We interviewed Emil "Magisk" Rief after his team's victory over the highest ranked team in the world, FaZe, about myriad topics, from his progression with Astralis to their run in Marseille.
The Danes of Astralis, who have been showing great form online, have followed it up in France making it out first in their group after victories over Space Soldiers and Liquid, and beating FaZe 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
In this fairly long interview, Emil "Magisk" Reif goes over his adaptation to Astralis, the team's good run of form, and some key points of the matches against Liquid and FaZe, including the knife attempt from Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen on Finn "karrigan" Andersen in their quarterfinal bout on Nuke.
Tell me a bit about the team's preparation coming into the tournament.
We have been trying to work on our map pool a lot so we can play all maps, especially because we knew that we were going to be playing Cache against some teams as we saw yesterday. We were quite confident Liquid were going to leave it open because of how we played the last matches against them. We played Nuke and we knew they were going to veto that because we destroyed them on it. We've been working on some of the maps we didn't feel 100% on and we focused on them and of course to try and make some new stuff on the older maps as well but mainly focusing on the "weird" maps, if you can say that.
How about before traveling here, did you bootcamp or just play from home. What was the atmosphere like?
We practiced a lot, and we had a lot of officials as well, but we did have a bootcamp like two weeks before, around the Sydney qualifier if I remember correctly. We had a bootcamp for one week and we practiced a lot and played a lot of officials so it was a good mix because we could test out the stuff and then we could also fix mistakes. It was very helpful for this event.
You have been showing really great form online, I think everybody is in agreeance that you have been one of the strongest teams. How did you get to that level?
I think it was just that since the beginning, when I came into the team, we didn't focus on being as ready as possible for the first two tournaments. We just wanted to make sure I was implemented into the roles and the strats, slowly building it up, and I think that worked really well for us because we took it slowly. We started with basic CS and could slowly add more strats to every map, which made it pretty easy for me to get into the team because I didn't really have to get set into everything from the beginning. That was pretty nice for me because then I could get the feeling of the basics with the team, and I got to know the teammates.
Everybody has been in the grind mode, even individually, after practice people play a lot of FPL and stuff like that and really motivated, and there's a great attitude when it comes to talking about mistakes. It's not like someone is mad at someone else for making a mistake. We have great team conversations and we talk about everything, and we have goals for every practice that we want to focus on and try and implement into our game, and I think that kind of training and practice has been really good for us.
Your adaptation, in-game, you just described it very well. How about coming into it as a teammate, how has that gone?
As I said it has been quite easy for me to get into the team, because we just built everything up from the basics and the more we got to know each other it allowed me to also start making more individual plays as well because I know how my teammates react in certain situations and that's just something you have to build up with time. That has been going really well for us, like the team chemistry has been really good for me and I feel reliable and in every strat I know what everyone is doing, and if I do something I know someone will be right with me to trade me if I go first, so that's just a good confidence boost and I think that's how everyone is feeling right now.
When you went into Mirage agianst Liquid, you had a good first half, but you struggled on the CT side, losing the first gun round, getting reset after winning a round, and then the match just got away with a tight last round...
I mean we didn't play that well individually, I think we could have played better, and if we had played better individually we could have won a lot more rounds, but I think the main reason we lost Mirage was mostly because of the clutches. We had a 1vs2 on the B site that we lost to NAF and then we had a 2vs2 we lost, and the last round a 2vs5. Just by communication and overextending. If we would have won some of those clutches I think it would have been the other way aaround because we would have had the money control and it would have been looking a bit different but to be fair they played really well, so props to them for playing really well. That's something we have to go back and look at and see how we can improve on that. We definitely have a few things we talked about after the game that we have to change.
It looks like everyone is able to show up at different moments in the team now, carrying their own weight, and gla1ve is a good fragger for an in-game leader as well, how does that work out?
I think it comes down to the fact that everyone is very confident right now and the roles are perfect in the sense that everyone is playing the role they like and what they're experienced with. Especially dupreeh, who is happy to be back playing his old role. For me, I'm playing pretty much the same I've always played, and that's really nice. I think that's the reason everyone has their moments, of course some have more moments than others, but that's that's just the way it works in any team.
That and everyone playing a lot individually right now. Everyone is very motivated to play a lot of CS outside of practice. That helps in the pressure situations, feeling good individually, and I think that's also why gla1ve can also frag sometimes because he has four good players and doesn't have to rely on one or two players and he can trust anyone. He doesn't have to go first in every situation to entry or anything, so he can just sit back, call his game, do his thing, and everyone else is stepping up as well.
It's a pretty wild time in CS now, with some instability at the top and a lot of changes at the top. Even you guys had a change a bit back and you've adapted pretty quickly. Do you think you guys are capitalizing on that instability?
Yeah, it's good for us that a lot of the teams are changing players, especially because I came into the team months ago so we've had time to prepare and focus on tournaments, so that's nice, but I think we've done a lot of practice and focused on how we want to improve as a team all of the time. We set goals for practice, all the things we want to test, or new strats we want to implement or flashbangs, or whatever. I think we've been very dedicated and not just trolling around, which can happen sometimes. It's easy to overpeak or do stuff in clutches you wouldn't do on LAN and we've been kind of focused on not doing that and training all of the time. I think that helped us, especially as a team, against FaZe today. They can sometimes be very tough, but we played very disciplined and we just played our own game.
Yeah, let's go into the FaZe match. When you saw the draw last night, what was the first thing to cross your mind? What was your first impression?
FaZe is a very good team, they have so many good players... GuardiaN, NiKo, rain, all top players in the world right now, so of course it's never fun to play against them because if they just get into that insane mode that we know they can get into it's very tough to win against them. Even if they don't play the best CS, in my opinion, they are just so good individually that they can win any round almost any time. It was one of the tougher draws we had, but also olofmeister is taking some time off, which kind of helped because they have to put Xizt into a lot of new stuff. Not that he's not a good player, but Olof is just one of the best players in the world.
We've been very prepared for this tournament, and especially for FaZe as well, because the last time we played them in Katowice we had to play Cache against them, which is fine, but their Cache is probably one of the best in the world so we decided to practice Cobble. We've been practicing it a lot for this tournamnet...
Which is what karrigan was tweeting...
Yeah, exactly. So we knew if we practiced Cobble they didn't have time to do it so it was kind of a surprise even though karrigan was spying on us on Steam, so he knew we were practicing it. They had a new player, though, so so they didn't really have time to practice that map and that helped our veto as well. We didn't have to play Cache and if they wanted to we could have played Cobble against them. That was something we focused on before this tournament, making sure we had a better map pool against FaZe, especially because we struggled against them before.
Once you got into the server and started playing, did you think you were going to be so dominant? I mean, you went through the Mirage losing both pistol rounds and still won 16-11. Did you see yourselves powering their pick so well?
Against FaZe it's very tough. They're very good with pistols in general, they have so many good pistol players and we knew it was going to be tough on those rounds, but we had a very good preparation, especially on the maps because we kind of already knew what it was going to be before the veto started, so we kind of went in-depth with those maps and kind of anti-stratted them. We knew they were kind of weak on the B site, especially compared to their A site and we kind of abused that at the beginning which kind of paid off.
It's never easy to get momentum against FaZe because at some point NiKo is going to do a highlight or rain is going to do a highlight, and then they have GuardiaN who is really good on Mirage in general with the AWP on CT side. I think they had a bit of an off day today, and we also played very well, but we didn't feel those star players playing like they normally do. That's just CS sometimes, you can have a bad day as a team and sadly for them that was today, although lucky for us!
Moving on to Nuke, which you guys have been playing quite well. Did you expect to run off with it after such a back-and-forth start or did you expect a bit more from them?
I think on our CT-side on Nuke, we had a good idea of how they were going to play on T-side, but as you said it was kind of like a mess in the beginning for both teams. I think we were just lucky, if you can say that, to win the money control which gave us the momentum to get 10 rounds. Other than that, if they had won that momentum, it could have been 10-5 for them so it could have gone both days had they gotten that money control. On our T-side I think we had a good read on how they were going to play CT and I'm quite confident that no matter what we would have won Nuke because it's one of our best maps. We've practiced on Nuke against them and we didn't completely destroy them but they didn't play as well as expected them to with this new lineup. They're still good on Nuke but I think they rely a bit too much on their star players to make plays on it.
The round before last, when dupreeh was behind karrigan, when karrigan turned around what was the feeling in the booth like? You guys seemed to laugh, zonic was having some sort of attack, were there any funny comms or something?
I think everyone, when we saw karrigan with his back turned, said "knife him, knife him!" So even though everyone was like "noooooo" even I myself was just laughing. We were all making fun of it and we just said "we're going to win this anyway, so don't worry about it." It was us telling him to knife him, so he shouldn't feel bad about it, it was just the team trying to have some fun. device also said before the game that if we were up 14-0 on the CT side that he would buy autosniper and just rush outside with it, so we had some plans even before the match if things were going very well. I think that situation is just something you have to laugh at and make fun of. There's no reason to tilt, especially if you're so far in the lead. Everyone was like "woaaaaah," though, because karrigan was so fast to react to the crowd.
Last question, looking forward to tomorrow, would you rather face NiP or fnatic in the semis?
I mean, I think both teams can be tought to play against. I think I would prefer NiP, but it's tough to say. fnatic right now are in good form, they won two tournaments this year and have a lot of experience. They'll always perform in this kind of semifinal so I think I would prefer NiP, but I also think it's because our map pool is really good against them.