Braxton “swag” Pierce is a dark knight of the North American CS:GO circuit. Unseen in the highest levels of organised pro play since the match-fixing scandal of 2015 that earned him his Valve ban, Brax continues to shine in public matches and Rank S scrims.
His performances are sometimes bittersweet, knowing that one of the youngest and most promising talents of his home region is unable to showcase that skill in the biggest events. It’s consoling to know Cloud9 still allows him to do what he seems born to do, with a steady streaming contract and support of the active roster, but Swag seems capable of so much more.
So it’s times like the non-Valve-sponsored CS_Summit tournament this weekend in a house in Los Angeles that we get excited to see one of our favorite players back in action. A chance to see Swag spread his wings outside of the gilded cage of self-streamed ESEA matches, and cut loose in the relaxed Beyond The Summit house. You might worry that missing out on ESL Cologne or DreamHack Masters or ELEAGUE might leave him unprepared for the seven other top teams he’ll face there, but we’ve seen enough in the past few months that shows Swag can still kick it with the best.
Moves like Phoon
Forget Jagger, this boy is a true speed demon. You can almost hear those first few repeated notes of Thé à la Menthe when you see Swag b-hopping off his own team-mates head, the drop punctuated by a disgusting one-tap onto Brehze. We’re hoping to see some fancy footwork as C9 go up against some stronger opponents over the next few days.
That crosshair placement
As Launders pointed out at the start of this year, Swag’s aiming is dope as hell, and the reason for it is a classic staple for players looking to improve. Not only does he keep that cross locked at head height, he gives himself just enough room on pre-aiming peeks to let his brain catch up with what he’s seeing. That way there’s no need for unpredictable flicks, though he’s not too bad on that side of things either.
Not afraid to listen to shotcallers (even when Stewie is dead-ass wrong)
Paying attention to your IGL is important for top-level team play, for start-of-round strats and also the uncanny ability they have to predict where enemy team members will be hiding. So it’s good that swag obviously respects Cloud9’s shotcaller, Stewie, enough to trust him on where the last is hiding but still staying frosty enough to land the kill when Stewie is wrong. Mistakes happen (but not for Brax).
Knows all the good bangs
Swag has obviously been studying our Cache wallbangs guide like a good student, but what’s really impressive is the time he hits this through-shot in. Earlier in the round it’s easier to predict positions, player movements and set yourself up for the VAC invocations. This is some next-level mind-reading.
He doesn’t actually need a team
No man is an army, but you’re getting pretty close to a full SEAL Team squad in Braxton Pierce. These aren’t bots, either, and a couple rounds down with just a Tec-9 in his hands isn’t enough to put Swag off the scent of success. We’re praying we get to see even a faint glimmer of this genius shining through in LA this week, but even just having the lad back in a tournament is treat enough.