Play Hard, Make History

Table of Content

  1. "I just want to win" [video]
  2. Introduction
  3. Career [video]
  4. /whois Thorin
  5. 5 Years of Thorin [video]
  6. 163 minutes with Thorin [video]
  7. Top10: Thorin's best work
  8. Top10(ish): content recommended by Thorin
  9. Historical Historian (2001)
  10. Historical interview with 17 year old HeatoN (2001)
  11. Best of Thorin [playlist]


"I just want to win"

VoiceOver by Thorin, edited by Rom.



In Soviet Esports, Orange Pwns You.

Duncan 'Thorin' Shields is a British historian, journalist, writer, analyst, host and YouTuber. Known as "The Esports Historian", a name that today refers both to his photographic memory and ability to recall minute details, as well as to his extensive time served in esports.

Thorin is recognized across the industry for extensive domain expertise in Quake, StarCraft, Salt, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, Banter and Overwatch and for a body of work that spans all the way back to 2001.

He has seen every major CS:GO match ever played and remembers them. He "knows more about Counter-Strike than any other person who's ever lived" according to himself.

The alias Thorin originates from The Hobbit.

According to Wikipedia: "Thorin was smart, proud, brave, and vengeful. He was infamous for a high sense of his importance and rank. He shared the greed of his family, though he valued the welfare of others above his wealth".

That's not the worst description of Thorin I've ever heard, just saying.



  • 2001-2002 Pro-cybernews (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2001-2002 XSReality (Site administrator)
  • 2002-2003 (Lead Editor)
  • 2003-2004 Team3D (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2004-2005 ESportsEA (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2006-2008 ESportsEA (Editor, Community feature host)
  • 2008-2009 (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2009-2012 SK Gaming (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2012-2013 Team Acer (Editor-in-Chief)
  • 2012-2013 fragbite (Blogger)
  • 2013-2014 onGamers (Senior eSports Content Creator)
  • 2015-2019 Free, analyst, writer, personality

Creator of

Thorin won Journalist of the Year awards in 2012, 2013 and 2017.
2017 boss level acceptance speech.


/whois Thorin

If there was a Roger Ebert of esports, the only name on the candidate list would be Thorin. And if there was a Sheldon Cooper of esports, Thorin would probably own that title as well.

If there was a whale biologist of espor..... Cough.


Thorin's observations and opinions have famously caused public conflicts with community personalities, players and fans a like. Meanwhile his work is so revered that even his most vocal critics sign on for his longform interviews, leading to many of the best and most memorable interviews in esports.

In fact some of the loudest adversaries, later gave some of the best interviews of their career.

As a content creator and "player in the meta of esports" that may be Thorin's Ultimate ability. His [R] command. Whenever some public conflict finds resolution, the abundance of awareness makes sharing straightforward and oddly safe. Low mana-cost, medium cooldown timer.

Also: I am really not 10% sure what "player in the meta of esports" means. But now it's there, I wrote it, it's a thing now. Most people won't ever really read this far down the page. Unless I get crushed in a terrible car accident tomorrow, and this randomly will be the last thing I ever created in the world, then maybe..

Anyway, Thorin:

Few content creators approach truth telling as uncompromisingly as Thorin, which may be one of the most fascinating aspects of his work.

Another equally fascinating aspect of Thorin's work, is the confidence which it is delivered with. Often mistaken for stubborn arrogance on social media, I know from working with Thorin that's it's much more. It's pride. Specifically, pride in the quality of his work. That's hard to identify for most people, if nothing else because most people have never held jobs close to their passion. Or to their personal sense of pride.

Thorin isn't most people.


And while most people have an opinion about Thorin, fact is that most people don't know him. At all.

As one of the most public figures in the community, he is also one of the most private.


Originally known for extensive lengthy historical features and longform video interviews, in 2014 Thorin started the show Summoning Insight with co-host Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles.

The show exposed Thorin's unique flavor of saltiness to the League of Legends fanbase, causing riots in the otherwise so sterile and publisher controlled League of Legends-community.

Summoning Insight quickly became the most successful stream show of it's time.

As esports culture went mainstream in 2014, Thorin was one of the first content creators in esports that embraced YouTube. At the time of writing this feature, his YouTube channel surpassed 65 million lifetime video views.

An astonishing number in its own right, an unimaginable number just 10 years ago. Thorin's channel has more video views than Intel Extreme Masters, a lot more actually.

His channel is supported by 292 Patreons.

This timelapse shows just how much content that is. 

Thorin has always been notorious for high levels of productivity, which doesn't seem to be slowing down as he is getting older. He has published more than 1,200 videos in just five years.


If there's a content creator that embodies the win conditions in esports; dedication, practice, headshots, craftsmanship, showmanship and that thing about the smartest guy winning.. It's Duncan 'Thorin' Shields.

I sat down with Thorin, for our first conversation since working together at in 2014. The result is 163 minutes of intellectual smartypantsness, covering everything wrong with esports, from Social Justice to the Overwatch League. From Poland to Slasher.



163 minutes (!) with Thorin

01:30 Predicting esports going mainstream...
08:35 Current innovation in strategy, meta and elite play
14:00 The most undervalued esports company in history is ..... [spoiler alert]
29:45 Living the dream as an independent content creator
38:00 GameSpot vs onGamers, the dying past fighting the future
46:20 Thorin as the most difficult employee I ever had..
49:15 Slasher said to RL.............. [insert drama]
51:05 Reddit's gassy green definition of "Vote Manipulation"
59:43 Know more about Counter-Strike: Global Offensive than anyone alive
01:20:35 New age professionalism among the newly pro
01:25:00 Becoming anti-fragile and winning the brand battle
01:30:40 Trying to make people laugh >>>>> being politically correct
01:35:00 Making sense of fake outrage mobs, finding the scapegoat
01:39:23 A martial artist approach to clicking ass
01:44:25 Serving your audience and your sponsors, without selling either out
01:50:00 The saddest thing about Counter-Strike and its future... (very sad)
01:54:05 Franchsing vs Open Circuit (enjoy open while it lasts)
01:58:33 The tipping point for esports: Worlds at Staples Center in 2013
01:59:00 The Church of Riot and the unholy exploitation of talent
02:06:20 Overwatch League and the $20 million dollar lottery
02:14:35 Mark Cuban evaluated esports and teams, left the server
02:21:12 A first in human competition: the smartest guy wins



I asked Thorin to list the best content he has done. And then he did just that.

Top10: Thorin's best work

  1. Froggen – Control: The story of how a Danish boy’s philosophy of control changed the Mid lane [LoL]
  2. Thorin's Take: The Superlative s1mple [CS:GO]
  3. Reflections with "The Tyrant" Jaedong [BW/SC2]
  4. The Greatest player of all time: part 2 - NEO vs. f0rest [CS:GO/CS1.6]
  5. Esports Mount Rushmore: rapha (Quake Duellers) [Q3]
  6. The Thorin Treatment: The Wonderchild Just Wills [CS:GO]
  7. Stork's silver path of courage [BW/SC2]
  8. XeqtR: "[element] knew exactly what to do" [CS1.6]
  9. Competitive CS - evolution or devolution? [CS1.6]
  10. Thorin's Thoughts - Land of Broken Boys [esports]


  1. God of the Battlefield: Part 1 by Ver (2011)
  2. The Great Uzi vs NaMei Debate by Kelsey Moser (2015)
  3. Greatest Players of All Time: Part 3 by stuchiu (2015)
  4. Boxing With God by Fionn (2015)
  5. Froggen's Faux Pas: Mastering the Elements by Veteran (2015)
  6. A legacy deferred: The story of Nukeduck by Kelsey Moser (2017)
  7. I Loved Victory (Part One) by Plexa (2008)
  8. The case against narrative analysis by Sam W. Delorme
  9. Ninja Might Very Well Be The Face of Gaming But He Is Not The Face Of Esports by Richard Lewis (2018)
  10. Commentators: Spare Me Your Morality by Richard Lewis (2018)
  11. I loved victory by Plexa (2008)
  12. The Curious Case of soO's Macro Mechanics by stuchiu (2015)



Historical Historian (2001)

What did the world look like in 2001 as Thorin started his career? Answer: very different. The mention of a ball mouse is solid starting point.

//// // / Historical relic for the Historian



Historical interview with 17 year old HeatoN (2001)

A little timeless cyberstalking helped me uncover this interview, written less than a month into Thorin's esports career.

Two living legends, already.

[Interview with NiP-HeatoN-] 26 jul 2001 in 21:24 - Thorin

The world's most famous counter-strike player talks to me about the pressure of competition, the cpl and his favourite cs player.

(Thorin) Briefly introduce yourself for those who don't know you (name, age, location, cs history)

(NiP-HeatoN-) Emil, 17, Stockholm Sweden, Played cs since 5.2 ^^

(Thorin) The number of believers in the so-called "pro-gamimg" dream seems to be dwindling, with q3 only really fatality managed to forge a career and even that seems to have come to an end with the cpl directing themselves to cs. Can counter-strike be "the" game that does it all: makes pro-gamimg possible, fashionable and maintainable?

(NiP-HeatoN-) It maybe it... i dont know, but u can earn alot of money in cs :P

(Thorin) But for how long? For all you know when doom 3 comes out you might be back playing games where there are no $30,000's at the end of them?

(NiP-HeatoN-) I'm just playing for fun, but its good thing that u can earn some cash by having fun, but as long as i'm having fun i'm happy :P

(Thorin) For pro-gaming to go "big" it would seem that major sponsors, particularily those of a non-gamimg variety will need to get interested, i am talking coca-cola, mcdonalds, ford. Do you see this happening within the life-span of counter-strike or will it be another game which pushes the boundaries?

(NiP-HeatoN-) Well i dont think counter strike clans will get any major sponsors like that, but there are more and more sponsors getting involved in cs, but in counter strike 2 that will probably be possible to go and get a huge sponsor like that.

(Thorin) So what do you think is holding the game back form being far as i know no-one ANYWHERE has televised counter-strike matches. Do you think the game is too complex, violent or maybe even boring?

(NiP-HeatoN-) i think there are tou many fags working on the tv stations , who don't have balls enough to test new things, it's a fact that lots of people play counter-strike, and more people would be happy if they showed counter-strike games instead of any fucking culture program :P

(Thorin) lol

(NiP-HeatoN-) =))



Best of Thorin-playlist

Brutal. Savage. Rekt. 


/whois Thorin [xplayned]

Image Credits

I did a Google Image search for Duncan Shields, someone else took all the great pictures of him and I am just showing off their work. If that's a problem to you, please get in touch.