BLAST Premier Fall Finals 2022, teams’ last chance to get to the World Final stage, has a pretty dramatic storyline: to get into the next part of the tournament, which will be held in Abu Dhabi, Ninjas in Pyjamas have to reach the grand final at least and hope that G2 and OG will be out. Ahead of Fall Finals, we met with the team’s rifler Patrick “es3tag” Hansen and discussed NiP’s plans for BLAST and the near future.
The player talked about how his father’s passion helped determine his future, what AleksiB brought to the team, how coach Daniel “djL” Narancic and analyst Bjorn “THREAT” Pers influence their game, what he would like to tell his kids when he retire, and, of course, a little about his favourite skins!
BLAST Premier Fall Finals 2022 Playoffs are set to be held in Copenhagen’s Royal Arena. It’s really important for Patrick to make it to the finals since he expects his family to attend. Overall, his mood, as well as the team’s, is pretty good.
I’m doing great—a big event here in Copenhagen, where my entire family can come. I want to make it to the arena, so huge stakes for me. It’s nice, even though we come off of a really bad major, to be able to focus on something else, and put your energy into something that makes you try and move past. Imagine if you have to end a year in that one, right? So obviously we’re going to do our absolute best, and, team-wise, we hadn’t tried losing until Rio with AleksiB. So getting that under our skin, seeing how that feels and just working off it is something we’ve been able to do. And now we’re more ready than ever. But we have to face a really strong opponent in Heroic and they want it as much as we do. So we have to show that we’re obviously better on the server.
You mentioned your family attending. Tell me about the importance of such support from relatives, please.
To me, it means the world. I got into gaming all because of my dad. He used to play when I was a kid. I used to watch him while I was growing up, and I always dreamed of such. He lived on this thing that we call the Mountain, even though there are no mountains in Denmark, so it’s funny. And they were all sitting, you know, five guys next to each other just playing all day. And I would just watch. And they were super casual about it, and it wasn’t high-level. And it used to be a dream of mine to someday get to that. And I made it to a much bigger scale.
My dad initially thought he had ruined my life by introducing me to gaming. But I’m happy to prove him wrong, and now I can support them financially and give back in ways that they gave me throughout my life. So it’s great. But with this kind of job, you don’t get to spend much time with family. So I take it where I can, whether it’s at an arena or whatnot. If they can come and see me, it’s a lot easier for me because I don’t really have time. But Christmas is right around the corner, so I’m looking forward to spend some time with my family.
What were your father and his friends playing?
They were playing Counter-Strike 1.6. Yes, it was 1.6.
Some kind of family business, huh?
Yeah, you could say that. Back then, there was this Danish website called BoomTown, kinda like FACEIT, and people played on BoomTown servers. Then, he played these really obscure weapons that nobody used, and he would essentially showplay with the one called the Pump Gun. And it wasn’t a very good weapon, but he would be the number one with the most kills on the pump gun. And he would always brag about it. <laughs>
Was he teaching you to play CS when you tried to become an esports athlete?
No, not whatsoever. He was just letting me play a lot. I played only on the weekends when I was at my dad’s place. And when I played, I played a lot. And I quickly surpassed him, my uncles, and everyone who played within the family, everyone. There wasn’t really any sort of a pro scene, no networking back then. I was just playing a lot. I was essentially clueless when I came to CS:GO, I didn’t have any connections whatsoever, so I had to make my way playing PUGs and getting to know people, seeing people who are really good in PUGs. And then adding them, asking to play together, making my own team from there. So it was essentially starting from scratch, even though I’ve been playing the game for 22 years now.
Note: PUG means “Pick up game” where people can come and go during the game, although you are penalised during the half time for leaving. PUGs are made up of random people. Scrims are about a full team of 5 dedicated players practicing for competitive play.
Do you play CS:GO with your dad these days?
Right now, he doesn’t have a good PC, he usually plays from his laptop. If he does play. We have a bet going on that if he loses a certain amount of weight, I will buy him a fresh, good PC. So he has the motivation. And when he does get that PC, I’m sure we’ll be playing a lot more, surely we’ll be playing some CS:GO together.
BLAST & Future Plans
What are your plans for the near future?
I want to make it to the arena because I want to play in front of all the fans, in front of the Danish crowd. I want to be in that stage again because it was amazing the last time. And then we’ll just take it one match at a time, see where it takes us. It would be really nice to finish at least top two so we can make it to Abu Dhabi so having another tournament as well would be really nice.
But for the next year, it’s hard to say. I think we all need a bit of a break. We’ve been working so hard as of late. There’s been so many changes. I think we’re all a bit burnt out and to some extent. So I think it would be nice for us to take a break and then see where the new year takes us. This is not really in the focus of our scopes right now. Obviously, we want to end good. So focus is on this BLAST.
Playing Against Heroic
You are meeting Heroic in the first round, right? Is it some kind of a derby for you, something emotional? Or is it just another team that you will fight?
About Heroic, I respect them a lot. I know the people and they work hard, and I like them, they’re my good friends. So I respect them but when you’re playing on the server, they’re just like any other opponent needed to be put down. So it doesn’t really matter if you’re friends or not.
But I know them better, which might play in my favour. I know their play style, I might work around that. I’m more experienced in the Danish scene, so I know how the Danish play style is. They always play super controlled and smart CS where they won’t be taking many stupid changes like some, maybe, CIS teams will, or like Polish teams. This means I can expect them to do certain things. That’s the advantage I will get from this match, being like a derby.
But don’t they also know how you and your team plays?
Not really. We’re under a Finnish leader and Finnish CS is a bit more controlled, smart, but it’s also “go go kill” kind of, you know, “go shoot headshots”. It’s a bit more puggy to some extent. At least that’s how Finnish CS used to be played. And then we also have the Swedes and you never really know what the Swedes can do. Sometimes they just show up and they’re insane aim-wise. So we have a bit of a mix, right? They might know how I play, but I played so many different positions, so what do they really know? <laugh>
The Finnish IGL
Since we mentioned the Finnish IGL, can you tell how AleksiB’s setting up in the new team?
We communicate in English. The main thing is that we try to have an idea with everything we do. It’s still a learning period for the Swedes, the system we’ve put in. But I trust AleksiB all the way. I trust his calls. I’m a hundred percent in everything he does because I know he puts in the work and I know he is a leader that I want to follow whatever he’s doing. Day by day, we keep trying to build that system. And here’s your promo code for GameChanger Hub: 72N5QO.
THREAT, djL & The Pack
You also have a coach and an analyst. How are they affecting the team?
THREAT works more from the analytical point. He’ll come and make new innovative strats every once in a while, throw in some cool rounds that we can do.
A djL is just amazing. He’s really been able to make this team come together. Before, we were on our own: someone went smoke, someone would go toilet. And now we go as a pack: everyone travel as a pack, move as a pack, we do everything as a pack. It’s about the team dynamic. Everyone is doing a good job at fulfilling the criteria of doing things together, making it feel more like a team.
DjL is pretty young, 28 years old. Is that a problem since you guys are almost the same age?
I wouldn’t say so. You couldn’t feel that he’s young to be honest. His mentality is a lot older than has actual age. And also, the fact that he’s been a pro helps him see things from our perspective. It’s a big plus in my book because a lot of people don’t really respect coaches who haven’t been there. I think that’s an important aspect to have as a coach.
A pack, you say. What kind of team-building stuff do you guys do? Maybe, playing football together?
<laugh>. Yeah, we could be doing more of that. It’s been discussed. But right now it’s really cold outside in Denmark, so I don’t think we’ll be playing any football anytime soon. We’ll wait for summer. But mostly, we go for walks together, to the gym, eat healthy stuff. All these things are really important. Each day we have to send in how many steps we’ve done. It has to be over 7,500 steps. Otherwise, if you don’t make the threshold, you’ll be punished!
Although, I don’t know what’s the punishment. <laugh>
When you joined Ninjas in Pyjamas, you said you wanted to build a legacy. Can you elaborate on that thing and tell how it is going? What did you mean by that?
For me, Counter-Strike as a whole, not just CS:GO, has always been my entire life. I’ve been playing it since almost five years old and everything I’ve done up until now has been to try and cement myself. I want to be looked back as a pro player that people remember. And right now things are not always going as I wanted. At least we’ve been at the two Majors, so I cemented myself with a sticker, right? It’s nice being in the game in some way or another. But I want to cement myself in the sense that when I have kids and I’m retired, I want to look back and be able to tell them: this is what I did, this is what I’m proud of and, here I was. I want to be able to tell nice stories about my career, not just about terrible finishes and just being a part of it.
Do you want to continue the family tradition of Counter-Strike players?
We’ll see, we’ll see. It’s not something off the top of my mind, but I obviously want my kids to enjoy games as I’ve enjoyed them.
Speaking about kids, do you follow Young Ninjas? They’ve recently won the WePlay Academy League S6. Do the older Ninjas help them?
We communicate and we play FACEIT together sometimes. We’re intertwined in some way: we have the same tools to use, and we also take inspiration from each other. It’s nice having like this connection with the younger guys.
One day, we even went paintballing together. We do lots of teambuilding stuff with them. All Ninjas at once, and it was super fun. I got to know them at a personal level. Some of them are really young and still mature for their age, I’d say. But they’re all super nice. I haven’t played much with them on the server, but some of them are really talented and surely, it’s the new future for NiP later on.
In your Steam inventory, I saw a lot of capsules from PGL Antwerp Major. Why?
I just bought a lot in the beginning, but I haven’t even opened them. I think I’m just too lazy to open them.
So it’s not an investment?
No, no, it was just because from the beginning when I was opening my own stickers, and I was up until 5:00 AM in the morning. The update came out and I was like, “Okay, I need to try and get my own.” And then I bought a lot and when finally got mine, like a hundred and something later, I stopped opening.
Are you into skins, or do you just not care? What are your favourites?
I don’t care. I do care to some extent, but that’s literally like what knife I have. That’s about it. Obviously, grab it if I’m AWPing gives me 5% extra skill, you know, stuff like that. <laugh>
I like my AK Nightwish right now. Honestly, I’m proud of that one. And then I also like my Karambit Gamma Doppler, the blue and green one, with a very blue side. And my Bayonet, because it’s important to me. I like it when I’m rifling. I’ve always had a Bayonet ever since I played in Tricked Esports. The knives are the most important to me. And the AK, obviously.
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