NaToSaphiX: "We were all willing to give our lives for each other and it's truly beautiful when you play CS like that"
The Danish squad, ranked 16th coming into the tournament, managed to secure a victory in the opening game of the tournament, besting ENCE on Mirage. That victory puts them within reach of playoffs, as they will face NiP in the upper-bracket, with a win earning them a spot in the LANXESS Arena.
Following the game, we caught up with NaToSaphiX who went over passing the AWP to Patrick "es3tag" Hansen, Benjamin "blameF" Bremer's leadership, Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu departing the team, and more.
I'll start with the role change, you going to the rifle and es3tag taking the AWP. That happened before the last tournament, how did it go from your side, what did you think about it?
The thing was that I was the newest guy in the team and I had some confidence issues in the game when I joined, I don't want to go into too much detail, it was no one's fault really, no one from the team. Socially I felt really comfortable because I work really well with these guys but the lack was in terms of believing I was going to be a part of this team moving forward, way into the future. I think it was more that I felt that they didn't believe in me.
And then came a huge punch to the stomach when they asked me if es3tag could play the AWP because he always wanted to do it. And in some ways, it really was a punch to the stomach, but on the other hand, I'm a guy that always wants to do what is right for the team, I've also wanted to try rifling for some time, and I thought I'd give it a go. So after the initial reaction, I actually saw it as something quite valuable for me. Because it also meant that I could take on some roles where I had less pressure, since there is an immense amount of pressure on the AWP, and being the new guy on the team, switching away from it helped me quite a bit.
We did that before Montpellier and after Montpellier, we did it so I took stavn's roles so I once again have new roles and so does stavn, but we keep putting up the results, we are working as a unit, people are playing as a team, we have incredible individual players... And the roles are not a permanent thing, the whole time it has been put forward as a temporary thing, if it works really well with es3tag as the AWP and me as the rifle then we are going to continue that way, but if not, there is always the possibility we can change back. And now I have the confidence in my own game, I have the belief that my teammates believe in me and yeah, we keep moving forward, we just beat ENCE!
Another change that happened, which was announced just before this tournament, was that peacemaker was leaving the team that he wouldn't be coming here with you. How did that happen? Obviously, there was always going to be the issue with the language, was that the main thing behind it?
I wouldn't say it was the main thing, that wasn't actually an issue at all. We are all very happy with peacemaker as a coach and a friend and I would say that somewhere it was lost in translation, but I guess people would read too much into that [laughs]. What happened was that there were some things outside of our control, also some visa issues and stuff like that, and in the end, I guess it just became too much for all of us. We've done the anti-strat ourselves, es3tag did most of it here for Mirage, at least most of the important stuff, and did a phenomenal job. But there is no replacing a coach. He is a fantastic guy, fantastic coach, I get quite sad every time people write bad stuff about him on HLTV because it is simply not true. He is a fantastic guy.
Do you have thoughts about who you could get to coach your team now?
The change was publicly announced during the media day of ESL One Cologne and we only knew about it after we lost to ForZe in the Chicago qualifier, so for me it was about three hours before my travel to Cologne started. We really didn't have the time to talk about it at all. I think it would make sense for us to find a coach that speaks Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, someone who can understand our language better, but with how it worked with peacemaker and with how he could at least understand what we were calling and stuff like that, having an international coach is on the table as well. We haven't really brought any specific names up, there are a few, but right now we are still in a brainstorming phase. We will really only have time for this after the event, for now, we are just doing the anti-strat ourselves and focusing on what is important.
What was the feeling like coming into ESL One Cologne? You just played that qualifier for IEM Chicago, got to the final but lost to ForZe in three maps. How did all of that combine in terms of the feeling inside of the team before this event?
I think we are generally better on LAN than online, I think it is kind of the same as every team will say, that people are a bit more fearless online. And we have some really calm players who are very level headed, even under pressure, which is something quite rare in Counter-Strike and something I'm very impressed by from my teammates. I think even losing matches like that it doesn't really bother us so much because it has always been a one-off thing, we haven't been in a slump as a team. Even when we are changing roles, we have limited practice, there are some maps that going into this tournament where I've played in my role a single time in practice, so if we play those maps I'm likely going to play like shit - but we are still going to win as a team, and that is the most important thing.
That's why it is so beautiful, I think the team atmosphere is great in general, we are having fun, when we go out for dinner or are playing games. That is the way we play the best, when we are having fun, cracking jokes, relieving some of the pressure. Even yelling, screaming, singing songs [laughs], during important games, even here at ESL One Cologne.
Touching on this ENCE game, you managed not only to upset them but outplay them, convincingly win the game on Mirage, starting on the CT side and losing the pistol. How did you manage to pull that off?
As I said, I think we had some really valuable anti-strats. es3tag is a phenomenal player in every single aspect but now he is also proving to be an anti-strat genius [laughs]. We had some reads, both on the CT and T side. We basically based our entire game around that, obviously, we still had the strats to fall back on, the setups, we had everything, but I think we mostly did the same throughout the entire game and they didn't have a counter to it. I think they didn't even realize how deep inside their heads we were. And it's not only the truth but also a threat to any other team [laughs], we are doing our homework and if you are not aware, we will win.
So for me, obviously losing the pistol, we tried to keep the mood up, it worked out quite well. As I said, we had a really good gameplan going into this match and basically, we just did our thing and even lost a 1v4 to allu where we probably peeked a bit too much one-by-one, but shit like that happens. And blameF instantly said "forget this round guys", we continued playing. It is often him, but not always, there is just someone that says it and we move past it instantly. There is actually no tilt and we managed to just persevere. Then on the T side we actually got the second pistol which was quite valuable for us.
We had the correct reads, we took some chances and again we had many rounds where, for example, I'm walking out B and basically killing myself so my teammates can react on A and vice versa. We were all willing to give our lives for each other and it's truly beautiful when you play Counter-Strike like that.