Germany struggled for success last year in the famous shoot 'em up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Veterans of the scene have now united under the label "BIG" to try to change that.
The mood is strained in Leipzig.
"Vega Squadron" is just seconds away from eliminating the German Team "BIG" from the Counter-Strike tournament DreamHack.
The round starts, "Vega" storms the site and in less than 30 seconds, the "BIG" defense is eliminated. Silence spreads over the arena. Only Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic is standing between three "Vega" players and their victory now. Some spectators are already leaving the arena, for them the fight is done and dusted.
The new German hope in Counter-Strike looks set to miss out on the semifinals.
Those in the crowd who are still watching are chewing their fingernails incessantly.
"LEGIJA," on the other hand, is not showing any signs of nerves. Years of experience have prepared him for this very moment. He gets out of the corner, shoots, turns, shoots again, and suddenly the three enemies are eliminated. The fans are jumping up, shouting and clapping. The round is won, the game will go on for "BIG".
The development of Counter-Strike in Germany
Germany is not really one of the strongest countries in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
On the one hand, the scene lacks money. Sponsors and tournaments often tend to go abroad, where it is much more profitable and lucrative for them. On the other hand, it is the players too who often search for success in different parts of the world.
Fatih "gob b" Dayik, Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz and Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic are some of them. Last year, they signed with the U.S. club NRG eSports, which is owned by former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal. There, they played in the biggest Pro-League and even made it to the offline finals in Brazil.
At the end of 2016 though, they reflected on their success and decided to move back to Germany.
"We just missed having the German community behind us," Fatih "gob b" Dayik explains.
The domestic competition will surely benefit. A lot has changed since they went abroad. The biggest German club, mousesports, has undergone lineup changes which have made it an international team. Now Dayik and co have launched "BIG" and intend to dominate.
Greatly benefit from experience
The club, Berlin International Gaming, boasts veterans and promising young talent. Dayik, the team captain, can look back on a remarkable career as a Counter-Strike player and was already winning tournaments for mousesports eight years ago. Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic has accompanied him on his journey for a long time. The younger players can greatly benefit from his experience. Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz dominated the American scene last year and was crowned the best player of the Pro-League.
Wodarz is a leading force for his team together with Kevin "keev" Bartholomäus. "Keev" is particularly important in getting the opening picks and breaking through the enemy’s defense. Johannes "nex" Maget rounds out the team. Forced to retire temporarily due to an injury, "nex" has been on the bench of "mousesports" for quite some time. On his new team, however, he wants to prove himself again and maybe get back to the top of German Counter-Strike.
Can the team match expectations?
Many fans saw "BIG" as favorites for DreamHack Leipzig, where the team debuted last week. Despite narrowly missing out on first place, the squad took down international competition from Denmark, Bulgaria and Russia. After less than a month of practice time, this is not a bad result at all. On paper, the team is destined for international success and so far the players seem to gel well.
"At the moment I cannot think objectively, but tomorrow I will surely be content with the result." This is how Dayik comments on their placing. "Our next stop will be the World Championships."
By the way, "BIG" did win their match against "Vega Squadron" in the end - thanks to that incredible performance by "LEGIJA."