Astralis took to the podium today to talk about their perfect run to the IEM Katowice 2020 semifinals, coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen’s book, and how the absence of Katowice’s crowd is a sad but smart decision from the people in charge of the event.
Astralis came into IEM Katowice after bombing out of BLAST Premier’s group B while losing to both Complexity and Natus Vincere by a combined map score of 4-1. The Danes picked it up early on, however, blasting through Katowice’s group stage without dropping a map.
After what happened at BLAST Premiere, how does it feel to come to Katowice and not drop a single map?
glaive: It feels really great. I think it’s been a long time since we went three matches in a row without losing a map. It feels good to be back in a comfortable spot for us where we are winning our opponent’s map pick.
Right now, we’re looking forward to playing the semifinal and seeing if we can do the same thing. It’s all about winning the match. It doesn’t matter if you lose a [map] or not. But of course, it’s a nice statistic.
You guys have the potential to win for the third time here at Katowice. Will it be just as special as the first two times given that you might lift the trophy in front of an empty stadium?
gla1ve: I mean, no, it won’t. Of course. The prestige is still there, but it’s not the same feeling and the same atmosphere with the crowd. So obviously, we’re really saddened by this, but it’s not in our hands and we respect the decision that was made.
You said in IEM Beijing that you don’t play Mirage. After the Mirage changes, are these going to favor Astralis?
gali1ve: Yes. [Laughs]
gla1ve: I think our Mirage is really good, but maybe we will still ban it. I’m not sure, but we will see in the future. Our focus is on Vertigo instead of Mirage.
Mirage is still our perma-ban, but it could be in the map pool in the future or after the major. We don’t know yet. We’re going to have some talks about it after this event to see where we are.
Are you guys putting more focus on Vertigo right now, even with Valve keep making changes?
Zonic: Yeah. Well, unfortunately, Valve has changed the map a couple of times, and that has meant that we will have to spend some more time on the server. But yeah, we spent a lot of time theory crafting and also looking at what other teams are doing. I think that’s that is what goes on for most of the teams.
Every time there’s a new official match between two teams that we know can play Vertigo, we often look into what they’re doing. Things change a lot and people change up stuff quite often.
So, yeah, we are. We need to spend some time looking into Vertigo and we’re doing that quite a lot actually. It’s a map that’s that we still need to work on, and I think that most teams still need to work on it. For us at, least we, have we have a pretty good idea of how we should play the game and the map.
Dev1ce, the AWP’s movement speed after shooting was nerfed this week. How do you see it impacting AWPer playstyles?
Dev1ce: We practiced with it today. I think I have to be completely honest. I think it is justified to give the AWP a nerf, but I also think that there are other guns in the game that are way better. You’ve seen it here. The SG is dominating.
I think the AWP change means that SG will be more dominant. I think there’s a lot of weapon balancing to be done, in my opinion. But I think it definitely hurts some of the AWPers that are good right now, like s1mple. He’s a close-range AWPer, it was kind of like a speed boost after you were like after you shot.
People have to play a little bit smarter and hit all their shots. Sometimes you could get rewarded for not hitting your shot and the opponent chasing you and you could hit an easier shot. Now, you’re just easy to trade.
After your performances at BLAST, what did you do to prepare for this tournament and what did it do to you mentally and perform as you have now?
Gla1ve: We thought actually that our practice for BLAST was pretty good. We won a lot of our practice matches before the tournament. But after playing it, we actually realized that maybe the practice wasn’t that good as we thought; we didn’t play as structured as we would have wanted to otherwise.
So, what we tried to change was we brought in more structure to our practice games, and I think that it helped us with this event. I think when you play unstructured and you play against really good players, really warm individual players, you get punished for it. So now that we are playing more structured. I think this is what suits us the most.
Do you think it was a blessing in disguise that you didn’t do as well as you could have at BLAST?
gla1ve: I mean, the prize pool in Madrid is pretty high [Laughs]. So maybe it was pretty good. outcome.
Do you feel more comfortable facing them in a best of three rather than a best of five?
dupreeh: Me personally, I’ve never really been a fan of the best-of-five. I think it’s way too much Counter-Strike, both as a player but also for the fans that maybe aren’t fully committed into the game.
So, I think the best of three is always my favorite thing to go to. What has always been a really strong thing about Astralis is that we’ve been really good at playing all the maps that we have in our arsenal. Playing teams in best of fives has mostly been to our advantage.
But obviously going into a best-of-three, you get to have a more focused around maps that both teams like. And luckily for us there, we also have a really good set of tactics and maps to go with it. So, I don’t really feel like it’s an issue whether we go against him in either format
zonic, you recently published a book. Do you think that there are more books and publications about esports coming?
zonic: I hope so. I think that one of the things that a lot of people just coming into esports don’t understand is that this sport has existed for quite some time. And from a national perspective in Denmark, we had a new side. Back when I was playing, [that history is] totally dead now, and that’s a lot of history and a lot of knowledge that has been lost.
So, I think it’s great for the scene and for the future that we get some of the old dogs, so to speak, who have been in the scene for quite some time to write about their story. And I hope that we’ll see more so that we get a full history of each esports and in my case, Counter-Strike.
Is there any veteran player that would like to read about?
zonic: Obviously, one of the “Golden Five” guys from Poland. Neo especially, or TaZ. I would love to hear his story as well.
So, yeah, I hope that the that that one of them will write a book. Because it’s a great story. And you don’t know much about what’s going on in the team rather than what you hear from the outside.
Will the lack of an audience here in Katowice have any effect on your play at all?
gla1ve: We would’ve loved to play in front of the crowd, but we listen to what the Astralis organization and what ESL tells us. We feel like they are in full control of the and we just focus on our game.
dev1ce: We played the group stage without any crowd. We’ve played a few tournaments together without a crowd. I know glai1e likes to play in front of a crowd. It boosts you as a player. But we also used to playing without a crowd. And I think that we’ll manage to play without one.
Are you worried about any of the semifinal teams taking the top ranking?
dev1ce: Honestly, we just care about winning the tournament, winning the games. But obviously, yes, it’s nice to be the number one spot.
So, you don’t think anyone can take your number one spot?
dev1ce: Our number one spot. No, no, no, no, no. Nobody can take it [Laughs].
I think you see really good teams, you see Liquid started to perform again now much better than they did at the end of 2019 and you see a team like Na`Vi also doing really well at BLAST Premier and doing well here.
So yeah, of course there are possibilities. But if we if we play like we have been playing at this event, I think they will have a tough time taking our number one spot.
Going back to BLAST San Paulo, many Brazilian fans feel like Astralis stole MIBR’s throne. Could that be a problem at ESL One Rio?
I think I think that we’ve already experienced the case but it is a special experience with the Brazil I don’t think it’s going to get any worse than it was in Sao Paolo because the stage was really close to the audience. Obviously, as long they don’t go out during our game so that we avoid anyone throwing stuff anything at us or yells at us.
I think it’s fine. And the crowd in Sao Paulo was great even though there were cheering for you MIBR. They were amazing and it was a great experience.
So, yeah, I hope that we’ll get to meet MIBR in a fantastic match in front of the crowd. Because we’re Danish and we come from a small country, we usually only play in front of a home crowd once or twice a year
Also, we’re used to playing against the home favorite. So ESL One Rio just going to be a lot of fun as always.