Xyp9x: "We're not satisfied with just making the quarter-finals"
The 'Clutch Minister' says that the team want to go even further in the tournament.
Astralis player Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth insisted that his team want more than just reaching the playoff stages of IEM Cologne as they prepare for Friday's clash with Virtus.pro in the first round of the single-elimination bracket.
The Danish team were under pressure to turn the corner in Cologne after enduring a tough run of results in the months that followed Nicolai "device" Reedtz's transfer to NIP. Astralis showed a different side to their game in the group stage - beating FaZe and Heroic, and taking Natus Vincere to three maps -, and Xyp9x acknowledged that the LAN environment has brought out the best in his team.
"I think playing on LAN has definitely helped us get better results, both individually and as a team," he said at a press conference. "I also think that we are not satisfied with just being in the quarter-finals. We are of course aiming to win it, but we're taking it one match at a time.
"Now we have to face Virtus.pro and we are focused on that. Let's see how far we can go. But of course we are happy to be in the quarter-finals."
After struggling for the right formula following device's departure, the team came up with a hybrid system for Cologne that sees multiple players share AWPing responsibilities, this way alleviating the burden on Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen, who has said that he does "not feel completely comfortable" in the sniper role.
Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, who had the most AWP kills in the team during the group stage, admitted that he has found it hard at times to play with the 'Big Green', and praised his teammates for the spirit of sacrifice and dedication they have shown in the last few months as the team have experimented with different systems.
"The AWP is really a tough weapon if you're not really good with it," gla1ve said. "If I'm having a good game then I'm pretty happy with how I'm playing, but when I'm having a bad game I feel like I'm losing some key rounds for the team. I'm just trying to do my best.
"I think it's nice to have dupreeh back on rifles, I think he's doing a great job and I'm really proud of all of the players for how they're doing with the rifles and of dupreeh for how he has been doing with the AWP in the maps that he has been playing with it.
"We're trying to play more of a free role. In some maps it's dupreeh, while in others it's me, Bubzkji or Magisk. I think we're doing the best we can. In the future, we will need to figure out something else with the AWP role unless we just win everything."
With Astralis now in contention for a semi-final berth, fans are wondering whether this is a turning point for the team after months of struggle and frustration. gla1ve said that the team can still challenge for titles, but noted that he remains unsure as to what the future will hold, with the contracts of four of the squad's members set to expire at the end of the year.
"As most people know, most of us have contracts that are running out on January 1," gla1ve said. "We don't know yet what to expect. It's up in the air who is going to be in the next Astralis team.
"We still want to be one of the top teams in the world. We're doing everything we can. We're trying to work as hard as we can, trying to fix some mistakes. In practice, it seems that some days we're doing really well, but some days we're not that good. It's more about finding a consistent level. If we can find that, I expect this lineup to reach the playoffs in all tournaments and also to win titles sometimes."
The Danish players were also asked about one of the hottest topics of discussion these days: the length of Counter-Strike matches and what can be done to pull more viewers and prevent fans from tuning out. The recent match between Liquid and mousesports took almost five hours to finish, delaying the start of the following series, which ended at approximately 3 a.m.
"Having a game finish at 2.30 a.m. is not that good," Xyp9x said. "I think they could start the matches a bit earlier. For example, start at 11 a.m. and put more time for matches to finish. Maybe [this way] they'll be done by 12 p.m.
"I think there are viable solutions, at least with this format. I think you have to look more broadly, but just having games finish at 3 a.m. is not good. Players have adrenaline pumping in their bodies after the games, so they probably won't sleep until 5 a.m., and if they have a match the next day that's pretty bad. There need to be solutions for this so that we don't have more burnout cases. It's about the format and the schedule."
gla1ve also chimed in on the topic, saying that "it's time" for the Counter-Strike scene to embrace changes and that matches are oftentimes "too long", making viewers lose interest.
"I think one of the things you can't change is freezetime because that's actually when players have a break and get the chance to find out who's buying what, drop weapons and find out which tactics they're going to run," the in-game leader explained. "Freezetime is something you can't change, but some of the other things should be changeable, and I think it's time that we consider it.
"I would like to be like the front figure for all of this and try to move ground with this, but I don't see myself going into it because I think it would affect my career too much.
"I don't know where we need to start, if it's the TOs, if it's Valve, if the team owners need to take some responsibility... But the games are too long, we can't have viewers sitting and watching a best-of-three for approximately five hours sometimes..."