Ranking the CS:GO Talent Wasted by North
The revolving door that spins twice as fast only lasts half as long. It’s traditionally uncouth to speak ill of the dead, especially in Nordic cultures. But the life of the Danish esports organization North peaked early before steadily declining.
Right as Danish CS was on the come up, North were positioned to follow in Astralis’ footsteps. They had the money and resources to acquire the players they desired while also putting them in the best position to win. Four years after their 2017 founding, they ceased operations, closed their doors, and North put their remaining CS:GO players up for sale.
A lot of things happened that led to North closing. A global pandemic, a lack of investment, and a less-than-stellar rebrand that was bad even by esports’ dismal standards. But in the world of competition-winning, those competitions are an absolute priority, and not enough wins manifested for North’s CS:GO division especially in its last years.
An all-star caliber list of Danish talent came in and out of North CS:GO during its four-year run. Based on how quickly the plug was pulled, what they provided, and what they’d go on to do after, we’ve ranked that talent for you.
No. 1 – Emil “Magisk” Reif
This should hardly come as a surprise at the top spot. Prior to his eight months with North in 2017, Magisk (then known as Magiskb0Y) split his 2016 between SK Gaming and Dignitas. That year he was a top-15 player per HLTV; a statistical unicorn that was untouchable on Overpass, a literal wall on the CT side, and only 18 years old. On Dignitas, he helped that team go on an EPICENTER 2016 run from closed qualifier to championship over Virtus.Pro.
Post-North, he was a top ten player three years in a row from 2018 to 2020, and, alongside IGL Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, became a difference-maker for Astralis. With the two of them, Astralis went from a scary team susceptible to choking to an unstoppable juggernaut worthy of the title of history’s greatest CS:GO team.
So, what happened to him on North? Well, the same positions and plays called for him in Dignitas weren’t utilized during his time with North. This was a down period for Magisk as a player, and bringing in Philip “aizy” Aistrup only made things worse. With his production falling, North opted to retain aizy over magisk, and after a new experience for him in OpTic, he finally ended up at Astralis.
In an interview with HLTV, he puts the blame on himself for “not being able to handle a down period” while with North. But realistically, the blame should be put on the organization full of professionals and resources rather than a 19-year-old. Especially an organization owned by a sports club familiar with dealing with young talent going in and out of slumps. Just saying.
No. 2 – Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke
Remember we mentioned how good Magisk was with Dignitas prior to joining North? He wasn’t the lone star in that Dignitas constellation that moved over to North, k0nfig came along with him. And to North’s credit, while magisk struggled after joining, k0nfig actually thrived. Their best results of 2017 came from events where he was generating star-like production.
Under in-game leader Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen’s leadership, k0nfig emerged as the North star, and the organization had hopes that aizy would emerge as that co-star. But that never happened, as after just a small handful of down events to close 2017 and start 2018 for k0nfig, he got benched then released.
While he’s not the most talented player that North let slip through their fingers, his “wasted talent” is more unfortunate because of how much he produced. And because of how quickly North pulled the plug. Had he stayed, North could have found more success outside of the years 2017 and 2018.
No. 3 – Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen
MSL’s two stints as North’s in-game leader couldn’t be any more different. In his 2017-2018 run, he was afforded all kinds of talent in Magisk, k0nfig, Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså, René “cajunb” Borg, Kjaerbye, the Danish niko (on loan for a short time), among others.
Under his leadership during those two years, North found the vast majority of its success, including its defining victory at DreamHack Masters Stockholm. There they defeated Natus Vincere, mousesports, and Astralis twice to notch their biggest win ever, all with MSL calling the shots and AWPing to earn MVP honors. Two months later, the team sought to bring in Casper “cadiaN” Møller as IGL, and did so while moving MSL to the bench.
In his second stint with the team that started at the beginning of 2020 and ended when North ended, he had significantly less talent to play with. Criticize his shortcomings and inconsistencies at tier-one events all you want, but the success that North was able to scrape together in his first stint was because of him. While this isn’t technically a “waste” of his talents, the decision to kick him must have haunted North to their grave. Especially considering how much they paid him.
No. 4 – Casper “cadiaN” Møller
While not quite as big of a difference-maker as magisk was to Astralis, and while not quite the leader MSL was, CadiaN’s less-than-a-year tenure with North came just before his big breakout. CadiaN joined North in 2018, replacing MSL, and was seeking some stability after a couple of tours with Rogue rife with roster moves.
After a slow start, cadiaN’s group highlighted by aizy, kjaerbye, and valde put together some fine performances in both ESL Pro League and ECS. But after a heartbreaking string of results that meant no Katowice 2019 major, then some more tough performances to follow, North committed the cardinal sin. They benched cadiaN while moving their star player valde to the IGL position.
While valde was considered a smart player, that didn’t mean he would succeed in the IGL position, and he didn’t. Moving your star to the IGL position is just generally a bad idea, as you’re forcing them to split their mental resources in an unfamiliar way. Less than six months after the move, he was sold off to OG. What didn’t help this switch in leadership was adding Jakob “JUGi” Hansen as the AWPer, whose underperforming tenure on North was also short.
After nearly half-a-year spent doing nothing on North’s bench, cadiaN found himself on Heroic. The roster’s move to FunPlus Phoenix fell through because of the loss of es3tag to Astralis. But still, Heroic found tremendous success in 2020 with cadiaN at the helm.
No. 5 – Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså
Valde appears at the end of this list simply because North actually utilized him really well, and since leaving the org, he hasn’t done too much with OG. Whether or not this is OG’s fault can be saved for a different piece, but like k0nfig he was responsible for much of North’s 2017 and 2018 successes.
The biggest mistake they made with him, as mentioned above, was moving him to the IGL position when moving on from cadiaN. That decision is why he still sneaks onto this list, as valde’s leading didn’t help the team at all, and likely was what led to him getting sold off to OG.
Had they kept one of their previous IGLs and kept valde at his rifler position, North quite easily could have accomplished more.
Both kjaerbye and aizy are mentioned throughout this list, but the reason they’re not listed on it is because honestly, they were average players being paid like superstars. They were good players, certainly not bad, but they were paid like they were great. The two of them never had the steady production that names like k0nfig and valde provided North CS:GO, and therein lies why North’s doors closed.
There are a lot of CS:GO teams that want to be tier-one but can’t get there or stay there. But if you’re paying your players six-figure, tier-one salaries the entire time, eventually there’s going to be a serious problem. Let this be a lesson in esports and life; spending the most money doesn’t entitle you to the best results.