CS:GO's $500,000 ECS Season 8 Finals will be taking place this weekend. Astralis are in Group B alongside Fnatic, MIBR and Sharks, with the top two teams through to the playoffs on the main stage.
After a year that saw two more Major trophies added to the cabinet despite criticism, Astralis are once again the dominant force at the top of the Counter-Strike scene.
(Credit: Igot Bezborodov | StarLadder)
Astralis manage to bounce back to dominant form regardless of how other teams perform in the scene. What do you think makes the team so consistent and resilient?
What I think makes Astralis so resilient and the way we perform is how we function as players inside and outside of the server.
We are really good at having open talks about what we think might be an issue in the game or between the players and we are good at always listening to each other to find the same solution.
Also, knowing we are on the same page and everyone wants to work towards the same goal is something that really is helping the team perform.
Obviously when we have these periods where we don’t perform that well, we just remind ourselves of all of the results we have already created and know that it isn’t just a coincidence that the results came out of hard work together as a team.
Your success has allowed Astralis to become a huge name in esports with just one team. With so much talk about ‘organisation value’ and net worth recently, is the Astralis story the best example of using money wisely being more important than how much an org has?
I definitely feel that the way you spend your money is far more important instead of always worrying about how much money you’ll get from each contract and all that stuff.
I think it really comes down to prioritising how you spend that money and for us in Astralis, we always place importance in the team as a priority.
If there’s an issue with people having mental performance problems, we want to make sure that we have the financial support to have a sports psychologist help us work out the issues we might have as performance is what we are here for.
Speaking of money, the discussion has once again come round to Major prize pools. Does the healthy calendar make up to a lower Major prize or should it be increased next year?
It’s a bit of a yes and no question to me. From my own personal experience, I do believe that having Majors that have higher prize pools is something that is very important.
You want the Majors to be something special and obviously money isn’t everything, but I do want them to stand out a little bit more.
The format is really good so I hope that they keep it that way. I’m not looking to add a TI like they have in Dota or a Worlds in League of Legends as I think the way we have Counter-Strike is unique and I think it works pretty well.
If you add a lot of money to Majors it might put pressure on all of the other tournament organisers and that could ruin the balance at some point.
Do you think the Krieg is in a good place now or are further changes needed?
From my experience playing this last week and a half on the new update, I do believe that the change to the Kreig has done something. It makes you want to either save more money in the second round or you actually want to prioritise a different set of utility if you want to buy the Krieg.
That’s really good but at the same time I still believe that the Krieg should be increased by another $300, mainly to limit the opportunity of getting more than one Krieg in the second round.
If you just get the bomb planted you get a massive money bonus to get better weapons than the Counter-Terrorists who won the pistol round. The value of the pistol rounds has gone down immensely.
Now you also see the Galil has been dropped to $1800, you can get four Galils with armour and grenades which I also think is a little bit stupid.
The economy system in Counter-Strike right now is really messed up, in my opinion.
Sharks are in your group and they made it through the ECS and EPL process. Does having an online format like ECS bringing in lesser-known teams benefit smaller teams and the scene as a whole?
It’s great that you have ECS doing qualifications with cups that people can participate in because I think the one NiP won back in Europe saw them play in the grand finals against a team called m1x and it was great to see that.
Other teams can also have an impact on they way they qualify instead of having this closed league which is a cool idea.
Sharks, I wouldn’t say they are not known, but it is remarkable to see them here as they haven’t been at that many tournaments. You can’t really underestimate a team like that because they’re really hungry to go out and win as much as possible and prove themselves not only as a team but as individuals.
They really have something to play for, maybe more than other teams have, with great upset potential.
Speaking of not attending many tournaments, OpTic Gaming are no more. refrezh was your bold prediction for 2019 and MSL remains teamless. Do you think their best options are domestic or international lineups in the future?
I think what MSL is waiting for right now is an opportunity to get into one of the better Danish teams like Heroic or potentially even North.
At some point, one of them is going to realise they need either another in-game leader or a player like him. I don’t think he’s in a rush in any way and will probably stay domestic.
A player like refrezh is more likely to do like k0nfig did and go international to try his luck with players that are also uncontracted. I think he needs a little bit more time as he is a tier below k0nfig.
He hasn't shown himself to be a bad player at all and I don’t think that’s the reason he doesn’t have a team. He got into a team that was unestablished and quickly fell apart so that just put him in a situation where he couldn’t develop more.
At the previous ECS Finals in London, Pimp said that having Astralis so dominant over any other Danish team as well as the world can have a demoralising effect. Do you agree or do you think people get determined to take the crown?
I would hate to be in the position where you’re always the second best team in your country. Without being cocky or jinxing anything, this is how it has been for a long time and that’s how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future.
I think we’ve definitely got the best players in every role in the team and it must be really hard to be satisfied always being second place. You need to accept the fact that we have been in the scene for a really long time, playing together for so long, that we have this foundation that is just that good.
That’s just how it is and I don’t think you should just look at how you can do in your own country but look internationally.
A team like Heroic is one of them that has stepped up and has actually proven themselves to be even better than North in my opinion.
If they’re walking around with the feeling that they should try hunt us down and be the best domestically, I don’t think they should put focus on that but look into wider perspectives.