OpTic managed to pull off a 16-14 win against mousesports on Nuke during the last day of group stage play in Kiev to secure a spot in the playoffs with a 3-1 record, thus breaking a three-tournament streak of going out in groups.
In the following lengthy interview, a happy and relieved Snappi talks about OpTic beating mousesports, making playoffs, some of the issues plaguing his side, his relationship with Casper "ruggah" Due, and other topics of interest surrounding the Danish team.
You broke the curse, made it to the playoffs... When I talked to k0nfig the other day he said you really needed this, so how are you feeling?
I'm feeling amazing, to be honest. There has been a lot of pressure and a lot of doubt surrounding me and the team because after the player break we flopped three tournaments in a row. That was given by some circumstances we created for ourselves because we didn't play during the player break, which was a mistake, and we only had four practice days prior to Hong Kong. After that we've been on the road, so we made some mistakes we're paying for because we weren't really there, at those tournaments, and it was really embarrassing. It was a horrible show for the OpTic fans during that month, and now I'm just happy that we broke that curse.
I think people go overboard about how bad we were before the player break because we played at DreamHack Summer and we beat Gambit, North, and compLexity before losing the final to Imperial, which we obviously shouldn't have. We qualified easily to the Minor with three wins, then at the Minor we qualified easily as swell, beating ENCE and NIP in BO3s. Then we qualified for DreamHack Masters easily, 3-0. Prior to the player break we were actually good and I'm just hoping we can get back to that level and even better. So far, at this tournament, we've faced three top 10 teams and we beat two of them, which is a good start.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles to getting back in form and finding your game?
As a caller it's really great to have someone with great communication and no ego that can play whatever spots he gets handed, and I think we didn't have that. While gade had that role, he wasn't that kind of player. I've said this multiple times, I said it when North acquired niko and then when we got him, and I said back in Heroic, niko is the best player I've played with apart from k0nfig. He is insanely underrated and I think getting him back improved my game a lot because it takes pressure off of my shoulders. He is so good communicating and helps so much to be confident in my leadership. Having him back is just a blessing and I can't state how important it is for me.
Run me through the preparation for mousesports. You got the hardest draw you could have gotten, but you managed to pull it off in a tight match. Tell me about the veto, going into Nuke, and if you believed that was your best chance to win.
ruggah and I were 90% sure it would be Nuke. The only other map it could have come down to, if they wanted to play it, would have been Mirage, but we won five or six matches in a row on it and some of them quite confidently. We beat the likes of FaZe and North, and they have played very well on Nuke. They beat G2 and won it here at this tournament already, so we were almost certain that it was going to come down to Nuke.
Their CT side pretty much looks like ours. They play the same style, with the same rotations. Their T-side is different, but we were prepared for what they had. I actually think we should have won by more, but we had a lot of communication issues. We didn't communicate well enough when they were out in yard and going down under and in ramp, which put us in some awkward situations in which we didn't have control of back vent. That's really important, because as soon as the Ts have that you can't do fast rotations anymore.
I think we made some mistakes, and then we made a few mistakes on the T side, so I think the margins could have actually been bigger. We lost against a full eco, one of those rounds where the communication was off, and we lost the round in which niko didn't get that last millisecond defuse. We were prepared and we were happy to end up on Nuke, it has always been a map I'm confident to play.
You said you and ruggah prepared, but in the previous interview I did, with k0nfig, he said you guys don't always see eye to eye and has caused a bit of trouble for the team to find its game. Can you go a bit deeper into that?
It's because I came from Heroic, where we had a style we had been building for two years, and he came from North, where they had a style which they had been building for two years, so we were trying to merge it and it takes time. It's like two teams coming together, so, for example, people will have different names for spots on maps, people will have different variations of certain strats, or different ideas on what the correct default to play is, stuff like that. That's where we have to meet, and it's definitely getting better.
I don't think it's an issue, though, because both ruggah and I are pretty easy going. It's not like we argue, we just discuss things, and while sometimes we don't agree, it has never been big arguments. We have different visions and if we weren't easy going and agreeable it could cause some issues, but we have a really good relationship and that's why I'm confident we'll succeed.
I covered playing MDL and so on with k0nfig, but having the whole team back home, has that maybe helped the team mentally?
Well, I was only in NA for like one month, but we've been a team for like five months now, and this may sound like an excuse or whatever, but a big part of it has been the player break and being one month in America where we didn't have teams to practice. Basically, we've had like three good months together, but most of that has been at events. We spent time on the road going to Hong Kong, Stockholm, and then the Major, so we haven't really had that much time to build our style properly. Five months into the team that's pretty embarrassing, but we prioritized poorly. We learned we need to prioritize practice over events. We can go to events, but if we aren't going to play at the level we can then it's not really worth it, so we have to be better at prioritizing when we're actually ready to go events.
It's hard as an up and coming team, though, because we don't get invites. The Hong Kong event we accepted, we accepted before knowing we would qualify for DreamHack Masters and the Major, and when you don't have any events then you'll accept invites. So we accepted it, qualified for other events, and then we didn't want to go back on it because it would be short notice. In hindsight, we should have been the bad guys and canceled. We talked about it and agreed we couldn't do it on such short notice, but other teams do that. We didn't want to be selfish, but we should have been.
Is that a discussion you've had? That you're going to take some time to practice, develop your play, and maybe go about it the Astralis way?
Well, we can't do it the Astralis way. We don't have that luxury because we don't get invited to events, we have to play the online qualifiers and go through everything. We won't be able to get to the top until we start getting into that invite cycle, and that's where we're trying to get now. When we get into it, we'll start prioritizing even more. Now we just have to go to events where there are [ranking] points to gather, so to speak.
It's not worth it to go to an event if there are no top 10 teams, and that's what we want to do. We want to become a stable top 10 team in the world because we want to get those invites, but you're not going to get into the top 10 that by getting to DreamHack Opens without top 10 teams since that will just grant you 50 points if you win and if you lose everyone is going to shit talk you, right?
What we've seen in 2018 is that all of the up and coming teams are way better than what people make them out to be. Being in that 15-30 group in the ranking is not as easy as it was two years ago when I came up in Heroic. Back then there were like 2-3 teams in that group that could really beat you and now there are like 20 teams that can. You can see it at events like this with ENCE beating mouz...
And Fragsters showing up...
Yeah, exactly, it's not as easy as it used to be and not all of the experts and analysts are really noticing that it is not as easy as it used to be.
To close it out. You're through to the playoffs, you have a day to prepare. What's the outlook into the playoffs?
We won now, but we still have an ECS game tonight against G2, so we're not done for the day. We're going to go and watch some demos for tonight and hopefully we can go 2-0 and make this a really good day! That's really what today was all about. Tomorrow will be all about practice. If we know who our opponent is tonight then we're going to practice the maps we expect to play in the BO3 and prepare tomorrow.
I won't get ahead of myself, just getting into the playoffs was an accomplishment for us. This team has to be a team that can battle for tournaments, especially at a tournament like this in which the top three teams aren't present, so we do want to win the trophy, but we have to go a match at a time.