Freya Spiers on CS:GO's swan song, the circle of ZywOo & HLTV Awards 2023

Freya Spiers on CS:GO's swan song, the circle of ZywOo & HLTV Awards 2023
Image via BLAST

Written by 

Jack Marsh

Published 

12th Jan 2024 17:34

Well, what a year for Counter-Strike. The legendary CS:GO bowed out of action as a pristine and decorated finished article, where it has finally pushed itself to its very limit, while a new, yet raw, CS2 came in full to the brim with potential.

So far, CS2 might not have shown why it was chosen to precede the iconic CS:GO, yet 2023 was just the beginning.

So, ahead of the HLTV Award Show 2023, championing the best of the best, GGRecon and the fabled Freya Spiers took a quick trip down memory lane to look at CS:GO's swansong and what can come further down this exciting road.

Waving goodbye to Counter-Strike

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Image via DreamHack

Freya's established esports broadcasting career has only gone from strength to strength after first stepping into the scene in 2018, and 2023 was one of her strongest, taking part in no fewer than 12 Counter-Strike events throughout the year including the Paris Major, Global Offensive's final goodbye, and IEM Sydney where CS2 finally debuted.

Reflecting back over this year, Freya described it as a "rollercoaster", but it ended with stories that will go down in history to epitomise of Counter-Strike esports.

"So I think it's been a rollercoaster to say the least, but it's been amazing to be a part of it and witness how everybody's adapting," Freya told GGRecon in an interview ahead of the HLTV Awards 2023.

"A lot happened and there was a lot of speculation. Having the last CS:GO Major as well as being able to be a part of that, hosting the grand finals and seeing ZywOo get to have his moment in the spotlight, become one of the few players that got to lift the CS:GO Major Trophy and doing that on home soil as well alongside apEX."

The circle of ZywOo

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That moment with Team Vitality is one that brings forth more memories for Freay than most people connected to the scene, as it gave her broadcasting career a chance to come full circle, just as a new chapter opened. 

Highlighting her favourite memory of Global Offensive history, Freya revealed it was a two-parter, rounding off by speaking to Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut after he hoisted the Major trophy in front of the chorus of French fans, putting into perspective her first interactions at a Major event.

"First of all," Freya began. "It was the first ever Major I did back in London, back in 2018. That was such a crazy year because it was the first year I got involved in any esports stuff on camera, in an official capacity. That was the moment when I got to do Zywoo's first-ever public interview, which obviously will go down in a lot of people's memories.

"But that was a really fun moment, and I think, particularly, looking at this year he joined us up on the desk at the Paris Major when he was awarded the MVP and being able to reflect and go, 'wow, five years ago, look how much you've grown, not only as a player but as a person'. Having those two bookends, in terms of my CS career is really funny."

A Sjoking 2023

In a year of so many highs, as Freya referenced a tonne of memories from the competitive year akin to the Major, such as IEM Sydney and the passionate fans, one of her favourite moments and most influential figures wasn't ZywOo, S1mple, or apEX, but actually another broadcast heroine, Eefje "sjokz" Depoortere.

"Somebody who I had the pleasure of working with a little bit of screen in 2022, but more so in 23, was Sjokz" Freya said.

"As she was coming from League of Legends I was really excited to get the opportunity to kind of work more alongside her. I don't get to work on the broadcast with her too much because she's in a different role, usually on the desk or analysing or and we swap around in those roles, but just being able to be in the green room with her."

"She'd ask questions like, 'Am I wording this right?' and it shown that she's very articulate. She's one of the best hosts we have in the entire of esports. But being able to listen to her viewpoint and listen to the way she's asking questions and dictating things on the broadcast, she's incredibly professional and I looked up to her."

"Particularly as a fellow female in esports as well it's been a real eye-opener to actually see how she goes from behind the scenes, how she prepares onto the broadcast and what actually comes across in the end yeah. It's been a real pleasure to get to work with her a lot more.

Which rookie will rumble in 2024?

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With HLTV's 2023 Awards set to crown the Rookie of the Year, it's been a positive year for the CS:GO pipeline, as more youngsters are breaking through into the professional scene and shaking up some long-standing roster by being undeniable.

For Freya, there's a number of names to now keep an eye on to pioneer Counter-Strike as we start the new year.

"I'm so excited to see how Donk's going to be adapting, particularly with Sh1ro, who's now joining the team as well," she said.

"But Jimpphat was really impressive, particularly ESL Pro League Season 18. He wasn't anywhere close to being a liability at any single point and that was his first tournament with the team so I think his ability to transition from CS:GO to CS2."

"The hunger that you see from a lot of the younger players and the ability for them to invest so much time into finding the really nerdy little details, I think has been really elegant."

2024 will see Counter-Strike 2 move into a light of its own as we leave CS:GO behind forever, but the esport is in great hands, and there are more stories for Freya to spearhead on the broadcast.

Jack is an Esports Journalist at GGRecon. Graduating from the University of Chester, with a BA Honours degree in Journalism, Jack is an avid esports enthusiast and specialises in Rocket League, Call of Duty, VALORANT, and trending gaming news.

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