Kjaerbye: "valde's always brutally honest, and we have so much respect for him"
We sat down with Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye after North secured a 16-14 victory over Vitality in their opening match in Dallas to discuss the match and recent addition to the team in Jakob "JUGi" Hansen.
In the opening match of group A, North's prospects were initially looking bleak on Overpass, as the team struggled to accrue T side rounds, concluding their initial half with a 6-9 deficit. The Danes subsequently went on to mount an epic comeback from an 8-14 deifict, taking away the map with a 16-14 score, thus securing a match-up against Liquid in the second round of the upper bracket.
After the series concluded we sat down with Kjaerbye to discuss the match against Vitality, how JUGi's integration into the squad has gone and the adjustments brought in by Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså's in-game leading.
Your opening match against Vitality was incredibly close, in that you secured a 6-9 T half, and ended up coming back on the defence, landing a 16-14 victory over the Frenchmen. Talk us through the match.
The first half was very back-and-forth, the momentum switched around a few times. I think both teams played pretty well, and it was very hard to get T rounds. We knew that six rounds would definitely be enough – it’s not our best T side, but we had made the comeback on the CT side before, and I'm happy we pulled it off today.
Speaking of the CT side, it definitely felt like Vitality were set to take the map, but you managed to mount a comeback from an 8-14 deficit. How was this achieved?
It was a difficult situation – they had a good economy, but we kept playing the same setup, actually. We didn’t want to overthink it; we found out a bit too late, maybe, what worked out for us on the CT side. They played great, slow, which is always more difficult to play against, in my opinion, but we found out which setup would lock them down, and I think the communication was really good, the rotations and everything was on point. This was pivotal for us, and it’s what made us win eventually.
Dallas is JUGi’s debut with North at a Big event. How do you feel the team dynamic has changed with the addition of Jakob?
Our team dynamic is really good right now, people are working non-stop 24/7. We’re just having a good time, so it doesn’t feel like it’s always hard work necessarily, but we’re getting the best out of our mistakes and wins. We’re still a new team, and it’s just a pleasure right now, we’re enjoying it. We have high expectations going forward, but I don’t want to sit here and talk about it too much, I just want us to prove it.
So far it has been good – this our first big event, but a few days ago we played the second group stage of EPL Leicester, where we secured three wins and zero losses. It was definitely a really good start for us, but also it was a bit of a rough schedule, and we didn’t have time to practice. We were weak when we arrived for the media day but we got through the jet lag and got the best out of our practice. We’re feeling like we’re slowly getting into our flow again, and we can play a bit better than we did in this game I think.
Tell us about the period of time where JUGi was adapting to the roster. Did his previous experience playing alongside valde assist in slotting him into the roster, or was there a bit of an adaptation period?
Jakob is a very good player – a very good AWPer first of all, but also a really good team player. He has small things, characteristics that not all players have, so he slotted in very well, it was a smooth transition. It should have taken us even longer when you factor in Jakob's addition, but also we changed our in-game leader to valde for the first time.
Those two have done amazing - valde is learning more and more every game, and Jakob, even if he is having a bad game, he is contributing with a lot of good communication and also he locks down a lot of the angles, which means that he isn't the most aggressive AWPer, but he always has good impact and that means the world to the rest of the players and creates space for playmaking as well.
You touched on valde becoming in-game leader. Talk to me about the contrast between cadiaN's leading in comparison to his, specifically from the context of someone who is being given the directions.
I don't want to talk too much about the way Casper ran things, but I think the contrast, and what has helped us a lot is that valde has always been a natural leader. It feels like it was the way he was raised or something like that, gave him some strength. He's always brutally honest, and we have so much respect for him. If he says: "shut up", people will just smile and do that, because he is so important to us, already. I think he is still proving himself, but we still want to get to the big stages. As I said, I don't want to promise too much, and tell everyone that we're doing amazing right now; we have a busy summer ahead of us, and we plan to go far in these tournaments while progressing and improving.
Valde's style of play is not strict, it's not loose either, but I would say that players on the team have taken a lot more responsibility for the team after these changes. We know it was a big step and was sort of like, I would say "last chance", but it certainly feels like that if we ever want to consider ourselves a top contender in the future. I think we were tired of not improving enough. People have really buckled up and are working like maniacs right now.
You guys are now set to face Liquid in the second round of the upper bracket. What are your projections going into the match-up?
I think we just want to play our own game against Liquid. We don't have time to anti-strat against them or anything because we're playing them later today, but it's definitely a good time to meet them - they are one of the world's best teams. It's going to be a really fun challenge for us; we have practiced for around one month, and this is the first time we finally have the chance to play a good contender and I think anything can happen. It's a winner game, and we're just going to go out there and see how far we can get, and hopefully learn something.