Slingshot’s Vince Nairn talked to Astralis’ Peter “dupreeh” Rothmann after Tuesday’s win in the ELEAGUE Major against G2 to improve to 2-1 and move one win from reaching the playoffs.
Vince Nairn: Y’all have had an interesting week, but you’re at 2-1 now. One win from the playoffs. How would you sum up these first three days?
Peter “dupreeh” Rothmann: The first day was really shaky, both in communication and performance. We haven’t played an official game since Season 2 finals of ECS, so it was very shaky performance. Everyone was a little nervous. This was the first tournament of the year. It’s a Major. We always have struggles, kind of, in Majors. So it’s god to feel that we’ve come to this point now back to 2-1. So I definitely feel a huge improvement fro the first day to second day to now. Our calmness is way better. Everyone is calm. People are feeling confident but not too confident. EVeryone is on the same page communicating, so it’s just great to feel like we’ve actually improved.
VN: It’s funny. When we talked at IEM Oakland, you were very cautious. You said it was still early on in your (changes), “We probably won’t win a tournament for a while.” Then you take runner-up at (ELEAGUE Season 2) and win ECS, and all of the sudden you’re No. 1 in the world. Did this all happen quicker than you thought it would?
PR: Oh, yeah. We progressed way faster than we expected. We talked with our sports psychologist about this, and she said to us a few months ago, “In a couple of months you’ll be the best team in the world, and that’s not the tough thing to achieve. The tough thing to achieve is to stay there.” And when we heard, oh, we’ll be the best team in three months, we were like, “nah.” But she proved us wrong and she helped us a lot with how to deal with pressure and how to work with ourselves before the game and after the games, all that stuff. Huge credit to her. Yeah, progression wise, we just improved. Everyone is playing great and playing confident. Gla1ve is a really great leader, and he’s a really great fragger, as he showed today. He can step up tremendously when it’s needed. In general, everyone is playing off each other. We’re helping each other, we’re communicating, and that’s what we need to. It’s been great.
VN: How have you guys handled that pressure? You’re supposed to do well now. How have you adjusted to that?
PR: I think the first day was a prime example of how not to handle it. We got into the game, I think we got a little too into when we were playing Godsent. We thought, “We just have to show up on the server, and we’ll win.” That’s not how it’s supposed to go. They completely dominated us and played so much better than us, so huge credit to them. We were completely shaky and they got into their comfort zone way quicker than we did. I think now that we’ve had a talk, and we just talked about how to mentally prepare for games. Because yeah, we are ranked as the best team in the world, but we can lose to all the teams here. It’s not just because we have the top one seed or top ranking that we are unbeatable at all. Everyone here can beat us. It’s just a matter of how you play. We’re trying to be humble. We don’t take it for granted because we worked really hard to get here, and maintaining this spot is something we’re working really hard on.
VN: And of course this being the very fickle community we’re in, and the past times you guys have had expectations on you and maybe not performed well, it seems that the first time something goes wrong, the community is quick to jump back into the “Astralis is choking again” sentiment. Have you guys been able to put that out of your mind?
PR: I would probably lie if I said, at least personally, that I didn’t bother about it. Because it has been affecting us in some ways. Not that we’ve been constantly thinking about it, but I think everyone on the team has tried not to have the thought “Oh, no. Not again.” I guess everyone has had that before. I guess that’s why we have a sports psychologist. That’s what she’s teaching us to not think and teaching us how to believe. I can’t really put my finger specifically on what it is she does. She just goes into our heads and transforms whatever happens into positive things, and it’s good for us. So we owe her a lot. I’d say right now, we’ve put it past us. It’s a chapter that — the thing is, it’s hard to define what “choke” is. Sometimes, the other team just starts playing really great, and you get slaughtered. That’s just how it is, you know? Choking, if I had to define it, is when you are in a lead and you start missing your shots, miss-communicating and making mistakes. I think it’s hard to define what choking is, but I think it’s the final chapter for us.
VN: How long have you been working with the sports psychologist?
PR: For about two, three months, I guess. It was sometime late last year we started.
VN: Did you notice a change right away?
PR: Yeah. It took time to get used to what she was telling us, but we’ve had individual talks with her. We’ve also had team talks. What she (teaches) us is getting nervous and having nerves is a natural thing in the game. Winning and losing is a natural thing in the game. You will never always win. You will never always lose, and she’s (teaching) us how to have positive thoughts before the game and always believe in ourselves. If you have a bad game, the thing she talks to us about is you have bad games. You just have to accept it. If you cannot accept it, you’ll never achieve anything. It’s natural to be nervous, but when we learn to work and cope with the nervousness and the fact that we will not always win, that’s when you will become a star.
VN: Obviously the other big news this week was you guys picking up Audi as a sponsor. What’s it like being sponsored by another big-name, non-endemic company?
PR: It’s great having Audi as a partner. It’s a huge thing for us, obviously. It’s awesome also to see things like football clubs also starting to go into esports. Whenever I see a new sponsor or partnership going into esports, I’m not gonna be super jealous about it. I’m going to be like, “Oh, that’s great.” Because we’re all fighting to get esports recognized as a big thing and something that everyone knows about. So I’m super happy, and I’m really happy that the guys from RFRSH have helped us tremendously with the partnership with Audi. I’m just really stoked and excited for the future.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE