By Beef

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with BMG captain and second-support, Simon “Handsken” Haag, and BMG owner Björn “Papabjorn” Wik. The duo talk about the trials of starting a new eSports organization, recent HoN happenings, upcoming events, changes to the HoN roster, and more.

Bad Monkey Gaming on stage at HoN Tour World Finals

Beef: The Lions HoN squad took the name Bad Monkey Gaming earlier this year. What promoted the transition from your old organization to a new one?

Papabjorn: Well, I was working for Lions as an eSports General or something - I had my hands on everything eSports in that organization. When it came to what sponsors to pick and what I could do for my team and so-on, we didn’t see the same way, so I couldn’t really do what I want. I decided to leave the organization and I was thinking about starting my own. The same day or the day after Simon and the guys told me that if I was leaving that they would leave too, so I said then we can start this up together.

What did it actually mean for the HoN players to transition from one organization to another? Were there any major changes for the squad?

Handsken: Not really in that sense. We would keep on playing the same way that we usually did. From the start, even in Lions, it was Bjorn who was our contact person. He was the one we would talk to if we wanted to do anything with the organization, so we felt like we had a very good relationship with Bjorn and not so much the rest of Lions. Not to bash on the rest of them or anything, but that’s just the way it was.

Additionally, we were no longer established in the same way. We weren’t able to demand as much from our sponsors because we had a lot to prove in the beginning. We didn’t have to do that as much for Lions because they had had their sponsorships for a long time.

Speaking of developing and proving yourselves to sponsors, is BMG going to be primarily a HoN organization, or will you be opening up other divisions?

Papabjorn: We like to call ourselves a multi-gaming organization. Right now we have the HoN team, as you know, and we have the world’s best female team in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and we’ve just signed a male Counter-Strike team. Now we have three teams. It will expand, but we’ll be taking it slow. We kind of like our style of players. We have a certain style in BMG where we want to be as professional as possible, but also be a bit YOLO with it. We want to have fun while doing what we love.

Handsken: We also don’t really want to worry too much about having super-stars. We would rather have a team that stays together and works together rather than just picking up super-stars.

Handsken, you just chimed in about the BMG organization outside of HoN. Do you have any involvement with the management of the organization outside of the HoN team?

Handsken: Not really, I’m not in the decision making or anything like that. I’m pretty close with Bjorn, and I talk with the others in management. I think we have some input, of course. We like to discuss stuff, but it’s not up to us ultimately - we leave that to the management. We get our say in things that they believe we should have our say in.

Papabjorn: I treat the HoN guys exactly the way I treat the other management. If we are thinking about stuff, regardless of if it’s HoN or anything else, I like to put it up to the guys and get their input. So, they are the players, but if they want to get involved they can get as involved as much as they like. Normally they like to stay focused on the game.

You mentioned having a female CS:GO team, and in the past Lions had a female HoN team. Is there any plans for BMG to have a female HoN team?

Papabjorn: I don’t know! Maybe as a fun thing, but not as a professional team, but probably not as it is right now.

stayGreen left the HoN competitive scene pretty much immediately following the HoN Tour World Finals. Handsken, have you and your team had less motivation in the absence of your biggest rival?

Handsken: Well I can’t lie really. I don’t know if this has been discussed before, but we haven’t played a single scrim since the HoN Tour Finals, which is a little demotivating. It feels like the scene is being shattered a bit, and the scene is getting smaller, it’s safe to say that. Right now we have Sync and Reason gaming and a few other teams to compete, but it doesn’t feel the same. The rivalry we had with stayGreen was so much fun; we always practiced to beat them. It was all about that. I miss that a little bit, and I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit of a lowered motivation.

Papabjorn: I watched a game that you (Beef) were casting, it had a new dream-team, [Potato]. A couple of famous names and they were facing MiniMaggot’s friends. I really liked those guys. I would like them to be like the new stayGreen, but only a little bit behind us. I think they can come up with some new, fun strategies, and I think that the scene needed this new blood to get motivated again.

BMG owner and bossman, Papabjorn

Earlier this year the professional players and community were asked to weigh in about DreamHack Summer 2021. Handsken, how did you feel about the decision then?

Handsken: I was actually out of town when the discussion between pros and S2 management happened. They asked a lot of people from the scene whether they would like DreamHack, or more money in the online tournaments. I was not there or involved in the discussion, so when I heard about it I was actually a little bit frustrated. I would much rather have the DreamHack than the money. I would rather play DreamHack for pride than have lots of money in online tournaments. That is what makes it so fun being a HoN player, especially now since sG is gone.

Bjorn, how do you react from an organizational perspective to HoN not being at DreamHack this Summer?

I didn’t like it at all, to be honest. I think we were one of the few teams that didn’t like it at all. I don’t know if any of our players wanted to say no to DreamHack, because we all really enjoy it. I hope it will be back for Winter!

Now that Carnage in Caldavar has finished out, what did you think of the event?

Handsken: I think that the format was OK. It would have worked if we had a stronger scene. A lot of the games to me were just farm games, but I guess that’s not really about the format. The games that truly mattered were all in the playoffs, so the teams that were good enough to advance were always going to advance. We even forfeited three of our games and we still finished second [in Pro League]. That’s not S2’s fault necessarily.

I liked it, and because it was during the Summer we had our say beforehand of when we could and couldn’t play. It was not always optimal in the way it worked out, but I still liked the format. It didn’t always fill the weekends, in comparison to HoN Tour. We played sometimes on Tuesday or Wednesday instead of Saturday or Sunday. It allowed you to plan more things in advance, so I think that it was a good format for the time of the year that it was at.

Were there any surprises for you in terms of performances from the other teams?

Handsken: I think I really expected Sync to do a lot better against us. We played them once in the group stages and it ended up 2-0. Because of the circumstances we forfeit the other series against them. Then in the Playoffs Finals we beat them 3-1, when I expected it to be tougher, especially considering the circumstances that we all know and the amount of effort that we were putting in to practicing.

All six of the teams from the Carnage Pro League will be joining you in the HoN Tour Diamond Division. What do you think about having a smaller, eight team Diamond Division?

Handsken: I think it’s cool. You really want the Diamond Division to be top tier, and in HoN Tour Season 2 and 1 you had a lot of teams that came from Gold that were not meant to be in Diamond. They would come from Gold and just get smashed out of Diamond, unless they were a new-formed team with lots of stars. Then they would show their potential and be there to stay. Having fewer teams makes the division a bit more top-tier, and I hope that this Diamond Division can be a really tight group of teams that can compete at the best level of HoN. Thats my hope, but we’ll see what happens.

Also, there will also be fewer games during the weekend, which can be nice. I also heard there will be a change of format where there won’t be games every weekend. Rather, there will be a break between cycles, which I think is really good.

From an organizational perspective, what are your thoughts on having a eight to nine month season long event?

Papabjorn: I think that it is probably a little bit long. I think eight or nine months is pretty much high time for a tournament. As long as there are tournaments, it’s good, it doesn’t really matter how long. I think six months would have been good.

Where do each of you want to see the HoN Tour World Finals?

Handsken: The places we’ve been to so far have been great. Thailand, because of how big the game is over there and the size of the fanbase. In Vegas it was really cool and exclusive in that way, so I really liked that. I would like them to keep going in this way, and it’s not always set to be in the same place. Change it up a little bit and have it unique in their own way. How about some place in like Europe, or even at another big event. I don’t know, but I think I would like them to keep switching up places and not in the same place each time.

Papabjorn: I would like to see it at DreamHack, for sure. I don’t know why but I just love DreamHack.

But what if we’re able to go back to DreamHack independently of the World Finals?

Papabjorn: Well that would be even better, yeah! I was just thinking like, when I watch competitive HoN it’s like 80% Swedish players, so if you are sending players, do it at DreamHack and you don’t have to spend so much in travel money!

eSports Plinko has been announced and should be helping to raise the prize pools for the HoN Tour cycles as well as the HoN Tour World Finals. What are your thoughts on the new initiative?

Handsken: It is a good thing. It helps the community to feel like they’re a part of what is going on with the scene. I like the idea for sure, it’s good and all, but it is probably best suited for a game that is super huge with lots and lots of people. If it works then it will be a really good thing, but we will have to see how much we can actually get from it in terms of real numbers.

BMG captain, master drafter, and second-support player, Handsken

Going into HoN Tour Season 3, BMG, Sync, Reason are expected to do well. What one other team do you expect to make a splash in the scene?

Krebsen’s team. [Potato - Krebsen, noobG, FibEli3, OwnedMe, waytoobrei, TPSPriceless]. They’re old pros, right? They’ve been playing this game competitively at a high level, especially for noobG, FibEli3, and Krebsen. They’re the team that has the most potential for upsets, and I think they’re motivated. I also need to say they have other things going on for them, like noobG plays a lot of League of Legends right now, so I don’t know how devoted they are. If they put a lot of effort into it I would be very surprised if they did not make it into Diamond.

For Season 3 BMG has a couple new additions to the squad. First is the Master Hooker, Superkge, coming back in to replace Limmp. Going back a few months, he had left the team. What were the circumstances around KGE leaving the team?

Handsken: It was mostly a lack of motivation, to be fair. That was what happened pretty much. Emil described to us that he a lack of motivation for the game, and he didn’t enjoy it as much anymore. He didn’t like scrimming as much anymore, and of course, it can get boring the same heroes every day over and over again. But, when you go to LANs and win tournaments it’s so much fun, but I think when HoN Tour dropped off during the Playoffs and Thailand qualifiers that was not a very fun time to be in BMG. We didn’t have much to do, even though we tried to practice and scrim and prepare for Thailand.

So, he told us “I’m not sure I want to play HoN anymore after Thailand”, and we said okay, sure. So that’s why we agreed that he wasn’t going to play with us anymore. He was okay with that and we remained friends because he knew what he had been telling us and he agreed. I think that after a break it might have been good for him and got his motivation back up again, so this could be good for us.

Was it a pretty no-brain decision to bring him back into the team, or was this something that required discussion between the team and management?

Papabjorn: Not really Superkge left the team, he didn’t leave BMG. He never really left. He is a part of BMG and he has been since the start. We also agreed that when he left, he leaves the team, but he stays a part of BMG with me, as part of administration. Then he showed motivation again and Limmp left, so we were like yeah, its a no-brainer. I think we decided on asking Emil back in about five minutes. We can’t be without our Emil - he’s the man!

The other addition to the team is Xibbe, who will be coming in to fill in for fUzi. How did you come to the decision to pick up Xibbe for this spot?

Handsken: That was also a bit of a no-brainer, I suppose. When picking up fUzi in the first place, when Flensmeister wasn’t going to play with us anymore, we had a few options that we were discussing, including fUzi, NoX, and Xibbe was one of the others. I don’t even know if he was aware at any point, but he was one of the people that we wanted to play with. He was a carry player that did not play hard carry traditionally. We’re very aggressive with how we play and we don’t always put hard carrys in our drafts. You could see fUzi play a lot Kraken, Slither, or even Chipper sometimes, and that is a good feature of Xibbe at the same time. That’s something we think is a really good feature of Xibbe as well, that aggressive, early game carry.

Papabjorn: I really think Xibbe is a good fit for the team. I think he has evolved a lot over the games that I have seen him playing with the guys. He was doing great before, but I think he can be super good, really!

Well, thank you very much for your time guys. If there is anyone you want to thank or shout-out, the floor is yours!

Handsken: Obviously Bjorn, all of our sponsors, the team, all of our previous players, and a special mention for fUzi’s family, Robert and Vanessa.

Papabjorn: I’d like to shout-out to the guys for being able to work with them for so long - it’s been really funny and I hope we can do like 10 more years of this. Shout-out to our sponsors, especially our main sponsor, Inet. And to you, Beef! For being the best caster out there. And shout-out to my family also, for letting me take the time to do this stuff!

Thanks a lot to the guys at BMG for taking the time for this interview. You can catch the Monkey’s playing in HoN Tour Season 3 this weekend as Cycle 1 kicks off!