We sat down with Patrick "es3tag" Hansen to ask him about Heroic's issues with lineup stability and their most recent roster change, as well as how his own role within the team has changed over the last few months.
Heroic have been plagued with roster issues over the last few months, as Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel was unable to play with the team due to an eye infection and ended up being replaced on a permanent basis by Asger "AcilioN" Larsen earlier in July.
We got the chance to sit down with es3tag following Heroic's win over AGO at DreamHack Open Valencia, and asked him about the roster change and how the dynamic of the squad has shifted over the last few months while the lineup kept being adjusted.
Let's start with AcilioN, the change coming into the event. You've been playing a few weeks with him. What was it you were looking for changing RUBINO and bringing him on?
Well we weren't really looking for change, it was more about Ruben not being able to play due to his eye injury. It had been going on for a while, and we really just needed something stable, so I think that was a big factor. He had some issues even after he came back and he thought it was gone, he still had some issues with it and he didn't tell us until after we lost in Shanghai [at the Asia CS:GO Championships 2018].
It was just about time, I think, that we got something stable. I've played with AcilioN, and he has picked up the in-game leader role since then. I had been leading as well as AWPing, which meant that every time I went for a peek somewhere it was really hard to keep control, to organize everything as a new in-game leader. It was just kind of taking a burden off of me and letting me focus on AWPing, which is already something that is new to me because I've been rifling for like two years straight, so...
Now you have a new in-game leader, but there's also the MODDII being a player-coach thing. Can you give some insight into how that works?
I'm not sure what the MODDII coach thing is. It's more that we as players get more power, because usually, what we've done in the past, like when peacemaker was here, he controlled who was on the team and who wasn't, so I think the idea was that MODDII being the coach would give more power to the players, in a sense.
Then he's just the one who organizes praccs and sets us straight, making sure we're on time and so on. I think that's the coaching role, it's not so much that he takes us and tells us "oh, you need to do this or that better."
Has that worked out, do the players now have more power, or?
I think it has divided us more because none of us really see him as a coach. We respect him, but it's hard to play with a guy and be scared to say stuff because he's your coach, so I think we just all act as if we're players. In a sense I think it's dividing us, because MODDII is doing work besides just being a player, and we're only looking at him as being a player, so he might feel unappreciated in a sense, right?
Talking about this division, with the roster instability, changing players back-and-forth... can you go a bit deeper into what the atmosphere in the team is actually like?
All the roster changes left us feeling fatigued. I can't remember when I last had a vacation, ever since I joined Heroic it has been hard work, and we've had mixed results. It has been hard for me personally as well, coming from being a star on my previous team to taking all the support roles and not feeling part of the team. As time went on I did start to feel like part of the team, but then all of a sudden I got benched, so there's been a lot of feelings involved, a lot of mental stuff... then add the roster changes and it makes it really hard to make a connection...
To create chemistry?
Yeah, chemistry, yeah! It was really hard for us to create chemistry. It was always one problem after another, so it's really been a roller coaster of mostly downs and I think we're really looking forward to having a vacation I think. All of us.
We need some time apart so we can regain the love for the game individually and come back as a team. Our plan is to have a vacation, ponder over things, and then come back and then really just go with Heroic 4.0 or whatever, right? It's time to put our heads together and actually make something of this team. To give it a real go.
Do you think you can find that stability with this roster after taking some time off? Do you think it's something you can actually achieve?
That's the thing, we haven't really tried, so we couldn't really know. i think it comes from the fatigue. This period has been so exhausting, so we're just going to have to see when we come back and we create tactics together and sit on a server together and actually enjoy the game together. I think chemistry will come, and that's what we need on the team. We need to be more on the same page.
You were talking about the AWP being something new for you, something you're still getting into. How impactful was JUGi leaving, because at times Heroic really relied on how he played with the AWP. How has the team reacted since he left?
I think JUGi is one of the best players I ever played with, no doubt, but I also think that when he left it didn't have that much of an impact. More people felt like they could be a star when he left, also. When I came back into the team we played a month without him and had fine results. It was going perfectly.
JUGi is a really, really great player, and he has a lot of strengths, but I think he also requires a lot of support. As you see in OpTic right now, he hasn't been the star he was with us, and I think that's because players like gade want to be the star, and k0nfig, who is just naturally gifted... yeah, there's more hustle about the #1 spot whereas in Heroic he was the undisputed #1, right?
To close it off, you talked about being tired and the strife to create the new team and so on, and wanting to get the season over with. What does this tournament mean for the team?
I mean we always want to win, of course, there are always a lot of expectations from the outside, but really, from our perspective, we're just going to give it our best individually and see where it takes us. We're here to have fun but still do our job. There's really no expectation, but we're still going to play our hearts out, that's just how we're wired, we hate losing.