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It was market day on the eve of 403's next great challenge: their match against Clockwork Gaming. The pouring rain did little discourage the many vendors in the square from setting up their stalls and hawking their wares. I rubbed my hands together for warmth, listening to the pitter-patter of rain drops as I waited for my coffees to arrive.

I'd come here with Plagueske to discuss some of the doubts he had about the team and his role in it. After collecting the coffees we both ended up hunched at a table under a dinky plastic umbrella that did little to stop the pervasive wetness. I grumbled as I adjusted my coat, but at least my hands were warm.

Plagueske took a sip of his coffee, his mouth quirking at its bitterness. "I don't know if I can continue playing with 403". I let him continue, wanting to hear him out. "I'm struggling to perform and I don't feel up to scratch. I used to be good; hell, I used to be a god. I was immortalised in things like Zam's epitaph movie, where I stood side by side with legitimate and well thought out plays like CPS on ladder at nuke. Now? I struggle to get 10 frags in a game". He faded into quiet contemplation, his shoulders sagging and his drink forgotten.

I sighed as I sat and considered how best to respond. I saw Boagz over at the baker and considered calling him over, but he was busy discussing techniques on how best to sort wheat from the chaff. I could call Lock on the walkie talkies he had supplied us so we could stay in constant touch, but he'd just get mad at us for not being in a practice session. Salad, as Racecars legal guardian, was at his parent-teacher interview. And Comzat was busy trying to to drive the APCs in ct spawn on our map for the night, mirage. It was going to come down to me raise this wretched soul's spirits.

"Plagueske", I said, trying to get him to look at me. "We are all a shadow of what we once were. We all strode the light fantastic as kings once. But we cannot dwell on what once was, lest we become less than what once was then".

For some reason he failed to understand. I tried again.

"This team, 403, it has become something special for all of us. And 403 needs you." I could see the upturning of his mouth. He just wants to be loved, I realised. "We don't need the plagueske of 10 years ago, we need the plagueske of today. We need you to play for us tonight so that we can forge something greater than the days of past. We need you to realise your potential, and we can't do that with you sulking in a corner!"

Plague stares at me, hanging onto my every word like a man near death. "You really need me" he says, in a voice barely louder than a whisper.

"We do Plagueske. We truly do".

We head back to the 403 house, and I can see that Plagueske has a new spring in his step. The falling rain and cracks of thunder may as well not have existed. We pass Infzoran and Todd in the house gym as we make our way to the lounge. Infzoran was sharing his latest conquest of a trio of Serbian sisters as he lifts. Strong, silent Todd was spotting him, listening to his every word attentively, making Infzoran feel valued. I see off Plague as he jumps into a server to practice and can just overhear Lock yelling at Poochy to get off the jailbreak server he's on and do something that resembles competitive counter-strike.

I smile as I slump into the couch in the lounge, for I am home. No matter how the match tonight goes, we will emerge stronger than before. But I refuse to predict anything so mundane as a scoreline for tonight's match.

I predict that tonight a man will regain his confidence, and will once again hold his head high.

I predict that the combination of players tonight will surprise even themselves with their comradery and strength of will when everything seems lost.

And I predict that the enemy tonight, Clockwork oranges of technique and mind will have nothing on the brilliant, shining soul of 403.

So you could waste your time watching 'good' 'players' 'play' 'counter-strike'. I won't stop you. You can either choose to contribute to the death of competitive counter-strike by watching those div 2 shitters, or you could watch its glorious rebirth at the hands of the burnt veterans of the game. I know where I'll be tonight.

You can watch 403 vs Clockwork Gaming at 8:30 Sunday night on 27.50.73.51:26030
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2.4 years ago
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We've requested additional gotv servers for the inundation of spectators. To all the other teams who will surely counter strat us - don't waste your time. My mirage strat book is at least 6 post-it-notes long, you'll never counter them all.
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2.4 years ago
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no one cares
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