Many may not know of WolfY's extensive CS history in Sweden prior to moving to America
Jeffrey "Mnmzzz" Moore sat down with Adam "WolfY" Andersson prior to the start of ESEA Premier Season 36 to discuss his CS:GO origins in Sweden, the decision to move to North America, the differences between the two scenes, the formation of the new Secret Club lineup, and his expectations for this season and 2021 as a whole.
Some people may not know that until recently you lived and played in Sweden. Can give a rundown of your early career before you decided to make the jump to North America?
Sweden is the home of Counter-Strike and that's where I got started. I played for a lot of smaller Swedish mixteams and teams and never really found huge success until I played with quix and pyth in The Final Tribe, which is now GODSENT, that was about a year before I come to the US.
Yeah, a lot of people don't really know that I was actually playing in Sweden, although I was actually born in the United States. My parents are Swedish, and I grew up there. I started playing Counter-Strike in 2015 and I've been playing there ever since. [Other] notable teams I played on over there were Epiphany Bolt for a year, I played with davidp, a good friend of mine, elo, and I played on GAMERZ [Season 1]. That was a long time ago.
Can you talk a bit about your time on GAMERZ and the experience of playing alongside people who would go on to be notable in the Scandinavian scene like Queenix, Limpone, and of course Brollan? Additionally, did your time on GAMERZ help your reputation in Sweden?
So GAMERZ itself was definitely an important thing for me personally, for development and to be noticed, and it was also just a great memory, it's one I will never forget. I met so many friends and teammates like hns and elo. We ended up teaming and being friends for years after GAMERZ. And Brollan, I knew him before GAMERZ even happened like me and him played in small teams that we made ourselves when he was like 12-13 and I was 15-16. GAMERZ was when I got to meet him for the first time.
It has been so long and there's been so many things but yeah GAMERZ was one of the first steps to not breaking out, but getting noticed I guess. It was the first big step in my career even though it wasn't like a huge thing, the players weren't insane, but it still gave us the opportunity for those won a chance to become pro even though things didn't work out after, [GAMERZ] it was still super fun.
Considering your experiences on GAMERZ, with Lilmix, Epiphany Bolt, etc. you were pretty embedded in the Swedish scene at the end of 2019. With that, why did you make the decision to come to North America and try to make it in the NA scene?
So for me it was more like the opportunity to live here. I was born in the United States and my father lives there and I never really enjoyed living in Sweden and Europe. I understood the language and I got along with the people there, but I never enjoyed the European cultural/language barrier. When I came to the United States everyone was speaking English and it felt like everyone was from the same place and you could talk to them after games and that's what drew me.
I wanted to live in the States as always preferred it over there and in game there was friendliness... obviously not everyone is super friendly but in general people are more friendly than in Europe and we are all Americans and we all speak the same language. And it was easier to get along with people, like in Europe after FPL-C games you're not usually sitting down and talking to each other and chillin, I'm not sitting down with a Russian dude saying, "Oh hey how is it in Russia?". [Europe] just feels very divided because of the regions. Meanwhile in the States you can get along with everyone and that's what I liked.
When I first came [to America] VALORANT hadn't come out and there was still a lot of NA people playing, like Subroza and WARDELL, all these guys were still playing. When I first came people were really nice and I had tons of fun. Like I had all of the experience I gained in Europe, so I didn't have to relearn stuff and I wasn't really here to learn the game. I was just because I've always wanted to play on an American team because of the connection. I still think there is good opportunity no matter how the scene has been.
How do you compare rising through the ranks and being noticed in North America versus the Swedish/European scene?
The difference from Europe and America is that there is way more competition in Europe in the lower ranks. So you have Premier here and in Europe, but they're two different things as the skill level is way higher in Europe, just like how Advanced over there is way higher level than Advanced in NA. At the very top, you have NA teams that can compete with European teams, but the general competition in Europe is way higher.
But, when it comes to the regions, Sweden is a big Counter-Strike region, but it is still a country with ten million people so there's not like tons of people, so the community is not insanely huge. Comparing Sweden and NA itself in terms of the number of players there are similar numbers of players making pro. But at the same time the skill level is higher in terms of mentality and attitude towards the game in Europe and Sweden. In Europe you have people who [CS:GO] is do or die for them, they love the game, but it is also a way out for a lot of people in different regions. In NA, yeah it can be a reality for some people to become pro, but we're very lucky in NA where there is money and it's not the same do or die situation for some people in certain countries in Europe. That pushes them to become the absolute best in every aspect so that they can become professional you know?
So I think when it comes to the difference between Europe and NA is the mentality. Becoming pro is easier in NA because the teams in Premier aren't insane so making Pro is easier. But becoming professional in CS:GO in general is hard because if you want to compete internationally you still need to become as good if not better than the European teams.
When comparing the regions' mentalities, you said that Europe feels "do or die" for a lot of players while North America is a lot more laid back. Generally this laid back attitude would be seen as a negative, but it seems like you believe it has upsides. Can you explain this?
I don't know how to say it. I'm not saying all NA players are laid back, there are incredibly mechanically talented players that are really good. But, they need to change their mentality and the way they follow the game they would actually find success easily. I don't think people in NA are laid back... you know everyone that plays the game... it is hard to say but why are there so many people in Premier throwing and not caring, and why is that not happening in Europe? To me I don't know why but I want to say the mentality is that people don't care, the skill level is lower and that's just for Premier. But Pro is completely different. It is such a hard question because the gap between Premier and Pro is bigger and the gap between top level Premier and the bottom of Premier is bigger and there's no middle ground it feels like.
In NA you have people with good mentality, but you have more people who don't care about the game in the same way people in Europe do. That's the only way I can explain the throwing. All your games are on HLTV, all your games are streamed, people are generally trying. You can always win money, even when we had training seasons, you can still try and play your best. You always have a chance to show to other teams how good you can be.
To clarify, you like North America because of the sense of camaraderie and it is a bit more casual compared to Europe, but the downside of this is people overall care about the game less?
Yeah that is a good summary. Casual may be the wrong word though. I would add that although this sounds stupid, when you are born in America you are always an American and you still have that Americanism with you no matter where you go. So the culture, family, etc. is why I want to be here.
Flashing forward, after leaving Lilmix you very quickly linked up with the original Oceanus lineup. Can you explain how you came to join the lineup so quickly after moving to North America?
I went to the United States for a month in December for the holidays and while in the states I absolutely grinded CS:GO. I don't know why, but I was having so much fun playing Rank G and I met so many people during that time. That's how I ended up standing in for Triumph after meeting Grim. We became friends because everyone is so friendly, and I got along with people well. After that I played for TGS [in Advanced] because I knew Jerk from one of the ASUS ROG LANs. I played the first ASUS ROG LAN with Team Friberg in 2018 and the second one with Team fl0m in 2019. Basically I was only supposed to go there to represent the captains from last season but one of fl0m's players did not show up to the LAN so fl0m ended up adding me to the team as he knew me from last season, and I was American, so I fit in perfectly.
After the LAN I became good friends with Jerk and retrQ, so Jerk wanted to team with me. TGS were your typical NA players without much experience but a lot of mechanical skill and we played a bit, but we started the [Advanced] season off 0-6 as I was playing from Sweden with 120 ping. I actually later played Season 34 MDL playoffs from Sweden at 3am but I loved it. I didn't care because playing the game was the best.
After coming back to the States I got a message from J0LZ wondering if I wanted to try out. I don't think people knew if I was going to stay in the US or go back to Sweden. But when it came to committing to moving to the States it was hard because I had a girlfriend and friends in Sweden and to just get up and leave it was complicated. So at the time I was planning on just trying to live in America and play a season with Oceanus but of course that's right when COVID-19 hit so one season ended up being six months due to travel restrictions. I had tons of fun with those guys. We weren't the best team, having to play [Season 33] relegation but it was a good time. We later turned into Swedish Canadians and lost a bunch of players, including gMd, to VALORANT. So we threw together Swedish Canadians and played with that lineup. I went back to Sweden in the middle of June to take care of personal issues and that was one of the more difficult periods of my life and I didn't play CS:GO for two months.
After coming back from Sweden you made the decision to leave Swedish Canadians and join Secret Club. Can you explain why you made that switch?
It's funny because I was actually kicked from Swedish Canadians. To be honest I wasn't the best teammate at the time, and I hate to use anything as an excuse, but I was an angry guy at that point in my career due to personal things. It was good that it happened though because I got to join Secret Club and we didn't really practice at all but having a new start allowed me to focus on myself. I was originally not going to play Season 35 and get myself sorted out, but I love the game too much and I really wanted to compete. It was also the Pro League move-up season and I knew that if we played our best we could make Pro League even while pugging. I didn't want to give up that chance.
At that time too, ESEA hadn't announced the changes to the league so I worried that Season 35 could be the last move-up season, or the next season was a training season, so I wanted to give a shot at winning Premier. That's why I didn't take a break. We could've taken it more seriously but that's just how it went. That team formed because we were pugging, and wrath mentioned the potential headline "+WolfY -Wolffe" and they also needed an AWPer and something to be an IGL for a team.
Based on the team not practicing and it being assembled on short notice, were you surprised about how well you did that season?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that it was jitter and CLASIA's first MDL season but no because I knew our team was talented enough to do well. I said in a different interview that we were the second most talented team behind oNe. It was really fun, and that lineup had so much raw mechanical skill. That skill carried us through the season because we won matches based on players winning 1v4's and 1v2's with raw skill alone.
Despite that unexpected success, leading up to Season 36 the team lost both wrath and reck. Can you explain what happened and how the team came apart?
We had attitude issues on the team. wrath decided to leave for VALORANT but the rest of us took a pause during the off season to consider out options. I tried VALORANT but I realized it wasn't for me. I never swapped in the beginning and I never played CS:GO for money so why play a game I like less when that isn't an issue.
To interject for a moment, we have seen that for a lot of players they try VALORANT and they don't enjoy it, or it never clicks for them. Do you know what that was for you?
For me I always knew I didn't want to play VALORANT but what made me try it was because I had a few friends, including my former roommate and Jerk, involved in the VALORANT scene. For me I feel like I haven't gotten as far as I wanted to in my CS career also there's something about the game that I don't like. I don't want to say it takes less skill to play the game, but the different skillset and getting killed by rocket launchers, shot through smokes, wall-banged through corners I didn't like. Obviously Jett knives, Jett dashing, Reyna etc. requires skill but the game requires less skill in the gunplay. You don't even need to counter-strafe with the AWP, just run around and let go of your keys and immediately shoot accurately. I felt like I was dying to so many random things and I didn't like the way the game played out. It didn't click and I felt the game utilized a different skill set. For me it isn't better than CS:GO and I never think it will be better than CS:GO.
After recommitting to CS:GO and Secret Club, the team had to find replacements for wrath and reck. How did the team end up deciding to add v1c and SLIGHT?
We chose v1c on short-notice after losing reck because he's a friend of CLASIA's and his stats on HLTV are pretty good. I watched some of his games with GGPR and I thought "why not?" because he's young and inexperienced but why not gamble on another young player when everyone on the roster is pretty young and learning together. SLIGHT is an old teammate of my old roommate and he recommended SLIGHT over another player because although he needs experience, he believed in him. I wanted to get a more experienced player to IGL as I don't prefer to be the IGL and I'll do what's necessary to lead the team. Being able to focus on main AWP and secondary calling is what I am better at but I knew we wouldn't be able to find more experienced players so I would have to take the responsibility of being an IGL and setting up practices.
I knew I would have to step up to lead this very young roster and deal with the remaining attitude issues from last season and take a chance on these players as I do believe in them and their talent. I need to help them understand the game and improve their decision-making. I need to make them good at playing basic fundamental Counter-Strike.
You said to me prior to this interview that you believe people think your lineup isn't serious and that the team doesn't care. Why is that?
I think it is because we didn't practice last season and people may be put off by us being a mixteam last season. If people don't know you and know what you want, anyone can say what they want. Even back in Europe people assumed I was a partier and didn't care about the game. If people don't know you they assume things and think we're puggers. I'm not going to mention names, but some people think my teammates are ragers and puggers, but deep down they all want to become pro players. We love the game and we want to compete and become better so that's what we're going to do.
So the team plans on practicing more this season?
100%. We've already started practicing and setting up practice schedules. We want to play every single qualifier and be as good as we can in Premier. We really want to make it because we love the game. 100% we're going to take it serious and practice more.
With this lineup committing to practicing and being more serious than last season, what are your expectations for Season 36?
I want to make playoffs. We're going to 100% make playoffs and if we don't that would be surprising based on our group. We want to do better than last season, hopefully place top three. That's my expectation right now. I want to qualify to all the DreamHack events and do well in those and play all the cash cups and do everything we can.
Who do you think are the largest threats in your group in Premier this season?
Obviously High Coast and Triumph and maybe Recon 5. I'm not too worried about them but they can do well, and they have decent players. Those three teams are the harder teams to play against. We took a map off High Coast in Mythic Winter Cup 1 so I think we've shown what we can do, and this is just the start.
As a Premier player, how do you feel about the looming NA ESIC report? Is it something you think about and worry about?
I'm not worried because it doesn't affect me personally and I'm like 99% sure my current teammates have done nothing. I don't walk around thinking about it, but it is definitely something you have to take when it comes because we aren't 100% sure who will actually be banned, what ESIC is going to do, or how it will change the league. All I can do right now is focus on myself, focus on my team, and focus on improving. It sucks that there are players out there that don't care because we have people who are banned for life for throwing so it is sad that people still throw and steal money from other people. When it happens it will be a blow to the scene, but we just have to wait and take it from there.
In closing, with the mix of ESEA's changes, COVID-19, the ESIC report, and everything else going on, how do you feel 2021 is going to be for the NA scene?
I think ESEA's changes are a good step in the right direction. The largest question for me is COVID-19 because things aren't the way they're supposed to be, but are they? Will things go back to normal, or is this the new normal? If there are LAN events, there are qualifiers, then there are always chances for teams to compete internationally. So if you're looking to compete COVID-19 is the number one issue. We've already seen players coming back and taking things more seriously and I hope things will get better, but it is all about COVID-19 going away and LANs coming back. The first step is to become one of the best in NA but now NA teams can't go past that step and compete internationally.
Can NA still move forward even if COVID-19 remains an issue?
100%. I still think if you have people who love the game and want to aspire to become pro there are still ways forwards through FPL, ESEA's changes, and rumors of more TOs looking to hold events in North America. So with those things happening there will always be the possibility for NA. We focus on becoming good enough to compete internationally.
Do you think your current lineup could eventually compete internationally, attend DreamHack Opens, and go deep in domestic events?
I want to say yes because I have that delusion and you need to have that delusion that your team will always get better and you believe in what you're doing. European teams are so much better but the number one thing we can do right now is try to become the best in NA.
WolfY and Secret Club will in action this week in ESEA Premier Season 36 as they are set to take on Big Chillin on February 2nd at 9PM EST.