Aizyesque talks about North's struggles heading into the new year
Being a North fan is akin to smoking cigarettes. Yeah, when they first came out, it was pretty cool to do, and you could do it openly without people looking at you funny but, as time moves on, it starts to take years off your life. Though, as a North fan, I’ve begun to accept – and, to some extent, enjoy - the strange quasi-mediocrity interspersed with fleeting moments of genuine brilliance; this was never the aim of the North organisation.
The North roster was signed seemingly off the back of an incredible EPICENTER win, with the expectation that the roster would go from strength to strength. In hindsight, it’s simple to say that maybe EPICENTER was a one-off, as the first couple of events under the North moniker were back to what Mathias ‘MSL’ Lauridsen’s team used to be; that is to say, they were always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
In retrospect, the EPICENTER win was more like last year’s DH Stockholm win - a flash in the pan, lightning in a bottle, sandwiched between heroic failures and ‘sorry, we will do betters’. Maybe the expectations were too high, and subsequent roster moves - no matter how bizarre you believe them to be - have done little to change the issues.
aizy Isn’t Enough
None of the original five are on the roster, leaving Philip ‘aizy’ Aistrup as the veteran of the organisation. Whenever anybody joins North, they seem to have a settling in period, and the ‘mercurial rifler’ was no different. Despite his undoubted talent, he had his struggles at first and these took some time to wash away.
He’s also been moved from role to role, under different in-game leaders and, in the last 12 months, he has been closer to his best, especially under valde’s leadership. But therein lies the problem - people left around him, especially IGLs. k0nfig left under a cloud of smoke, MSL and cadiaN both departed and, later, valde, leaving North with four different in-game leaders in about 15 months.
To call North rudderless is unfair - I genuinely believe the management behind the team are trying to bring to life the dream of being one of the giants in CSGO. However, in the server, they currently are. The departure of Valdemar ‘valde’ Bjørn Vangså was a gut punch; nay, a freshly bleeding stab wound to the stomach of North. Not only was he the star, he was the captain and the leader, in and out of the server.
This left North as a ship without a captain. Nicklas ‘gade’ Gade took up the mantle, but he’s merely a placeholder. gade is an exceptionally talented player, but he’s not known for his ability to micromanage a squad, more for his ability to micromanage his crosshair. valde had brought in Jakob ‘JUGi’ Hansen, a player he was good friends with and trusted, but he too has suffered from the North curse. His opening months on North have not made for pretty viewing at times, and though he has shown glimmers of the flashiness he was known for on Heroic, it’s been far too rare.
cajunb A Short-Term Fix?
The best piece of advice I have ever heard in my life, was to write down every reason you broke up with someone, immediately after breaking up with them. That way, you never make the mistake of taking that second chance at reigniting a previous fire. If North had done that, they may not have picked up René ‘cajunb’ Borg - a solid, reliable player, but not one who could replace valde. But then, who could?
I guess my biggest issue with picking up cajunb is that it seems like a very short-term move. cajunb was available and willing to play, but said play has been predictably underwhelming compared to the departing valde. cajunb is merely a final booty call in this romantic story - there’s nothing long-term there, and it’s not even particularly satisfying; he was just free at 2am and responded to the call.
But then, what chance did North have? valde left at a horrible time, while other teams had finalised rosters and just made roster moves. North were looking at moves for other players already, but I’m not sure they wanted to replace valde. blameF would have been a dream move - exceptionally talented, equally attractive (if you’re into that kind of thing - North have always been quite a good looking team. Tradition is tradition.) and has demonstrated an ability to lead. North have shown a willingness to pay for top players, but compLexity blew everyone out of the water.
Other Danish in-game leaders are happily employed. HUNDEN was fostering a growing TRICKED roster, Snappi was back on Heroic and enjoying himself, karrigan was snapped up by mousesports and gla1ve is obviously unobtainable. To whom could they turn?
It feels like North are in a transition period - but they have to be careful not to be left in limbo.
What’s Next for North?
Their next roster move may be the most important in North’s short history. A bad one might leave them in the dirt, a forgotten force in Danish Esports, as Heroic and TRICKED have shown an ability to compete at the top. North need to either steal some of the better players from one of those teams to replace cajunb, or JUGi, or pluck a genius find from the tier three Danish scene, before things turn too sour. The problem is, they’re too late to get an obvious win here.
North are now too late to get BlameF, or stavn, or even a Bubzkji, potentially, never mind a true IGL. Whether or not it’s even possible to build a top team out of the best Danish players not on Astralis is up for debate - so maybe North can pull another rabbit out of the hat and steal another gem from their big brothers; North gla1ve, anyone?
North are a wandering ship, in desperate need of a captain, and all the captains are steering other ships. The next roster move will either right the ship, or sink it.
Main image credit | Starladder - Flickr