As one of the core quartets of Ninjas in Pyjamas leaves after nearly 5 years of service, we look at the swings and roundabouts career of Swedish player “friberg”.
Name: Adam Friberg
Games: Counter-Strike: Source, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Started Playing: 2008
Total Earnings: $325,173
To become Counter-Strike elite, nothing less than total domination will suffice. The Swedish organisation Ninjas in Pyjamas set a standard that they themselves couldn’t top, with the public attention quickly shifting from adoration to mockery. Having twice disbanded and reformed in the days of CS 1.6, NiP established a new roster for the emerging CS:GO scene in 2012, quickly launching into an undefeatable trend that would continue for over a year. A major player in this golden age of NiP, was Adam “friberg” Friberg.
Originally from Gothenburg, friberg found his first LAN experience playing CS: Source with a team of friends under the name 30P-Gaming. He was brought aboard NiP in 2012 after playing in games and mixes with original team members Patrick “f0res” Lindberg, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Richard “Xizt” Landstrom. Friberg was the last player to join the team, taking the role as entry fragger.
“I would say my strength as a player is getting the opening kills, getting people caught off guard” friberg said in a 2016 Valve feature about his career. “Also strong in clutching, winning those one-on-one situations “
From September of to April 2013, NiP stormed through one of the most notorious win streaks in the FPS’ history. The squad set a record 87-0 in LAN tournament map wins, and won every big-name competition they played in during 2012, including the RaidCall EMS One Spring Season and two Dreamhack titles. This continued in 2013, with two ESL Major series wins, and a 2nd place finish at (what was at the time) the biggest CS:GO tournament; DreamHack Summer 2013. The team’s loss to Very Games at the competition began a bitter rivalry that lasted up until the moment VG disbanded, and even beyond.
During this winning period, friberg was considered one of the best terrorist side entry killers in the world. Though his inclusion into such a high profile team was initially met with skepticism, he quickly silenced critics with extremely strong performances at Mad Catz Vienna in 2013, including a 45:31, 1.30 rating in the team’s match against Polish squad ESC Gaming.
They would get back to winning ways a week later at RaidCall EMS One Spring Finals, taking another victory against Very Games in the semis, and easily overcoming Fnatic in the final (16-6, 16-7). His best performance of the year came out in Dreamhack Summer, where he had an average 1.22 rating in the final match against Epsilon – the first time he exceeded his team’s average.
NiP weren’t quite as untouchable at the start of 2014. In the Dreamhack Stockholm Steelseries CS:GO Invitational 2014, the Swedes lost the final match to team Titan – a squad formed from the ashes of rivals Very Games.
After a flurry of 2nd place finishes and victories in small online tournaments, NiP managed to climb back with their first major win: ESL Cologne 2014. Friberg cites this as the highlight of his CS:GO career, and despite reservations that the squad would reach the final round, they bested Fnatic 2 maps to 1.
Most esports “historians” will tell you, however, that this is where things started to go downhill for friberg and NiP.
The shakiness the team displayed in the ESL Cologne group stages carried on into the year’s competitions. NiP were unable to reach the playoffs in a series of online tournaments, including Caseking of the Hill 7 and FACEIT League EU Season 2. This eventually carried over into the offline tournaments DreamHack 2014 Invitational II and the Electronic Sports World Cup 2014, where they dropped out of the group stage.
Near the end of the year, NiP member Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson left the squad and esports entirely – marking the first change to the squad’s roster since they entered the pro scene. With a replacement in tow, the team made some partial recovery into 2015, but the following year signaled a continued decline.
Friberg himself bore the brunt of the public reception – a report from HLTV in September 2015 claimed that the “G2 Trio” would be moving to NiP, meaning that friberg among other players would be ousted. Although the transfer never occurred, the rumours were considered convincing by observers.
If there was one positive development of 2015, it was the release of friberg’s own licensed ice cream flavour: “King of Banana”. Named for his mastery of the “banana” section of the de_inferno map, the branding may be a bit odd, but many esports stars today would do anything to reach such a level of quirky celebrity.
4 years, 10 months and 2 days
— Adam Friberg (@fribergCS) June 12, 2017
Having failed to qualify for two successful majors, or win a single tournament in 2016, the team’s current performance is so woeful that it has generated its own meme culture. As a result, NiP announced on June 12th that friberg would officially be released from the roster. For a team that stood for continuity and success for so long, it’s a major blow and a hugely disappointing development for a player who has had to continually prove himself against unfair expectations.
One thing that can be said for NiP in 2016 is that friberg, despite his unstable performance last year, played exceptionally well – especially when taking a lot of hits from the community. The shockwaves of his release from NiP speak volumes to his skill and dedication to the game, and hopefully it won’t be long before he lands in a new longterm squad.