In a press conference ahead of the IEM Katowice playoffs, Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen has revealed that Astralis‘ view of the six-man roster has evolved in recent times. The 22-year-old has not played for the team in the last month, sitting out the recent Nuke game against mousesports in the first round of IEM Katowice.
According to Bubzkji, the organization’s approach changed following Valve’s announcement of the 2021 Regional Major Ranking system, in which teams will not be able to make mid-match substitutions, like Astralis had done between December and January.
Astralis are going to approach the six-man roster differently
“Valve wasn’t going to allow substitutions for the RMR [events], so we had to rethink the whole idea of a six-man roster and I think we tried to come up with something different,” Bubzkji revealed. “The difference is that I won’t really just play one map — now I’m going to play multiple maps.
“It’s kind of hard to do it the way we have when Valve limits it, so we’re trying to work on solutions around it. We have something coming up — maybe not in the [IEM Katowice] playoffs, but after the playoffs, from Pro League, I think we’re going to see me coming in to do some work.”
Bubzkji struggled to make an impact during his stretch of eight Nuke games, putting up above-average ratings only in the one-sided victories against FURIA and mousesports. He has admitted that his previous positions on the map were not a good fit, adding that his role will change so that he can be more comfortable in the game.
“I think it was no secret that some of the roles on Nuke weren’t perfect for me, and I also think that maybe hindered my performance a little bit, so now we’re going to try again in a new way,” Bubzkji shared. “I think the way we’re going to do it now is going to work better for both them and me.”
motm has averaged a 1.08 rating for Extra Salt, often being the team’s hard entry into sites on the T side while seeking out information with aggressive pushes on the defense. The roster kicked off the year by qualifying for DreamHack Open January, where they were surprisingly eliminated in third place following a pair of losses to Rebirth.
MarKE put up similar numbers for Chaos, averaging a 1.07 rating in his three months with the team, albeit against stiffer competition including the likes of Evil Geniuses and Liquid. HLTV.org knows he has been practicing with the team for a few days, although he has yet to sign with the organisation.
The 22-year-old is set to make his debut against Rise at 03:00 in ESEA Premier Season 36, where Extra Salt currently lead Group A alongside Bad News Bears with a 3-0 record.
OG, the 12th best team of 2020, have been gradually slipping down the world rankings following a rough start to the year. The international squad crashed out of cs_summit 7 in 5th-8th place, lost two series in the BLAST Premier Spring Groups and were among the first teams to be knocked out of IEM Katowice.
Aleksib said the team are having discussions after the IEM Katowice exit
“We haven’t thought about it too much,” Aleksib said on the possibility of adding a sixth player. “We are having individual talks, team talks, every kind of talk (laughs). But the thing is that we just bombed out of a tournament that we had high hopes for and that we had practiced really hard for. So right now, we have a period when we are having a lot of discussions. I don’t have exact answers, but all I’m saying is that we are discussing to figure things out.”
OG‘s team members have been playing all tournaments from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Issa “ISSAA” Murad the most affected by the current conditions as he constantly has to deal with high ping. Even if the team decided to make use of OG’s gaming house, located in Lisbon, the Jordanian would not be able to go.
“Anything he [ISSAA] tries to do, when it comes to internet issues, when it comes to a visa if we’re thinking of having a bootcamp, is a problem, everything is super hard because of where he lives,” Aleksib explained. “Usually, in our games, everybody has between 30-50 ping, while ISSAA has 80 or 90. It’s so hard because you don’t know how long this COVID period is going to be and I know for a fact that ISSAA is like a ‘glue’ on LAN, he brings a lot of hype and he shoots better. We think this online period has brought ISSAA down quite a bit, and that’s really unfortunate.
“Today, the embassy said that ISSAA can’t travel to Lisbon, no matter what. Even if he had the visa right now, he couldn’t travel. So we have to think of something else, and that’s again having to take a step back, but we’ll have to figure something as a team.”
OG‘s lineup has been the same since the organisation entered Counter-Strike in December 2019. Last year, the team twice came close to glory, in IEM New York and Flashpoint 2, before losing in the grand final to FaZe and Virtus.pro.
For Aleksib, the lack of silverware isn’t caused by strategic limitations. He believes that the team can contend for more championships once the players step up individually.
“Honestly, I think that the only thing that it takes is us for us to get headshots because we have been a team for 14 months right now and our playbook is really deep,” he said. “The number of scenarios we have been through, the rules we have in place, or the decisions we made when we take control of the map, everything is so detailed. We have so much, more than enough to win something, in my opinion. I feel like we have more than when I was in ENCE, and we won something with ENCE.”
Moving on to ENCE, Aleksib commented on the organisation’s move to build an international roster with only two Finnish players, Aleksi “allu” Jalli and Joonas “doto” Forss. For the OG captain, who played for ENCE for almost two years in two spells between 2016 and 2019, the issues in the team affected the rebuilding process and forced the organisation to look abroad for talent for the first time in the organisation’s history.
“It was kind of a downhill battle for them, everyone battling with mental issues, where you’re getting shitty messages all around, every player is feeling like shit, and all the rumours are going around,” he said. “They couldn’t steer the ship in a better direction and all the players started dropping drop from left to right. All of these things combined, I don’t think it gives the best impression to anyone, right? ENCE most likely didn’t contact every Finnish player, it was a handful of players, I may be wrong on some people, but I know for a fact that some didn’t want to join them and I think it’s just based on everything that happened.”
You can access the full VOD of Monday’s episode of ‘HLTV Confirmed’ below.
Michał “MICHU” Müller has been released from Envy, the Pole has announced. He is now on the lookout for a new team and is open to offers “from all over the world” as an entry fragger.
“After such a bad year, I feel an incredible hunger to win and fight for every position on the HLTV rankings. I am able to devote every minute of my life to the best preparation for the next matches and tournaments, MICHU said in a Twitlonger.
“I love working for the good of the team and cooperate with people who also like me, put good preparation first and fight to the very end to achieve the desired success and fulfill all the goals and dreams I have set before. The title of ‘robot’ in my former team was not assigned to me by accident.”
MICHU is a free agent
The 24-year-old last made headlines when he and the rest of the former Envy lineup was placed on the transfer list in mid-January, as the American organization decided to put its CS:GO division on hold.
The team went on to make two more changes within the next five months amid middling results as they parted ways with moose and ryann and added Thomas “Thomas” Utting, while LEGIJA transitioned to a playing position. After that, the only tournament the new lineup attended was Flashpoint 2, where Envy placed seventh-eighth with just one win in five series.
The European team that reached their peak world ranking of #6 at the turn of the year recorded underwhelming results at the first tournaments of 2021, most recently exiting IEM Katowice 2021 in 13-16th place.
To hear about what caused OG‘s slump and how the team plans to get out of it, HLTV Confirmed S5E28 will feature the Finnish caller Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen.
Aleksib will feature on HLTV Confirmed for the first time
Hot seat with Aleksib -Reaching #6 in the world (IEM NY, Flashpoint 2) -Player break and preparations -2021 slump (summit, BLAST, Katowice) -What is holding OG back? Recent news -suNny leaves ENCE, new project coming? -Omaken acquires Heroic -apEX returns to Vitality roster IEM Katowice -Play-in: mouz & NiP advance, C9 & Col falter -CIS teams continue to impress -Liquid to semis with FalleN’s calling -Astralis in playoffs, Bubzkji out of the picture? -FaZe’s first impression with karrigan -How will the playoffs go? Playtime -Viewer questions and leftover topics
I was a bit surprised when I saw that MAD Lions had parted ways with you, and I noticed that refrezh, sjuush, roeJ, and HooXi spoke highly of you on Twitter. Was their opinion not taken into account?
I think my departure from MAD Lions came as a surprise to many, including myself. It wasn’t planned by me or anything. I still have contractual and ethical obligations towards the organisation, so there are things that I prefer not to comment on, but what I can definitely say is that my relationship with the players has always been excellent. They are good guys with amazing talent, and their comments on my departure meant a lot to me.
Was Rejin behind the decision? His Twitter bio says he’s the Senior Manager of MAD Lions’ CS:GO team, but neither he nor the organisation has made an announcement about his role.
I was told by the owner of the organisation that they would like to take another path in 2021 and that I wasn’t in their plans. Rejin was not in the meeting, and I didn’t get to talk with him. I didn’t refer him to the organisation, I don’t know his role in the organisation, and I saw it on Twitter as well, but MAD Lions haven’t commented on it. I don’t know if he had any influence or not.
Was it your idea to sign innocent, or did it come from the team?
I’ll have to provide some context on this one. We needed a player, and the team showed interest in keeping a Danish lineup because of the language. We evaluated the options available at the time, during the summer break. We spent a lot of time talking with some players, and we got very close to signing Lekr0, but he opted to play for North. That negotiation took a good chunk of our time, and we had to sign a player before the ESL One Cologne roster lock. We had a few options, and AcilioN came up with innocent’s name and said good things about him.
We signed innocent after I talked to him, and he knows he wasn’t our first or second option. He’s a great kid who gave his best, but unfortunately, I think the players underestimated the language barrier. It was good for me for a while, because I got to understand how they approached the game once they started communicating in English, but it was better for us when we got back to a full Danish lineup.
What do you have to say about your image as a coach? Part of the community thinks that you’re not good enough and some people even think that you ruin the teams you join.
At the beginning of my coaching career, I was the in-game leader for Tempo Storm and Liquid, and when Valve limited the way coaches could communicate, in 2016, I couldn’t be the captain anymore. It was a tough period in general, I really got lost and had to reinvent myself as a coach. I worked with some teams and I didn’t enjoy the same success that I had in Tempo Storm and Liquid, and I think that’s why some people, including some that are influential in the scene, got that impression of me. Those people criticized me a lot during that period, I know I made some mistakes, but I learned a lot from them.
Now, to ruin teams? This and some other comments that people make, I just try to ignore them so I don’t carry that with me because I’ve never seen anybody, players or organisations, say publicly that I ruined any of the teams that I have coached. I really don’t understand why some people say that, I get a bit frustrated but I tend to not let that affect me. I have coached only two teams since 2017, and I have tried to maintain things stable and with good performances. I think I achieved that in the last two teams that I coached and that’s what I want to keep on doing.
You said in your statement that you were considering becoming an assistant coach. Why?
My main goal is to remain a head coach, but I left this door open because most of the teams avoid making changes during the beginning of the year, and most of the top teams already have good coaches at the helm of their projects. Some of them aren’t playing that well lately, and maybe one of these head coaches would see this as an opportunity to hire me as an assistant. I don’t want to work as an analyst remotely, though, because I want to be involved with the team on a daily basis, during scrims and tournaments, and be able to use my experience and assist the head coach with whatever he needs.
If you were to build a team from scratch, would you pick players from Brazil or from other countries?
I would love to work with Brazilian players, and one of my ambitions for the future is to work with a Brazilian team. It’s where I came from and I didn’t stay in the scene as much as I would have liked. But in the current scenario, the majority of Brazilian players are under contracts, and you also have the language barrier, which is an issue. For example, if you’re building an international team with Brazilian players, you will need people who speak English well, almost fluently; otherwise, it won’t work out. And right now, I think fer is the only player available who speaks English very well, so I would definitely consider signing him for an international team. But this international project wouldn’t have more than one or two Brazilians.
I can say that I have had talks with two big teams to potentially become an assistant coach. I’ll wait for more opportunities so that I can make the best decision for my career
If you were to choose a team that’s already established or one that doesn’t have a head coach, what team would you pick?
Most of the established teams already have coaches, so I would have to replace someone, but FaZe is definitely the team that comes to mind, especially after coldzera joined them. I like him a lot, we have a great relationship, and I like all the other players on FaZe as well. I think they have great potential that hasn’t been unleashed, and they would be my first choice if I got to choose. Speaking about players, I already said that I’d love to work with FalleN, but I’m in a position where I can’t choose much (laughs). I can say that I have had talks with two big teams to potentially become an assistant coach, and I’ll wait for more opportunities so that I can make the best decision for my career.
As IEM Katowice 2021 reaches its playoff stage, where six teams will fight for the title from February 26-28 in a single-elimination bracket, the Fantasy game for the final part of the tournament opens for action.
Four Astralis members are priced below the $204,000 mark, making them affordable for those who believe in a deep run from the Danes. The cheapest sniper available is Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo ($184,000), who could provide immense value following a 1.12-rated group stage performance.
The winners of the official Fantasy leagues will be contacted via the email provided in their HLTV profile, and are required to respond to the email within a month to be eligible to receive their prizes.
The four-day group stage came to a close on Sunday evening, with Liquid and Spirit booking the first spots in the semi-finals after winning their respective groups.
The first round of the playoffs, featuring the runners-up and the third-placed finishers, will begin with a CIS derby between Natus Vincere and Gambit, two teams who last faced each other in the quarter-finals of IEM New York, four months ago. The winner of this clash will go on to face the red-hot Spirit, who still haven’t faced CIS opposition since they began their campaign in the tournament.