Career collapse. The worst decisions of esports athletes

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Team Bad News Eagles made it to PGL Major Antwerp 2022. It’s a great result, and the CS.MONEY blog congratulates the players on this achievement. But did you know that BLINK abandoned this squad in February? Its management must be biting their elbows right now. 

Today, we’re going to talk about five cases where a player’s decision affected their entire career. Often, the impact was so strong that it simply wasn’t possible to get back to their former level. Sit back and make yourself some tea: we’re in for a long tour of pros’ career decisions.

Kjaerbye leaving Astralis

Source: HLTV

In 2018, the Danish team Astralis was on the verge of greatness. By that time, the team already had won ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 and Intel Extreme Masters XI — World Championship, attended the finals of StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 and BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen 2017. Long story short, the club performed extraordinarily well and was considered one of the strongest in the world. 

Be that as it may, early 2018 saw the departure of Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye from the lineup. He continued his career in North, another Danish team, where he spent two years. Over his time under the North tag, Markus managed to win gold at tournaments including DreamHack Open Valencia 2018, DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018, and DreamHack Open Sevilla 2019. Not bad at all, right? 

Kjaerbye’s accomplishments with the new team are significant, but they pale in comparison to Astralis’ performance. Over the same two years, Astralis were victorious in three Majors in a row and won ten more events on top of that. No matter how you slice it, Astralis surpassed North in this trophy race not unlike Obi-Wan surpassed Anakin. 

After leaving North, Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye spent several months in FaZe Clan, then transferred to HYENAS, and later took a break in his career. A month ago, the Dane announced he was back in the game, but hasn’t yet found a new club. 

Seized as captain

Source: HLTV

At the end of the summer of 2016, Natus Vincere made one of the most successful transfers in the history of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev joined the team. On the other hand, a new problem arose as the star came on board: the number of players increased to six, whereas there are only five places on the team. 

Soon enough, this problem was solved. Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko, then IGL of the squad, was put on the bench, with his place taken by Denis “seized” Kostin. On paper, this decision looked fantastic. The lineup was bolstered with young blood, whereas the tactical moves were the responsibility of starix, an experienced coach with an excellent understanding of the game. 

A promising start gave further hope for this decision. The team was the victor at ESL One: New York 2016. Their performance was spectacular and convincing: 3:0 under the Swiss system, then 2:1 in the semifinals and finals. Unfortunately, that was the first and last positive moment in the team’s performance under Denis. 

Since the end of ESL One: New York 2016 and before seized left the roster, Natus Vincere never took gold at a LAN tournament. There’s more: the newfound captain came in for endless criticism from fans and commentators alike. Obviously, this didn’t help the team or Denis. In the end, Natus Vincere and seized went their separate ways. 

Afterwards, Kostin’s career slowly went downhill. He attended another Major with FlipSid3 Tactics, but didn’t even make it to the top 16. A few more transfers to CIS clubs followed, along with an analyst job at eSports tournaments. Naturally, that’s all very far from his big time in 2014–2015. Presently, Denis continues his career as a player, but he hasn’t attended any large-scale tournaments for a long while.

GuardiaN’s return to Natus Vincere

Source: HLTV

Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács left Natus Vincere twice: first in 2017 and then in 2021. The first departure was due to his transfer to FaZe Clan. Ladislav spent two years with the European club and showed a good play. With his help, the team earned gold at Intel Extreme Masters XIII — Sydney and BLAST Pro Series: Miami 2019, and ranked second in ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018. Decent results. 

In the fall of 2019, however, GuardiaN decided to return to Natus Vincere. This transition turned out to be a complete disaster. The Slovak player failed to become an asset to the lineup and got benched in less than six months after the transfer. Over that time, he’d only made it to the semifinals of ESL Pro League Season 10 — Finals and DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019. Clearly not the result expected of Natus Vincere at the end of 2019. 

After leaving the starting lineup, GuardiaN continued his career in smaller clubs, but didn’t achieve anything outstanding in the eSports scene. 

Flusha, JW, and KRIMZ moving from fnatic to GODSENT

By the beginning of 2016, the fnatic roster was in great shape. Under the team’s belt was gold at ESL One: Katowice 2015, ESL One: Cologne 2015, and the Intel Extreme Masters X — World Championship. The Swedish club was considered an unambiguous favorite at any event. The first half of 2016 was difficult, but the team was still putting up a good fight against other top clubs. 

Nevertheless, mid-August witnessed a bolt from the blue: three players from fnatic’s main roster moved to GODSENT. The transfer seemed incomprehensible: if GODSENT still needed to strengthen their roster, then fnatic were clearly doing a great job. Regardless, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson, and Jesper “JW” Wecksell switched jerseys and joined the GODSENT starting lineup.  

The reshuffle turned out to be a bad call. The two teams’ lineups were constantly shuffled, with players getting replaced all the time; and yet, their halcyon days didn’t seem to be approaching. In the end, GODSENT barely made it to ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017, where the team didn’t even advance out of the group stage. Soon, the three players went back under the old tag. 

The new old fnatic isn’t particularly impressive. While the squad occasionally shows a decent play, it’s not the same level as before the reshuffles. The arrival of Maikil “Golden” Selim as captain will help the guys to pull themselves together, but that’s another topic. 

oBo leaving Complexity

Source: HLTV

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused the North American pro scene to suffer sizeable losses. Cut off from the rest of the world, American teams were left isolated and without any meaningful support from Valve. Of course, this couldn’t have had no effect on the general play level. Nonetheless, even in this predicament, there were rare moments of inspiration. 

One of those moments was Owen “oBo” Schlatter’s play as part of Complexity Gaming. The young player began representing the tag in 2019, but it wasn’t until mid-2020 that he got into game shape. In the American pro scene’s darkest times, Owen shined in the finals of the BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 European Finals, fought brilliantly in the semifinals of DreamHack Open Summer 2020: Europe and DreamHack Open Anaheim 2020, and made the playoffs of other major tournaments. 

The paradise came to an end in the fall of 2020. The player left Complexity Gaming’s main lineup and joined Evil Geniuses at the beginning of 2021. He spent a little over six months in his new team, but attended no tournament finals at all over that period. Eventually, Owen oBo Sclutter left EG. Right now, the young prodigy is left without a team. 

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