Magisk: "FaZe are not on the top level they used to be"
Vitality have earned themselves a spot in the semi-finals of ESL Pro League following a 2-0 win over Outsiders, although it was a somewhat labored effort that saw Mirage and Dust2 both go the distance before the international side emerged victorious.
The win offers good signs for Vitality as it came in a series where they weren't firing on all cylinders, meaning the team don't have to always be on their A-game to take important matches over the line. Still, they'll need to work on their individual level if they hope to contest for the Pro League title heading into the final stages of the tournament, with Cloud9, Liquid, G2 and Natus Vincere all possible opponents they could face in their remaining matches.
Following the match, HLTV talked to Magisk to get his thoughts on how he felt the series went and how Vitality are faring on the server. The Dane spoke to how Spinx has allowed a slight transition of roles for himself, as well as discussed the level of FaZe following their exit from the event at the hands of Cloud9.
To touch on the match, there were two quite close maps. Mirage ended 16-13, and then Dust2 went to overtime — how do you feel after the series?
I'm obviously really happy that we managed to come through and take the win in the end, that's the most important thing. I'm just happy that even though we didn't have our best day as individuals, we still managed to come through it as a team and play some good Counter-Strike, and that's important because if we don't have this consistent level we're not going to be able to go deep into tournaments.
When we have off-days, we need to be able to close out these matches like we did today, so I think that's probably the thing I'm most happy about today. We took it one round at a time, focused on the game, and tried to find solutions for how they were playing.
You individually had some big impact in this series, especially with two crucial rounds on Dust2 with a B hold as well as a 1vs3. Has the Spinx change helped enable you to be more impactful in that sense, or is that you just stepping up on your own?
It's always a help to have a guy who is sick individually. I don't know how good he played today, but in general he's a really really strong rifler and a really good player, so obviously that is going to create more space for everyone on the team, not just for me but for everyone. That's definitely something that's going to help the team develop in the future as well, we will have more space on the map because we have stronger individual players and that's definitely something that's needed nowadays in Counter-Strike.
For me it's more been about trying to keep developing myself. My role is a bit more aggressive lurking and his is a bit more passive lurking, so in that sense it fits really good. I like to be aggressive sometimes, that's what I think I can be really good at sometimes, so having someone passive lurking so I don't feel that I have to be camping and can go for flanks and stuff is obviously a nice thing for me.
Has that role adjustment allowed you to secondary call even more now?
I mean, I don't think it has changed since we changed the player, I'm still going to be the secondary caller. For me it hasn't changed that much, only in the fact that it gives more space on the map when you have a player who's strong individually and in general has a lot of good ideas and is really good at communicating as well.
Obviously it's a big help for the team, and it also makes it easier for me to focus a bit more on my own game because I don't have to try and come in with so many inputs since there is a lot of good ideas in general. For me it's more about helping a little bit in the midround, or if I see openings, if I see the way they're playing that I feel like now we should try and do stuff, but in general I feel like apEX is really good at reading the game so I'm not really dedicated to talking every round and coming with ideas every single round.
He has a lot of ideas and a lot of things he wants to do, so I don't want to interfere with him too much especially if he's having a really good game in calling, and I think he did call really well today. Some of the rounds we lost ended up in some individual mistakes, and obviously Dan [apEX], he can't outcall that, it's not possible. Sometimes mistakes happen and you can do the perfect call, but if people are just not hitting their shots it's obviously not going to work. If we struggle a bit, if he doesn't really know what to call and stuff like that, that's when I'll try my best to come with input and try and help the team as much as possible.
I did want to ask about Spinx playing connector since that was a role change that happened recently for him coming into this team, and he struggled a little bit today. Is that just one he's having more difficultly with right now?
In general it's just a really tough position to play. There's a lot of responsibility, you have to be really proactive, you have to always come with ideas, control the game. In general the connector guy is mostly the guy who's controlling what we're going to do on the CT side because he has the most idea of what's going on in general, on the whole map. It's a tough role so that's something he needs experience with, and I think it's too early for him to be one of the best connector players in the world. You just need experience in this position.
He used to play short back in the day and it's really not the same. The short player is more supportive, doing a little bit of peeks once in a while, being the support on B site. Now he has to talk a lot and he has to take a lot of responsibility, and coming from somewhere where you play short and you don't have to do that, it's a big change. He just needs more time and experience in the position, and with time I think he can be a really strong connector player because he has really strong individual performances, and he is just one of those guys who's going to pop off, do thirty bombs and control the whole game, so it'll take some more time with him.
Turning attention to the match coming up now, you're through to the semi-finals, where you'll play the winner of the match between G2 and NAVI. Is there a team between those that you'd really prefer to play right now?
It's a tough call. Obviously NAVI is a tough team and G2 can be a really strong team as well. Looking at it on paper, I would prefer to play G2. I think NAVI is the stronger team right now and their map pool is also a bit stronger in my opinion because G2 just changed players. It's different, they need more time just like us, and even though they have really sick individuals, I still think we have a better chance against them.
In the end, G2 is always a team that's like, they have the individuals, so if they pop off it's going to be a close match and it's going to be tough. On the other hand if they don't show up, I also feel like sometimes they can be a little bit of a walk in the park, but they have so many good individuals that it's pretty rare that it happens of course. Looking on paper I'd prefer to play G2, but you can't underestimate anyone in CS nowadays. It's the semi-final and everything is on the line, it's just high-pressure games and that's how Counter-Strike is sometimes.
There's been some talk since the tournament break with all of the changes that happened as to which of the international teams won that shuffle period, especially with you and G2 making pretty big additions. Do you feel like you came out on top of those trades so far?
I think it's too early to say now. It's too early to say which team is the strongest. You can see Counter-Strike is too close nowadays, like it's one bad match and then you're going to be out. Even FaZe, they are not on the top level they used to be. They might have sick individuals, but right now it's not clicking in the same way.
It's kinda like when you get a good start as a new team like they did, they were kinda stomping through with a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence, individuals who are really sick as well. It was all clicking, but now they're slowly getting into this where the real world is hitting them you know, because now they struggle a little bit, now they need to figure out their problems, and now they need to be in a situation where it's not really working that well. They are still a really good team but now it's different, they don't have the same confidence where they just feel like, 'ah it might be 4-11, but we're going to win anyway.' They need to find out how to fix their problems and develop as a team.
I definitely think they will get better with time, but that's how it is sometimes. When you get a lot of momentum you can win a lot of tournaments, you have a lot of confidence. One of the most important things in Counter-Strike is confidence, and even back in Astralis when we won everything, we had so much confidence, even when it was 3-12. Having this is probably one of the most important things in Counter-Strike.
G2 I think it's too early to say how good they're going to be because there are so many good teams. Even with us it's too early to say because I don't feel like we've hit our peak level yet, but I also don't feel like we've been in a bad period yet. We need to see how we act if we get into a bad period and how we react if we get into a good period, so there's a lot of things to learn still.
Unrelated to the tournament, there have been some rumors that device might come back, that he's been getting shopped around to different teams. Do you hope to play against him again sometime soon?
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea. We don't talk about roster moves in between us, I mean we are friends with the Astralis guys but pleasure is pleasure and business is business, and that's why I think it's only fair that we don't talk about these things.
I also think if device wants to come back I would love to play against him, he's a good player, but he needs to want it and actually be there. It's a tough life to be a professional Counter-Strike player, a lot of good things as well but it's also really difficult to be a professional, so we will need to see if that's what he wants. If he wants to do that, I would gladly have him back, he's a sick player, a nice person, so yeah. I just hope he does what is best for himself.