After being on the bench of OG since May last year, Danish journeyman Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen is finally back on the server with the team while Nemanja “nexa” Isakovic has a spell on the sidelines.
We sat down with niko to discuss his return to the team, taking on the role of IGL for the first time, and his future in CS:GO.
Sam “AN1MO” McKenzie, BLIX.GG: Right now, you’re standing in for OG; how did this position come about?
Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen: It all happened very fast when OG reached out to me. Nexa decided he needed a break for personal reasons and they needed a replacement immediately. We already knew each other from my time on the team, so the stand-in opportunity made perfect sense for both parties.
BLIX: Before that, you’d been benched by the team for over half a year. Does it make it harder to go back into a team you’d previously been benched by?
niko: I’ve been grinding for many months now, so to get some playing time on a team again was my priority regardless of past history or happenings. I just want to prove myself. The fact that it’s them is only a positive thing for me since it’s a familiar organization that I get to play with again.
BLIX: How does it feel to be back on the server?
niko: It feels really good! It might have been random circumstances enabling me to play for OG, but I’m not taking anything for granted, as I have really wanted to get back on a proper team, even if it’s only as a stand-in. For now, it feels right. I am already comfortable playing with the guys, so I’m extremely excited to see how we perform at ESL Pro League.
BLIX: You’ve assumed the role of IGL in nexa’s absence. Will you be sticking to the plans he has laid out, or are you adding elements to them to fit your own style?
niko: There has been a lot of plug-and-play in terms of what the guys are used to. But I also have a decent amount of free space in terms of calling, as I have been put in charge of it for the most part. Luckily I have some talented guys on the team, and my job is to try my best to enable them.
BLIX: How are you finding the role of IGL?
niko: It’s an interesting scenario because there are also some new faces on the team I haven’t worked with before. They have all been extremely helpful in terms of figuring out how we do things best, and I knew going into it that ruggah would also be a big help. The biggest takeaway is probably how much fun I’m having in the role as the main caller for the team. There are many things to consider and keep track of when you suddenly have to be the IGL, but it feels like it’s coming together the more we play.
BLIX: With no public confirmation of how long you will be a stand-in, are you hoping you’ll get a chance at the RMR and potentially the Major?
niko: I can’t say anything for sure yet, but with how it’s going so far as a stand-in, I at least hope it’s showcasing that I have what it takes to compete at the highest level. OG is a pleasure to work with regardless of what happens after ESL Pro League, so let’s see what happens.
BLIX: If that doesn’t happen and you resume your place on the bench, what’s next for you?
niko: I’m under contract with OG at the moment, but I wouldn’t be on the bench, and I am a free agent when my time with OG comes to an end. I’ll just have to keep on grinding. If anything, this has reignited my will to succeed as I have been reminded that I’m capable of adapting and helping out teams no matter the circumstance.