cadiaN on botched FPX transfer in 2020: “I could understand es3tag”
As the Danish player prepares to leave Heroic, he reminisced about his time with the organization.
In the first of a three-part video series produced by Heroic, Casper "cadiaN" Møller reflected on the initial two years of his tenure with the organization after being signed from North in the fall of 2019.
When he joined Heroic, the size of the organization came as a bit of a shock to him.
“The Heroic organization, back in 2019, 2020 was quite something,” he said. “Five players, a coach, and a CEO. There was this team manager who was then removed for stealing money from us, equipment and stuff like that. That was about it. Maybe there was a content guy as well.
“It was a very small organization, and it definitely didn't have the same staff as some of the other organizations. That kind of came along the way, with our wins and rise in the rankings.”
cadiaN also touched on the protracted saga involving Heroic and FunPlus Phoenix in the spring of 2020. Days after the Chinese organization announced the signing of Heroic’s roster to participate in Flashpoint, it was reported that Patrick "es3tag" Hansen had agreed to join Astralis in the summer.
Then-Heroic CEO Erik Askered accused Astralis of acting “in bad faith” and “considerably” affecting the sale of the roster. In the end, the deal fell through, and the players returned to Heroic despite having already played one Flashpoint match under FPX’s banner in Los Angeles.
“All of a sudden there was a disagreement about salaries, contract lengths, and the amount of money they had to pay Heroic and whatnot,” cadiaN explained. “The deal collapsed, we were in the middle of LA, COVID broke out and we had to make roster changes.
“Astralis approached es3tag and he wanted to go. Then I convinced him to stay, [but] in the end, he still ended up having to go. Back then, you could understand the move to Astralis because they were in a different position than Heroic.
“I was upset with Heroic, FPX, and honestly also Flashpoint. I think the only one I wasn't that angry with was es3tag. I hoped he would go a different route, but I could understand him.”
If you don't see the video above, you can view it here.
Despite the setback, the team continued on an upward trajectory after signing René "TeSeS" Madsen and Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen, developing a unique style of play that began to yield success in the online era. But in February 2021, after a run of mixed results, Heroic jumped at the opportunity to sign Rasmus "sjuush" Beck and Ismail "refrezh" Ali from MAD Lions.
"sjuush was a guy that we had been looking at for a long time because of his anchor positions and him being able to play them super well," he said. "He was one of a kind in that position in Denmark at that time. That was a no-brainer.
“The refrezh one was very interesting. We had a lot of different ideas about who the last guy could be. We talked to aizy, Kjaerbye and es3tag a little bit. We were not entirely sure, but, in the end, the talks with him about his work mentality and how he would fit into the group and what TeSeS and stavn knew about him from prior teams made us lean in that direction.
“There was no doubt that aizy and Kjaerbye were not motivated to the same level as refrezh. Even though they had a higher skill ceiling, at least at that time, and way more achievements and experience, we went with a guy who was hungry and wanted to work hard and fit the system and the culture.
“For me, that’s something I’ll never regret, picking players who might be 1 or 2 percent less skilled but are 20 or 30 percent better for the team environment and for the culture.”
cadiaN argued that the team played some “beautiful CS” during their honeymoon period with the new roster and spoke highly of the rivalry they developed with Gambit, which culminated in a thrilling five-map ESL Pro League Season 13 grand final that lasted seven hours. That was when cadiaN pulled off his famous series-winning 1v4 clutch on Mirage.
There’s no mention during this first part of former Heroic coach Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen, who was slapped with an eight-month ban in 2020 for using the spectator bug. He was later banned a second time for two years for leaking "sensitive" internal documents to Astralis ahead of a move to the Danish rival. In December 2022, after a meeting with the Esports Integrity Commission (ESIC), his ban was lifted.
He is reportedly on his way to Liquid, though he will still play one final tournament for the team, the BLAST Premier Fall Final in Copenhagen, later this month.