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NEWS

My Dream

Jul 182017

I’ll never forget the day I signed for Fnatic.

After ESL Katowice, back in 2014, a lot of people wanted to sign me. We had put on an incredible performance, the type of play that we knew we were capable of, but had just needed the right opportunity to show off our skill. We had beaten NaVi and Fnatic, and even took a game off of Virtus Pro, with the Polish crowd behind them. So, when I got home to Skype messages from several teams, I wasn’t surprised — however, I was also happy with my old team.

But then, one day, it was different. Fnatic approached me and they wanted me to join. You have to understand, for a Swede who’s played CS since he was a little kid - sneaking in rounds while his brother was getting food, putting off schoolwork so he could watch dsn’s new fragvideo, this was a dream come true. However, it was a difficult dream to grasp. Even just three years ago, player salaries were not amazing. What Fnatic offered me was good, but I had to weigh what I was giving up to get it. I wasn’t that young kid anymore. I had the very real prospect of university, of “real world” work ahead of me. If I decided to play Counterstrike, it would be an all-in play. 

Well, you all know what I ended up choosing to do. I realized that opportunities like this are once in a lifetime, and I had worked so hard to get to that point, so why stop? Within a month, I was confident I had made the right choice. We played against NiP in the finals of the next major, and there was nothing like it. Your nerves are going crazy as you walk up on stage, but your mind shuts them down — once you hop in the server, a strange calm sets in. This is the culmination of everything that you’ve worked for, and somehow, you just keep pulling out play after play.

 

You play at 110%.. Then 120%.. Then 150%..

 

By the end of it, you’re playing like you’ve only dreamed you could. Even though we lost, I knew what the taste of victory was like, and I wanted it more than I ever had before.

 

The next two years are a happy blur. Hundreds of thousands of miles of travel, thousands of rounds played, countless time spent in demos, hoisting trophy after trophy. We never rested on our laurels, each win just made us want the next one even more.

 

And then someone hit the brakes. It wasn’t Coldzera. It wasn’t Pasza. It wasn’t karrigan. As luck would have it, my worst enemy would end up being my own damn body. Around the turn of the year, I started to notice this pain growing in my arm. It wasn’t bad, just a bit of a tightness and a burn around my wrist, like when you bench press just a bit too much. At first, I didn’t think much of it. I would ice it a bit, maybe take an Advil, and play through the discomfort. But as the months went on, it got sharper and sharper. I found myself grimacing with flickshots and trying to massage the pain away in between rounds. Eventually, it was too much. After trying to play through the Major, I told my team that I had to address this. 

 

When I said that the competitive spirit resided deep in my soul, I meant it. I will put my fullest effort into anything and everything — football, Counterstrike, school, even walking from the movie theatre back to the car. I needed to win and now I had a new challenge. It was me against my injury. I did everything to get the edge. I tried therapy after therapy, treatment after treatment. I must have called every doctor in my county, trying to find someone who could tell me exactly what was wrong. I finally managed to find a doctor who had confidence in his diagnosis, and we set out to make this roadblock disappear. 

While I was undergoing my treatment, I still thought about Counterstrike; I thought about this injury and what it meant. Was I going to have to stop playing? Would I no longer be able to compete with the best in the world? These questions were terrifying. Ever since I was a child, Counterstrike has been like a close friend. I play CS when I’m sad, I play CS when I’m happy, I play CS when I just need to clear my head. DM, surf maps, comp, it doesn’t matter. Something about the game just puts a smile on my face and makes everything better. You can only imagine how horrible the prospect of losing all of that was. Why did this have to happen to me? Millions of people play this game, but why was it me, why was it my dream, that had to be torn from my hands?

 

Watching Counterstrike when I was injured wasn’t horrible. It was quite actually relaxing, to be able to keep my mind going and keep my head clear. But I could never watch Fnatic games. Watching my team play without me.. it just raised so much emotion inside of me. It wasn’t sadness, it was anger. I was angry that I couldn’t test myself, I was angry that I couldn’t prove my skill to the world, and most of all, I was angry that I wasn’t able to support my teammates. 

 

With time, however, that anger, that sorrow turned into a strange joy. I began to think about my favorite games and the amazing tournaments that I had been able to take part in. I thought about my teammates, my friends — all of our drama seemed petty now that I could see the big picture. I was living my dream and I was so lucky to have that opportunity. I needed to seize the day and realize that dream to its fullest. 

Since I’ve come back, I’ve hit roadblocks. We’ve had some bad games, I’ve dropped clutches. Yet, all of those problems pale in comparison to my fight with my injury. In times of trouble, I look back on those few months and reflect on them; that experience serves as a guiding compass. It led me through playing in front of millions on Eleague, it led me through the dissolution of our world championship roster, it led me through rebuilding that incredible team, and it’s making us stronger than ever.  

 

I won’t lie, it hasn’t been an easy road. After I came back, even with my compass, I was still scared. Every time we would sit down to play a match, I would catch myself staring at my arm, wondering if the pain would creep back. I wasn’t just preparing for battle with the other team, I was preparing to fight my own mind, my own fear. Over time, that fear, that worry, came to be a driving force. Yes, at any minute, the pain could come back. Any game could be the last time I ever sit down in front of thousands on the big stage, so I made a resolution. I’m going to play my f*cking heart out and treat every game like it is my last. I’m so fortunate to be on this wild ride, and I’m even more determined than ever to make the most out of every round I’m given.

- Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer Gustafsson

 

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