Emilio set to make comeback - debutes together with pronax

Two years have passed since the infamous VAC ban occured, live on stream during Fragbite Masters.

Today Joel ”Emilio” Mako is counting down the minutes until tournament organizers will once again let him compete and next weekend he'll make his competitive comeback alongside GODSENT leader Markus "pronax" Wallsten.

– A lot of people will probably hate on me, but to be honest I don't really care any more. My focus lies on working my way up and I won't be able to achieve that if I put my energy on what other people think, Emilio says to Sportbladet.

On October 9th 2014, Joel "Emilio" Mako who at the time played for Team Property, received a VAC ban during a live streamed match against HellRaisers. Tomorrow, Sunday, exactly two years have passed, meaning the Swede has served his punishment, rendering the VAC ban inactive, and will once again be welcome to compete at a slew of tourneys.

A controversial return

The rules applied by many tournament organizers state that as long as a player does not have an active VAC ban, he or she will be welcome to compete in their tourney. Others, like Dreamhack and all majors, exclude them indefinitely.

In Emilio's case, the ban is active merely a few more days, and he's now preparing for a comeback. Meanwhile, other banned players might be following in his footsteps.

– Obviously it feels great that I get to compete again, the Swede says and continues:

– Back when I got banned so many got the wrong picture of me, I was never really OK with that, but since then I've learnt to ignore it. I know that the other pro players that I care about knows who I am and know I'm not a cheater.

”Me and pronax go way back”

Next weekend Emilio will debute on LAN with a temporary mix lineup. In his team we find the Epsilon duo Fredrik "freddieb" Buö and William "draken" Sundin alongside Norwegian up-and-comer Markus "maak" Karlsen and GODSENT:s world famous tactician, Marcus ”pronax” Wallsten. Emilio and Pronax played together in Absolute Legends in 2013.

– He [pronax] wants to play with me and I with him. We go way back and he knows what kind of player I am. I've spent a lot of time with him and we've talked about going to events, and he just says "damn your VAC ban", because obviously he wants to go to the majors. So now we've pretty much settled on playing together in some tourneys outside of the majors.

Have you thought about how the community will react to your comeback?

– A lot of people will probably hate on me, but to be honest I don't really care any more. My focus lies on working my way up and I won't be able to achieve that if I put my energy on what other people think.

"Even sentenced murderers get a second chance"

The past two years have not exactly been the best ones in Emilio's life. In his own words he describes a time of misunderstandings and how the community has drawn conclusions about him that aren't true.

In an interview with Aftonbladet Esport last year, the Swede once and for all admitted that he had indeed used a wallhack. However, he still maintained that he wanted to "prove his innocence" – a phrase which is once again repeated today.

In your first statement you said that Valve can clear your name, and later you admitted to having used cheats. What do you mean by "proving your innocence"?

– I want to show people that what I say is true; I've never cheated in an official match. I'll play just as good now, if not better. Many believe I cheated in all of my games, but it was just that one time when I tilted in match making.

Phrasing it like "proving your innocence" is very easy to misinterpret.

– Yes, I get that. At the same time, from my perspective, had I phrased it like I wanted to show that I can play good without cheats people would've thought I cheated in official matches. For me at this point, it feels like no matter what I had said, it would still have come out wrong.

After all of these turns, how should the fans be able to trust what you say?

– I can only earn their trust by competing and performing on LAN. I've been naive, but I've also changed a lot in the past two years. I've realized that everyone makes mistakes - some bigger than others - and my mistake ruined a huge part of my life. I'm not saying that to make people feel sorry for me. I think you have to understand that everyone makes bad choices, but in the end even sentences murderers will be given a second chance.

"The community treats players very differently"

There's a clear frustration in Mako's voice as he speaks. A question he asks himself is why he's received so much hate when other people have more or less "got off free", for example the recent incident where Russian fan favorite Mihail "Dosia" Stolyaroy got caught stealth playing for the Kazakh national team.

– I am living proof that the community treats players very differently. When Dosia got busted most people just joked about it, since he's so popular in the scene. It's still cheating, although in a different way.

– I can come off as a very arrogant person. Those around me knows this and that's why they still stand behind me today. Because they know what kind of person I am and that sometimes what I say comes off in a bad way.

The offline finals of the OWNIT CS:GO Challenge will take place on October 15th. For more information about the tournament (in Swedish), check here.

Simon Engstrand