HUNDEN: "2020 is going to be a huge year for us"
We had a chat with Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen following MAD Lions' elimination at DreamHack Open Sevilla to discuss switching organisations, the recent results and his expectations for the future.
The former Tricked team gave a good account of themselves in their first tournament under MAD Lions as they topped their group after hammering Gambit Youngsters and Illuminar before losing out to eventual champions North in a three-map series in the semi-finals.
In this interview, HUNDEN revealed that the transfer to the Spanish organisation had been in the works for quite some time and commented on the team's rapid growth in the last six months. He also heaped praise on coach Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu and spoke highly of teammate Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand, who topped the charts in Sevilla with a 1.37 rating.
You've entered a new chapter with the team. What are the first impressions and how did the whole signing process go?
The process was pretty fast, overall. They approached us after we won the V4 Future Sports Festival in Budapest, and at the time the team agreed that we would stick together for three months and then take the offer. It was pretty huge that they came and wanted to buy us and we're really, really happy that we're sticking together.
You have been in and out of the top 20 for several months now and you have a young team with a lot of talent. Where do you think the team is at right now?
We have a team with a lot of firepower: I think with the four players we have we are the team with the most firepower in Denmark without counting Astralis. We have so much talent, all of the players have really good game sense as well. We're creating new things, we trust the process and we're working really hard. We had to do some content and stuff like that this last week, but in general we're working really hard and improving week after week on getting new maps into our map pool. Every time we do that it works out for us because we're not stuck with bad energies and we believe we can learn every map, that feeling is really nice. It's amazing to have such a hard-working team.
You're known to be the mastermind of your teams when it comes to tactical work, but now you have peacemaker on the team as well. How does the relationship work? How do you share the tactical approach to the game?
peacemaker is a really good guy. He has been our coach for the last two months, he asked to join us after V4 and we said yes. He has an amazing approach, he is creating new strats and building a new playbook for us, so we have two now. We have a lot of strats, a lot of things we can do, and I think it's amazing to have a guy like him even though he doesn't speak Danish. He still has a really good understanding of what's happening, what we do wrong and what we do right every time. All of the hate peacemaker is getting is not fair at all. There are always two sides to a story and I think no one has ever heard his story and all of the things that happened to him, so I don't think it's fair. The things he brings to the team are key and we can take the next step with him.
Talking about next steps, big things are coming in 2020. How does the future look for MAD Lions?
The future is amazing, new leagues are coming and we're going to play one of them. I can't say much about it, but I think 2020 is going to be a huge year for us. The last part of this year was really, really hard for us. We attended a lot of tournaments and finals of lower-tier tournaments. We lost two out of three, so it was hard for us, but I think 2020 is going to be very good because we have a huge organization behind us that is going to bring a lot of people to help us, like a sports psychologist, so I'm very excited to see how far we can take this next year.
To round it off, let's talk a bit about the event in Sevilla. You started off really well in the group stage with two victories, struggled on Dust2 against North in the semi-finals and finally lost the series on Vertigo. Did it hurt to lose the Danish derby?
We really wanted to win this match. We're both lions now and we wanted to show that we're the bigger lion, but it just didn't happen. We had a really strong start on Overpass, they had no clue what to do. That also happened on Dust2, but then we threw the map. On Vertigo they played much better than us on the T side. Kjaerbye was lurking so well, he had perfect timings every round, and the same goes for cajunb, who had a great game on B. They were hard to play against and they caught us off-guard on Vertigo. It sucks to lose it, but looking back on it I think we'll be able to beat them next time around.
One last question, regarding acoR, who had a very strong showing with the AWP and was the highest-rated player of the event. There was a time when he was in North Academy and it looked like he had potential but he didn't quite break out. What has his development been like?
acoR is a special guy. He was on the team with glace, b0rup, LOMME, etc. when I joined Tricked, and I think he was stuck on the same level for so long because nobody could guide him to grow as an AWPer. We have worked so hard, the first four or five months of the year he didn't have any kind of impact, but after the summer vacation he started to show up and, right now, I think he has been our star player for the past two or three months. It's amazing to see that he's learning, improving, and doing really, really well on LAN against every single opponent we are playing.