Braxton “swag” Pierce is a professional Counter Strike player born on September 20, 1996. Brax is known primarily for his time on compLexity and iBUYPOWER, and was considered to be one of North America’s best young talents in CS:GO. Following an investigation conducted by Valve after a match which saw iBUYPOWER lose to NetcodeGuides under some suspicious circumstances, swag, alongside other notable names such as dboorN, DaZeD, caseyfoster, steel, AZK and cud were banned from being involved in any level of Counter Strike.

This ban was announced on January 26, 2015 in a commentary published by Valve titled “Integrity and Fair Play”. One year later, Valve released a follow up which stated that the bans were indefinite.

Brax and the rest of the iBUYPOWER players were banned from competing at any level of structured play until ESL came to a decision in the later stages of July, 2017. The former iBUYPOWER players were given permission to compete in any IEM, ESL One, ESL Pro League, or any of the leagues under the Pro League, which includes the Mountain Dew League, right down to ESEA Open. In September, Dreamhack followed suit and has allowed the former iBUYPOWER and Epsilon players to compete at their events, so long as it is not sponsored by Valve.

Swag’s career in Counter Strike: Global Offensive started in 2012 under the Team Dynamic banner. Here, the then 16 year old played at the ESEA Global Finals Season 12 & 13, as well as Dreamhack Winter.

The youngster then went on to join the inaugural compLexity CS:GO squad, which, at the time consisted of n0thing, sgares, Semphis, Hiko and swag. Complexity went on to do great things domestically in an offline and online context, as well as on the international tournament stage. The North Americans finished 2nd to NIP at the ESEA Global Finals Season 14 in 2013, place in the top 8 at ESWC 2013, place in the top four at Dreamhack Winter 2013, finished 3rd at the ESEA Global Finals Season 15 and then finish in the top 8 of ESL Major Series One: Katowice in 2014.

On March 25 2014, swag left compLexity to join iBUYPOWER, and once again, found some success. The iBUYPOWER players finished first at the ESEA Global Invite Division Season 16 Finals, finishing first at the CEVO Pro Season 5 Finals, as well as placing highly in various domestic online qualifiers and online league play. Unfortunately, the team were not as dominant on the international stage. iBUYPOWER finished in the top 8 of Gfinity G3, were sent home in the group stage of ESL One: Cologne 2014, finished in the top 8 of ESWC 2014 , were sent home once again in the group stages at Dreamhack Winter 2014. iBUYPOWER were able to place third at the seventeenth season of the ESEA Global Invite LAN Finals before the ruling by Valve was published and the iBUYPOWER players were banned from competitive play.

Brax was unable to play on any sort of team in any form of league. The young North American that had an immense amount of talent was unable to use it in a structured, competitive environment. During his time away from the game, swag was able to play in the FACEIT Pro League pugs. The player had a brief stint for Cloud9 at the RGN Pro Series, where Cloud9 beat Renegades 2-0 in the finals. Brax’s form throughout this tournament was incredibly impressive. Swag continued to play in FPL, and later on Rank S, where he was able to showcase his talent on stream, often dominating the players that he played against.

In 2017, swag competed at Fragadelphia 10 with a pug team, but the team were knocked out relatively early on. Swag had another opportunity to compete at the highest level at cs_summit. Skadoodle was unable to play, and after getting clearance from the tournament organisers, swag was deemed eligible to play for Cloud9. It was as if he had never stopped playing at the highest level of competitive Counter Strike in a structured, team environment, as he had put up good numbers throughout the matches he played, making numerous impact plays and hitting shots that blew people away. With swag’s help, Cloud9 were able to finish fourth in cs_summit.

Shortly after ESL lifted the sanctions on the former iBUYPOWER players, swag headed to Fragadelphia 11 alongside DAVEY, witmer, kaboose and mitch. This time, swag had more success at Fragadelphia, finishing first after ousting Rise Nation in the finals to capture his share of a $20,000 prize.

Swag, alongside AZK and DaZeD, were set to play under the GX banner in ESEA Premier Season 26. Pollo and dapr joined their ranks and the team made their way through the majority of the season with DaZeD. In November, the in game leader announced that he was stepping down from the roster and that witmer was set to take his place. The team qualified for playoffs, fought their way through and finished third, securing a spot at the MDL LAN Finals, as well as an ESL Pro League Relegation match up to decide whether or not they will play in Pro League next season.

Brax’s punishment came at an unfortunate time. The player was incredibly young, and it leaves a lot to the imagination as to what swag could have developed into should the ban have been for a limited time, or if he had not been banned at all. His ability to compete against the top teams in the world at such a young age gave spectators and his fellow peers a general idea of what swag was capable of, and what he still is capable of. The thought of swag’s ban impeding on his development as a player has more than likely come up, and, considering the fact that he was only able to play in FPL and Rank S, the possibility to develop bad habits was high. Fortunately for swag, he did not develop bad habits. He was able to continue at the level that he played at prior to his ban, and, when he was needed, he was able to perform. At the RGN Pro Series tournament in 2015, brax finished the tournament with a 1.08 rating, a 1.21 KDR, and a 0.68 KPR across 13 maps. At cs_summit, brax finished with a 1.17 rating overall, a 1.19 KDR, 77.9 ADR and 0.76 KPR across 10 maps, which is extraordinary for someone that has not been able to compete at the highest level in a structured environment for a long period of time. Brax had also impressed with GX in the online portion of the Mountain Dew League, finishing with a 1.23 KDR, 80.7 ADR and 0.75 KPR across 24 maps.

His movement, sense of timing, fundamental and mechanical skills makes him one of the best players to come out of North America and compete on the international stage, even with the restriction from Valve. Swag has the ability to sway a match in the favour of his team with one clutch, or one play, just because of the impact that he has on the game. There have been several instances where swag has turned the tide of matches, both casual and official, with just one clutch, or has bailed his team out of a difficult round with the individual skill he possesses as well as the mind he has for the game. Swag is aware of the vast majority of the possibilities and outcomes that could happen during the round, particularly in clutch situations. On top of that, swag is able to read into situations and tendencies of players on the other team as individuals, as well as the team as a collective, and is able to make plays of impact through that level of awareness. Simultaneously, swag is a player that is able to play a balanced style of Counter Strike, getting aggressive when needed, as well as having the ability to play passively when needed. His aggressive plays are, more often than not, timed well, and he is able to execute them methodically. As a hybrid player, a balance between passive and aggressive style is extremely beneficial to any team.

Swag was a player of immense talent held back by the ban issued by Valve. Over time, he was able to hone his skills and shape his raw talent through the occasional ringer appearance, and the high levelled pugs that he played, and now, he can develop further with a structured environment behind him. No longer being held back by a completely restrictive ban, teams now have to worry about contending with one of the most talented players from North America.

Overall, swag is a player of immense talent – fundamentally and mechanically. He has a good mind for the game and is a player that can have immediate impact on the game. He can read into situations well and make the most out of it. His story, in terms of career progression is rather unfortunate, but it seemingly has not hindered his growth as a player. He was still able to compete at the highest level despite lack of game time, and has performed well throughout the online qualifiers and his first season of Mountain Dew League. Now, on another journey, tracking his progress and further development will be something spectacular.

 

 

 

About The Author

Jonah
Esports Manager

My first video game was Tonka Construction for the PC. I played that in 2000, at 3 years of age, and have been hooked by video games ever since. I like to dabble in as many games as I possibly can, but nothing can come close to a captivating story, an intense multiplayer experience or a well made RTS game. In 2015, I found what can only be described as passion and love for esports. Now I convey that passion, love and knowledge through articles about esports titles, most notably Counter Strike.