gade on XANTARES: "I think I bring a lot more tactically and in terms of comms to the team than he did"
BIG arrive at V4 Future Sports Festival as one of the favourites to take home the crown, but they arrive on the back of a mixed run of form. The PGL Major Stockholm run was something of a disappointment, and they bounced back to make the final of the last ever DreamHack Open, only to lose to fnatic.
HLTV sat down with one of the newest additions to the team, gade, to discuss those recent tournament results, his assessment of his time on the roster so far, and much more.
The first thing to talk about is your run at the Major, how did the team feel about it?
Well you always want more, right? The losses we had were really tough, losing to first Flames, then ENCE, then MOUZ, and against MOUZ and ENCE they were really close matchups. I think we had good analysis and momentum coming from the IEM Fall tournament, which we got through even though it was a close call, but overall our map pool at the Major just wasn't good enough, so you could say MOUZ and ENCE deserved it more than we did. We played some decent CS but we definitely made a lot of mistakes, which cost us qualification for the Legends Stage in the end. Since the Major we have been working hard to just try and deepen our map pool.
What were your expectations coming into the Major?
It's always the typical answer for a CS professional to say "take it one game at a time", and I think in a Swiss format it is really like that, because you don't really know your next opponent. We got a win against Entropiq, lost to Flames but then beat Renegades, so we were definitely feeling confident. Even against Flames, though they were on a hot streak, no pun intended. I think overall, personally, I was not satisfied, I definitely wanted more. It's just so tight, the whole field was packed with good teams, and you expect to have upsets with best of ones, anything can happen.
Do you think the Flames result was partly due to them being a team you hadn't seen too much of?
The thing is, we had played them before at IEM Fall and also lost. At the Major we ended up playing Nuke against them, at IEM Fall it was Vertigo, which was also a really close match that they ended up winning. We definitely expected them to play well, they had shown great results at IEM Fall and we knew they were on the radar for other teams, so we prepared for them as normal. It just wasn't enough, they had a great run and deserved it more.
Moving on to the DreamHack Open result, how did you feel about the run there?
I think it was an okay run. It was the last DreamHack Open and I have played a lot of them and only won one, so I was looking forward to winning the last one, you know? I think it was okay, we still ended up playing really close with forZe and GamerLegion, which was a bit unexpected, and you could argue we were supposed win those games 2-0 and we just couldn't close them out.
Against fnatic, on that day they were just individually better, they really stomped us so to say. I watched the game again late at night after that final, and it was a tough one. We just played bad individually, and team-wise the synergy was off, just a bad day at the office. You could say that was our C level, and you need to find your B level and that make that even better, but we were definitely lacking some individual skill, in how to handle executes and explosive stuff, just not good. Ever since they brought in smooya they have been playing well, and they played well against us. We played Ancient for the first time, it was an okay debut for us, at least we showed we now play that map and we can play it decent.
How much have you been working on Ancient?
I would say after the Major we figured out that our map pool just wasn't deep enough, as I said, so we kinda came to the conclusion that we had to have three or four maps that we could actually go and pick against teams. At that point, it was basically only Dust2 that we felt confident on, so now we have three or four more that we have made a lot stronger, so that is good coming into a new tournament here.
Talking more generally, how has it been going from your perspective since joining BIG?
From the start it has been going pretty good, results-wise we have been qualifying for the things we have to qualify for, like BLAST Finals. Sadly not the Legends Stage of the Major, and ESL Pro League we ended up flubbing, that was the first one.
I think it's going alright, I'm also learning a lot of new stuff, I think the system is now within my brain so to say. I definitely understand how tabseN wants to call and how the team works, also individually how people want to play in clutches and so on, so I think it's been good and I have really just been trying to take it all in. Also, adapting to a new language!
How has that been, it must be hard to adapt to a different language in a fast-paced game like CS:GO?
I have been in Berlin for a really long time, being there physically makes it a lot easier because I am also talking German right after and before practice. In CS, spots are just another name you need to adapt to, and then it's certain key words you always use to say stuff fast on the go. I think adapting to that is not as difficult as I thought, it's more outside of the game, if you're expressing feelings or if you have to explain something and you don't know the words. Being there physically and only hearing German for nearly three months now, it's definitely going faster than I expected and I think I have been doing alright. I can still get better at the language, so there is still some improvement to see there.
Obviously you came in to replace XANTARES, and most would not consider him to have a similar playstyle to you. How has that affected the roles within the team?
We definitely have been trying to play around with it a little bit, we have tried to set up so that I am the guy coming in to clutch at the end. We have also changed some maps so that I am doing map control with tabseN, for example, because there is good synergy. Now it is a bit of a mix, we are still trying to find out who has what role on some T sides, and also CT sides we have been making some changes, but it is definitely part of the journey finding out who plays best where. Also, now you can drop grenades, you can set people up even more to have one guy coming in clutching out the round when trades are coming in, and he can have an overview of the round.
I think XANTARES and I are probably two completely different players, I have been hearing tonnes about this firepower thing but that doesn't bother me too much. On paper yeah, but I don't see myself as an individually worse player than him, and I think I bring a lot more tactically and in terms of comms to the team than he did.
Do you think that was important to BIG, to have a more well-rounded player on the team?
Well I would have to say yes, because of what they did, right? I think they needed a change, and one thing to talk about is that they all speak their mother language. That is good for them, and a huge motivation boost for them, I am glad I can contribute to that and be the dumb Dane, I guess?
Good looking though, so it balances out right?
The other recent personnel change was the addition of enkay J. I know it hasn't been long, but what are the first impressions like?
So enkay J, Niclas, he is definitely the guy that you can look up to. He is very energetic, he is on time with everything, and he has everything planned out so he is really bringing some structure, which is good for tabseN so he doesn't have to think about that too much.
He also is very tactically aware, he is making good calls in game and in practice. During the tournaments we have been playing he can actually talk all the time, which is a huge factor, and he has surprised me a lot. I am definitely happy that he has joined us.
People often talk about coaches having different styles, some are more focused on the tactical side of things and some focus on bringing structure outside of the game, is he bringing a bit of both?
Yeah he is doing a bit of both and also just motivating us when we are in a tough time. For example, the recent final against Fnatic, we were definitely lacking some… not energy, but when nothing is going your way it is tough to bounce back right? He definitely did well, some good speeches trying to motivate us like “keep going boys, get the communication up, help each other set up a good play and we will make a comeback now, no problem”. He is bringing a bit of it all, some tactical help, some motivation, and some energy.
Bringing the conversation to this tournament, where you come in as one of the favourites, what are the expectations?
Now I have to go back to that damn politically correct answer right, one game at a time? We are still waiting to see who our first opponent will be, the last qualification matches are going on right now so we will have to see. I am definitely looking forward to playing, and specifically playing some maps that we didn't get to play in Dreamhack Open for example, to show that we have been working a lot on them, which is always fun.
We will have to see, Entropiq for example, we beat them at the Major but they had a really good run after that so they are hungry. Gambit, deep run at the Major too. Then you have all the teams from the play-in, who will be even more hungry than some of the favourites here. It will be fun! Opening games are best-of-one, and the schedule means you can go out on the first day, so you have to be there from the start. We are working and practicing today, preparation is ongoing, and it's about coming in hot from the first match.
Speaking of preparation, have you had much of a chance to look at the play-in teams?
So we have eSuba, Sinners, Enterprise, and Fiend or Team Hungary. Fiend we have played, insanely good individually and they do things that are unexpected. All over the map they are taking duels, and if you lose the duel somewhere it creates a little bit of chaos on Teamspeak, because you don't know if you need to stay in your spot or rotate. You really have to punish them from the start, and I think syrsoN is the man for that. He can punish those offensive plays, really shut them down early on, and I guess they will then go to some set strats, maybe some explosive stuff, and I think we handle those pretty well.
Other than that I am just excited to play a new tournament. We have three busy weeks ahead, we have this one, then we fly to Copenhagen for the BLAST Finals, then straight after that we go to IEM Winter. It's a grind, and I am loving that, I am always looking forward to competing.
Any specific goals for that busy end-of-year period?
We don't have a talk about what our goals are, we take it on the go. Personally, I am always giving 200% for each match, I don't care who the opponent is, for me it's all about winning.
Here, making playoffs is what we need to do I think, and we will go from there. I would like to maybe meet Gambit in the final.