Anybody with knowledge about the early days of Counter-Strike are familiar with Tommy ”Potti” Ingemarsson, one of the game’s greatest legends as well as one of the founders of Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Now the legend reveals that he wants to get back into esports.
– I want to help make it grow, the veteran tells Aftonbladet Esport.
For newer fans of Counter-Strike, the name Tommy ”Potti” Ingemarsson may not ring many bells. For others, he is considered one of the greatest players to ever touch the game.
When asked to described his past, ”pioneer” is the word he chose to associate with those days. Some of his best memories are from his time as a professional player. For example when he won the first – and so far only – official World Championship of Counter-Strike, and his brother in arms Emil ”HeatoN” Christensen started yelling and throwing chairs.
– I think I’ll never experience such happiness ever again, the Swede tells Aftonbladet Esport.
Founded Ninjas in Pyjamas
Back in the days, Potti founded Ninjas in Pyjamas and likely became the first player ever to receive salary as a professional gamer. Since then, NiP has grown to become of the largest brands in Counter-Strike.
What do you think about NiP becoming so huge?
– It’s just amazing. As a gamer I always dreamt that esports would grow and become a truly accepted sport. I always had to fight from two ends, people said it wasn’t serious and not something you could make a living out of.
– But I knew how much it was growing, how many were watching and playing, and that it was a future spectator sport. It’s so great to have proven everyone wrong, because now when people cheer for NiP they are wearing team shirts, singing team songs and creating large banners with the teams name. It’s a real sport now.
The name ’Ninjas in Pyjamas’, how serious was that in the beginning?
– It’s got kind of a special story, Potti says with a laugh.
– I used to play in a clan with an incredibly serious name, Omega Force. We eventually split up I started a new team. Back then it was popular to have a name with only three letters, plus I wanted something with a comical touch. It was also important to have a cool theme for the website’s design, and I’ve always liked ninja movies. One thing led to another – and I guess it had something to do with ”Bananas in Pyjamas” – and we became Ninjas in Pyjamas.
A different era of esports
Esports in general have been on quite a journey. Potti himself was active during a less evolved era. It was for example much more common for organizations and tournament organizers to cheat player of their earned money, something Potti himself had the misfortune to experience.
– I believe the problem was people thinking short term, trying to make a quick buck. But a lot of that has disappeared now, the veteran says.
Since then, the scene’s growth have obviously been immense. Especially after the successor Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was released. Potti used to dream of stadiums filled with esport fans, now he says it has reached beyond what he imagined.
– It’s so amazing to see. Obviously I’m biased, but I personally prefer to watch Counter-Strike over football these days.
The crazy crowd in Katowice
Earlier this year, the legend visited IEM Katowice and experienced at first hand the dedication from the community, as Fnatic won the grand final and Olof ”Olofmeister” Kajbjer enter the stage to received the crowds praise.
– I got the shivers, it was incredible. This is exactly what I’ve wanted for esports and to be honest it’s become even more than I could’ve hope for.
– It was an ocean of fans up to about 10 000 people, that were singing songs, wore team shirts and cheered. It was so amazing to see. Now it’s just a matter of time before esports surpass many traditional sports when it comes to viewer numbers.
Returning to esports
However, it wasn’t just to follow the tourney that Potti traveled to Katowice. He was also networking. In the future it seems the veteran can become much more common name in esports.
– To be honest I want back into esports and help to make it grow. I’m too old for a comeback as a player, even though many – myself included – wish it was possible. Age, however, has taken it’s toll, I have slightly worse eye sight and so on. It’s so hard to play on that level. I view that as something positive because it means that it’s just as hard to become good at Counter-Strike as with any other sport, and you can’t compete forever.