Blaze 'Draulon' Lengyel, June 20, 2016

In the Crossfire: Jacob "e;Pimp"e; Winneche

Jacob “Pimp” Winneche is one of the most experienced players the Danish scene has produced. Starting his career in Counter-Strike: Source by placing in online scrims or local LAN events – Pimp slowly fought his way up to the upper echelon of Danish pros and has played with some of the best players of Denmark. His repertoire in CS:GO alone consists of playing on nearly 17 different teams.

On the 15th of June 2016, Team Liquid announced the signing of Pimp to their North American team consisting of jdm64, Hiko, nitr0 and EliGE. He will only join them on the server after ESL Cologne though, since Liquid will use their former player, s1mple, for the ECS Finals and the major. Pimp will be joining us today in the latest edition of our, ‘In the Crossfire‘ interview series to answer some questions regarding his past in the Danish scene and his views on his upcoming adventure with Team Liquid.

Draulon: Hello Jacob! You started your career as a professional player back in Counter-Strike: Source, first with Practice Clan Wars, then later on playing at some local LAN events. What made you decide to pursue a career in professional gaming?

Pimp: I’ve always been a very competitive minded guy. From my very early days in life I have always loved to compete and be the best at what I do. So when I discovered the competitive side of Counter-Strike I instantly fell in love. Ever since I have competed to be the best, and have progressed over the years. Eventually CS:GO came out and I initially didn’t want to play it, I refused to buy the game for the first couple of weeks as I was convinced it was a bad game that would never get popular.

But eventually I softened up, bought the game, and pretty much ever since I have been competing against and with some of the best in the world, pursuing a career as a professional gamer. The money was not great in CS:GO in the beginning, but during the last 1½ years it has exploded. Now I can actually justify putting all the time into the game, considering that it’s something I can make a living out of, which I could not have, only 2 years ago. I play to be the best, I play to win, I play to compete, that’s what made me pursue a professional gaming career.

Draulon: One of your first registered events was winning SteelSeries ASSEMBLY Summer 2012 with gla1ve, Nico, Herden and Rytter as “MoD eSport”. Did you believe that this could become a full time job for you or did you imagine a different career for yourself back then?

Pimp: Not at all. Back then I only played because I loved the competition, I loved the game, and I loved the friendships you were able to create. Money back then was purely a bonus. It was one of the last Counter-Strike: Source events, and I had at the time been a rising talent for almost 1½ years, been playing great, but never really achieved anything. It was my first LAN event win, and frankly it felt pretty good that all the time spent lead to something. With that said there wasn’t any more to it. It was not a breaking point or a point of no return in my career, basically just a great event, with some great friends, we were after all a mixed team.

Draulon: In the first few years of CS:GO, you have played with a multitude of Danish pros. More specifically, you have played with multiple different ingame leaders. Who do you believe was the most efficient at his role and who had the most positive effect on you as a player?

Pimp: Without a doubt gla1ve. Gla1ve has without a doubt been the caller that have had the biggest impact on me as a player during my career. Not in the sense that he has taught me, cause when we played together in Western Wolves with MSL, Nille, & Nico we all learned stuff from each other, we were all open to each other which is one of the factors I believe made us good. So I learned a lot in that period, with gla1ve being the ingame leader who taught me the most. I’ve always looked at gla1ve as the biggest “wasted” talent in the world. He is so clever when it comes to Counter-Strike, and I have frankly never played with anyone who came close to being able to read and understand the game as he does. His career is far from over yet, and he is fighting his way back as of now, and I’m sure that eventually he will get back the unique feeling he once had for this game, all he needs is a stable team that allows him to do so.

MSL has also been a player who had great influence on me, when we first brought him onto Team Dignitas he was not a full time caller. That was something he turned into and began embracing after we told him that it was going to be his role. He had previously called a bit in Source, but when playing with gla1ve there was no doubt that MSL was the 2nd caller with gla1ve leading the pack.

Draulon: In November 2015, you stepped down from Team Dignitas after aizy’s transfer to G2 esports. A move which was announced as the “team’s decision”. Could you give us some insight on what happened during this period?

Pimp: It was a team decision as in the team decided to cut me. It was a very turbulent period, and I believe it all could have turned out differently given certain factors I can not, nor will, make public. It was a close call, but it was after all a wakeup call to me. Going from having the best period in my career in the spring and over the whole summer, to pick up the full time AWP role, and doing just decently compared to before made me lose all confidence, and therefore I also played even more below average after.

Also it made me realise that nothing in life is secured, no matter how much you plan ahead something can always pop up and ruin those plans. It was mostly my own fault it went as bad as it did with Dignitas, there was lots of stuff I could have done better as a player, and as a teammate, most importantly to me is that it was a very good learning experience!

Draulon: Shortly after, you signed with SK Gaming, a team that had consisted mainly of Nordic veterans and the young prodigy, Magiskb0Y. Many consider him one of the next Danish stars, however he also has a history of having a tough time at offline events. Could you tell us more about him?

Pimp: There is no doubt Magiskb0Y is the star of tomorrow. His skill set, and his drive in the game is outstanding, and already in a very early stage of his career he showed how great he can be. That said as with most young talents, they need to stay down on earth. They need to be humble, listen to the people that can help them and teach them some of the basics of Counter-Strike they are yet to get under their fingernails.

If you have a great aim and know how to use it properly you’ll get far, which Magiskb0Y most definitely has, his biggest challenge will be to stay humble and suck in all the knowledge he can from his surroundings in order to get even better. He is still young, and lacks a lot of experience, but considering how long he has been in the game, and how quickly he has progressed, I’m sure he will be a player to watch out for!

Draulon: Reaching second place at the CEVO Gfinity Pro-League Season 9 Finals was probably your most successful event with SK Gaming. Beating your old teammates in Dignitas in the group stage, then smashing HellRaisers in the semi-finals, we saw one of the best performances in the history of the team especially from MODDII. Did the team practice hard before the event or how come you had such a great run?

Pimp: No, I would not say it came down to hardcore practice before the event, we did not even know we were going until two days before we traveled to London. It was a last minute call as Na’Vi decided not to attend anyway. As you said it turned out pretty well and I say it was a perfect showcase of what we in SK were able to do. We had a good foundation, we had been playing together for quite a while, and knew pretty much all our standards, strats etc. to the bone, at least most of them. Then we had Moddii, Magiskb0Y, and myself who played a great tournament, while both Acillion & Friis also raised their level when most needed. It was, to put it simply, a team effort.

Magiskb0y dragged us through the group stage against Selfless & Dignitas playing outstanding, and when it came to play-off Moddii and I started to play well as well. That all with Friis being solid on the AWP, and Acillion calling a great tournament made us win some games that beforehand we might not have expected to win. We never really practiced HARDCORE in that sense, but we always played decently enough in practice games to always be able to perform if our individuals on the team showed up as well.

Credit to MODDII for playing a great tournament, so did everyone else, no weak performances from anyone made us go far in what was our best tournament result to date.

Draulon: Naturally, one of the most discussed topics right now are the roster changes in Team Liquid, namely replacing Koosta with JDM64 and bringing you in as the fifth player. Could you tell us when the negotiations started? Were you looking for a new opportunity or were you contacted by them?

Pimp: I’d say the whole negotiations part went pretty smooth and fairly quickly considered the timing of things. Team Liquid contacted SK to hear for a possible buy-out, and SK allowed Liquid to talk to me. We quickly came to an agreement, so it was all up to Liquid and SK to find a fee that both could accept. Without knowing the full details, as I’m just a little brick in the puzzle, I sensed that the chances of TL and SK coming to an agreement was good. Eventually they did, and therefore I can proudly say that I will be representing TL in the future.

Draulon: As most people know, you are no stranger to using the AWP. Will we see any sniping action from you on Liquid, even as a secondary AWPer or will you be strictly a rifler?

Pimp: Right now Luis (Peacemaker) the coach and the other guys are fully focused on preparing for ECS and the upcoming major. There have been no final talks about roles and such as of yet, as there is no reason to while the guys should be putting in all their focus on the major, but we’ve had some initial thoughts shared. I do believe that you will see me playing some AWP as the secondary AWP player of the team. It’s a role that I’ve always liked a lot, and a role I play well. You could even say I played the role so well that I thought that I was ready to play the main AWP role in Dignitas, which at the current time I was not. My CT defensive AWP is a great asset, but when I’m needed as the aggressive T AWP I come down to earth again.

I’m sure we in TL can find a balance where we can use some of the skills that I have in order to help us win. If it turns out it’s better just with JDM rocking the AWP and me being strictly a rifler than I’m totally okay with that, too. We are playing to win, and I and the rest of the guys will obviously do what we think will give us best chances of doing so.

Draulon: Your situation is shared by another member of Team Liquid, s1mple. Leaving his family and friends behind, he moved to the United States to play with the team. Are you worried about having to undergo similar challenges?

Pimp: I would not say I’m worried but that is most definitely not one of the parts I look forward to. I’m very close to my family, to my sister, and to my friends. We are a big group of guys who see each other pretty much everyday, watching football together, playing football, or just hanging out. Those will be deeply missed that’s for sure, but those are also people I know still will be my best friends even though they only get to see me a few times during the year. I’d say I’m more excited, making new friends is always fun, you can’t always succeed with it, some people are just made differently but you can always try.

I think s1mple approached the whole moving thing in a different way than I plan to. I’m about to start a life in another country, frankly as far away as I can get, so I’ll be damned if all I do would be playing Counter-Strike and streaming. I will most likely join some social activities, whatever that be an cycling club, hanging out with other CS players or something completely different I don’t know. What I do know is that I don’t work as a person if I don’t have a well functioning life besides playing Counter-Strike, so it’s all up to me to make it enjoyable in the states.

Draulon: Your transfer is not the only exciting thing that has happened in the Danish scene recently. We have seen changes in both Dignitas and Astralis who can be considered the two top teams in the region. What is your view on these changes? Do you think bringing in Kjaerbye will help Astralis finally secure a trophy?

Pimp: I think over time Astralis picking up Kjaerbye will be what might can make them the very best team in the world. Kjaerbye is a unique CS player, a gifted CS player, and a player that already has been through a lot in his Dignitas time with me. He has been through rough times, failed major qualifiers, failed majors, success and great individual performances. He has learned from the worst episodes, and from some joyful episodes as well which makes him tough and ready to fight a whole new fight with Astralis.

Compared to Magiskb0Y it took Kjaerbye a little more than a year to break through as the gifted player he is, which I personally think is a way way better path to go through. He was humble, he took a lot of shit, but he fought through it, and always had the goal to learn new stuff, no matter how much he thinks some of the situations sucked. While a player like Magiskb0Y in a very early stage of his career is getting everything served on a silver platter in terms of roles, responsibilities, etc. Both career paths could turn out successful, and most likely will as they both are very gifted players, but I have a massive respect towards the way Kjearbye has made his way up to the very top!

Draulon: Joining Dignitas as coach is one of your old teammates, Casper “ruggah” Due. When he was replaced on Anexis with gla1ve, you said something along the lines of, “He was not born to be a caller at this level.” Do you still stand by this opinion or do you believe he can help your former team move forward?

Pimp: Yes I still stand by that. Coaching and calling is far from the same thing, especially not in the setup Dignitas is running with MSL being the caller while playing ingame. Ruggah was never a gifted player in terms of aim, nor in his calling abilities while playing. Not saying he was a bad caller, but he never made it work in our team, while still having to focus on his own individual level as well. What he was good at was being a really nice and likable person. Very mature, having to stick it out with MSL, Nille and I was a VERY hard task back then, so I admire the fact that he could handle that. He was acting like a second father to us a lot of the time, keeping us in line and all that kind of stuff.

I think his role in Dignitas now is going to be the same. Having a likable guy, who can help some of the young guys, who has a history with MSL and cajun as teammates, and in general is just being a nice person. That combined with the fact that, coming from an outside perspective, most likely over time can bring valuable suggestions to MSL and the team, makes him a good addition in my head. I wish him and Dignitas all the best!

Draulon: Bringing the conversation back to you, a while ago you said that you always compared yourself to NBK. Do you still think this comparison is valid or is there someone else you would compare yourself to?

Pimp: As of lately I think Hunden would’ve been a better comparison with me… I still think it has a point that I could look a bit like NBK, but roles changes, players change, and I think we are a bit different both of us compared to when I made that statement. It is honestly not something I spend any time whatsoever to think about, which other pro player I look the most like, I guess that’s more interesting to the media people out there to create some context. It’s understandable, but to me as a player it does not matter at all.

Draulon: In the past few months, Valve has made multiple changes to the game, for better or worse. If you were given the opportunity, what changes would you make?

Pimp: I play the game as it is.

Draulon: Thank you for your time. Would you like to say anything to our readers?

Pimp: If you got this far than give yourself a clap on the shoulder! I wanna say thanks to everyone who supports me out there, I’m looking forward to my new adventure with Liquid and frankly I’m quite excited about it, so your support means a lot! A huge thank to SK, and all other previous organizations who all have had a stake in my involvement. Last but not least thanks to Team Liquid and all their lovely partners for providing me with this great opportunity in life. Living abroad in USA as a Danish computer playing guy is quite a story!

Blaze 'Draulon' Lengyel

Blaze is a student who currently lives in Europe and has a great interest in Counter Strike and competitive games. He spends his time hitting the gym or working on various game dev projects where he has a role in management or 3D graphics. You can follow him on twitter @draulon