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NEO shares decade-old story to reflect on Counter-Strike growth

Virtus.pro veteran NEO shared a fun story from more than a decade ago
NEO (Filip Kubski) reflected on his time in Counter-Strike. Photo by Helena Kristiansson/ESL.

During ESL One New York, Virtus.pro’s Filip “NEO” Kubski gave a peek into what life was like for him and his teammates before esports exploded in popularity.

“We’ve had to (do a lot),” NEO told Slingshot. “Twelve years ago we took a car to play a tournament in Spain that was more than a 20-hour ride, just to play. Mostly for fun. We paid for everything. Its totally different now. It’s flights. Good hotels. Back then it was sleeping on the floor. Totally different.”

Virtus.pro is definitely in a slump, as the Polish team has failed to advance from the group stage of ESL One Cologne, DreamHack Malmo, ESL One New York and the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier (sandwiched by a semifinal appearance at the PGL Krakow Major in July). The team has changed in-game leaders, with Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas taking over for Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski amid hope the team can regain the form it had at the beginning of the year.

NEO said he still enjoys competing, even through the team’s struggles, and reflecting on the old days can sometimes serve as motivation.

“Yes (it’s still enjoyable),” he said. “The competing part is great. There’s so much traveling these days. It’s crazy how big it’s got.”

The Virtus.pro players are known to get nostalgic from time to time, and even amid their current difficulties in the server, it’s a seemingly important reminder to reflect on just how far the team (and the entire industry) has advanced in recent years.

During the ELEAGUE Major in January, TaZ told Slingshot he thought Counter-Strike was in a good place even amid the ongoing debate about over-saturation.

“I think the state of the game is amazing,” he said. “It’s great. Even though many people say there is an over-saturation of events, I’m coming from the era where you had literally no events, or the biggest one was for $50,000, and it was one per year. For me, this is amazing, and I love the moment we are in.”

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