Haakon "Radifaction" Tholo has been benched from Apeks' CS:GO team and will be replaced by the team's coach Pål "Polly" Kammen, as announced by the Norwegian CS:GO squad.
As revealed, the benching of Radifaction was ushered by Apeks' poor results over the last couple of months. The team is currently ranked #87 in the world, which is far from their peak placement back in March 2020, when Apeks were ranked #66, however, their unsuccessful run through ESEA MDL Season 34 qualifying campaign eventually resulted in Apeks' significant drop on the global rankings.
Looking back at Apeks' run through ESEA Season 33: Premier Relegation - Europe, the Norwegian side started their journey with a loss to Prima eSport (1-2) in the Upper Bracket but bounced back with a solid run through the Lower Bracket, where Kristian "akEz" Kornbakk and co. reverse-swept The Dice (2-1) with two commanding wins on Overpass (16-7) and Mirage (16-5), to which they added a closely fought 2-0 win over Reason Gaming, who took them into overtime on Mirage (22-19) and came close to securing Nuke (16-14).
In round three, Apeks met with Salamander, who, much like Reason Gaming, made them work for the win. Although Apeks picked up the first map with relative ease (16-10), Salamanders hit back on Nuke, where they forced four overtimes and eventually came out ahead (28-25). Nonetheless, Apeks pulled ahead with another 16-10 on Mirage, to earn a spot in the final round where they met with Endpoint. Much like any other game Apeks played thus far, this one was close and although Apeks picked up the first map (22-20), it was the British squad who produced a reverse-sweep with 16-9 on Vertigo and 16-11 on Dust II to deny Apeks a ticket for ESEA Season 34: Premier Division - Europe. Before that, Apeks also participated at ESEA Season 33: Advanced Division - Europe, where they finished ninth-10th with a 12-4 record.
In the announcement of Radifaction's benching, Apeks' CEO Denise Anfinnsen stated that better results were expected from the roster, who has spent eight months together and that they believe this roster change will fix the performance of this team. Anginnsen stated that Apeks are "not making any rash decisions," as they are looking to see who "the best fit" for the team is.
The organisation also unveiled their entire roster is expected to move to Oslo, Norway, where they will train together for the upcoming Elisa Invitational which kicks off on April 30, where they will be expecting to see better results. Apeks qualified for Elisa Invitational via Norwegian qualifiers which concluded back at the end of March, without losing a single match.
At the Elisa Invitational, Apeks will face off against ENCE, North, Digintas, Noradvind, KOVA Esports, Heroic and GODSENT, where the teams will compete for one of the two tickets leading to BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 European Showdown.
As for Radifaction's replacement, Apeks will field their current coach Polly as a stand-in, who released a statement following the announcement, which read:
"We have been working on this project and with this roster for 7-8 months and have not achieved the results we want. The development hasn’t been good enough, and therefore we feel it is the right time to make a player change. We are actively working to find a suitable player that can help us take the next step."
"As a short-term solution, I will step in and play what needs to be played while we spend time finding the perfect replacement for Radifaction".
Polly is an experienced ex-CS:GO pro who began his carer in 2013 with H2k Gaming and later played for London Consipirady, LGB eSports, LC, PANTERS, Epiphany Bolt Norse and in February 2019 teamed up with Apeks - first as a player, and got later in July promoted to the position of a head coach. Polly also represented Norway at the World Championships 2015, where he finished fifth-eight after losing to Russia in the quarter-finals.
Apeks CS:GO roster is now:
Kristian "akez" Kornbakk
Erik "truth" Hansen Dyrnes
Ole "Marcelious" Kristian Langan
Sander "Grusarn" Iversen
Pål "Polly" Kammen - coach/stand-in
Haakon "Radifaction" Tholo - benched