What can hallzerk bring to Complexity?
The NA scene was given a reason to be excited at the start of this year when Complexity committed to itself to NA by signing a promising young lineup. The Extra Salt core of Johnny "JT" Theodosiou, Ricky "Floppy" Kemery and Justin "FaNg" Coakley being complimented by fellow breakthrough talents Michael "Grim" Wince and Paytyn "junior" Johnson seemed like a solid young project that would grow throughout the year. That would not be the case, however, with Complexity being considered one of the most underwhelming teams this past season.
Undoubtedly one of the most disappointing components in the team was in the AWPing department, with junior failing to reach the heights he had in Triumph. This all culminated with junior being benched during the most recent off-season. It would not be long before junior’s replacement was announced, with the Dallas-based organization acquiring former Dignitas AWPer Håkon "hallzerk" Fjærli after the entire Dignitas roster was made available for transfer back in May. In this article, I will be examining what hallzerk has to offer as the possessor of the most important gun in Counter-Strike, the AWP, and what we can expect to see from him in a Complexity jersey this season after some early performances.
Adjusted to tier one
An issue which was evident in the previous iteration of this lineup with junior was his performances against tier one competition. The 21-year-old struggled to perform in tier one, dating back to his FURIA tenure which was obviously plagued by other issues also. According to HLTV, over the last 12 months, junior has held a 0.91 rating against Top 30 opponents and had a 1.00 rating or higher in 40% of those maps. On the other hand, hallzerk has a 1.00 rating and posted a 1.00 or higher in 50.7% of maps in the same time frame. While these stats don't exactly scream superstar, it does portray an AWPer who is more adjusted to the top tier of Counter-Strike, which is what Complexity need at the moment.
With hallzerk being more adjusted to tier one, it is interesting to point out what the coach of Complexity, Tiaan "T.c" Coertzen, had to say about hallzerk and how he has been settling into the team:
I think everyone has witnessed his skill on the server by now. He’s a hard worker, very mature, has his own ideas, loves playing the game and fits in with the team culture really well. It’s been surprisingly easy to get him set up in our system, to at least lay a foundation of what we need from him and I think we’ve only scratched the surface of his potential on this team. He’s still getting comfortable communicating in English and understanding everyone and the different accents, but seeing as the AWPer plays such an important role in our system, I hope we can look forward to seeing a lot more from him as well as the other players as he gets more comfortable.
A clear mind
As the conclusion of last season was reached, it was obvious to the majority of the scene that Complexity had hit a wall in terms of confidence. By the time IEM Cologne had rolled around, the pressure of the community was being felt fully by the young team. Michael "Grim" Wince told Dust2us in jest, "Every other team has pressure because they don't want to be the first to lose to Complexity" after the team had fallen to multiple consecutive defeats. One player that had felt the full force of the community backlash by this stage was junior. At the PGL Antwerp Major Challengers Stage, junior was the second lowest rated player with a 0.71 rating. The stint of tournaments from this stage of the Major to his final tournament at IEM Cologne, junior would put up a positive rating in 7 out of 22 maps, with Complexity only winning one of those 22 maps.
The addition of hallzerk will hopefully provide a fresh start and a clear mind within the team. Throughout his time in Dignitas, hallzerk proved to be a bright spot in the underwhelming team. There is only a small sample size for hallzerks time in a Complexity, but there have been positive signs in the early stages. Complexity eased there way through the NA open qualifier for the IEM Rio RMR, with hallzerk performing well and coming out with a 1.30 rating. The BLAST Fall Groups would prove to be his first real test in a Complexity jersey, with world number one NAVI being their first opponent. This was where the first real bit of excitement for hallzerk arose from, as he posted a 1.20 rating in the shock bo1 win.
Without being inside a team, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what a player's mentality is like and how they approach the game. This is what Complexity's IGL Johnny "JT" Theodosiou had to say when asked about calling for hallzerk so far, and if there were any differences between hallzerk and his previous AWPers junior and Joshua "oSee" Ohm:
hallzerk is a great player to have on the team, he takes a lot of aggressive duels with the AWP successfully which makes it very easy to call around. When it comes to late-round situations, he’s great with his utility especially his flashbangs and when we are low on nades he isn’t afraid to go in first and die for the team which is very rare for awpers these days. It’s difficult to compare him to our past awpers, he has a very different playstyle than oSee and junior. When set up correctly he can take over rounds and when playing passive he rarely misses.
A pattern that has reappeared at the top of the North American scene recently is importing an EU player. Liquid has had two such additions in 2022, with French legend Richard "shox" Papillon joining before being replaced by Latvian Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis for multiple events thus far. Evil Genuises also imported a European player in the form of Kazakhstani player Sanjar "neaLaN" İshakov. This trend was popular in the past also, with one of the most impactful of these imports being the greatest player of all time Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev joining Liquid back in 2016.
In the cases of YEKINDAR and s1mple, it may be easy to equate their impact in the NA scene with merely their raw skill. I would argue that any European player that makes the decision to cross the Atlantic to compete for an NA team can provide so much more to their team just from having competed in Europe. It is no secret that EU is by far the most competitive and ahead-of-the-curve region in terms of meta. Having a European such as hallzerk in your team, even if he is not as vocal as s1mple or YEKINDAR, can provide some different outlooks on the game which can be beneficial for this young Complexity side.
When hallzerk signed with Dignitas back in 2020, he played alongside most of the legendary NIP magic lineup from 2013 and 2014. Throughout the progression of the roster, he would be surrounded by some of the smartest Counter-Strike minds that Scandinavia has produced such as Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Faruk "pita" Pita. Even if his job is not to call or support the IGL in the same way that shox did in Liquid previously, I believe that hallzerk's tenure in EU CS will provide something useful to the lineup going forward.
Communication and chemistry
Communication and chemistry are two aspects that can often be overlooked when forming rosters in professional Counter-Strike. When signing with FURIA, it was clear that junior would have an issue communicating with the Portuguese-speaking team, who would now all have to switch to English, in a competitive environment. It would also be easy to overlook the fact that hallzerk is not a native English speaker being from Norway. Communication is not the only intangible to consider, with the cultures of Norway and North-America also being different. Despite this, by all accounts from my discussions with different members of the organization, hallzerk has fit in seamlessly with the team from a social aspect and the communications have been better than expected. When it came to these elements, this is what Complexity's General Manager Graham "messioso" Pitt had to say:
hallzerk had a number of qualities that we were looking for when finding a suitable player to fill the AWP role. I think beyond the obvious such as being highly skilled, he performed well in the trials we held and showed he had the qualities we were looking for in an AWP player for our system, something I think was key when comparing the different players and types of players we trialed.
We also knew that when looking into non-native English speakers, we needed someone who was fluent in the language. We didn't want the new player to feel out of their depth, or need to dumb down our comms to facilitate them. hallzerk hasn't ever fully communicated in English in a team setting before, but it was clear early on he had a great understanding/grasp of the language both in and out of game, so we felt confident taking it further. He also just felt like a great fit socially, even from the moment he joined us for the trials it felt very comfortable, he's a really funny guy and I think the Norwegian culture meshes well with the mix of guys we have on the squad.
While hallzerk may not have been the superstar choice of the community for Complexity's new AWPer, it is clear that he will elevate this roster for this season. We can hopefully expect hallzerk to provide a solid and consistent base in the AWPing department that was unfortunately absent last season. Playing against tier one and tier two European competition for the last few years will have given him a deeper knowledge of the EU meta which can help the way that the team is set up. The early signs of chemistry and strong communications are the icing on the cake for the foundation of this newest iteration of Complexity, which has the potential to grow and improve as was the goal at the start of the year.