Last, last-after-last, and definitely-the-finally-actually-last dances are getting more and more common in the Counter-Strike world, and many veterans have come out of the woodwork for a chance to tango as the arrival of CS2 is inching ever closer. Recently, it’s been CIS oldtimers flamie and seized who expressed an interest in expanding their competitive footprint, but for me, it’s f0rest’s summer overtures that are stuck in the mind, wondering what could still come for the OG Swedish legend of GO, the game.
It boggles the mind that younger viewers and other latecomers might not even remember just how good a CS player f0rest used to be in his prime. Yes, GeT_RiGhT is the fancy lurker with the monster spraydowns (and he also holds a special place in my heart alongside all other trailblazer Swedes), but f0rest was just effortlessly brilliant. Smooth, clean and cool, like an air-conditioned IKEA, albeit with much higher-quality products offered.
There’s always going to be an element of “what might have been” in his story, trophy-laden and success-filled as it already is. Just to stick with the Global Offensive era, his one Major win could have easily been four, having fallen so short so often in those early days. More importantly, he clearly had the talent and the interest to move beyond the ninja pastures, with better teams calling over and over again, but he stuck it out with a continuously dwindling org as his former mates were plucked on by one, until he also had to make way for a new generation.
NiP never really found a way to replicate their past successes, and they continue to stick it out as a (mostly) Swedish funhouse mirror of formerly tournament-winning teams across progressively more hilarious CS matches – and if f0rest were to return to high-level competition, not even his worst enemy would wish him a return to his old hunting grounds.
He's mentioned on a summer stream that he’s looking for new opportunities in CS2, but none have come his way so far. Could it be too little, too late? Silly as I am when it comes to these projects like Gorillaz¸ I remain optimistic for a few f0rest-specific reasons. Then again, maybe I’m just not seeing him because of the trees.
Let’s be real for a moment. The Dignitas project never went anywhere, and as for other oldtimers’ recent comeback attempts, kennyS hasn’t made it, and you could argue FalleN also hasn’t set the world on fire while dancing. There’s also the whole EYEBALLERS story. However, there are mitigating circumstances in this particular case.
For starters, riflers are more adaptable than AWPers, and their weapons in-game are cheaper, leaving more room for error. Also, remember that f0rest was one of those genius players, meaning someone with such incredible natural talent that they didn’t stick to a sort of practice regimen even their longtime teammate GeT_RiGhT did back in the day. So, if nothing else, this means there’s an extra rabbit to be pulled out of the hat, even at this late stage of the game.
We still haven’t explored the outer limits of age in esports. Traditional athletes are clearly capable of pushing the boundaries further and further towards their forties, and competitive gaming is still quite nascent in this regard. And sorry, but I'm not putting much stock in one-off stand-in events with no team synergies at play.
What else would f0rest bring to the table? Instant brand value for any Swedish project, for one. Bucketloads of veterancy, too, though we must admit that its value is at an all-time low in competitive Counter-Strike. Motivation, though – I can’t shake the feeling that a motivated f0rest is a different beast than what we’ve seen for most of the past decade, age notwithstanding.
No matter how similar CS2 is to GO, it will be a different experience, and reports seem to suggest that tapping rather than spraying will be more advantageous compared to the previous iteration. It’s worth highlighting that f0rest was one of the select few who made it across the great divide of two different Counter-Strike entries, maintaining competitive excellence all along the way. Not many people in the current scene can say that they’ve gone through that level of reinvention.
At the end of the day, Counter-Strike is about so much more than just clicking heads – and that’s why we’ve loved it for so many years. So who’s to say an old dog can’t teach us new tricks if he really puts his mind to it?