What would have become Fabian Hällsten if he hadn't been able to become a successful esports player?
I was studying to be a teacher of history and social studies. I’d basically be a teacher for kids aged from 15-16 to 18-19. I only did 2 proper years of studying out of the 5 total. The first half of my third year was kinda ruined by playing a specific video game for a few to many hours.
You didn't go that far to find your alias, Fabian. Did you want to stay simple?
I never really had a proper nickname which wasn’t related to my name. At some point I just didn’t care too much. When I went pro at 22, I just used my Steam name, which was my real name so it was easy to remember who the account belonged to. I mean it is quite difficult to remember who is who when you have many friends, especially when nicknames change constantly… Mine is easy as I never change it and it is my actual name.
What did you do prior to your career in esports? Have you prepared any diploma or tried any other jobs?
I started working early, when I was 14 I helped build the interior of a sports store. A month later as I turned 15, I started working in that same store as that is the earliest you’re allowed to work in a shop in Sweden. Later I worked in a hardware store for a bit as well until I decided to go study.
Tell me about your native Sweden. Where do you come from? Where do you live now? Is there anything special or different for you there?
I am from the Northern wilderness, we ride reindeer and play ice bear football. I live just south of the arctic circle, I’m used to the -35 degrees Celsius winters and the never setting sun during the summers. I moved to the South to study, but I felt like there were too many people, so I went back. The place I come from is the most beautiful place on the planet and I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Some people tend to believe it's also one of the happiest countries in the world. Do you think there is an obvious reason for that?
Well, since I studied social studies, politics, and history we could go in depth into it… To answer it simply, a couple of things — real equality of opportunity, beautiful and clean nature.
How did you start playing Rainbow Six Siege?
I got tricked by the Ubisoft E3 trailer. I wanted to rappel out of my damn helicopter on the house roof like they showed me!
We can easily imagine how many memories you already have about the game, but what was your best moment?
R6 Invitational 2018, the comeback, gives me tears to see that last round every time.
You made your debut with Fenix, but the team had to forfeit the entire Pro League Season 2. Could you explain to us why?
We disbanded due to too many internal issues, people didn’t want to play the game, we didn’t have enough trades to remove those players which led to me leaving. I was home working for the summer and I was playing on a 60 fps 15” monitor, I’ll skip on that one. We never practiced and I wanted to be the best.
What did you get from your time with Fenix before meeting success with Penta?
Not much really, it was a different game back then. Imagine a time where I was a good Ash and Jäger main, strats were guns go brrrt.
There are a lot of players that dream about becoming successful in R6. Which advice coming from your own experience would you give them if you had the opportunity?
Find a team you’re happy to play with while still improving, don’t just settle for mediocre if you want to be the best. Keep playing and just do your best and your chance will come if you are good enough.
That's what you did with Penta Sports'. What was the secret of your success back then?
I don’t even know, we lived rent free in most players' heads, we won the game before we even stepped on stage most of the time. Sure, we played decent Siege but nothing extraordinary in my eyes.
Pengu, or you. Who's the best player in the world?
As I am on the bench I can’t be anymore, I am only the best-ranked player, he can have the title until I find a new team.
Whereas it's with G2 or with Penta before, your teams tend to recruit the best rookies of the moment — and they happen to be Finnish most of the time. SHA77E, Kanto, Uuno, and others — what motivates this recruitment strategy?
Finland is Win-land! Nothing to do with nationality really, who cares about that! We picked the players we wanted in our team because we wanted the best ones. Times were easy back then, you just offered a spot to the person you wanted and you had them.
G2 Esports won the Six Major, the Pro League, and the Six Invitational. How do you explain that the team apparently seems unable to do it anymore?
Other teams got a lot better while we stagnated, we didn’t work as hard as we should have. We were unhappy with having mixed ideas inside of the team on how the game should be played. No team can be on top forever, it was just our time to leave the top of the mountain.
Sometimes you send back an image somewhat similar to that of Ocelote — a guy who doesn't hesitate to break communication codes. Do you have similar visions about esports and life?
Everyone is so uptight these days, nothing is done for fun, we are all robots.
What's the weirdest or exchange you've ever experienced with him (Ocelote)?
Haven’t had too many with him, he is a great guy. The little we met and spoke — he makes you feel welcome and wanted, the support he shows his teams is incredible. I am very happy to have worked with him and for him.
What's you relationship with kennyS? We saw you really like to joke with each other...
He ruined a shot in a Red Bull video I had to do. I will never forgive him, he is my arch enemy, he is my biggest rival.
After making Siege’s history, after the departures of KS, Joonas, and Goga - you were the best team of all time - you've finally been benched too. Why?
I asked to leave after our early exit in the 2020 R6 Invitational, I wasn’t happy with the environment we had. I don’t think the rest of the team was either. There isn’t much else to say about it, to be honest. Both parties are probably disappointed it turned out the way it did with our team, as we know we could have done so much more. However, I am very happy to have had that group of players as teammates and they are my friends for life, the things we achieved will never be matched again.
You're now a free agent. With your resume and your stats this season, is there any team that contacted you yet?
I am actually a part of the LARGEST organization on the planet .LFT, we are trying to qualify for the MEGA League next season, it is a secret league for the players above Pro League.
You've won everything on stage, led many players and rosters to the top. Would you consider becoming a coach?
I am too competitive to be a coach! I have to become so much older before I can stop playing. Even at that point I feel like I’d rather live a normal life then. There are no breaks in career as a pro player, I’d love to have that. I’ll see what happens. Currently coaching is very far away from what I’d like to be doing now.
Sometimes it feels like there are two Fabians. On the one hand, there's a very confident character who calls himself the best player in the world and puts himself forward a lot — and another one that you can only see off-camera, who's quite humble, very sympathetic, and a defender of players' rights. How do you explain that?
It isn’t two different personalities, it is me.
If I believe we are the best team, I’ll make sure you know so, I’ll make sure everyone knows. I won’t say it without believing it. Without believing it we wouldn't be there. I love the spotlight. Taking it away from the rest of your team is not always a selfish thing to do but sometimes helpful for the others, less pressure on them. When some random person on Twitter DMs me and calls me names triggered by me always saying that I’m the best, I couldn’t care less about this person’s opinion. Not everyone is like that, some people take things they read to heart and if I can remove that pressure from them I have done my job.
I see no reason to be humble on stage. I’ll tear the competition apart on stage and do all I can to put them in the bin. Off-stage we are all just normal guys, good at playing video games, nothing special at all. But then again, I also like to make fun of people's ideas of me, maybe I am just a self-centered a**hole, who knows.
What do you think of the new Siege's ecosystem built by Ubisoft?
I think the new pilot program is a great step into the future for esports in Siege, it will help the smaller guys grow and give them incentive to invest into the ecosystem we have. I am happy that they did this and they deserve good amounts of praise for it.
How long do you think it will take for Rainbow Six Siege to become a Tier 1 esports?
The problems we have with Siege and being a T1 game are actually very easy to identify but difficult to fix. Siege is a massively intricate game to understand, there are so many layers to this game, other esports titles don’t have that. Particularly not FPS games, look at CS:GO, we won’t beat them for the simple reason, it is so ridiculously easy to understand. You watch two rounds and you understand that the terrorists attack and counter-terrorists defend. Attackers try to plant bomb A or B, sure we got that too, but then you get a billion steps in between, CS:GO doesn’t have that complexity.
Sure we can be a T1, but I believe easy understandable games will always be ahead of us, not something we can do about that though.
Rumors tell that an unofficial party happened in your hotel room during the DreamHack. Could you tell us a bit more about this?
I don’t remember, I just kept buying beer, it was a good night, but I don’t remember it :)
If you had the opportunity, right now, to team up with four other players. Forgetting about slots and contracts and money, what would those four mates be, and why them?
Forgetting about money? I need 4 clones, they can cost anything they want, I want 5 of myself.
While there are many ways to work on technical and strategic aspects of the game, training to be the in-game leader is something extremely difficult — and yet, you're one of the best in-game leaders in the world. Taking a page from your book, what are the most important elements to be good at it?
In-game leading as we know it doesn't exist anymore, in my opinion. You can call the base plan, but everyone else needs to take responsibility and call any opportunities they see. The puppet master strats of Y 2-3 are officially dead.
There has been a lot of questioning about the mental approach of Rogue during LANs, they had a lot of trouble in this area despite their level of online play. How do you feel about this, as you've won a lot of LANs?
I think it is simple, nerves and pressure. They put the pressure on themselves, having failed so many times it doesn’t get easier, it is a ghost haunting them constantly. Nobody but themselves can solve it.
Do you feel that esports have a lot to learn from traditional sports?
I don’t know, I rather have a big sip of Red Bull and some candy, I am a nerd after all.
Is your journey into Rainbow Six getting far from being over?
I’m not gonna be happy until I lift the hammer for the third time.
While the rework of Volibear should arrive in the Rift with Patch 10.11, the development team took the time to answer our questions. Design, gameplay and process, discover the making of the Relentless Storm!
Original content by Christopher "Luzi" Lima