vi, EG, and OG: you have to make a pretty strong impact. What's your outlook on the upcoming games?
I think we have a really good group. Some might see us as an underdog, but after this DreamHack run, I think we're looked at as one of the top two finishers for sure. Na'Vi has a problem right now with Perfecto being sick. And with EG traveling here from NA, I don't think they will be ready for the EU matchups yet — it will take a little bit of time. Then we have OG, which we played pretty good against [ENiP eliminated OG from the 2020 DreamHack Open Fall — Ed.]. I feel like we have the advantage in this group, to be honest.
Let's talk about this underdog image that came with the rebuilding: going from nobody expecting much — and you focusing on doing your best — to knowing that you can perform, that could add an element of pressure. Please let me know if I'm wrong here.
You're completely right: being an underdog is much easier than being like, "They're gonna perform, they have to perform." I don't think that will bring too much pressure: we're just here at the bootcamp, just having fun, just doing our thing. I think it's gonna be no problem for this event: we're gonna perform at this event.
Knowing that you're looking for growth, I'd like to know about that mindset and about the break that you had to take to be able to stay focused. With the pandemic's circumstances going on, and with you keeping on pushing, taking the time to restore yourself ahead of the upcoming tournaments, what can you tell me about your focus on growth as an individual, and on NiP's growth?
We're just playing tournament by tournament. Right now, I'm feeling really good individually; and outside of the game, I got some help from the NiP management on how to work on myself, how to take it tournament by tournament and keep my lifestyle healthy. I think that's really important.
I don't really know about the mental toll. Of course, it takes a lot playing games day by day, but it's not something I'm worried about: I'm having fun right now.