ztr: "I tried to take as much as I could from hampus and implement it into this team"

Young Ninjas' IGL spoke to HLTV about his individual progress as a caller, the addition of Oliver "⁠debo⁠" Hallel, and what holds the Swedish scene back.

Young Ninjas got off to a strong start at WePlay Academy League S2 Finals in Kyiv with a swift 2-0 victory over BIG Academy, dropping just eleven rounds in the series.

After the game was over, we caught up with Erik "⁠ztr⁠" Gustafsson to hear about the team's recent signing, the prospect of facing MOUZ NXT and NAVI Junior, his progress as an IGL, and more.

Young Ninjas breezed past BIG Academy in their first match in Kyiv

In the interview, the 18-year-old also shared that while he wants to keep going as an in-game leader, he wouldn't turn down a good offer if it was required to change the role.

First of all, let's talk about the roster change your team made after Season 1 Finals. You brought in debo to replace Mann3n. What kind of a player is he?

The reason we wanted to go with debo over the players we could choose from is because he is a good team player and much easier for me to IGL with. He's listening to the strats, he doesn't do his own thing too much, so it's easier to have him as a part of the team's structure.

Last season mouz NXT denied you the trophy. Did you prepare for this specific match-up coming into this tournament?

We prepared just as usual, we didn't do any specific things. We have a "secret plan," I guess we can say that, but other than that, we are going to prepare just as usual, and hopefully we won't get as rekt as we did last time.

What do you think of NAVI Junior, the only new team compared to last season's finalists?

I think they are also a title contender, to be honest. If things go right for them, they can win today's game against mouz NXT and we will meet them in the upper bracket final. They are pretty good, they just need to do the right things in this game and they will have a good chance of winning.

Are you worried about m0NESY after the performances he put up, especially in the first season?

He's doing really well against all teams, but I feel like we have a good way of not giving him as much impact as he usually gets. I think we lost to them only one time in the group stage of the first season in a best-of-one. Other than that, we won two close best-of-threes this season. I feel like we have a good way of going around his playstyle.

You were listed as NIP's substitute for the Major. Did you practice with the main team?

No, I didn't. It was only in case of emergency. But we went [to the arena]. We were on a bootcamp for the Academy League finals during the Major. All of Young Ninjas were there; we went with our coach and manager to check out the matches, and it was really nice.

What do you make of LNZ's progress in the last months? You used to play with him on the academy team, and now he competes in Major playoffs.

It's been really just like it was for me, but he went even further. It was a really fast switch and really fast development, he's obviously doing pretty good now in the main team as he qualified for Major playoffs. He's been adapting pretty well. He has improved a lot since the last time we played, and it's really good to see.

debo joined the team as a replacement for Mann3n two months ago

Here is a question about the Swedish scene. I saw an interview with f0rest where he said that young Swedish players feel entitled due to your country's history in the game. Do you share that sentiment?

I feel like many players in Sweden have a big ego even though they haven't done so much. There are of course a few exceptions of really humble people, but as for the majority, they have a big ego for the things they have done. I think they should just stay humble - that's how many more teams will form in Sweden. Everyone wants to be a star player, and you can't have a team where everyone wants to be the best. That won't work, and that's why there are not as many Swedish teams as in Russia for example.

What do you make of your progress as a caller? Do you think that you have improved?

Yes, I definitely feel like I've improved a lot since when I was playing with LNZ. I feel like I've progressed a lot.

I've taken a lot of things from different players. When I was playing with the main team, I only IGL'd on two maps for a short period of time, but on the other maps I listened to what hampus was doing, when he was doing it, etc. I tried to take from him as much as I could, and I tried to implement all the good things that I could into this team.

Are you dedicated to keep playing as a caller, or you wouldn't mind changing the role in the future?

I would prefer to play as an IGL. But of course, if a good offer comes up and it's not as an IGL but just as a rifler, I will think about it and maybe even take it, depending on how good it is.

To close out the interview, tell me how your coach, slap, contributes to your individual development.

He gives me tips, we have some chats here and there on how I can improve my calling, how I just act all around in game. That's important as well, you have to act as a leader and be a leader if you are a caller. He's also helping me out a lot in real-life aspects.

Sweden Oliver 'debo' Hallel
Oliver 'debo' Hallel
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Sweden Erik 'ztr' Gustafsson
Erik 'ztr' Gustafsson
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
kicked soon anyway
2021-11-12 21:10
7 replies
2021-11-12 21:11
5 replies
ztr > lnz
2021-11-12 21:34
4 replies
-LNZ +ztr ztr to IGL
2021-11-12 21:36
3 replies
Nah es3tag for lnz
2021-11-12 21:43
2 replies
ztr > every player in world except RUSH
2021-11-12 21:44
1 reply
2021-11-12 23:27
poor guy, Be kicked by Nip.
2021-11-13 06:33
United States JoshDAA
2021-11-12 21:10
ukraine flag??
2021-11-12 21:10
11 replies
Ukrainian tournament
2021-11-12 21:11
They're on LAN in Ukraine
2021-11-12 21:11
Serbia XD___
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-12 21:11
Yes my friend
2021-11-12 21:12
Romania cRystyann
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-12 21:12
yes next s1mple pog
2021-11-12 21:50
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-12 21:55
Sweden quacke
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-13 11:48
Belgium _l1festyle
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-13 11:57
Nigeria Bblk1DblW
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-14 11:20
they are on lan in Ukraine
2021-11-14 15:23
2021-11-12 21:10
he'll soon be leading young ninjas valorant division
2021-11-12 21:12
Who cares
2021-11-12 21:13
Pessi news?
2021-11-12 21:16
Thanks for the interview ellanarkjesus wtf is this nickname btw, I really enjoy following ztrs progress and think that he is gonna be a good igl for tier 1 scene in a year or so. Very humble aswell, this lnz part is nice to read
2021-11-12 21:20
Estonia Kizma
Listening to hampus = lose all t sides
2021-11-12 21:24
1 reply
2021-11-12 21:43
Sweden frizzahh
Get that lan win now 👑👑
2021-11-12 21:27
nilo | 
Sweden caijen
what happened to nilo?
2021-11-12 22:07
2 replies
i came here to write the same question
2021-11-12 22:33
1 reply
I think he is focusing on school but not sure
2021-11-12 22:38
young ninjas also have bad t-sides? didnt know that
2021-11-12 22:09
United Kingdom MikeLCHV
better than lnbotz
2021-11-12 22:10
-friberg +ztr for Dignitas. improvement as f0ck.
2021-11-13 00:49
2 replies
igl who lol
2021-11-13 19:51
1 reply
Basically anyone. Can’t really get worse.
2021-11-13 20:28
Respect to LNZ, continuing to fight after getting dropped so fast
2021-11-13 02:00
2 replies
Worded poorly. Sounds like LNZ got benched which he didn’t..
2021-11-14 02:10
1 reply
Yeah 3 letter names are too hard hard I gusss :> it was not ment about him haha
2021-11-14 02:12
2021-11-13 05:49
Russia ToughGuy
calm down tier3 player
2021-11-13 08:13
Sweden sn1pie
2021-11-13 13:17
"I feel like we have a good way of not giving [m0NESY] as much impact as he usually gets" That was it, this interview was the only thing they had for him. Trying to make him think they do. NIP is a clown org with clown ego players.
2021-11-14 21:29
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