Following the departure of f0rest, the young Awper/Rifler has to fill a big hole left in the Swedish team.
With the legendary f0rest leaving NiP, the Swedes were left with the unenviable task of replacing an OG, a fan favourite, and a marquee player for the organisation. They turned to nawwk, who had the equally unenviable task of slotting into the spot vacated by the bearded beast.
nawwk is a seriously talented CS player - primarily an AWPer, though he’s capable of wielding the AK47 with some proficiency too, the young Swede has consistently impressed on an inconsistent GamerLegion (not only in their level, but in the players they field). He and Plopski were the stand-out players in the tier two Swedish scene for a while, even playing together before the latter became GeT_RiGhT’s replacement.
In terms of his talent level, he seems to be a natural replacement for the 31-year-old - at least f0rest’s current level - but replacing a legendary player is more than that. f0rest’s experience and reputation hold so much weight, and nawwk is far less likely to be a leading voice in communication. Though f0rest wasn’t the in-game leader, he’s likely to have been a spiritual leader purely due to his experience and would have been an important figure in mid-rounds and important times in games under pressure.
The pressures of replacing f0rest are outside the server, too. The guy was a legendary, fan favourite player, and many old-school NiP fans are gravitating towards Dignitas already. Should nawwk not perform, him replacing f0rest will likely cause people to go further towards Dig. Not only that, NiP is the biggest team he’s played on, and the step up is tough to deal with.
That step up is even harder when one has to do it without one’s trademark weapon. nawwk will be the secondary AWPer, more often rifling, with Twist being the primary AWPer. This seems to be a strange decision, given how reliant nawwk is on the AWP. Over half of his career kills have been with the sniper; nearly 5000. For comparison, he has only 1036 kills with all four CT rifles combined, but closer to 2000 with the AK47.
Switching to a hybrid role will likely see nawwk underperform, and is probably a waste of one of Sweden’s most exciting talents. If it doesn’t work, I’d personally prefer to see Twist moved on and nawwk allowed the starring role, but nawwk could easily become a scapegoat if he underperforms, despite the mitigating circumstances. Somehow, NiP have gone from zero AWPers to two primary ones.
Replacing the old guard is a tough, but necessary procedure, and one that Dignitas will have to do in about a year’s time with the same exact players. Maybe they can sign one of Twist or nawwk to replace one of them?
It’s never going to be a popular decision to lose f0rest and replace him with a lesser-known player, but I think long-term this roster move will be a positive one. While yes, f0rest will have all of those qualities, often when an org has been under the influence of one person for so long, their removal brings a fresh re-invigoration to the team. This can go the other way (think Wenger at Arsenal to Emery, Moyes to United, Madrid losing CR7 for examples) but the difference is, those teams were at least near the top at the time. NiP have almost nothing to lose.
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How good can they be? It’s not out of the question for them to be a top 10 team, but the goal has to be to be better than fnatic. Their Swedish rivals have had a resurgence in 2019, and NiP will at least want to mirror that. fnatic did that by going back to their old boys, where NiP have finally gone the other way. Obviously, long term, NiP should probably win out, but 2020 might be a year of transition that NiP fans will be frustrated by. But then, they’re used to that by now.
The NiP revolution is coming to fruition, and while they might lose some fans in the changeover, the switch to a few younger, fresh talented players will treat them well. Maybe this isn’t the roster that does it, but a roster with Plopski and nawwk has potential to be one of the best in the world.
With f0rest leaving, an era has ended, but with the end of every era comes the start of a new one. Whether or not this will be great is yet to be determined.
Image via Dreamhack.