Magisk: "I still think 2019 can be our year"
Astralis started their run in Montpellier against Cloud9, who they were able to beat 16-9 on Inferno. The Danes then beat their countrymen of Heroic in dominating fashion in a two-map series, but were then denied a semi-final berth by NRG. Ultimately, it was arch-rivals Liquid who knocked Magisk and company out in the tournament's quarterfinals.
In the lengthy interview he gave, Magisk talked about the team's match against Liquid, how their match-ups against the North American team have changed over time, what's missing in their game from the dominant Astralis we saw last year, and what they will need if they want to win in Cologne, among other topics.
First thing I'd like to talk about, and it's not so much about the scheduling itself, but are there some unexpected things you've found in having this sort of calendar? Maybe you cooled off a bit?
We had like three BLAST Pro Series tournaments in a row, and that's a format that doesn't play to our strengths, which we've said from day one. It's easy to look back and be smart about it, but we had those three tournaments and that wasn't in our favor. There's no doubt that we miss playing the best-of-threes and so on. At ESL and ECS tournaments, you're almost always guaranteed to play a lot of best-of-threes, and that's our strong side, going into the tournaments prepared, being able to come back if you have a bad day and still make it far into the playoffs.
We got a bit rusty because we didn't play that many maps on LAN and while sometimes it's easier to talk about mistakes in practice, it's different when you play official matches on LAN because that's when you really see how people are playing and what mistakes you need to fix. There's no doubt that when we had those three tournaments it really hurt our gameplay, even individually, communicationwise... there was a lot of stuff we had to fix and it's tough to fix all of that only in practice.
I know some of your main goals, for example, were to become the first team to win three back-to-back Majors. Do you think having such a big, long-term goal made you lose track of the present a bit, the day-to-day?
Honestly, I don't think that's really what made us start losing. We did the same in 2018, we had long-term goals and I think that's something really good to have. You need to find a balance between the long-term and the present goals, so it's not about that, when we go into a tournament we do everything we can to win it. Sure, we may want to win some tournaments more than others, and we may be more prepared for them, but when we go into a tournament we always play 100% to win no matter what. There are no excuses, we always play with everything we can, and I don't think it has something to do with the long-term goal.
I still think 2019 can be our year, to be honest, we still won the Major, and we won in Sao Paulo. We have Cologne coming up which is one of the events we really want to win, we've been looking forward to it for a long time. Obviously, we also want to here, at the Pro League Finals, but Cologne is definitely an important milestone for us and that's where we have to show that we're still capable of winning against the best teams in the world. We're looking forward to it, and it's going to be a long and tough road, but I think that I can speak for everyone on the team when I say that we know we can still win in Cologne.
We didn't feel like we played well against Liquid yesterday, we made a lot of mistakes, lost some stupid rounds, and we lost Vertigo ourselves by making mistakes. There are so many rounds we could have won on the CT side, with the entry kills and stuff like that. If this is how we play when we're playing bad and we almost beat the team that everyone is considering the best team in the world right now, going on to win tournaments is not that far away. The hopes are still high for us.
Do tell me a little bit about the Vertigo, the match could have had a Nuke, which was one of your stronger maps, but you didn't pick it and the decider went to Vertigo. Can you tell me a little bit about the thought process behind leaving it open?
We've been practicing it quite a lot, actually, and we've been winning every single practice we play it on. We've been stomping good teams on it, even the likes of mousesports, G2, and stuff like that. We've been playing good teams and stomping them. We didn't see any reason not to play it because they didn't really look that good on it. [laughs] But now we lost and so yeah, maybe it was a mistake. It's easy looking back now. Our Nuke hasn't been that comfortable, we lost it three times in a row, and we did win one here, but I still believe we should have won Vertigo. It was in our hands, and we lost it ourselves. Big respect to them for keeping on fighting and bringing it back, that requires a lot of mental fortitude. It was a good game, and I'm just sad we couldn't close it out in the end.
One of the big storylines of 2018 was how dominant you were in big matches against Liquid. There was a lot of expectation to see if Liquid would win that important best-of-three win against you. How have you seen them evolve?
There's no doubt that they have a lot more confidence now, and they're starting to get stronger mentally, as well. I also have to be honest, I think this AUG meta has helped them quite a lot. Not to take anything away from them, but they are really good with them, even the SG 552. A player like EliGE, he's been benefitting from it a lot, but that's just how it is. That's Counter-Striker, the META changes all of the time and the team that's faster to adapt to it and get good at it is going to perform better.
They deserve it because they've been working hard for it. Also mentally and confidencewise, that makes a huge difference, we had gotten used to winning so many tournaments and being so dominant, and we had so much more confidence in our own play as a team, that made a huge difference.
How do you think you can get that confidence back, and once again become that dominant team?
Having some small success again, winning some important best-of-threes... it feels like during the past few tournaments we've been so close but ended up losing because of small mistakes. Even against NRG on Dust2, we lost against an eco and if we would have won that round we would have probably closed out the map and would have been in the semi-finals, so it's those small marginals that in 2018 we would have won because of our confidence and mentality. It seems like it just went a bit the other way this year, into the other team's favor, and that changed a lot of matches which could have ended up with us even winning tournaments or stuff like that. But it's easy to say when that's not what happened...
To wrap it up, you said Cologne is a big event for you guys, have you talked about any particular preparation going into it?
We're not going to change our whole stratbook or anything like that, I think it's more going to come down to teamplay and performing individually, we just need that little 2% extra, also communicationwise... you could see it on Inferno, yesterday, on the T side, there were so many rounds we should have won. There were afterplant situations that we should never lose, and would normally never lose, and if we would have just won a couple of those rounds we would have broken their economy completely and the map would look completely different.
It comes down to us finding our confidence individually and making sure we play individually at home as well so that we can find those extra percentage points and make sure that we're ready. We're going to do the same we always do, be prepared for every team. I still feel like we're the best team in the world when it comes to preparation, but when you miss individually, you may be really well prepared, but if you can't kill the guy you know is coming it doesn't matter if you're prepared or not. It comes down to individual mistakes in the end.
I'm just really looking forward to Cologne because it's such a sick tournament and the arena is always amazing, I just hope I get to experience that again this year and hopefully deliver to end this season with a win. That would mean a lot for us as a team, so we're going in with everything we have before the vacation. Because of the Major, if we wanted some time off we had to skip Chicago, if not we would have gone there, but it's just how it is.