The end of GeT_RiGhT’s time in Ninjas in Pyjamas was all anyone was talking about in the run-up to ESL One Cologne, and rightly so. After the org announced he would be leaving post-Berlin Major, and potentially moving to a non-playing position in the group, the tributes began to flow in for a man most view as the greatest in GO history, but it turns out that the professional press release NIP put out had not been agreed upon by all parties.
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In the interview with Stunna given to the ESL stream yesterday, GeT_RiGhT took the opportunity to speak publicly for the first time about the move, and it was immediately clear this wasn’t a mutual decision. He made it very clear he has no intention of retiring, and that he was certainly not part of the decision to drop him from the team, with his time in CSGO far from over in his own mind at least.
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This raises a few interesting questions, of course, as to where he might end up, and exactly how the news was delivered to GeT_RiGhT himself, as what his reaction might have been. He spoke of still being extremely "emotional", but do emotions have a part to play in a business as big as esports, or is it time for the professional cut-throat nature of sport to begin to bleed over into our domain?
One rule for some…
In sport, there are pretty much hard and fast rules set now as to where the lines lie for retirement and effectiveness at the top level. Football, the world’s biggest spectator sport, generally sees the top level players fade away by the time they reach their mid-30s, with the occasional exception like Cristiano Ronaldo able to play on through a combination of hard work and clever marketing.
Now, that is the most popular and richest game on the planet, where the likes of Ronaldo can expect to earn millions more for every extra year they can squeeze out of their career. Even with that in mind, the reality is that there is a hard ‘out’ for any athlete in a physical sport when their body can no longer deliver what the brain needs in-game, but we don’t have that issue in esports per se.
Some might argue that there is a reaction-time issue, but overall the chances of age catching up to you in a game like CS are far lower than in football. At 29 years old, GeT_RiGhT is on the cusp of being considered ‘too old’ by the normal standards we set, and is in the same age range as other players expected to retire soon, like Na’Vi leader Zeus, who has already begun grooming his successor.
However, the reaction to GTR’s news compared to the constant calls for Zeus to step down have been very different, with the majority keen to speak up for the Swede. This is partly because he’s such a loveable person of course, but also speaks to the double standard in the game, where some players are sacred cows, unable to be called out for their stats, while others are destroyed without mercy.
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Over the last year, for example, Zeus has been IGL for the most dysfunctional top ten team, and maintained a .84 kill/death ratio with .56 kills per round. In comparison, GTR has been just a player on NIP, with a .90 k/d and .62 kpr, in a team that has generally been to less big games. Their ratings over the last twelve months are .93 for Zeus, and .96 for GTR on HLTV, but crucially Na’Vi have won 60% of their maps to NIPs 49.7%.
What next for Mr Right?
In a weird way, the fact GeT_RiGhT wants to keep playing is a blessing and a curse for the CSGO scene. There is no doubt he is a player whose influence on the scene goes way beyond what he has already done in the game, as he is one of the most thoughtful, intelligent and respectful people in esports, and every moment he spends in sever is a gift to any young player with the savvy to learn from one of the all-time greats.
On the other hand, with the skill set he has we don’t doubt that GTR could succeed in any area, and he is exactly the kind of person who should be heavily involved in the running of esports when he does decide to hang up the mouse and use his gaming chair to dry laundry on. As a coach, org owner, player rep or any other position GTR would be desirable for his history as much as his image, and that explains why NIP jumped the gun on the whole ‘we want him to stay as a non-player’ line.
Ultimately, it will come down to the choices he has when the Major is over, and it’s already clear there will be more love for the man than there is for a Zeus, or friberg, due to the way CSGO fans pick their favourites. However, this is an interesting example of an org trying to control the narrative, and the player refusing to buy into his own graceful farewell, and shows that when it comes to esports, nobody really knows when their time is up, or how long is long enough yet.
Picture: Copyright Helena Kristiansson / ESL