Pandemic Acquires MoB.cs

BY Andrew Miesner / February 17, 2009

Pandemic returns to CS 1.6 by acquiring the MoB Counter-Strike roster

In breaking news we have learned that Pandemic has returned to Counter-Strike 1.6.  In order to do so, Pandemic owner Chris Lemley acquired the MoB Gaming roster, much of which is composed of previous Pandemic players.

New Pandemic Roster:

Noah “StrikeR” Alvarado

Cyrus “org” Habibi

Sonny “s0nNy” Tran

Jimmy “foogs” Koller

Chad “daffsta” White

We contacted Mr. Lemley and he gave us the following interview:

First, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today.  Pandemic has long been a staple of American eSports and has a long list of accomplishments across several game genres.  However, the CGS tenure saw your organization leave Counter-Strike for other titles.  Now Pandemic is back to 1.6.  Tell us about the past couple years and your decision to return to 1.6

When the CGS was formed our organization faced many new transitions.  The loss of the 1.6 team and Mark (Dolven)’s departure to GM the Carolina Core left us with many unknowns. We did however have a clear goal in mind: to align ourselves directly with the World Series of Video Games and pioneer what, ironically, we used to term ‘life after Counter-Strike.’  We lost several fans and even drew a few laughs when we decided not to rebuild our CS team and instead were the first professional team to sponsor World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero squads.  

Less than twelve months later we’d gone from barely getting by financially to bringing in what was possibly the single largest independent pro-gaming sponsorship deal in the states.  Our WoW squad remained undefeated throughout the year and brought home all four WSVG championships, the CGS 3v3 championship, and the $45,000 first prize from the ESL Dreamhack World Finals.  Guitar Hero was a promotional home-run and we had players doing  commercials on CBS, campus stops nationwide, and even playing on stage with real-world celebrities such as Gene Simmons of KISS, Slash from Guns ‘n Roses, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates at his final CES keynote speech.   

Meanwhile we tried to remain true to traditional esports by continuing our support of games like Call of Duty, Team Fortress 2, and DotA, but it was becoming evident that we had strayed far from our roots.  We had become successful, our reach had grown, and we were such a bigger name now…yet we’d lost so many of our best fans along the way.  

Fast forward to 2009 and we’re at a crossroads in the industry.  The CGS has shut down its doors, sponsors are pulling out left and right, leagues are dwindling, and it’s truly as if someone hit the reset button on esports.  Much of the glitz and glamour has gone away.  Events are fewer and further between, prize purses are smaller, and budgets are tighter than they have been in almost a decade.  As my good friend Corey Dunn puts it, “it’s time we get back to the basics.”  

Counter-Strike is the closest thing to a standardized, recognizable team sport that PC gaming has.  It’s been around since the beginning, its presence at the CPL single-handedly sparked the growth of pro-gaming in the United States and Europe, and it’s still the centerpiece of virtually every major esport organization and entity.  Add to that the intense year-round online competitions and a fanbase who savagely follow along, and you’ve got the very best of the ‘basics.’  It simply won’t go away.

Today you announced the previous MoB Gaming roster.  Tell us why you chose this lineup and how the acquisition took place.

I pinpointed a select few players that I would feel comfortable building this new Pandemic lineup around, and nothing ever sparked my interest without Sonny and/or Chad.  The community may criticize me for taking MoB’s lineup as a whole as opposed to hand-picking a new team, but believe me when I say I’ve spent months now mulling over the very same thing.   

I played devil’s advocate to Sonny since the day he started playing with Striker, org, Foogz, and (originally) Hahn.  I pulled him back and forth with all sorts of questions about his choices and offered numerous alternatives.  He never budged.  When they finally brought in Chad, I stopped getting in his ear and I started listening.  

Chad is and always has been a great caller, Sonny is a phenomenal talent, and I think Jimmy brings in the ‘glue’ to keep everyone on track.  Collectively there’s still some rust, but as a team these guys enjoy each other – would go to war for each other – and they practice harder than anybody right now.  I can’t wait to see org step up and start fragging out like he’s capable of, and I want Striker to show everyone else like he’s proven to his teammates why he’s so valuable.  Am I doubting them? No.  Am I going to call them out and expect to get the best out of them? Of course.  I passed on a number of other great players and teams for a reason, and I think if these five are given a little time to get their shit together, they’re going to compete with anybody.


Bringing this lineup on board brings Sonny “sOnNy” Tran back to the Pandemic organization.  Daffsta and Org also have Pandemic roots.  How’s it feel to have the old Pandemic stars playing for you once again?

I always enjoyed working with that season’s CS team.  You never knew what type of performance you were going to get — they were an ‘any given sunday’ type team — but always capable of going the distance.  I think it’s healthy to see them branch out and bring in new faces, and though I’ll always have respect for the formers such as Torrez, JJ,  Garett, and Bobby, I think too much of the same thing would’ve been their downfall this time around.  

As I said before, Sonny and Chad have been my focus since CGS shut down.  Though he didn’t play for me directly, Dolven had enough faith in Cyrus to bring him on board the Core and was very excited in doing so.  Having that history together and hopefully being able to build upon it will be much more fulfilling than if we were to start entirely from scratch.


In the current economic downturn there is still a big question about how many CS 1.6 events will take place in 2009.  What are your travel plans for the squad?  Will you be attending all major events?

The team will make their first LAN appearance under Pandemic at the Kode5 US Finals in March.  Beyond that, we are still waiting alongside everyone else to see which circuits decide to support CS.  ESL will most likely return to the states, and of course there’s ESWC and WCG.  These will be our primary focus.   

In the current economic situation I think most sponsors will agree that international travel is little more than a luxury at this point in time, unless of course you are fortunate enough to qualify for one of the major world championships, and only then does the cost become justifiable.  It’s easy for outsiders to argue that teams should be flown around the world for anything that pops up with a prize purse, but when you simply can’t recoup your costs in this environment it just doesn’t make sense.  Hopefully things will level out soon so this can get back on track as it were in previous years.  

As a side note, I think this may actually become a good thing for the United States 1.6 scene.  We need more events stateside and I wouldn’t be surprised if this demand is better catered to by year’s end.


As a top U.S manager, what is your opinion on the current state of eSports?  Will games like 1.6 continue to fuel professional gaming or is it important we look to new titles?  Is Pandemic’s commitment to 1.6 a long term one or are you taking things one year at a time?

While Counter-Strike 1.6 plays an inexplicably important role in esports, I think it’s important now that organizations such as Pandemic and Complexity begin to look for alternative ways to monetize their brands.  Esports will always be a niche of a much larger and more profitable market, mainstream gaming.  Though we offer unique advertising opportunities and some very cool and dynamic ways to promote brand awareness in this lucrative demographic, gaming teams just aren’t pulling their weight in the corporate world operating as they are today.  We sincerely need to broaden our reach and further leverage our positions as the ‘experts’ in a massive (and still growing) field.  

As far as sponsoring divisions go, we’re taking everything one step at a time.   


Thanks again for your time.  Any final shoutouts or comments?

Thanks to the community for welcoming us back with open arms.  We need your support now more than ever!


Here is the official press release:

 Conway, Arkansas – February 26, 2009 -TeamPandemic, LLC. is proud to announce its long-awaited return to Counter-Strike 1.6. After much deliberation, Pandemic is excited to welcome the lineup formerly known as MoB Gaming.

The new team will consist of several names familiar to the Pandemic family as well as a strong west-coast CS influence. Returning are Hoang “sonny” Tran and Chad “daffsta” White, regulars in the organization’s ’05-’07 roster, and their ’07-’08 CGS Carolina Core teammate Cyrus “org” Habibi. Jimmy “foogz” Koller and Noah “Striker” Alvarado, Check-Six teammates and longtime friends and competitors, round out the squad.

“I’ve looked forward to this day for some time,” said Chris Lemley, President of TeamPandemic, LLC. “Pandemic’s roots are in CS and it’s a move that’s long overdue. I put alot of time and consideration into what our 2009 roster would be, and we evaluated many teams and individuals in the process… we certainly appreciate all those who expressed interest in playing for our organization. When it was all said and done, I simply couldn’t put my faith and full support anywhere else. It’s good to be back.”

Chad “Daffsta” White echoed the sentiment. “It feels good to be back in Pandemic and playing 1.6 with some of my old teammates again,” he said. “I think this lineup has alot more raw skill then our previous rosters and I can’t wait to prove it.”




Photos Courtesy of TeamPandemic