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Dupreeh on Astralis’ wild year, roster changes and realistic expectations

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Astralis’ Peter “Dupreeh” Rothmann at IEM Oakland to discuss his team’s current form, roster changes throughout the year and being realistic about goals.

Vince Nairn: What are the main things you’re taking away from your performance this week?

Peter “Dupreeh” Rothmann: I think overall since we’ve added gla1ve for Karrigan, we only had like a bootcamp and a couple of days of practice to be able to actually figure out how we want to play. We’ve got a massive new amount of strategies and tactics, and people got new roles in the game, especially myself, so everyone has to adapt in that way. I can definitely take away that we’ve actually played a lot more as a team in this event than we’ve done in the previous events. It feels like for a long time it’s been about everyone having to hit their individual peak for us to be able to improve something, and this time it feels like, I wouldn’t say like, dev1ce played really well in the group stage but overall I still think everyone has been adding stuff to our success here, and obviously helping us achieve to actually go to the semifinals. So I’m happy that we played more as a team and instead of just having to rely on individual performance.

VN: What are the main things that gla1ve has really brought to the team that you guys have been able to bounce off of?

PR: I think gla1ve has applied some kind of — people believe with him, and I think that’s one of the main core issues we’ve had in the past. People stopped believing that we’d come back around and actually do well again because we tried so many different things. We swapped a player who tried a different approach to the game. So people believe in the team again. There’s some truth in the team and faith and stuff like that. Obviously he comes in with a brand new play style that fits very well with this meta, how we are playing right now. So I’m just looking very much forward to how the future’s going to look for us.

VN: You guys just had such a weird year overall, including roster changes. It looked like MLG Columbus was gonna be your breakout and then you guys had some struggles after that, but it looks like you’ve started to put it all together. How do you try to put this year into perspective for Astralis?

PR: It’s been a massive roller coaster. Actually we’ve had a talk within the team saying that we’re this kind of boat floating around the ocean and we keep changing direction. Because then we want to play like this, and that didn’t work out for two events, and then OK let’s try that, and it doesn’t work out for two events, and then we try another approach. So we keep floating away, whereas the main goal is that we want to get back to the harbor, and we haven’t made it there yet. So it’s been a real roller coaster. It’s been having ups and downs — mostly downs because we definitely fell in rankings and individually we also slacked a little bit. We’re trying to catch up. I don’t think we’re going to win an event this year, which is obviously kind of sad because we won five or six last year as TSM. But the most important thing is this is the long term project. We didn’t expect to go here (and win). We don’t expect to win ELEAGUE. We put up goals for every event that we want to achieve and how people want to do individually, and then we work from there. And then it’s a long term project, so yeah. I look very much forward to that.

VN: Has it been difficult to have patience? You said you want to play a certain way and then you change it. Is it difficult when the pressure is on for you guys to have the patience and let something play out instead of automatically going for the quick fix every couple of weeks?

PR: Well, yeah. It’s been rough, especially having to wait. One of the things that helps a lot is basically I feel like we gained a lot of fans throughout the year, and despite that we haven’t won anything, it just feels like people are cheering for us and still rooting for us despite that. It feels a little bit weird that we’re, like, the team of the community in some ways. The community seems to in general like us, despite the bad comments everyone throws at us once in awhile. Also when we played against SK here, it felt like the majority of the crowd was cheering for us, and being here in California, playing against SK, which is actually their base — their gaming house is in Los Angeles. It felt great to have the support despite not having won anything. That’s also good motivation because the fans are behind you. Apart from that, it’s been painful to go around and find the right solution. I think we found the right solution now. I think gla1ve is going to do well for us, and he’s done it already. Now it’s just tuning and adapting.

VN: It seems like there is a lot of very young and exciting Danish talent in Counter Strike. Have you noticed that, and where would you place the level of really strong talent from Denmark now?

PR: At least we have, I would call them talents, I can’t tell if they’ve broken out a little bit right now, but Magiskb0Y and k0nfig especially is a duo right now that’s really hot in Denmark. They’re playing really well, both of them. They’re relying on their confidence and have done really well. And Niko as well, who has just joined Heroic, he came from tRICKED. Well he’s been normal and doing pretty good stuff, but he’s never really made the break out. I think now that he’s playing with Heroic he can make (a name for) himself a little bit, make his debut on the international scene. I think he’s going to do very well. But I don’t think that is the core of players that’s going to be what you expected to go through. Because we talked about them before. Magiskb0Y, k0nfig, and Niko is probably the three main players that you talked about expanding, go out and actually doing something internationally. I think they’ve done so now. I think there’s going to be a little bit of a break now before we get new players, but we’ll see what happens.

VN: What do you think about the state of the game, in terms of for so long, there has always been this set idea of who the No. 1 team in the world is, whether it was you guys on TSM last year, and then Fnatic, then SK. But now it just seems like we’re in this realm of unpredictability. What’s that like to be a part of just as a player?

PR: It’s tough in some ways. So one bright side (of a dominant team) was you had FNATIC against NV, and then some other teams, and then you have to play lesser good team, like I don’t know, you could say like mousesports? Which back in the days it would be like, “Oh that seems a bit easier qualifier,” and now you’re like, “Holy shit, they’re pretty fucking good!” There’s so many good teams, so no matter what teams you’re going up against in the quarterfinals, for now just in groups, you always have a hard time. It must be very enjoyable to see for the spectators. I can imagine it would be a little bit boring if you knew every time NiP joined the tournament that “Oh yeah, well they’re gonna win. Free money.” Or every time Fnatic join, “Oh, well Fnatic’s going to win again.” And this is very good for the community in general. I think we have like seven different winners in the last seven bigger tournaments, which is really good for the game and the spectators, so in that way for the spectators it’s good. It’s a frustration as a player because it’s hard to expect what kind of team is going to go up against one another.

VN: Is it more frustrating that way or more frustrating knowing that, if you’re in a group with Fnatic at the beginning of this year, that’s pretty much a guaranteed loss?

PR: The thing is, if you go up against Fnatic now, back then you knew they were the best. Now you’re like, you don’t really know. Same with, like is either super hot or just sloppy as fuck. That’s just how it is, you know?

VN: You guys have a lot of tournaments. You were in ELEAGUE last week, you came here now, and you’re gonna be in Atlanta again next week as well (for ELEAGUE playoffs). The idea of oversaturation has been talked about a lot this year, but from you as a player do you feel tired? Do you feel it wearing on you at all?

PR: Well the traveling part sometimes. Playing wise, not. Traveling obviously, when you go to the states, back and forth within a small time gap, then yeah that can get tough, but I wouldn’t say playing. You know how we played SK last week in groups (of ELEAGUE) and we played them again. It’s just like two different games. Obviously it’s two different games all the time, but it’s not like you play the same opponent. Obviously there is a little bit of the thing about you want like, the grand slam, or you want to see NIi vs. SK two times a month at most, but now you can see them four times a month. That can be a little bit boring, but it’s hard to, it’s inevitable in some ways. You can’t really prevent it because there’s so many tournaments, so I think it comes down to that organizers maybe have to either go together to make a bigger tournament together or they have to do something else because right now it just seems like there’s so many things. As a player, it’s fine. But as a spectator, it could be a little bit boring.

VN: In the last week, there’s been a lot of discussion mainly on social media about casters and criticisms of players, and where the line is. As a player who throughout your career has probably been praised and criticized a ton by casters, where do you fall on that line? What is your thought on that entire conversation?

PR: I think it’s somewhat of a disgrace that analysts and commentators have to go out and pick so much on players if they don’t perform. That’s not their job. I mean like, yeah, as an analyst you have to, you talk about the fact that maybe he hasn’t been himself or he’s under-performing, but you don’t have to go out there and either attack him, even when he’s playing well or whatever. Just leave it out. As a analyst, to point out that he’s been under-performing but you don’t have to attack him. I think it’s horrible. Also, I think I heard something that they compare players to other players like, “Oh this guy’s so bad, he’s like just as bad as this guy,” and like, if there’s a player that has a really bad performance, it’s like, “Oh he was just as bad as this guy last week.” It’s just like, leave it out. It doesn’t matter.

VN: Is there a difference when it’s somebody who’s been around in the scene a while, who a lot of the players know and somebody who’s kind of new coming up. Does it make a difference where it’s coming from, almost as much as what’s actually being said?

PR: Everyone knows Thorin wants to say it. Yeah, I think in some way I think it does. Everyone knows Thorin is toxic as fuck (Editor’s note: Dupreeh later clarified and wanted to emphasize this was meant as “a cheeky comment between the lines.”) He just says whatever he wants, but I don’t know. It’s kind of a hard question to answer in some ways, but I still think that even though you’re new or you’re old or you’ve made a lot of things, just leave it out, because it just doesn’t fit in here I think.

Cover photo by Scott Choucino/ESL,