In an exclusive interview with Dexerto, Tim ‘nawwk’ Jonasson opens up about the time he has spent on Ninjas in Pyjamas’ bench and his mental health struggles last year.
When NIP told him that Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz was being signed, nawwk took the news in stride, even though it meant that he was about to tread on unsafe ground.
Options are very limited in the Counter-Strike scene at the moment. The barriers to entry for new organizations are considerable, and many of the teams that are involved in the game are still counting the costs of a global health crisis. Player transfers are becoming increasingly rare, so the road back to the top for a player who has been benched – even for a marquee name like Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub – can sometimes be arduous and long.
It has now been almost five months since nawwk played his last official match — a 2-0 defeat to Gambit in ESL Pro League Season 13 —, and he still doesn’t know when he will hit the stage again. Last week, NIP announced that they will entertain loan offers for the AWPer in an attempt to encourage interest in the player.
“When I got benched, I kind of expected that it could be difficult to find a new team quickly due to multiple reasons,” nawwk told Dexerto. “The biggest reason is that COVID is still around, and buyouts are difficult in this era.”
nawwk joined NIP in January 2020 at the tail end of a transition period for the Swedish team, who were parting ways with Counter-Strike legend Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, the last remaining member of the Ninjas’ iconic 87-0 lineup, which dominated CS:GO during the game’s infancy.
A rising talent who had shown promise during his time with GamerLegion, nawwk had bursts of greatness but also sudden collapses while with NIP. His erratic form often came under criticism as the meta dictated that the vast majority of top teams had to play around a reliable star AWPer.
Looking back, nawwk wishes he paid closer attention to his body. Last year, he was out for almost a month after showing signs of exhaustion — which he describes as the “worst moment” of his time on the team. “It led to a medical leave and to some incredibly poor performances.”
“I still feel like one of the main reasons for not being that consistent has been my health overall,” he added.
“Before, I could sit inside for days without going outside for some fresh air. I’d just play all the time and magically think that I would get better by just playing aimlessly. After a while, you just hit a wall.
“In my opinion, you have to be happy in real life to have the best performance in CS. Some people are probably not going to agree with me, but that is fine. It’s different for every person.
“But I’m not going to sit here and just blame it all on my health and say that I’m a perfect player, because I’m not. Not even close. There are things that I can definitely improve in the game.
“I’d say that I need to take more initiative and have more impact during games. There are some games that I have rewatched and just thought: ‘What was I doing?’”
nawwk has spent the last four months playing FPL games — which he oftentimes streams — to stay in shape while he waits for his next chance to prove his worth. He has a new routine now and claims to be better equipped to cope with the challenges that come with competing at the highest level.
“My biggest strength would probably be my individual skill,” he said. “Even though my biggest problem has been consistency, I still really believe in myself to fix that.
“Something that I noticed in my last event with NIP was that watching that extra demo really helped instead of just playing Deathmatch or pugs.
“Even though you have to play a lot to keep that individual skill up, sometimes it’s better to just enjoy a demo before bed.”
nawwk’s hopes of landing a new team took a hit last month when fnatic announced the end of their long history of all-Swedish CS:GO rosters with the signings of British duo Alex ‘ALEX’ McMeekin and William ‘mezii’ Merriman. Transfer deals between NIP and fnatic were not an uncommon event in the past, but that door appears to be slammed shut now.
Asked if fnatic’s decision has made it harder for him to find a new home, nawwk replied: “Of course.”
He added: “But you also have to see it from their perspective because there aren’t that many talents to keep a Swedish roster at the moment. So I respect their decision.”
As the months roll on, the uncertainty surrounding nawwk’s situation only increases. Many players in a similar predicament have transitioned to VALORANT or, at the very least, entertained the thought of kick-starting their career in Riot Games’ first-person shooter, but his resolve seems unshaken.
He still wants to prove that he can be a success in Counter-Strike.
“I haven’t really set a timetable for finding a new team,” he said.” CS is still the game I’m dedicated to and passionate about.
“At the moment, VALORANT is not interesting for me. Maybe in the future, but I doubt it.”