device: "There have been a lot of great teams, we're just grateful to be considered one of them"
Nicolai "device" Reedtz has hit double digits in his MVP medal count after Astralis won IEM Chicago. We caught up with the Danish AWPer after the final against Liquid to talk about the team's successes.
Astralis pulled off a clean win in Chicago, closing the event out 3-0 against Liquid in the final despite early struggles on Mirage. The MVP award was given to device, who beat the likes of Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken and Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen in the race for the medal, making this his tenth most valuable player accolade won.
The Dane gave HLTV.org some time after the final to discuss the two comebacks in the playoffs against fnatic and Liquid, some of the team's routines during events, how they keep pushing boundaries as the best team in the world, and what they hope to achieve until the end of the season.
Let's start the interview off with the match today. It was fairly in your favor the whole time, with the exception of Mirage, which you had to make a big comeback on. You did the same against fnatic yesterday, as well. How did the team live that on the inside?
Yeah, the comebacks against fnatic and Liquid were built a bit on momentum, but also on preparation, I would say. We knew a lot of the tells Liquid had, and when they were going to do different tactics and so on, so as you saw, we were doing several stacks on different sites and we were almost always three guys on whichever site they hit.
The philosophy against fnatic was that we have the best Inferno T-side, so we just believed in that. We've won many practices 15-0 on T-side and we knew that we could just grind rounds out, even if we were just doing defaults. We played the percentages and that gave us a big chance of winning.
What has it been that has allowed you to keep the fortitude necessary to make these comebacks, to be able to have the discipline to stay in it and pull it off?
I think the discipline comes a bit from practice. We're one of the teams that practices the least, I think, because what we work on is being as effective as possible and playing our practices as close to the way we play official games as possible. It's a mental state you're in, knowing every second of every round matters. Knowing that every little decision you make, peeking or shoulder peeking, or whatever it is, it all matters in the big picture. The amount of focus required to win a lot of rounds in a row is an art, and we've practiced it a lot. That and the experience that Xyp9x, dupreeh, and I have with the previous mental blocks we've had and how we've worked through them. We know what it takes and we know we have what it takes.
That was a bit of the micro-scale, when things aren't going well on a map. What about the bigger picture, straightening out between maps in a series, or mid-tournament?
When we're at a tournament there's not much we change. We have our schedules, our preparation, and we tend to practice a fair bit. We really like to watch our games and look at our mistakes, but we also like to go out and do some fun stuff instead of always having our mind on the game. Relieving some of the stress and pressure that can build up just doing fun things together, like having a great dinner together or going out to see the city, that helps us a lot. Overall, we do the changing when we're at home and we have time, not mid-tournament. When we go home is the time to think about the meta, how to change the meta, and so on.
Talking about being at home and the meta changing... Do you feel like teams are starting to read and understand you a little bit better? Is that making it harder on you or do you still feel pretty far ahead?
I think our in-game philosophy hasn't been completely read, but it has been understood better throughout the last tournaments, maybe. You can also see it for instance in the grenade damage, we're not getting the same utility damage as before. We're still up there as the highest or second highest, but people now know that it was one of our big advantages in the beginning. I still feel like our philosophy about how we prepare and how we do things together as a team is something that a lot of teams don't know, or they're not adapting, or doing it the same way as us. It's really easy to copy in-game stuff, but the outside part is what's hard, the preparation and the general mindset, and I think we have a slight advantage there. The other teams will always catch up, though, it's always the hardest to be #1 and to continue to stay at the top.
To follow that thought up, how hard is it for you to constantly be pushing the boundaries?
It's really hard as an individual to keep pushing yourself, being at all of these tournaments. You're neglecting a lot of parts of your life that you get interested in when you start winning. When you start to get the success you always wanted, other parts of life become more interesting because you fulfilled the winning part, but it's just... it's a mental thing, believing we are the best team and that we have to demand excellence from each other. Otherwise, we won't be able to continue, but we all want to be here, and we want to be here in three months or even a year.
At the Major, you were asked if you'd consider yourself the best team in history. You didn't quite want to say yes then. Would you say so now?
I still feel the same way. It's like the Ronaldo and Messi generation vs. Pele and Maradona, it's so hard to look at different periods of time and look at the dominant teams and compare them. I can't claim that we're the best team of all time, I know NIP were completely unstoppable and we're nowhere even close to their map wins on LAN. We may catch up on Nuke at some point if I don't jinx it now, but it'll take years because we don't play it that much anymore (laughs). There have been a lot of great teams, and we're just grateful to be considered one of them.
To round out the interview, we're heading into the end of the season, how are you feeling ahead of tournaments like ECS and the Pro League Finals?
We're feeling fairly confident going into the rest of the season. We know that we have a lot of things in place that we want to use, tactics wise. We just need to get the individual level up a bit, and then we'll feel really good.
Our main focus is the event in Odense. We want to win in Denmark and now the Grand Slam is at stake, so that matters a lot to us. Being the first team to win that would also be remembered, and we're not here for the money and the fame, we're here to create our own legacy, and it's amazing to be a part of it.