Today, Heroic is one of the world’s top five teams. Granted, it doesn’t win tournaments, but it always performs at a decent level. Many like the Danes because of their captain, Casper “cadiaN” Møller. He is very emotional, always giving tips, encouraging, and leading the team forward. Long story short, Heroic’s image couldn’t be more positive. However, it wasn’t the case last year, when scandals emerged around the team and the players developed mental problems. The CS.MONEY Blog is here to look back at last year’s Heroic drama.
Heroic started to carry the day online, but then their coach got banned
Let’s go back to the year 2020, which witnessed only one large-scale LAN tournament: IEM Katowice. Everything else was converted into online formats due to the coronavirus pandemic. Playing online is a whole other ball game: there’s no pressure or extra excitement from the spectators and the arena in general. In a setting like that, weaker teams stand a better chance of succeeding due to their extensive previous experience of playing online, at tournaments for second-tier clubs.
Heroic started the year as an average team, at place 14 in the HLTV rankings. Nevertheless, after a few reshuffles and the advent of the online era, the Danes’ performance skyrocketed and they won ESL One Cologne 2020. Yet the paradise was short-lived.
In September 2020, the notorious coaching bug surfaced, for which 37 mentors received a ban. At the time, Heroic’s coach was Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen, who was then a highly respected figure in the Danish CS scene. He’d never had any outstanding individual skill set over his playing career, but he was an excellent IGL. Obscure Danish squads Tricked and Mad Lions even managed to enter the top 20 under his guidance.
After the ban, Hunden remained in the club, since no one kicked him out. Moreover, he continued to work as an analyst.
After the ban was lifted, Hunden only coached the squad for a very short while — and then he leaked the stratbook to another team
The ban was lifted in April 2021. Afterwards, Hunden only coached the squad for a very short while. And then, he leaked the stratbook to another team. The players, fans, and the club alike expected him back as coach — there were even billboards with Petersen’s photos in Copenhagen!
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And yet, his triumphant return didn’t happen: after Hunden had been Heroic’s coach in two tournaments, he didn’t attend IEM Cologne, the first LAN tournament in a year and a half. At that time, no one knew the reason, but it was mostly attributed to the rumors about Hunden’s transfer to Astralis. In reality, though, everything was much more sad and confusing.
Hunden spoke first and explained why the trip to Cologne got cancelled on Twitter. He wrote that he wouldn’t renew his contract with the organization and that he was being accused of leaking Heroic’s stratbook to other teams.
The very next day, Heroic said it would sue the coach and terminate his contract unilaterally. The club accused Nicolai of leaking the stratbook and of blocking Heroic players’ access to the team’s tactics folder.
Hunden didn’t leave that unanswered and threw his own accusations. He said the players knew the bug existed and even helped activate it. ESIC launched an investigation; in its wake, the Danes’ former coach was banned for two years. In effect, it meant the end of his career.
But the imbroglio didn’t end there.
Hunden sent Esic evidence against the players. But they were barely punished
Hunden continued to claim that his former teammates knew about the bug. He sent data to ESIC that he believed proved the players were guilty. The Integrity Commission didn’t ignore the Dane’s requests and launched a new investigation, which lasted almost three months. Its results didn’t make Nicolai happy.
The only person to undergo a punishment was Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen, who at that time was no longer a Heroic member. Nikolaj suffers from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), which was factored in as an extenuating circumstance: he only have to give a public apology and attend 2.5 hours of correctional talks with an ESIC representative. Moreover, it is believed that Hunden manipulated Niko.
Three players in the lineup — Cadian, Niko, and Stavn — did know about the bug. But they weren’t punished in any way.
The players were called cheaters. Stavn was even afraid to leave home
After the investigation, Heroic players recorded a video where they expatiated on the whole situation. Stavn recalled that he didn’t evevn have time to rejoice in winning ESL One Cologne:
“The first thing I did was go out and hug my mum. Because it was such a nice feeling . . . But we could not [enjoy the victory] because the day after we had won, we get this message in the group from HUNDEN saying that he’s banned for using the coach bug.
And at this moment, I can’t really understand what’s going on. Like, we’d just won this big tournament, and now we’re sitting here, and [HUNDEN] is saying that he’s banned . . . It was a really, really weird situation.”
The players united against the coach and didn’t think it was their fault. They also said that they recorded the video because they felt like they had to speak about it: “The time when I realized that we had to tell something was when we had this talk . . . and you, Martin [stavn], said that you didn’t want to go out and have a night out with your brothers and your friends. Because he was scared that someone would come to him and say that he’s a cheater,” said Cadian.
How have all the scandals affected Heroic?
They have probably only brought the team together and made it stronger. Although it was certainly hard for the players to play under pressure during the ESIC investigation. On top of that, they faced community resentment when they escaped any kind of punishment.
Now Heroic isn’t the most stable team. Earlier this year, the Danes won Pinnacle Winter Series 3 and advanced to the semifinals of IEM Katowice 2022, but at the subsequent ESL Pro League, they only placed 9–12.
There’s no telling how Heroic would have performed under Hunden’s leadership. He really was a great pro and could have been a great asset to the team for years to come. And yet, he chose a different path, with the path to achieving anything in CS probably closed to him forever. Recently, he posted a picture where he’s mastering the profession of a bartender. Speak about a career turnaround.
It’s clear enough that of all those involved in the scandal, it was Hunden who suffered the most. Even if the ESIC decision isn’t entirely fair, the former coach had to be punished.