valde: "I'm really hoping I can show a better individual game at this tournament"
OG will return to action on Friday after a quarter-final exit at the ICE Challenge, the second LAN tournament in the history of the team. BLAST Premier stands as the toughest challenge to date for the young roster, which will go up against Evil Geniuses in the opening round of the group stage.
Prior to the start of the group, we caught up with valde, who commented on his initial adjustment struggles as a former in-game leader during his time with North. We also touched on the squad's performance at ICE Challenge and some of their issues over the course of the event. Lastly, we picked the Dane's mind on the upcoming series against Evil Geniuses and the team's general approach to matchups.
In an interview with Aleksib at ICE Challenge, we learned that, initially, you were transferring in-game leader tendencies from your time on North. Why do you think you had that impulse, considering you weren't an in-game leader outside of the final stretch with North?
I think it's just the fact that when you're used to doing things a certain way and you come from a team where you've been doing it for half a year or so, it just becomes a habit. You're saying a lot of stuff, you're giving a lot of input, so once you move to a new team where there's already Nathan (NBK-) and Aleksi (Aleksib), who speak a lot and give a lot of input, we can't have too many chefs in the kitchen.
In the beginning, I felt that I had so much in me that I wanted to give to the team but, for the greater good, we had a talk about it. I told them that I was doing it subconsciously, it's not something I was doing on purpose, so I'm just trying to work on it with our coach and Aleksi. I'm saying far less now, and I think it's really good for me because it helps me focus on my crosshair and being a better individual player. It's something that's coming back to me slowly, I'm getting back into the old mindset of just being a player. It's actually been a really hard, but good process.
Aleksib described you as the "perfect soldier" of the team in the sense that you'll do whatever is required. Do you ever feel like you are underutilized in your current role?
To be honest, not at all. I think both Nathan and Aleksi have been really good at giving me pretty much all the different positions that I wanted. I don't feel there is anything I can't do in the team, I got pretty much all the spots I wanted. We're playing the way I want to, and I think that for me it's just something personal in that I have to get back to my old level. There are no shortcuts, it will come eventually, you just have to keep pushing and playing, putting in the hours and having team talks. I just need to improve as a player.
I don't think it has anything to do with my teammates or what roles I have or the way we play at all, it's just a personal thing and I'm really hoping I can show a better individual game at this tournament.
On North, you kicked off your stretch as an in-game leader in May after cadiaN left and JUGi joined. Do you think that you would have been able to become a top tier in-game leader had you spent more time in the role?
It's very hard for me to say. I read one of the interviews you did with Kjaerbye, my former teammate, where he said he really liked to play under me as an in-game leader and it sounded like he wished I would have stayed and kept doing it. Personally, I think it's pretty much impossible to become a perfect top tier in-game leader in the span of half a year. It's something that takes a lot of years of experience where you live and learn. Again, there are no shortcuts to being a good in-game leader, honestly. I think it's one of the hardest jobs in the business. When your team is doing well, you might not even get the credit, and when they're doing badly, you get all the blame. I think it's a really tough role to fulfill and it's definitely not something that even I could perfect in half a year; I'm not that naive.
I think maybe it would have been possible with more time, dedication and hours in the game, but I still felt like it wasn't the right time for me to continue as an in-game leader. I'm only 24 and I still feel like I can give so much more to a team by just being a player. In the end, it wasn't the time for me, and I'm really happy to back in my old role here in OG. Maybe in the future, who knows, but right now I'm not thinking about it at all.
What were your general thoughts on the performance at the ICE Challenge, the team's second LAN event?
I think our main issues at ICE Challenge were two things: first of all, we really had some issues with our energy levels during the games. Things like how much people were speaking and the input they were giving during rounds and the game in general. The other thing was probably the individual level. I still feel that we have a lot of uncertainties that we're trying to straighten out. I think during this bootcamp we just tried to really keep it simple. In the end, Counter-Strike is a pretty simple game, but it's very hard to execute. We're really trying to keep it simple and trying to keep our communication and energy levels up. I think if we do that, our potential is honestly through the roof. I think we have a really skilled lineup, we have a really good set of personalities on the team. We have Nathan, who has so much experience with building new teams and he has a long career with tournament victories and spells on so many different squads. I'm really glad and honored to be a part of this team, and I think we can only do better from here.
You mentioned form in a previous answer. How are you personally feeling coming into BLAST after ICE Challenge and a week-long bootcamp?
I had a bit of an individually disappointing tournament at ICE Challenge but, in the end, it's only one tournament, and everybody has an off tournament now and then. I try not to think about it too much, but of course, I care about my personal performance, it matters a lot to me. In the end, the team is the most important thing, and as long as I'm doing my role and as long as I can see I'm improving, I'm happy. It's always a personal goal of mine to be consistent and contribute to the team. Since I'm not giving as much input anymore, my primary job as one of the star players is to have fragging output. I really hope I can get back to my old form and show some of that here at BLAST.
Your opening series here at BLAST Premier Spring is against Evil Geniuses, who have shown outstanding form at times but have also been spotty consistency-wise. What are your initial thoughts on this match-up?
My thoughts on EG are probably the same as what everybody else thinks at the moment. I think you outlined it pretty well, their skill ceiling is really high. I feel like either you're going to see an EG that is just smashing everyone, or they're going to be really slumpy. I'm not really sure what to expect, to be honest.
I think in the end, we've come to the conclusion that we're still in the opening phase of our team, so I don't want to focus too much on what everybody else is doing and how everybody else is performing. It's about us as a team and about how we are performing, what we are doing. Personally, I feel that if we bring our A-game, if our energy and communication levels are high and if we are showing up individually, we can beat anyone. That's my approach, I don't really want to talk too much about what everyone else is doing. My focus is on what we're doing and how we're performing.