Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund is a legend. He has played for over twelve years as a Counter-Strike pro. First in CS 1.6, and later in CS:GO. He was a superstar in both iterations of the game. After playing for seven years in Ninjas in Pyjamas, it is time to ask ourselves what defines his legacy. For me, his career is an impossibility of effort.
The Rise and Fall of NiP
“I’ve never been a talented born player, it was always a real hard work. I played a little bit more than other pro players. That was my edge.” – VPEsports
Ninjas in Pyjamas defined the first year of CS:GO. They were the first dynastic team in CS:GO history. Their lineup included: Richard “Xizt” Landstrom, Adam “friberg” Friberg, Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, and Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. They ran the archetypical Swedish style of Counter-Strike.
They had a good base of tactics, but what set them apart was their sensational teamplay and strong firepower. Xizt was the loose in-game leader who created a basic structure that the NiP stars could play off of. Friberg was the impactful entry-fragger and could swing series if he hit his peak levels. Fifflaren was the role player. He took the leftover roles and enabled the other players. He also helped the players transition from CS 1.6 to CS:GO as CS:GO as the game was closer to Fifflaren’s old game of CS:Source.
Friberg and f0rest, once legends together on NiP.
F0rest was the other star of the team. He is either the best or second-best player of CS 1.6 history depending on who you ask. His game sense, mechanics, and consistency made him stand out as special in a scene that regularly produced star-level talents.
As for GeT_RiGhT was the polarizing superstar of the team. The crown jewel of the lineup that defined an entire generation of CS:GO competition. He wasn’t just the lurker of the team, he was The Lurker. He redefined the role into his own image and convinced an entire generation of players that his style of lurking was the standard way of playing rather than a style created to fit his particular strengths as a player.
With this lineup, NiP and GeT_RiGhT conquered the world. Once the team transferred over to CS:GO, they quickly became the undisputed best team in the world. They had a ludicrous record on LAN. They were 87-0 before Virtus.Pro upset them at StarLadder StarSeries V. NiP’s era lasted over a year.
VeryGames only overtook them after adding Richard “Shox” Papillon to their lineup and the VeryGames squad beat NiP at EMS Fall 2013. That became a bitter rivalry as NiP got their revenge in the semifinals of the first Major, DreamHack Winter 2013. While NiP beat VeryGames, Fnatic upset them in the finals.
From that point onwards, NiP dropped from the undisputed best team to an elite contending team. They were always good enough to consistently place in the top four, but other teams started to rise up. Virtus.Pro won the ESL Katowice Major. Fnatic added Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson in mid 2014. The move made Fnatic the best team in the world and they looked to be the favorites going into the ESL Cologne Major 2014. Especially as Fnatic beat NiP in the ESPORTSM Finals 2-0.
NiP showed a glimpse of what people now colloquially call “NiP Magic”. Friberg had an incredible tournament and NiP came at Fnatic in full force. They faced Fnatic in the finals and beat them in close fashion. GeT_RiGhT recalled that moment years later in an interview with VPEsports,
“We didn’t have any easy games, the scores were 2-1, 16-14, and overtimes. We played with our hearts, we put everything in that win and the thing is that if we lost that final we are done with that team. No one expected us to win, but we managed to do that. And after all that, it was a big relief winning that tournament.”
Soon after, Fifflaren retired from the game. From that point onward, NiP made a gradual decline over the years. NiP went from an elite team to a dark horse team. From a dark horse team to an average playoff team. As they declined, NiP showed rare glimpses of NiP Magic. They had a shocking victory at DreamHack Malmo 2016 after Bjorn “THREAT” Pers became the coach.
In that run, they used a structured tactical style and had GeT_RiGhT change roles from lurker to entry-fragger. They had two more magical runs in 2016 with a victory at StarLadder i-League Season 2 and IEM Oakland 2016. As time wore on, NiP magic had diminishing returns. In 2017, NiP’s last magical run was at IEM Oakland 2017 where NiP beat FaZe in the finals 3-2.
NiP continued to struggle with their identity as a team. Their most successful attempt was in 2018 when they recruited Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson. He eventually became their in-game leader and the switch made NiP a dangerous bo1 team. However, NiP couldn’t build on top of that and with declining results, NiP finally cut GeT_RiGhT on September 26th, 2019.
Looking back on GeT_RiGhT’s CS:GO career, there are two things that define him. His passion and his ethic. GeT_RiGhT comes from an older generation of esports pros. Players who couldn’t expect any kind of monetary remuneration as the scene was far smaller than it was today. For GeT_RiGhT, money was never the goal. As he says in his VPEsports interview,
“I started to play CS not because of money. I had 100$ salary, but still I worked hard.”
It’s hard to imagine now as we live in a world where players have 6 figure buyouts and compLexity is trying to court players with 1 million dollar deals. Back then though, there was no guarantee of money. Investing in an esports career was an opportunity cost. You were using your time to master a game that couldn’t ensure your financial future. It takes a certain type of character to make that choice and the CS:GO world was all the richer for it when GeT_RiGhT did.
For GeT_RiGht, the game and competition is everything. In a tweet before the StarLadder i-League Season 5 playoffs, hetweeted,
“The night before a play off game is special for me, ‘Why?’ You may ask. It’s that moment You lay in bed and think about the game, the emotions, the fire and Energy you’ll get from big games That’s something that Drives me, no matter what the outcome. To Give Your absolute best”
GeT_RiGhT has been playing for over 12 years now and when you watch his face during the game or after it, you can still see the raw emotions. The years haven’t hardened his heart. He still feels the pain of loss and the ecstasy of victory as if it was his first time. Usually pros start to harden after years of experiencing it.
Sometimes it becomes rote to them and other times it becomes a defense mechanism. Those who embrace the joys of victory to their highest extent are also vulnerable to the absolute pains of defeat. GeT_RiGhT hasn’t closed himself off to that feeling. It is actually one of the reasons why he still continues to play. To feel that victory once again.
“I would love to go back there and feel that win[Major] again. That’s why I’m afraid to quit playing because I don’t know how I will live without these inexpressible feelings.” –VPEsports
While GeT_RiGhT hasn’t been close to a Major finals, that still hasn’t dulled his sense of passion. If anything, it has sharpened it. The biggest episode of this was at the EU Minors for the FACEIT Major. In the lower bracket finals, NiP needed to beat ENCE to get to the Challengers Stage. GeT_RiGhT had a flashback series and NiP qualified for the Major. In a post-game interview he told HLTV,
“It really meant the world to me knowing that I could still put up a big game and I can still do everything for my team.”
GeT_RiGhT’s passion fuels his work ethic and everything we know about him reflects that. He is someone who has fought through challenges that have ended other player’s careers. He was at the apex of CS 1.6 and had to transition into CS:GO. Many of the other Counter-Strike players weren’t willing to continue gambling their financial futures to be the best at Counter-Strike, but he was.
Even among those who did, they could never fully make the transition. Some didn’t have the talent, but many couldn’t grow. They were stuck in their old ways and refused to put in the hard work necessary to make the transition.
GeT_RiGhT put in the work and made the transition flawlessly. He did all of this while fighting Crohn’s disease. Perhaps the most telling thing about his effort is that he acknowledges that effort alone doesn’t always pay off, but he still puts in the hours regardless. In the same post EU Minor interview, he talked about the elation he felt after getting the desired results for his work,
“I’ve been grinding so hard for this tournament, I’ve been staying up late, putting in the hours, I’ve been dragging myself every day, I even slept worse because I needed to play more…and it felt like that weight I had before, because I’ve done it a couple of times in the last two years and it hasn’t given any success back, and this was the first time in maybe one and a half years that it actually gave back to me, and I was so happy about it.”
What is remarkable about GeT_RiGhT is that he hasn’t stopped working even in the periods where he had excuses not to put in his all. By 2015, he had already accomplished everything he could have ever hoped for. At that point, NiP never had a set five and they were on the decline. He could have rested and sat on his laurels.
Instead, he tried to improve himself. When THREAT came into the team, GeT_RiGhT became an entry-fragger and expanded his game. Later on when he lost his place as a star and the community negativity started to mount, he could have sunk into a hole. Instead he transformed himself into more of a team player. He talked about this episode in an HLTV interview,
“He [pita] put me to the side and he told me like, “stop thinking about it and just do what I need you to do”. I do not expect to drop 30 bombs every game, I do not expect to drop 20 bombs. For me, it is like, I will be super happy if we win. My goal in general is just, if I do something good for the team at least one to five rounds every game, I am happy with it.”
The ultimate culmination of GeT_RiGhT’s effort and drive comes from the VPEsports interview where he talked about his legacy,
“My motivation never sinks. I always want to get back to the game and play it more because I always want to win. I always want to be the best. I already did my legacy, but I want to make it bigger, I want everyone to know that GeT_RiGhT is the hardest working pro and that even if they aren’t talented they can work hard and achieve good results.”
That quote cuts to the very core of GeT_RiGhT’s greatness. He isn’t a prodigal talent like some of the other greats of the game. He isn’t a complete natural like f0rest or have the raw game sense, mechanics, or creativity of Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. For GeT_RiGhT, the biggest thing about his career isn’t his results. It isn’t the fact that he is one of the few players to be a superstar in both CS 1.6 and CS:GO. It isn’t about the era or how he was one of the most dominant players. It was about the work he put in to get there.
Other players can take weeks or months off and still continue to be Gods. Players like shox and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub being two of the prime examples in CS:GO. For all of their incredible talents though, neither ever hit the limits of what their potential could bring forth.
In GeT_RiGhT’s case he not only hit the limits of his potential, he broke them. When he said “I want everyone to know that GeT_RiGhT is the hardest working pro and that even if they aren’t talented they can work hard and achieve good results.” it created a stir in the community.
Some criticized the quote as naive as they took it to mean that hard work could allow anyone to achieve all their dreams. In GeT_RiGhT’s case though, he never meant it that way. For him effort couldn’t get you everything you wanted. After all, if he had his way, he’d have won every Major ever. Hard work never got him everything he wanted, he even acknowledges how it has failed him time and time again. Hard work however has gotten him more than he could have ever imagined.
GeT_RiGhT’s own career is living proof of this. He doesn’t have the innate talent of a true prodigy player, but with the hand he was dealt, he’s achieved far more than anyone could have ever imagined. He was a superstar in two games. He was the superstar of NiP and he created an era. After that era ended, he won a Major against all expectations and though NiP declined, he was a part of the teams that continued to pull out magical victories in their limelight.
The Next Chapter
That drive to succeed even now still has not dulled. When NiP announced that they were benching GeT_RiGhT, the community went into a fever pitch as they talked about his potential retirement. While he has denied those claims, some fans even now believe that he should end it now. After all, isn’t it better to retire on top, when the good will is high, and the legacy is protected?
However that is a gross misunderstanding of what makes him a legend. His legend was never just about his titles or his peak individual form. It was about his passion and drive, and he isn’t done. It reminds me of a Winston Churchill anecdote. At the end of WW2, the Times prepared an editorial suggesting that Churchill should campaign as a non-partisan world leader and retire gracefully. To the first point, Churchill said, “I fight for my corner.” To the second he said, “I leave when the pub closes.”
GeT_RiGhT is much the same. Counter-Strike is his corner and he isn’t done until he says he is. After all, while his form is no longer what it once was, his drive burns just as it did in his youth. As he says in a HLTV interview,
“I want to prove myself even more, and I want to do it for myself, not for someone else. I want to end my things on my terms, not on someone else’s terms.”
For GeT_RiGhT now, it is no longer about being a superstar. It is about transforming himself into becoming a new type of player. Someone that can help enable the other players on the team to succeed like what Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas and Filip “NEO” Kubski did when they first transitioned into CS:GO.
Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic. At the age of 29, it seems likely GeT_RiGht is closing in on the age limit of an esports pro’s career. While we don’t know where exactly the age limit is, it likely does exist. Even so, when I look at his career in its entirety, I can’t help but think he could break that barrier. His entire career is an impossibility made manifest through sheer force of effort.
The most telling point to me is what GeT_RiGhT has staked his legacy on. It isn’t the fact that he was one of the few superstars that could transition from CS 1.6 to CS:GO. It isn’t the era he had or the period when he was the most dominant player in the world. It is the hard work he stakes it on. He will push through with his ethic or fall in the attempt.
In that way, perhaps the best way to describe his next chapter in his career is a quote from Daigo Umehara. Daigo is the greatest Street Fighter player of all time and continues to play to this day at the age of 38. He has a remarkably similar philosophy to GeT_RiGhT and in his book “The Will to Keep Winning”, he said,
“I realize that I won’t be able to stay on top forever, and I don’t deny that effort can only trump age at a certain point. Still I chose to become a pro gamer precisely because I want to keep working in spite of those limits. If I’m going to die someday anyway, I want it to be on the battlefield. I’m not the type to take my last breath quietly, holed up in my castle.”