Halvor “vENdetta” Gulestøl has been announced as the new Dignitas head coach for their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive project. The former pro player and caster will replace Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson, who has moved to a managerial role within the organization.
“Old” Ninjas in Pyjamas Reunion Did Not Prosper
A prominent North American eSports organization, Dignitas is one of the oldest names in the eSports scene. Dignitas formed its first CS squad in February 2006. In August 2012, the team transitioned to CS:GO. Throughout its rich and illustrious history, Dignitas rostered many world-renown names in the scene, most notably the Danish squad, which later moved to play under the Astralis banner.
Once a force to be reckoned with, Dignitas started to slump early into 2017, and by August 2018, Digitas decided to pull the plug on their CS:GO team and instead focus on other projects. Dignitas’ hiatus, however, did not last for long.
In September 2019, Dignitas’ CEO Michael “Prindi” Prindiville announced the organization is looking to return to competing in CS:GO with a new roster that will help Dignitas reach their former glory and reclaim the renown as one of the strongest teams in the scene once again. Many speculated what sort of a juggernaut team Dignitas will form, but in the end, they decided to acquire the famous “original Ninjas in Pyjamas squad,” which is most well known for their 87-0 map win streak on LAN in 2012-2013.
Calling all top #CSGO teams and players. We're about to change the game.
Let's GO! pic.twitter.com/PTDoEA6fg3
— Dignitas (@dignitas) September 18, 2019
Dignitas’ active roster consisted of four ex-NiP players in Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Richard “Xizt” Landström, Adam “friberg” Friberg, as well as the young promising Norwegian star Håkon “hallzerk” Fjærli as the fifth member on the roster. Meanwhile, Fifflaren (formerly of NiP) decided to join as Dignitas head coach before moving to a managerial position.
Even though there was a lot of hype surrounding the team, Dignitas struggled to leave a mark in the competitive CS:GO scene and did not come even close to reaching their old heights. Besides Dignitas’ successful run through Elisa Invitational Spring 2020 in May, a silver medal from Eden Arena: Malta Vibes – Week 6, and a semi-finals appearance at Eden Arena: Malta Vibes – Week 9 in August, Dignitas did not show up.
It soon became clear this is not the same roster that terrorized Europe in the early 2010s, and that Dignitas had not put together a roster that could compete for silverware in top-rated competitions.
Dignitas Hit the Reset Button
The arrival of vENdetta comes only nine days after Dignitas benched GeT_RiGhT and Xizt, effectively ending the legendary reunion of Ninjas in Pyjamas players. Nevertheless, the move was reasonable and a direct response to the team’s poor performances.
“Our recent results have not lived up to our fans’ expectations, and after discussing with all of our players, we agreed that this is [benching of GeT_RiGhT and Xizt] the correct step moving forward,” read Dignitas’ announcement.
Dignitas’ roster overhaul was triggered by the revelation that the Rio Major was canceled amid the COVID-19 concerns, which gave Dignitas a bit more time to find suitable replacements who will team up with f0rest, hallzerk, and the recently promoted in-game leader, friberg.
Fifflaren went into more detail about the changes in Dignitas’ Youtube video, where he explained the current version of Dignitas played with a “loose playstyle” and how they needed a bit more structure to succeed. The 32-year-old also spoke about his decision to take a step back and focus more on his health.
As the new Dignitas head coach, vENdetta will now follow the footsteps of Janko “YNk” Paunović and Jason “moses” O’Toole as one of the few individuals who transitioned from on-air talent to a coaching role, having previously spent seven months as the team’s analyst.
“I’m really looking forward to the challenge, obviously still gonna be learning the ropes as we go,” said vENdetta. “But I feel like I’ve picked up a little bit from Fifflaren already just from sitting in on practices and watching how he has gone about his role as a coach.”
Dignitas Searching for Two Replacement Players
Having only three members on their CS:GO active lineup, Dignitas now has two holes they will need to fill. As revealed by vENdetta, Dignitas have not signed anyone yet, but are actively looking for replacement players. The search is difficult given the current global pandemic, which vENdetta described as the “wild west – a lot of people making moves at the same time.” The Dignitas head coach will have his hands full to round out the roster, but is well equipped to do so.
Dignitas should unveil the final two signings in the coming weeks, or at least before November, when Dignitas will attend the second season of FLASHPOINT as one of eight partnered teams. Dignitas finished the inaugural season of FLASHPOINT in tenth place, with only two wins to their name.