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CS:GO

28 Sep 2018

An open letter to MSL: Sit with the scrutiny if you want to come back stronger

Photo Credits: (DreamHack) 

Dear Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen,

As an outsider, a non-competitor, a never-pro, a non-leader, it’s hard for me to envision the exact emotions you woke up to today. A month ago, you took the third most talented team from your country and won a premier-level international tournament over the best teams in the world, earning MVP honors for yourself to boot. Unfortunately, you failed when it mattered most, at a Valve Major, and afterwards, North removed you from the ever-evolving roster you built and lead for the last three and a half years.

Now, if you had a certain mindset, if you were an optimist, the coming days might be among the most exciting times of your career. It’s suddenly harder than ever to doubt that you are one of the top IGLs in the game, and now you are on the open market. Your removal from North suddenly opens the door to new possibilities and higher horizons. 

We all know the position you have been in stuck in for years. You get Astralis or Team Question Mark or TSM’s leftovers. You get the players they don’t want or the players they don’t need anymore, and if you find someone yourself and raise him into a bona fide star, he’s liable to be taken by a better national or international roster. And more recently with the rise of the Danish OpTic team, you don’t even get the best of the rest in Denmark anymore.

This change is your chance to circumvent that paradigm. With the rise of more and more competent international rosters in CS:GO and a fresh shuffle season looming, this could be your chance to grab a spot on an unfettered contender or at least a chance to start to build that contender unbound of the shackles of a national hierarchy or small scene politics. 

If I had to guess, announcing your move to the bench yesterday wasn’t a pleasant experience. It’s easier to imagine that you are upset, if not bitter. At the crest of an upswing after a dawdling, mostly unkind 2018, I imagine yourself as a victim cut down by unfortunate circumstance and a subsequent betrayal. 

The technical issues at FACEIT were too much. I built this team. I just won North a championship. 

So reflexively, how well do you understand the outsiders’ perception of yourself?

How do you square with idea that you are one of the worst players in the world, if not the worst player in the word relative to his teammates, as Max Melit wrote just a few months ago? How do internally respond to the notion that you have been long incapable of integrating AWPers into your system? How do feel about your own leadership when undeniable talents like Emil "Magisk" Reif and Kristian "K0nfig" Wienecke stop working in your team and are sent elsewhere? Why do people like myself sometimes characterise your pick and ban phases as arrogant and ineffective?

In what could be a time of sorrowful reflection, I hope you don’t give undue credence to the negative.

I hope you still recognise that without much skill you can be more efficient than others might as assume as an entry fragger with a good trading partner or as an AWPer with positioning and study rather than sick flicks. I hope you take your fresh experiences with the AWP and your study of Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz will lend itself to better T-sides. I hope that criticism of your pick and ban phase is properly contrasted with your ability lead teams with wide map pools.

I think you understand that criticism towards you will always be exaggerated because you are not widely popular or well liked. You don’t have the charisma of Finn "karrigan" Andersen, the skill of Dev1ce, or the bravado of K0nfig. Whether or not it’s a good move, the public would rather see Casper "cadiaN" Møller succeed. That’s just the way it is. 

But I also hope you don’t over-inflate excuses, take too much from your successes, and too little for your failures.

In 2018, North has won four best-of-three series against the world’s four main leading forces: Astralis, Na’Vi, Liquid, and FaZe with zero losses. In comparison, across various roster iterations SK/MIBR has 1-8 record in best-of-three series versus these same teams this year. But you’ve also lost miserable series: Vega Squadron, OpTic, NRG, NiP, HellRaisers, Imperial, Heroic. 

You won DreamHack Open Tours, DreamHack Open Valencia, and DreamHack Masters Stockholm, but you lost winnable semi-finals at DreamHack Open Summer and StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5, and were downright poor at ESL One Cologne and both Majors. 

Your rosters, in Dignitas and then North, has been variable for a long time. A win at EPICENTER 2016 was followed by a group stage exit at the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals. A loss to Chiefs and a Swiss exit at IEM Sydney preceded a second place finish at the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals, and the pattern repeated again this month. 

The results, at least, are free from faulty interpersonal interpretation. So what is it about the various lineups that have kept you from achieving consistency? Why did your stronger rosters never reach the next level? What are you lacking as a leader of men? Do you crumble under pressure? Are you too stubborn, too readable, or too research reliant? But also what created these peaks? What strengths do you have as a leader that replicated on a fresh lineup? What is the rest of the world wrong about?

As I’ve written previously, I think you’re a man of extremes and opposites, a river that runs both ways, but here I hope you can find the middle path. As you sit in the quiet of being on your own and away from professional play, can you manage to not sink in the despair of losing your team without rising so loftily above the critiques as not to see yourself for who you are, flaws and all?   

And, sorry, but one last question. I know how you will answer, but I don’t know if your approach in the coming days will honestly merit the response.

Will you come back stronger?

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