21-year-old Mohamad “Ducky” Nourelden is a crucial part of the Arctic Raptors fearless offense, with many describing him and the team’s AWPer William “wfn” Maskrey as the fangs and claws of the prehistoric predators. As they prepare to head into their first season of ESEA Advanced, UKCSGO took some time to look back on Ducky’s difficult path to success, looking at the victories, painful defeats and lessons learned along the way.
Ducky’s first notable team was Feenix Ryzing, previously known as Ignite Esports. Headlined by the titular player of Ducky, he was joined by some other now-known elements within the scene, including both Isaac “isaac” Patto and Zy “yz0” Esponilla. This team was somewhat of an underdog in ESEA Intermediate during their expeditions in season 39 and 40, and after an impressive run in the latter, the squad qualified for playoffs and scored 2 wins to guarantee a spot in the next season of ESEA Main. Ducky was a key factor in the team’s success, posting 92 ADR and a 0.86 KPR throughout both the regular and playoffs portions of the season.
UKCSGO asked Ducky about this first step in the early stages of his career:
My time in Feenix Ryzing was a good opportunity for me to develop as a player. Making a name for myself in the UK scene was not something I intended to do, but I was fortunate enough to have met the likes of yz0, isaac, ARTZ, Hazzernator and Jins; a great set of players both inside and outside of CS.
Their string of success was coming to an end however, as was revealed in a twitlonger from isaac. He spoke about how he and Ducky had made it clear that they were considering other offers together after the season had concluded, but after their progress in playoffs, they put those plans on the back burner and focused on sticking with the team. This sentiment was not shared between the other members of the roster, which resulted in both isaac and Ducky losing out on their spot in Main next season.
This left Ducky to fend for himself, but with a statistically outstanding season of play under his belt, it wouldn’t take long before he found himself a spot in his next team.
Being with them for a season (some two seasons) taught me a lot, especially from Hazz as the coach. He helped me develop the correct attitude and mindset, which in turn had a huge impact on the way I play team CS.
While it wasn’t a permanent spot on the roster, the ManHo “mrhui” Hui-led The Last Resort were down a player at the beginning of the season, and recruited Ducky to fill the empty space on their starting five in a substitute capacity. While he didn’t perform to a stand-out level, he was an extremely reliable force during this limited opportunity, even assisting the team to qualify for Beyond’s 2022 Spring Invitational.
— UK & Ireland Circuit (@UKICircuit) April 2, 2022
His duties soon came to an end as TLR were finally able to field their official 5 man roster, making Ducky redundant and LFT once again. His next team, AVA Esports, took no shortage of time to come knocking thanks to his string of remarkable performances. After losing two players in the middle of the season, most notably Oscar “AZUWU” Bell to a head-turning Heaven & Hell at the time, AVA hoped to bounce back and pick up where they left off with new additions Ducky and Seth “Xeth” Jackson. Led by a promising IGL in the form of Earl “Earl” Stephenson, the team looked set to make waves throughout the rest of the season in Main.
Ducky’s time under the AVA banner was much shorter than expected, as he was dropped from the roster at the end of the season. Initial speculation would point towards a poor statistical performance for such a quick change, however, Ducky was up high in the stat lines only second to Earl, boasting 85 ADR and another roster-high 0.83 KPR. UKCSGO understands that the team didn’t think Ducky fit into the overall system they were hoping for, and once again, it seemed as if he was left without a team for the upcoming season of ESEA.
Shortly before this, Rasmus “zodi” Frølich had parted ways with the Danish team SERA ESPORT, and Havik Esports’s rebuild going into season 41 left wfn on the sidelines. The two team-less players approached Ducky while he was playing for AVA, and he accepted their offer of a new project. He prepared to announce this to his teammates, but on the very same day, AVA had come to the decision to drop him from the starting five. They officially joined arms and announced their search for the last two players to round out their roster on Twitter, and after picking up Maciej “m1ster” Rudzki and fellow Havik Esports player Euan “synergii” Wilson, the bones of what we know today as the fearsome Arctic Raptors was born.
After my stand-in situation with TLR and playing in Earl’s team for a short while, I was approached by wfn to trial with him and zodi. Being in the team at the very beginning was challenging. I had much to learn, however, with papp and zodi’s support, I was able to bring out my potential [as part] of the team in practice and officials.
This squad’s potential was very promising, but many were quick to point out attitude as a possible downfall for the team. While some may have talked them down, one organisation had their eyes set on Ducky and company, which they followed through with by signing the team. New British organisation XRAVEL announced their partnership with the team, and the first step in Ducky’s next breakout team was born.
— XRΛVEL (@XRAVELGG) July 17, 2022
XRAVEL got off to a formidable start. Their inaugural season in Main reaffirmed the confidence reflected in the players from the organisation, where they recorded an outstanding 11W-1L scoreline in season 42’s regular season. Ducky was once again the frontrunner in this incredible accomplishment, totalling another roster-high 85 ADR and 0.78 KPR, tying with zodi as the primary offensive forces in the team.
These strides continued into the post-season, where XRAVEL took on the Danish opposition of Catchii in round two of the upper bracket and came out on top with a 2-1 victory. Only one Bo3 stood between Ducky and Advanced, but their dreams were cut short after losing to ONYX Talents and flowstate in the upper and lower bracket respectively. Although the squad had fallen short at the very last hurdle, Ducky stood above the pack as a force to be reckoned with, sporting another 0.78 KPR and 88 ADR.
Throughout the season and during this downtime, the team played in other tournaments and qualifiers with moderate success. They qualified for ESL Premiership Autumn 2022 in the second qualifier and took part in SCL during season six – which further contributed to Ducky‘s status as the team’s top fragger, posting a 1.35K/D and 0.88 KPR. Most notably, XRAVEL qualified for Beyond’s 2022 Summer Invitational, where they took down fellow Main competitors K10 and Temperate to qualify for the main event on HLTV, a career first for Ducky. Although it was a single-elimination format, and while being forced to play with a stand-in due to synergii being out of the country, Ducky stepped up on the server and finished the Bo3 with a 1.20 HLTV rating versus a formidable 1PIN.
With some time for post-season evaluation, Ducky and co. parted ways with m1ster and acquired Seán “Atrox” Greene to bolster the team’s firepower even further. EPIC.LAN 37 rolled around, and XRAVEL were anticipated to make a very deep run at the event, looking likely to beat many of the other teams and mixes in attendance.
UKCSGO reached out to the team’s coach, Daniel “papp” Hart, for a few words about their experiences at EPIC.LAN:
EPIC.LAN 37 was our first event as a team, and for some players, their first LAN entirely. We just made roster changes a week or so before the event, leading to little practice with Atrox.
XRAVEL were placed in group B and had a strong start to the event with a 6W-1L record to show, losing only against Fraser “Frazehh” Sollom’s mix team, Psych Ward. After making playoffs, the team were matched up against familiar faces to Ducky; mrhui and Emyr “eMy” Green of eMasters, whom he played alongside during his short stint under TLR. It was a difficult battle between the two teams, with XRAVEL narrowly besting the opposition 2-1, with each map surpassing over 27 rounds of play.
This earned them a spot in the upper semi-finals, where they next faced off against another mix team, The Neighbours – spearheaded by UKCS legends Owen “smooya” Butterfield and Thomas “Thomas” Utting. Their second matchup in playoffs was an even tighter affair than the first, once again going the distance with all 3 maps, including 16-14 scorelines both for and against Ducky and his comrades – the latter being the result of the third map between the two teams, earning the smooya‘s mix a ticket into the upper bracket final.
After this deflating and draining loss, papp‘s boys only had 30 minutes before their next game in the lower bracket for a second chance at a HLTV finish in the event. They came up against a Shuaib “shoobie” Saddique-led shushgg, accompanied by none other than ex-Feenix Ryzing AWPer isaac. This mix had already garnered the status of a dark horse, completing an impressive lower bracket run against Legates Esports, K10 and Clique Esports.
Although XRAVEL took the first map with a confident 16-5 stomp, shoobie didn’t back down and IGL’d his brothers to successfully pull off the reverse sweep against Ducky and the rest of XRAVEL. They followed the classic Bo3 narrative and closed it out in overtime after a nail-biting third map on Inferno.
In playoffs, Ducky put up a respectable 76 ADR and 0.69 KPR*. While it may seem like a far cry from the standard he would typically be held to from his performances in the likes of ESEA and SCL, he was one of the team’s two top performers alongside synergii, scoring more roster-high stats for the event once more.
It was a new experience and one we all enjoyed … although, it’s fair to say we underachieved especially when you consider our ESEA and ESL Premiership form during that time. We’ve mainly put that down to being our first event and it being more of an endurance test than anything else. We quickly put EPIC.LAN behind us and set our focus on what was more important to us, reaching ESEA Advanced and having a good showing in EPS … Though we definitely took a lot out of our first LAN together, and I personally felt we played much better with much more chemistry after EPIC.LAN. – papp
Ducky and his compatriots didn’t let disappointment set in, however. The Brits took the opportunity to bolster the organisational support behind them and signed under Arctic Raptors, an organisation that looked to take fewer gambles on instability and to put their efforts and funding into a more stable project going forward.
RAPTORS CS:GO 2023
We are delighted to announce we have signed our new competitive Counter-Strike roster.
🇬🇧: @papp_cs (C)
We are extremely excited to see what the future holds 🦖💙 pic.twitter.com/OzEyaSQOBI
— RAPTORS. (@ArcticRaptorsGG) November 17, 2022
The Raptors silenced their doubters with another monumental season in Main, recording another profound 12W-2L record in the regular season, solidifying themselves as a dominant force within the division. Once again, Ducky was one of the crucial components to this success, returning to his throne as one of the dominant players in the squad by raising yet another roster-high 84 ADR in the regular season.
With the momentum we gained from the previous season, we knew we had what it takes to get out of Main … it was an important time to do it with ESEA Advanced becoming smaller, so you’d expect the next season of Main to be far more competitive. – papp
As playoffs got underway, the team had to do one better than last season’s swing at promotion in more ways than one. ESEA had announced changes to the formatting for the upcoming season, which meant that fewer spots were up for grabs in Advanced. Coming in from the second round of the upper bracket thanks to their efforts before playoffs, Ducky and the Raptors had set themselves up for success with another shot to advance into the next division of ESEA.
Arctic Raptors held themselves in high regard, and reflected this in their play. The team breezed through the upper bracket, beating BIT Esports, Enhanced Esports, and Kirikou all in a 2-0 fashion, adding to the hype with some overtime victories to boot. This subsequently secured their promotion to Advanced, finally reaching what once eluded them only a few months ago.
After not making Advanced in season 42, we all felt slightly down … but with it being our first season together, we pushed for it on our second season. Making Advanced on our second attempt felt really good. Despite it being a goal for us in our first season together, and as my first full season in Main, I did not think I would be pushing for such a goal so soon, but it worked out in the end and it felt amazing. – Ducky
The Raptors couldn’t repeat their past feats against the next opponents, falling to both Hydra Team and LODIS, ending the season with a top 6 finish in Main. Bested only by his IGL zodi, Ducky once again stood tall and posted a commendable 80 ADR to top off their Advanced run.
Another opportunity for the Raptors to show their capabilities rolled around as ESL Premiership Autumn 2022 finally began. Ducky and his comrades scored a 3W-2L streak in group B, acquiring victories over eMasters, 7AM and Legates. However, due to losing their matches in groups against Into The Breach and Viperio, they were seeded low in playoffs and faced off against Endpoint in the quarterfinals. The team were no match for the 10-time EPS Champions, and were eliminated from the tournament with a 0-2 loss, placing them in 5-6th place for the event.
The Raptor’s first season in Advanced looks to be one to remember if their last few tenures in Main are anything to go off. With the recent announcement of Todd “Skeliton” Davison as their newest analyst, as well as the sky being the limit for this team of talent, the possibility of deep qualifier runs and HLTV invites are just around the corner for Ducky and his team. The Arctic Raptors are poised to leave a mark on the next UK LAN in attendance, EPIC.LAN 38 in late February.
Overall I am very happy with the position of the team, we played very well in EPS and also locked in our promotion to Advanced. We have great support from our org which we are very grateful for. Our target is to now maintain stability and to try and establish ourselves in Advanced. Lastly, we will be attending EPIC.LAN 38 and we fully expect to be in a much better position for the event to improve upon our last showing. – papp
UKCSGO asked Ducky for his “One to watch” in 2023, and why he thinks they are going to stand out this year:
Not because I’m in a team with him, but I would say zodi. He started IGLing for the first time in his first season of Main, and he is just incredible mechanically . His ability to IGL and rifle as well as he does is not something you see everyday … I am blessed to spectate him everyday and I realise how good of a player he is. I would also put forward MMS and synergii as honourable mentions, since I think both players are on track to achieve great things this year.
Why is Ducky one to watch in 2023? The future for Ducky looks very bright – as a player who is very clearly brimming with talent and skill, it is no stretch to expect a solid debut season from Ducky in Advanced. His consistent stand-out performances despite all the hardships he has faced along the way have become almost synonymous with his identity, as a part of the team both throughout his stay with both XRAVEL and now Arctic Raptors. Ducky and the Raptors will make their debut in Advanced tonight at 8:00pm GMT versus IKLA.
*As always, all stats and ratings for EPIC.LAN are organised by @Mischief_CSGO