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MSL on Dignitas’ recent form, navigating the struggles and caster criticisms

Slingshot’s Vince Nairn caught up with Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen ahead of Dignitas’ Group D play Friday night (6 p.m. on Twitch and 10 p.m. on TBS) to talk about his team’s rise in form, Major qualifiers and whether or not casters are too harsh on players.

Vince Nairn: First of all, what do you seeing your group this week, and what do you think it’ll take to get out of this group and into the playoffs?

Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen: I think we have a pretty tough group but I’m quite sure we will manage to qualify. Fnatic has a stand-in, and OpTic is a team we should beat. EnVyUs is tough, but If we just come in with the form we have, we’re gonna be able to get through.

VN: How would you sum up this year for you with Dignitas? There were definitely some bad moments, but here you are as one of the top teams in the world.

ML: I would sum it up as the first three months of the year were really good. We got some reasons we didn’t expect with the new team. The next three months were really rough, then the last four months have been amazing with the new lineup. We have really been improving, and everyone is really motivated. It’s been up and down, but it’s up right now.

VN: What were you guys missing? What were the major things that kind of held you down there in the middle of the year?

ML: I think it was mostly team chemistry that went down, and just the motivation from every player just got down, mostly because we were traveling so much and didn’t come up with the results we wanted. It kind of wore on us.

VN: The roster swap with Astralis didn’t necessarily ignite things right away either. How did you handle that initial setback?

ML: I think at that point, we knew we didn’t have the firepower that we needed, so we brought in Magisk. When we did, it would just kind of feel every time we practiced that something just clicked. Firepower, teamwork and tactics. It was basically just the swap that we were much better. I think my motivation also got really high. So I was doing a lot in the background, too.

VN: Magiskb0y is still so young but he has had a big impact for you guys. What has impressed you most about him so far?

ML: I think just the way he has coped on LAN. I knew he would be really strong online, which he hasn’t been, actually Online he hasn’t been as good as on LAN. It has gone the opposite way. He’s an amazing player. And I’m looking forward to seeing what he can come with.

VN: How would you describe your emotions after winning EPICENTER? That was the pinnacle of a lot of crazy times for a lot of your players this year

ML: I think most of us were just extremely happy. It’s a feeling you can’t really describe. For me, at least, it was a big relief. It was my first really big tournament I have won. I thought the other guys have thought the same. It was amazing.

VN: Did that win kind of validate all of the work you guys have put in, especially with all the ups and downs you already described?

ML: For sure. It really did. I think of how we are set up, and I just think we found a creative way of using each other’s good qualities and working with the qualities we are not so good with. I think we have found a team work and a team chemistry that’s just perfect in the game for us. It confirmed that we are doing things the right way.

VN: Are you a basketball fan at all? If so, what’s it like being under the Philadelphia 76ers brand?

ML: I haven’t seen basketball at all, but I was happy for (former Dignitas owner Michael “Odee” O’Dell) that they bought Dignitas. I am happy for him and also happy for us, of course, because it will mean a brighter future.

VN: Even not being a basketball fan, has this impacted how you feel about being a pro player seeing all of this outside attention coming into the scene?

ML: It’s amazing for us players seeing all these big companies and so on go into esports and CS, a game we have been playing so much without confirmation that we are doing the right thing. And now it finally comes. It feels really good for all of us. And finally your parents are looking on the gamers a bit different.

VN: A lot of dicsussion has happened recently regarding the Major qualification system. You guys are the third ranked team in the world right now and are one of the ones who have to get to the Major through the qualifier. What do you think about this system as a whole?

ML: I have always hated the system because it kind of like you can just come top eight and then you get an easier group next Major, and then you qualify for the next Major after that. And you can keep going unless you fall apart. I think the system is kind of bad. If you do a qualification, I think it should just be maybe the top 32 teams play for 16 spots instead of having a really big overhand in having the legend status. I think they should do it otherwise, but it’s fine that we have to qualify. We just have to keep our current form and we will do well.

VN: Likewise, you mentioned earlier that part of the reason your morale was low earlier in the year was because you were playing so much without getting a lot of results out of it. There’s a lot of talk about the number of events going on right now. Where do you fall in that debate?

ML: I think there are way too many events. We are traveling all the time and there is not much time to practice and get better. Right now, the CSGO we are watching is kind of messy with many mistakes. I always want a clean game with teams playing good maps, and that’s not the game we are seeing right now. The only thing that can happen is teams saying no to tournaments. And that’s what we are gonna do in 2017, so we don’t get over-traveled.

Last question: There was a bit of a stir from over the weekend about how casters joke about and criticize players. As a player, how do you view that and the role casters play critiquing your performance?

ML: I think it’s fine that casters are saying some shit. It’s their job. I just hope in the future that there will be a bit more who come with reasons. I have heard a lot of analysts just talk about stats, but I would be really happy to listen to mistakes and rounds they lost on and why they lost those rounds. Of course they can joke about a player. That’s their job. It’s not personal.

Cover photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack