Astralis and Virtus.pro are about to face off in the ELEAGUE Clash for Cash, a rematch of January's Major grand finals for $250,000. With only one best-of-three match separating each team from one of the biggest show match prizes in CS:GO history, both Astralis and VP will need to play their absolute best if they want to walk away with the check.
Ahead of the match, ELEAGUE held a press conference with VP's Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas and Astralis' Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, where the two discussed the pressure of playing with so much money on the line, VP's current slump and Astralis' developing rivalry with FaZe Clan.
What follows is a transcription of selected questions from ELEAGUE's round-table press conference, where questions were asked by journalists from several outlets.
For both of you guys, this is an all or nothing tournament. So with that in mind, when you're preparing, how hard is it to block out the idea that you could walk away with nothing?
gla1ve: I think it's a bit terrifying that you're maybe going to walk out of here with zero cash, but still the opportunity to win that much money and to play against such a prestigious team as VP that's really amazing to us. And we still see that experience as a team, we're still a pretty good team, I think it's terrifying but we're still really hopeful that we'll do it.
TaZ: For us, for me personally, it's always the same thing. When you are in a final, when you are playing, if you are losing you are second and you're going out with nothing. Money is a great addition to the game, but overall it's all about prestige. We come here, we play on TBS, we called it the Clash for Cash a rematch for Major, and the winner is the only one who should be paid. I'm very happy for ELEAGUE to have this kind of thinking, I'm all for it and we're going to give our best game and the best team will win.
This question is for TaZ in particular. You are by far one of the most experienced teams in the scene, you have had many ups and downs over the years, and right now you seem to be going through one of the roughest patches ever. What has the team been working on over the last few months, and what kind of team will we see tomorrow?
T: I think that we are not going through one of the roughest times, this is a rough period, but we just played two full tournaments. If we would win against against current competing teams we would be in the same final and we would not talk about any of this. During StarLadder we already knew we would make changes to the team, working on fundamentals, changing in-game leadership and changing some roles in the team, so we already had this kind of approach and unfortunately we were unable to give it a better shot. But still, we are just building up from the scratch, you know? It's very hard to be a team for three years, play together and know everything about every player and then go to each other and say "okay guys, we are doing everything from zero, you need to forget everything you were doing in the team, we are building new fundamentals, so there will be no more rough periods for us. We want to bring our A-game, we want to bring our A-game every tournament, every game. This is what we are working on, we feel that we are getting closer, we don't know if we are right there, but we have games where we play really nice, I'm pretty sure we will be ready for the Major. Tomorrow will be a big test and I want us to start with a big win because this will be four events in a row for us, and I want to finish it with style.
For Gla1ve, you guys and VP had a nice final, and then you met again at DreamHack Vegas. Since then FaZe Clan has kind of become the main rival for you guys with the three times you guys have played. Who do you guys think is the bigger rival right now, and what do you generally think about having some good competitive rivalries right now?
G: So yeah I'm really glad that Virtus.pro didn't do that well, because it would be really hard for us if they played well and FaZe played well and now SK is coming as well, so I'm glad that all the teams are not doing well. So right now I thin kFaZe is our toughest opponent if you look at the scene. They have just been going one way and that is up. They are playing really well and when we play them in practice we are having a hard time as well. We are trying our best we can to figure out what playstyle we are going to use against them. Because to use the same playstyle we use against teams like Virtus.pro and SK I don't think it's working against FaZe because they are playing a little bit different. We are still trying to figure that out and I think when we get there, we will be able to beat them consistently as well.
Not asking either of you to give up any strategies or anything, but I'm wondering, for each of your guys, what are you expecting form the other team, what are you looking at as the strengths of your opponents going into this.
T: I think that Astralis is a very structured team, they have a way of approaching the game, they approach every opponent in a different way, I mean they try to play the best possible against every opponent and they try to play to their weaknesses. Other than that I don't really think about the strengths of the Astralis team, of any player. This is top level Counter-Strike and there is no place for mistakes.
G: We have been looking at most of the recent [matches], but there hasn't been much to get from watching Virtus.pro because they haven't played that great and they know that themselves. But yeah I believe they will step up in this match for sure because they know they play really good not only when there's pressure but just when there's a lot of stakes for tournament. So Yeah I believe they will step up and I think we will have a bit of a look back at maybe Las Vegas and the Major Finals. For players I think Snax is the X factor from Virtus.pro. He played really amazing in the Major finals against us, and we managed to win anyway. So yeah I'm really happy about that but Snax is the X factor for Virtus.pro
gla1ve mentioned in his last answer that Virus.pro have this knack for always rising to the occasion and performing really well when the pressure's on. Where does that kind of innate ability come form and how do you manage to show up when you really need to?
T: I think this is something which we build in our DNA during all the years we competed, even before CS:GO. There were times that there was not salaries, there was not much money on the line and only winning the big events was something that would give you some kind of living. We just always knew that this is the moment we need to step up, this is the moment where we win or we can't play anymore, and this stayed in us. It stayed in our blood. Whenever there is a big event, whenever this is a lot at stake, we just have this in us and we say "okay, this is where we step up, this is where we need to step up." Nothing more to add to it, it's hard to even explain how when we enter into this mode.
What Virtus.pro are we going to see tomorrow? Are we going to get the Virtus.pro that's in the MDL, or we gonna get the god killers? What Virtus.pro is showing up on LAN tomorrow?
T: As we said in the beginning, we are now fixing our staff in the team, we are making fundamentals from scratch, we changed some positions, we changed some roles and we are on a good way to make ourselves back to the top. But it's hard to say. I can tell you the same that this is the bad thing about VP and the worst thing about VP that you can have a great team in a tournament, but you can always be the worst team on the current day, and I think that's what excites all the people in the world. Even when they hate us and trash talk our team they just love this anticipation and lack of knowledge about what kind of style, what kind of play the team will show. I'm loving it as well, maybe not when we lose, but overall I love the hype man. I think you will see a good VP tomorrow.
Daniel Rosen is a news editor for theScore esports. You can follow him on Twitter.