Team Vitality captain Dan “apEX” Madesclaire opens up on the evolving Counter-Strike meta after a deep run at IEM Katowice 2023.
Vitality is officially out of IEM Katowice in fifth place, outranking 19 other teams and earning $40,000 in prize money. The strong showing was full of ups and downs, with a heartbreaker game one against Team Liquid ultimately ending things early. WIN.gg was lucky to sit down with Vitality in-game leader apEX to talk about the run, his history in Poland, and the start of his 16-year career in esports.
apEX interview after Vitality places 5th at Katowice
WIN.gg: Vitality performed better this year at Katowice than in 2022, where your squad placed 9th. What aspects of the game did you improve in the past year?
apEX: We put a lot of focus at the beginning of the year to get much better because, obviously, last year wasn’t pretty. We tried to be as focused as possible here, so we tried to work on our weaknesses on our CT side mostly, and it paid off. Unfortunately, the T side didn’t work out this tournament.
Will you have nightmares about Overpass after last night?
Yeah, Overpass was a big mess. That’s the most frustrating part today, to see that we were about to win a clean 2-0, but we really fucked up on Overpass. But right now, what can we do? It was in the past, and we cannot do shit, but I can tell you it’s really frustrating.
You’re known for being one of the most expressive players in CSGO esports. Do you enjoy playing the mental game with opponents on LAN?
I have two parts of myself, the good one and the bad one. The good one is when I’m really cheerful for my teammates, and I’m a good captain. But also emotions can go in a bad way, and that’s something I’m willing to erase. I think I’m getting better, but obviously, there is always some room to improve. But yeah, I think that can be a good thing when I’m in the zone.
This is your first time playing at the Spodek Arena in nine years. Did the stadium bring back any old memories?
I will be honest, yesterday, I was really, really focused, maybe the most focused I’ve been in my career. So I didn’t see myself as being in an arena. I was fully focused on the play we did.
So how much of the game is talent, practice, and game sense if you could split those three traits into percentages?
Nowadays, I think CS is a lot about the small mistakes you make in the game and also the mental parts. I think both of them are really important because all of the team is really close to each other right now. I think it’s all about being ready for the big team moments.
How do you feel about Anubis now that you’ve had some time to explore the map?
We’ve only played it once, I think now we play better on it. We didn’t play it at this tournament, but it’s still a new map so I think we’ll do some (map pools) changes again soon. We just need to adapt whenever you have updates. But I think the map is quite nice, we just need more time. And it needs more time to be one of the really good maps in the map pool.
Any thoughts on the current split between M4A4 and M4A1-S?
I think it’s good having both the A4 and the silencer. Nowadays, people are taking, I feel like, less duels. They play a bit more smart and I feel CS is back to something really good. I love the meta right now.
Do you play any other games outside of CSGO?
Normally not, but I am a big fan of Harry Potter, so Hogwarts Legacy is going to start it for me. But we have tournaments to prepare for, and I’m usually not a player of other games. So just a bit and a lot of CS, of course.
How did you start playing CSGO?
I was CS Source, I started in 2007. I started in an internet cafe. That was a long time, that was 16 years ago. I’ve played CS for 16 years now, and I was already a professional in Source. So that was a normal step for me to go on in CSGO.
What was the moment when you thought that CSGO might be what you do for a living?
I was professional since 2010, 2011, but back then, we didn’t win much money. That was not a lot of money. But in 2014, I was still in school, and I felt that CS was growing and that money was coming, so I told my mom, “Okay, I’m going to try to play CS for a living now. I love the game, and I think it’s time. And I’ve done it, and here I am.