April 25th, 7:15pm America/New_York

Blog: What I Miss About Counter-Strike

Heather "sapphiRe" Mumm on Mon, 11/28/2011 9:58PM
Authored by Jon "juan" Mumm, retired Counter-Strike: Source legend most known as the stratcaller for such reputable CS:S teams as New York 3D, verGe Gaming & Team Pandemic.

These are my personal beliefs I've developed over years of playing Counter-Strike. They may or may not apply to you.

Sometimes I struggle to accept how many years I spent playing Counter-Strike. They say that mastering a field takes 10,000 hours of practice. I don't doubt that the time I spent practicing Counter-Strike approached that. Hearing myself say that makes me shudder.
New York 3D selects juan in the CGS draft

Of the millions of things I could have chosen to master, Counter-Strike was it.

There's a feeling you get when you go in to something knowing you're about to execute with perfection. It's the feeling a musician gets before picking up her guitar to play for the 1000th time. The feeling Aaron Rodgers gets before slinging a spiral through a 6-inch gap passed three defenders.

That was the feeling I got playing Counter-Strike.

There was no domain of my life where I was more confident in my abilities than Counter-Strike. There were no nerves or anxiousness. There were just matches to play and matches to win.

I felt like I could have wrote a book on it. I felt like I knew the answer to every situation. If they were playing two pushed catwalk, I knew how to beat it. If they were splitting outside nuke, I knew how to stop it. If they were shutting down banana, I knew how to adjust.

That level of confidence is intoxicating. It's what made it hard to walk away.
juan, being not normal

However, that is not normal. Winning is not normal. That level of confidence is not normal. If you are normal, your skills will be normal. In order to get that point, I had to be not normal.

When you pursue something difficult, eventually you have to make a choice between being balanced, normal, and conventional, and being different, weird, and exceptional. I chose the latter.

And that is precisely the part I've struggled with. In order to be not normal, I had to sacrifice normal things. Time with friends and family. Time spent studying. Time learning a language, or an instrument. Time reading and writing. Time exercising. Time exploring other things.

This may sound rudimentary, but the difference between being good and being the best, is how different, how weird, how not normal you become. I learned this after playing Counter-Strike.

When you grow up, everybody tells you that you can do anything you put your mind to. I think this is true. My Counter-Strike career reaffirmed that belief.

However, what they don't tell you is that putting your mind to something is not normal. Putting your mind to something means doing things that normal people don't. That's the only way to be exceptional. People who really put their mind in to something are different. They're weird. There's something wrong with them. There's something different that makes them tick.

I wanted to be exceptional. I wanted be to the best in the world at something. That's what made me tick. Counter-Strike was the medium I chose to achieve that.

People ask me all the time—do you miss Counter-Strike?

I don't miss Counter-Strike. I miss being the best at something. I miss being world-class. I miss being exceptional.

When you're exceptional at something, that thing becomes your identity. For better or worse, I was juan the strat caller from verGe and Team 3D. That's how I was defined. The guy that calls strats in Counter-Strike.
juan in Switzerland

Now I've been away from the game for a while, and when I say that to myself it sounds so niche and peculiar, but I miss having an identity like that. It felt really good to be known for something you do exceptionally well.

I could have spent those years doing other things. I could have been more normal. But I didn't, I spent them mastering something, because I'm weird like that. I'm glad I did, because now I know how much not normalness is required to be exceptional.

Since I stepped away from Counter-Strike three years ago, my life has been more normal. But without it, there's been a void. I haven't had that thing that defines me. The thing that makes me different, weird, and exceptional. The thing that I obsess over. The thing that I must master. I've spent these last few years searching for something else to replace that void.

Earlier this year I stumbled my way in to the world of tech startups. I moved to Silicon Valley and started working at a startup. And I've got to say, it feels like it's 10 years ago, my buddy just introduced to me some new game, and all of a sudden I'm in a de_dust pub server and I just picked up my first mp5.

Catch up with juan on Twitter or on his Blog.
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