device: "We've had a good year, but we knew we hadn't done anything any other team hadn't done before"
Astralis became the first team to ever win the Intel Grand Slam in Odense at the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals after defeating Liquid in the best-of-five grand final. We caught up with Nicolai "device" Reedtz to hear his thoughts on achieving such a feat.
We interviewed device after Astralis were handed gold bars with their names and the titles they've won engraved on them to immortalize their Intel Grand Slam victory, which crystallized as the Danes lifted the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals trophy over Liquid.
The Danish AWPer, who was named MVP of the tournament, talked to HLTV.org about the veto, Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth's clutching abilities early on in Mirage, Astralis being a dominant force in 2018, becoming the first team to win the Intel Grand Slam and doing it in front of their home crowd, and whether the team will be able to keep up this level of play next year.
I would like to start talking about the veto. Twistzz sent out a bait Tweet hinting at breaking your Nuke streak, but then they banned it today. Did you expect that?
Honestly, they've publically stated that they're going to test some new stuff, so yeah... I don't know if we expected it, but we did expect to beat them pretty easily if they did pick it. They haven't really practiced it, I guess. They got a lot of momentum and I think in their minds they thought that we were very surprised. In all honesty, I think they played really well on Train. We didn't really expect that. We didn't get in the rhythm, I as an individual didn't get started at all, so it was a good move for them in hindsight. We couldn't watch any demos because they didn't play it for several months and we were expecting Nuke.
You said that you expected to win Train easily if it went through. What happened?
As I said, I think they gained momentum pretty fast. They did a lot of the same things we do when we play Train, actually, and I guess that in our minds we thought they were going to be very basic and play defaults, but they got money control and played fearlessly, getting a lot of entry-kills. We had a lot of ecos and weren't able to get into the flow... I think they played great and we just didn't get in the zone. There was that 1vs1 with dupreeh, and if he would have won that we could have gotten a lot of momentum and control on the T-side and gone on to control the pace, but nitr0 won it and they were able to win the map.
After that, it was Mirage, which started out with Liquid trying to keep that momentum going, but Xyp9x had three big clutches in a row. How did you guys live that on the inside?
For me, it was actually really rough. I wasn't able to get into the zone at all during the first two maps. It was a feeling I hadn't had for a long time. I was thinking too much about previous rounds or missing a shot, so I joked a bit with it, but it didn't work out that well for me. Just seeing Xyp9x playing really well, and the morale of the team, the communication, it became much better when he won those rounds... I think gla1ve even jokingly said that "if we're in a 2vs4 I'll go out and die so you can win the 1vs4, that's easier for us."
He's so good at playing clutch situations, and he gets into the opponent's head when he's in the 1vs1s. He always seems to be in the head of the opponent and he's just a great guy to have on the team. I don't know how I'd feel if I had to play against him.
After that you really took control. Liquid fought back during some points, but you were in the driver's seat the whole time. Throughout the tournament, as well. You dropped a map here or there, but you were really solid. Were you expecting this outcome?
We came here off of two back-to-back wins at IEM Chicago and the ECS Finals and we also had some pretty decent practice leading up to the event. We were confident, but we knew that there are still some flaws in our map pool and that there are things we can work on regarding utility, which hasn't been our strong point for a while. But yeah, we knew if we just played our game and played defaults, which have been working out for us... like on Inferno we played defaults on all 15 rounds, almost, except the pistol round. I think the way we play defaults, slowly, chokes out the teams and the control they have as CTs. We get into our comfort zone and we know how to do those late-game executes that allow us to win, right? So we're just playing to our strengths, and when we lose it's because we're trying to do stuff that we're not that good at.
We were pretty confident going into the tournament and we had a good chat about the expectations regarding each other and ourselves, and what the Danish crowd gives and how to handle that. At BLAST Pro Series in Copenhagen there were so many outside interferences, I think we found a really good balance on how to reduce that and still enjoy it.
This is a special one, you won the first Intel Grand Slam, and it was at home in front of your crowd. Is there a way you can put into words what it means to you?
It's so hard. I remember just standing on the stage, lifting the trophy, and looking out at the crowd where I had my friends, my girlfriend, my family, everyone was there and sharing this moment with them was just crazy. Then there was the whole crowd atmosphere, which is the best, in all honesty. We've worked very hard to be able to do something like this, that's historical, and it means the world to us. It's why we're here, right? We've had a good year, but we knew we hadn't done anything any other team hadn't done before and this cemented how great of a team we've been. It means the world to us and it's going to take some days to process what really happened this week. Right now I'm just so satisfied, but we do have an event coming up so we had to reflect and process things pretty quickly so we can perform in Lisbon.
To wrap it up after, as you said, you cemented how great of a team you've become this past year, do you think you can keep being the dominant force that can crush their opposition until the Major?
The Major is so far away in esports time that it's kind of hard to say. There could be roster changes, teams will rise and have honeymoon periods... The Major will also be tricky because we're Legends now, and the past two Majors have been won by Challengers because they can get a good warm-up for the event since the Major Qualifier is right before and there are no events leading up to it. There's also our own preparation, and not becoming too satisfied with winning now. Winning back-to-back Majors would be even crazier in my opinion. I think the Majors are the most prestigious events in CS and being a part of the club with fnatic and Luminosity/SK would just be... yeah... it's our goal and it would make me so happy.