zonic: "I don't know if it's the player break that has done something to us; people feel a bit off"
After Astralis came back from a map deficit against TYLOO to advance to the playoffs from second place in Group A, we grabbed coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen for an interview about the team's rocky start at DreamHack Masters Stockholm.
After defeating Grayhound on day one, Astralis took on North in the winners' match and fell to the deciding match after a close series, which saw their Danish rivals close it out in overtime on the third map, Mirage.
On day three, Astralis got off to a slow start and lost Mirage once more to TYLOO following a poor half on the CT side, but they shrugged it off and secured Overpass and Dust2 in a convincing manner, advancing to the quarter-finals.
Let's get right into the matches here, starting against North - on Nuke, the first map, you seemed to have everything in your hands once you took a timeout at 4-7 on the T side, what kind of adjustments did you make?
If I remember correctly about the timeouts, all the timeouts yesterday against North, it wasn't as tactical as they used to be, it was more that I could feel that the team was a bit off. And often I called a timeout and let the players talk to see what kinds of ideas they come up with, and if I feel that it's great then I'll be quiet and I'll let them solve it because I also think that's important. Most of the timeouts were about the mental status of the team and how to solve that.
But yesterday was a bit difficult against North because I could feel everyone was just off. People got back from the break and we met a North who was playing a lot better than they used to and it's a huge rivalry, so these games are not as comfortable as others.
I talked to MSL yesterday and he said he was trying to antistrat you a lot on Nuke and we could see parts of that on Inferno and Mirage. Was that something that you felt throughout the game, especially when trying to get going into the CT sides?
To be honest, not to sound cocky or anything, it feels like North has gotten a lot of inspiration from us, especially with the utility usage and stuff like that. I guess you have to just pat your own backs and be proud of it because that means that people are looking up to you. And they have done an amazing job of copying some of our good stuff. I know how they work as a team because I know three of them very well, so I know they have similar approaches to the game as we do.
They played a really good game and it was clear that they knew a lot more about us than we knew about them, they have probably been watching some of our previous tournaments throughout the year while they've been struggling a bit, so we haven't focused on them up until now. But we got a lot smarter and I would love to meet them again.
You were talking about the players feeling off yesterday, is that what happened today against TYLOO on Mirage, as well?
Yeah, I don't know if it's the player break that has done something to us. People just feel a bit off teamplay-wise, the communication is a bit off. I'm not too worried about it, the way that we work as a team and now we have these meetings both before and after the game, I'm feeling confident and I think that, after the CT Mirage, we played like we used to.
It doesn't really come down to the individual level, I think it's more about communication and how we work as a team, we rely a lot on each other to take initiative and communicate well, and we haven't done that besides the game against Grayhound and from the T side of Mirage here.
It generally looked like you had issues with their pushes through smokes, they caught you off-guard several times, is that something you fixed after the first map?
When I looked at them, I was like 'what the hell are they doing?' They're using their smokes on Mirage instantly, for example, smoking up A halls and slope from the beginning and they're playing quite oddly. And when you look at it from an overview, or from my perspective when I prepare against them, I wouldn't say it looks stupid, but it looks very different from what we are used to and what we are playing against.
But as soon as you go in-game, it becomes a different game, and, in my opinion, they have really good individual players who can step up. It was weird playing them because you don't know what they're doing and what they're doing is not necessarily the logical way of playing Counter-Strike, but that can also surprise you and hence the smoke pushes and stuff like that.
So has the second and third map, Overpass and Dust2, where you seemed more than comfortable, reassured you going into the playoffs? Are you feeling more confident?
I definitely think it was great to come back and play as we did before the break. It would have been difficult for us to finish off the group stage with us struggling on the third map, for example, against TYLOO, so it was really nice to see that Overpass went smoothly and Dust2 in particular also went really well for us.
So now we're just going to go back, I think we're going to look at Mirage because I'm a bit surprised that we have been struggling so much against both North and TYLOO now, so we're going to back to the hotel, look through Mirage, see both games and then get a conclusion from there.
The playoffs bracket could turn out quite challenging, with FaZe and MIBR clinching first places in their groups and you as well as potentially Na`Vi placing second, what do you think about that scenario and your potential opponents in the playoffs?
Let's say we finished first in the group stage, we could have probably faced Na`Vi who will most likely finish second, and then now we're second and we can go against FaZe, so it's po-tay-to, po-tah-to, we don't care who we meet when it comes to these two teams, they are some of the best of the best. We are just looking at ourselves and we don't think about our opponent. For me, it's just important that we play our own game and then, hopefully, that will take us all the way.