For Ninjas in Pyjamas, the unthinkable happened June 12. The team broke up the classic four players by benching Adam “friberg” Friberg and adding Fredrik “REZ” Sterner. Since that move, NiP has already won a LAN and placed in the top eight at one of the biggest events of the year (ESL One Cologne), so the move seems to have worked out for the team. For friberg, it is a bit of a different story.
Since leaving the starting roster, friberg has spent a lot of time steaming, but at ESL One Cologne he got his chance to return to a big event — not as a player, but as an analyst on the desk. This was a new role for one of the best players of all time, so to find out how he tackled the event, and his thoughts on the recent changes at NiP, Slingshot’s Mike Stubbs caught up with him just before he jumped on the desk for Day 2 of ESL One Cologne.
Mike Stubbs: You’ve come to this event as an analyst, and how’s that been for you?
Adam “friberg” Friberg: It’s a very different from being a player. It’s longer days. You have to watch more CS, I guess. You need to talk about CS, learn how teams are playing and just gotta share your knowledge about what you know about CS and teams.
MS: How different is it preparing for an event when you’re coming on as an analyst, compared to when you are coming on as a player?
AF: I mean for this event, I tried not to prepare too much. I was basically just looking at some stats like what teams like to play with maps, like veto processes and stuff like that. Other than that, I didn’t prepare. I was thinking to myself that I should come here and talk about what I know. If I were prepared too much, I’d probably just be too nervous anyway, just fuck up. So I figured I would just tell people what I know about teams and from experience from when I played myself.
MS: We are still only a little bit into the tournament. There’s still a long ways to go, but how do you think your performance on the desk has been so far in your own mind?
AF: In my own mind, I think it’s been OK. I think I could of course have done a lot better. My English is not the best. I’m stumbling on words some. It kind of contributes of being new, I think. It’s a thing. I’m new on the desk. It’s my first time ever. If I were doing more in the future, I guess it would be a lot easier for me to be a bit more relaxed and just make everything flow a bit more.
MS: Is this something that you want to continue doing in the future? Will we see you more on more desks?
AF: I kind of came here to try it out because I’ve never been an analyst or been with the talent before, so I figured I’ll give it a try, and so far it’s been fun. What I’m doing in the future is still unclear. Right now, I’m still on a contract with NiP, so I asked them if it was OK to come here and do it, and they said it’s no problem. So I figured it would just be a good time to do it, something to do when I have time now.
MS: Going back to playing with NIP, obviously when you are with the team the last few months, you didn’t have that great form. What went wrong in your eyes with that iteration of the team over those few months?
AF: I think we kind of got lost in our own play style. I think that we looked too much at the mistakes that we did. Instead of looking on what we did good and continue doing that, we just tried to fix all the mistakes we did, and stuff like that. In the end, it felt like we tried everything, but nothing really worked out, so we knew that something had to be done after we went out after the minor qualifier.
MS: Obviously you guys were for a long time the best team in the world, undoubtedly. How does it feel from going, like from that, such a high position, to not managing to make it to the major two times in a row?
AF: It’s devastating, of course. Majors are kind of where every player has the dream to be playing. In our minds, I think we all think that we can be the best and should be at the Major, but I think it came to us too much, like the pressure. I mean we have a lot of fans expecting us to do well, we have expectations to do well, sponsors who expect us to do well. In the end, I think we thought about the results too much, instead of actually enjoying the moment that we were actually pro players and trying to have fun as well. I think that was one of the problems that we had, that we thought too much about the results and what we had to achieve instead of just letting everything come naturally. Just play more, have fun, and results will get to you.
MS: What are your thoughts on the new NiP lineup, obviously with Draken and Rez coming in? Do you think this is the strongest that NIP has been in a while?
AF: So far I don’t think they have looked particularly super strong. I think they have potential to do so. Both Draken and Rez, they don’t have too much experience, so I think it will be a few events before they actually are starting to feel comfortable, especially playing on the big stage like NiP did here. They have to work hard with their map pool because at this event they had one good map which they pulled, which was Cache, and they lost all other maps.
After a while I think they can become really good. I know they have to not let the pressure get too much and just try to have fun. I mean they have THREAT now full time as well, so that should help them in the long run. I’m excited to see what they can bring to the table.
MS: You mentioned that you’re not entirely sure, but what would you like to do once the player break’s over? Would you like to find another team to be able to play again, or would you be happy sticking in an analyst roll, or maybe streaming or something like that?
AF: In a way, it still feels like I have more to prove. It’s like you’ve been playing with the same team and the same guys for such a long time, so the thing that excites me, it’s how I can perform playing with other another team. That’s kind of what motivates me to keep on playing, but I’m not so sure. It doesn’t feel like I want to maybe join a team that has no structure, like rebuild everything from scratch, but if I get a good enough offer, I’ll probably keep on playing. Otherwise, I don’t know. Maybe work within NiP. I know they want to offer me a spot within the organization. Maybe do some more events as talent, or maybe even do some streaming. I have promised myself I wouldn’t do any decisions until after the player break, or after the Major at least, so we’ll see what happens.
Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack, illustration by Slingshot