Jkaem “excited” about CSGO future: “I feel I’ve still got it”

jkaem at StarLadder MajorIgor Bezborodov/StarLadder

In an exclusive interview with Dexerto, Joakim ‘jkaem’ Myrbostad reflected on EXTREMUM’s failed qualification efforts for PGL Major Stockholm and the organization’s decision to bench the entire roster.

The Norwegian player is currently exploring his options after EXTREMUM benched their CS:GO roster in the aftermath of the team’s failure to qualify for PGL Major.

EXTREMUM were ranked third in North America’s Regional Major Rankings (RMR) ahead of IEM Fall with a rather comfortable lead over their closest suitors. However, they cut a frustrated figure in the tournament and finished in sixth place. In the end, they were leapfrogged by Evil Geniuses, paiN Gaming, and GODSENT in the RMR standings.

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Renegades at the StarLadder MajorIgor Bezborodov/StarLadder
Renegades were one of the winners at the Berlin Major; now, the team couldn’t even qualify

It’s been quite the fall from grace for Oceania’s most storied CS:GO team. Just two years ago, playing under Renegades’ banner, they were leaving the StarLadder Major as heroes after reaching the semi-finals — the furthest that a team from the region had ever gone at a tournament of this stature.

“Obviously, I’m gutted,” he told Dexerto. “It’s what we worked for and what kept the team together over the last year, I’d say.

“Going to the semi-finals at the last Major and now not being able to attend this one is crazy. But it’s been two years, so it’s not like we deserve to automatically qualify for the Major. And we started [the RMR process] with some points, so we definitely had like a head start.

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“But the only thing that I could say is that this last RMR meant so much. The previous ones meant nothing in comparison. There are teams that didn’t even play the first one that placed top five and got the Major spot. We were third in the previous one and sixth in this one and we didn’t reach the Major.

“It’s a bit of a bitter feeling, to be honest.”

EXTREMUM’s issues

As shocking as it is to see ‘The Boys’ miss out on the first Major in two years, the foreboding signs were there. The team had spent most of the year outside the top 30 in HLTV’s world ranking and, apart from competing in the RMRs, had made only sporadic appearances in tier-two European tournaments and quite often with mixed results.

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In March 2021, EXTREMUM captain Aaron ‘⁠AZR⁠’ Ward had already alerted that the players didn’t have the best mentality going into these grueling European tournaments, which often break unprepared teams, regardless of how accomplished they are.

Jkaem admitted that, even though practice results were encouraging to some degree, he “definitely feared” that the team could falter at IEM Fall. In his opinion, the lack of proper planning over the course of the year hurt them in the end.

“With 100 Thieves, we had all the event spots, we were partnered with ESL and BLAST,” he said. “Going into EXTREMUM, we ended up with no spots, so we were left to play lower-tier tournaments.

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“I think we had the wrong mindset at the start of the year. We should have just played these tournaments and grinded everything that was possible to grind. But instead, we were like, ‘Ah, we deserve better’, that type of feeling. If we could re-do the year, I think we would have played everything, honestly.

“I think we expected things to be a bit easier. It was like, ‘we’re just going to bring back everything from 100 Thieves, we were doing well in the end, we were in many finals in a row in NA’. And things wouldn’t be that hard, but in a couple of months, CS developed, and now these teams were working hard and shooting hard.

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“And people had to adapt to some new roles. Liazz, for example, had a different role when jks was on the team. He took over jks’ role, but they’re not the same type of player. So it was a little bit about the roles and a little bit about underestimating the hard work that needed to be done at the start.”

Counter-Strike future

EXTREMUM are yet to announce their future plans, with a decision expected shortly. The Russian organization are currently entertaining offers for all members of the team.

Jkaem said that he was somewhat surprised that EXTREMUM opted against rebuilding the roster for 2022. Besides spending big to keep their Oceanic trio and Indonesian star Hansel ‘BnTeT’ Ferdinand in Europe, EXTREMUM also made a serious effort to produce unique, original content around the squad all year long.

“I think we all were aware that there was a chance that it might happen,” jkaem said when asked about EXTREMUM’s decision. “We knew that they had put a lot of resources into this project. And we didn’t have the hardest path to the Major, so we should have made it.

“That was their main goal and our own. So when we failed to reach that goal, we knew there was a chance.

“I thought that maybe they would cut some players, make some changes, and rebuild the team because they had invested so heavily into this first year of CS. So in some way, I was a little bit surprised, but we were aware that this could happen.”

Quizzed on his future, jkaem stated he doesn’t know what he will do just yet, though he ruled out a transition to Valorant. “I’m too old to switch games,” he said, laughing.

“All I can say is that a few teams have reached out,” he added, “so there could be something in the making.”

Not done yet

It is nearly a year to the day since jkaem left the Australian team and 100 Thieves, and signed for Norwegian organization Apeks with the goal of contributing to the development of his local scene.

Two months later, he was out the door, bringing his short tenure with Apeks to a surprising end. The prospect of reuniting with his former Renegades and 100 Thieves teammates proved too tempting to pass up.

Jkaem believes that the players will be going their separate ways

This time around though, it’s a different story.

“I don’t think the [EXTREMUM] group is going to stick together,” he said. “Maybe like a duo could stick together, but I think that people might go their separate ways.”

Jkaem is confident that he still has plenty to offer teams in need of an experienced entry fragger, pointing to his EXTREMUM form as an indicator that he can “still deliver on a high level”.

Despite EXTREMUM’s shortcomings, he was always a reliable performer for the team. He finished IEM Fall with a tournament-high 1.35 HLTV rating, also topping the event’s charts for ADR (95.9), kills per round (0.88), impact (1.49) and headshots per round (0.48).

“I feel in good shape individually,” he said. “I believe I put in good numbers and I’m a role player. I play pretty hard entry and I’m also very aggressive on the CT side as well. So sometimes that might not be the easiest role to play.

“When it comes to achieving things, I’ve been in a bunch of semi-finals and a couple of finals, but have never lifted a big trophy. It’s always been like a step or two short.

“If there’s something I want to achieve, it’s to start lifting some trophies. I’m not getting younger, but I feel I’ve still got it. I’m excited about the future.”