casle on device's return: "We have to see when. Early 2023, I hope"
Astralis's interim head coach spoke about hopes of Nicolai "device" Reedtz returning to play after the new year.
Astralis haven't attained much stability in recent years, and their failure to qualify for IEM Rio Major led to the team making changes once again. Star AWPer device returned to the roster after a year and a half away and coach Martin "trace" Heldt was removed from his duties. Astralis Talent's skipper, Peter "casle" Ardenskjold, was then brought up from the academy team to be the interim head coach.
device was expected to make his return with Astralis at Elisa Masters Espoo, but the Danish organization announced shortly before the event that the star AWPer would not be in attendance as they "have time to do things right without forcing anything." In device's place, the Danish side is playing with Kristoffer "Kristou" Aamand from Astralis Talent.
Astralis started off their run in Finland with a strong 2-0 in the group stage and got one more win in the final game against Complexity to make it through to playoffs. casle sat down with HLTV to talk about Astralis's initial success at the event despite not being able to prepare, as they were unsure if device would be attending or not, and the interim coach also gave insight into when fans will see device playing and the changes that he has made in his short time in charge.
Congratulations on making playoffs, would you say that you have met the expectations that you set out for yourselves ahead of this event?
Yeah, we thought we could hold the seed, at least go through the groups. For myself, I think it can go both ways because we played with Kristou, but getting through the groups is nice.
You've been working as the interim head coach for Astralis since the RMR, how has your experience as a head coach been so far?
Pretty good, they have been willing to listen to a lot that is said, I am coming in with new ideas and changing up some roles for players. Actually, we have changed a lot. blameF plays more aggressive map control now than before, Xyp9x has more anchor positions. So far, pretty good.
With you implementing these changes, is it safe to assume that you might be going into a long-term coaching role for this team, or are you strictly an interim coach until they find a replacement?
I'm not the one to answer this question [laughs]. I hope so, and I think so, actually. Time will tell, I have until the end of this year, then we will see what will happen in 2023.
Would you say that the team has enjoyed coming back to LAN after a long break?
Yeah, of course, they always do. You can also see it in the last match that it still means a whole lot to the players. They like to be back on LAN and we are having a good time.
There has been a lot of negativity surrounding Astralis from the outside. How have your players coped with blocking out that negativity?
When I took over the team they were pretty far down in a hole because they bombed out of the RMR, so we took a lot of time talking through what is next for Astralis. We have to build a whole new team to come back to being the best in the world, or one of the best in the world. It's pretty good now, the atmosphere in the team is starting to get back to pretty good. It's okay now, we are building on it.
Astralis has been in a state of change for a very long time, would you say that now we are going to start to see stability?
Yeah I think so, they have been quite unlucky with k0nfig going out with injury and stuff like that in a key moment in the season, right before the RMR. Now with device back, he is coming back with a very good personality, and he is bringing a lot of positives to the team. I think the future is looking bright for 2023.
How has the integration of device been?
Pretty good and pretty smooth. He's come eager to play, he's a super teammate and of course a great player, a pretty good player (laughs). So it's smooth.
He's not here at this event, do you have any idea when he's going to be fully integrated into the team?
We have already said we have got to take our time until the right moment, right now we are practicing with him and it's going good. I think he will be ready for maybe the next tournament or in the new year.
Are you confident he will be coming into the roster in 2023?
Yeah I think so, but we will do it at the right time. He will play in 2023 (laughs), we have to see when. Early 2023, I hope.
Have you been impressed by MistR and Kristou coming into this event?
Yeah of course, I joined as the Astralis Talent coach a couple of months back, and when they started asking who is going to play for k0nfig I was pretty fast to say MistR. He's a super happy and positive guy with a lot of talent, I also think he has proved that in a lot of our matches. So I'm not that shocked about how good he's been.
Kristou, I've known for a long time. I've played against him myself and had him on the talent team. He's standing in for our AWP, he stepped up in the last game and had some pretty key rounds. He showed what he is capable of.
It was announced last minute that device would not be attending this event, how long did you know, and were you able to prep with MistR and Kristou ahead of Elisa Masters Espoo?
We have practiced with Kristou before but we weren't sure if device would play or not, so we have a little bit of practice with Kristou before but not that much. We used our practice time for being ready for 2023.
What would you say the biggest challenge has been coming in as the head coach of Astralis?
I'm not sure if it's the biggest challenge but the key point was to get the team chemistry back and fix the roles, I believe they could do something different. That was the key points for me as coach when I came in, it hasn't been a challenge at all. They have been pretty nice and it has been a good match with me and them.
gla1ve is considered one of the best IGLs in the game, with him winning multiple Majors with his system, how easy was he to work with as a coach?
Surprisingly, he's very open to new ideas. We look at the game the same way, so I think it's pretty good for him that a new guy from lower tiers is coming in with some new ideas and fresh tactics. So that's been pretty good with me and gla1ve.
You said that you have been given till the end of the year, what's the one thing you want to achieve or work on with the team until then?
It's the same as I said earlier, the new roles and trying to build a system that fits gla1ve and the team well. With a lot of my new ideas, you see some of the new nade stacks and stuff like that, I like to give that to the team in the way we play in the new year, in the new Astralis.