Bubzkji: "I can't be a one-trick pony; I need to learn harder roles as well"
Astralis' rifler spoke about the changes in the team, his adaptation to different roles, and the expectations from the BLAST Fall group stage.
Over a year has passed since former MAD Lions star Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen joined Astralis, but his journey with the powerhouse Danish organization hasn't been a smooth one. In an interview conducted in the lead-up to the BLAST Premier Fall Groups, the 23-year-old talked about his struggles to fit into the lineup, regain form, and become a more versatile player.
Astralis are placed in group A with Vitality, Liquid, and Evil Geniuses at BLAST, which Bubzkji acknowledged is a group that isn't going to be easy to advance from. Making it to the Fall Finals on home soil is a goal for the Danish team, but the main focus remains the Major — even though it is still unclear whether their IGL Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander will return to the roster in time for it.
I'll start with your Tweet after EPL which said: "Honestly, it's rough to play officials right now, both personal level and teamwork is lacking." To expand on that, what were the thoughts after the EPL performance and going out in groups?
I think the Tweet is tied to the context of what happened before we got into group A, which was really rough because we only had 2-3 days practice days with Lucky. We really hoped we could get group B, C, or D, but we got the first one and then we had to go in there and meet Heroic which is kind of our rival, with almost zero practice, so that was frustrating. That is the context behind that Tweet.
After the group stage finished you had some time to think about it, what were the takeaways from the group stage?
I think we had the hardest group, to be honest, I think ENCE was really playing well and Heroic is in my opinion one of the best teams out there. That we almost qualified kind of made me happy because it showed that we could, with almost 0 practice, still play against top 10 teams on a regular level.
Talking about teamwork, the roster in Astralis has obviously not been really stable, a lot of changes happened through the last year, most recently with Lucky, Xyp9x, gla1ve. So how do you build back the teamwork that is needed for the squad to perform?
I mean, I'm not really the one doing roster changes, I'm just playing, but I think Astralis is going through what other teams have been going through for the last four years. Astralis has had the luxury of never needing to change because they have been so good, but now things started to get rough so it automatically starts a chain reaction of [people thinking]: "Is this the right place for me?" I don't know how to say it, but it is hard to find out what it will look like and how we get it to be stable.
Now that gla1ve is out, most people are expecting that Magisk takes over as the main caller in the team. Is that how it is going to work, considering he did that in the past?
Yeah, Magisk is going to call again, I don't think it is going to affect us too much. I think Magisk is a very solid IGL, actually, so I'm very happy, and it changes some roles for everyone so I think it fits a little bit better now, but let's see. Xyp9x is a very easy guy to plug in because he can play almost every spot and do well, so it is very nice to have him back.
Regarding the roles shuffling, there seems to be a correlation between Xyp9x being in the team and your individual performances being better, perhaps it opens up more space for you to do stuff on the map. Do you feel that in the game as well, is this something that will help you perform better?
I think it is going to help me perform better, but I don't know because I haven't tried it in any officials yet. But it has been going great in practice so far, and yeah, it opens up a little bit of space for me since I and gla1ve like a lot of the same roles. Now that he is out for this tournament I'll fill in his spots and play what I normally did back in the days. I think it is going to free up a little bit more space for me, but I also need to focus on myself and being able to develop more skills than one. I can't really be a one-trick pony that I kind of was in MAD Lions, where I could just play all of the roles that I liked, and then I would be super confident. I need to fit into the team and it is a whole different dynamic, I need to learn harder roles as well.
How is that development going? This discussion that Bubzkji is a very aggressive player and can only do that has been going on practically since you joined Astralis. How much has that changed, how much have you worked on it?
As you said earlier, it has been a little bit hectic because of all of the roster changes, I've had to switch roles sometimes. First I'd play one spot, then I'd have to switch to something different. I think things are starting to settle now. If you are going to give me a chance to show what I've got I think it is the next couple of tournaments — to see if I can develop into the roles that I need or if I'm just washed (laughs).
With the dynamic of the roster currently — the IEM Fall roster is locked in and we see that gla1ve isn't there either — is there any timeline that you have? Is gla1ve going to be back for the Major or is the current lineup going to be the one you have moving forward?
I think it really depends on when his wife gives birth. The plan was really never... We were six people again because there was a lot of uncertainty with Xyp9x and gla1ve, and we tried to find a solution. The solution was to play Xyp9x in these two events after EPL, and then depending on when gla1ve's wife gives birth [we determine our roster]. Because if it is too late, it is also going to be a little bit hectic to plug him back into the roster. But we are working on a plan, and I think we have everything settled the best we can. We obviously can't plan a perfect date for the day he becomes a father but we are working around it a lot.
It is an unfair comparison, but still: Lucky and device. From your perspective, how do the two compare and how has Lucky been doing so far?
I don't think Lucky has ever played a LAN before (laughs), so there is obviously a huge difference in terms of experience and what he brings to the team in terms of teamwork, but he has a lot of individual skill that we can build upon. If he keeps on developing I'm pretty sure that in maybe a year or something he can be a very very good device replacement in terms of firepower and matching the same statistics that device once had. Obviously, it is in his hands, but we are trying to help him as much as we can.
What about stylistically? Is he the type of AWPer Astralis is looking for?
I think we want AWPers who are very proactive and want to dominate games, and try to take peeks all the time. Lucky is very happy to take those peeks so I think it is going to be a pretty good fit. He is going to need some time to become confident in everything he does, but I'm pretty sure we are going to get there at some point.
Moving into BLAST, it is probably a difficult group that you have, especially considering Vitality's recent performance at EPL, and Evil Geniuses and Liquid are there too. Is making Finals from this group a must for Astralis?
I think it is obviously an important event, we want to go there [to the Finals] and we want to win, but I think it is not a must-win. Doing well at the Major is a must for us, at least for me. I don't think we always share the same goals, you have some individual goals, but for me, the Major is the most important, and this BLAST is also really important but it is still below that. Due to the fact that the main event is in the Royal Arena, I think it would be devastating not to qualify, but the group is tough, and the Showdown is just... (sighs) It is rough to qualify from Showdown due to the way the circuit works.
You did tweet about missing playing open qualifiers, and looking at Astralis you don't really play a lot of officials these days. Do you miss having a bit more official action?
We only play tournaments that are relevant for us. If we go out early, it is kind of hard to play tournaments that are relevant for us (laughs). I think when we get better we will also have more official activity. The next couple of months are going to be pretty hectic, if you look at the calendar there are going to be a lot of events in a row so I think we are going to get back to that pretty soon.
Looking back, it has been over a year since you joined Astralis. Back in MAD Lions, Bubzkji was this amazing player everyone was hyped about, just looking at the stats, 1.13 rating for your time there, and then Astralis, 0.96...
(imitates crashing sounds)
... not that many maps even played in the first couple of months, not on the same level. Has it been a frustrating year?
I think that personally, not CS-wise, it has been a learning experience. In the past, I didn't even work that hard, in MAD Lions I would just f*ck around and still own people, I don't know how. Now I work much harder, but somehow I do worse (laughs). I've tried, as we talked about earlier, to mold into a different type of player, obviously, the opponents are also way tougher now. A lot of the teams I played back then were top 15 teams, top 10 teams, I think I only played 3-4 top 5 teams in my whole career in MAD Lions. I think it is a little bit unfair to compare the statistics because they are completely different opponents, but there is no denying that it is not going as well as it was back then.
How do you see the next couple of months developing? What are the key things, either for you or for Astralis to straighten the ship?
I think we need to establish ourselves not necessarily as a tournament-winning team, but establish ourselves in the top 5, top 10 region very consistently. We need to qualify for the Major and do well there, from that point I think we are going to get new goals, but right now for me, it is getting to that top 5, top 10 spot and be there consistently so we can build upon that.