Jason “Moses” O’Toole is a former CS:GO pro turned caster and analyst, and he's one of the featured personalities for the Major at ESL One Cologne 2016.
On the first day of the playoffs, Moses sat down with theScore esports to talk about Astralis' performance and the upset potential of the Team Liquid vs. Natus Vincere match before it happened.
Editor's note: This interview took place during the series between SK Gaming and Flipsid3 Tactics on Friday.
First off, let's talk about that match because you were front-and-centre. What was your read on that — actually, before we get into the results, what was your read going into that matchup?
I didn't really have a great read. I mean, I think everyone was pretty much clouded by the fact of dupreeh's illness — that unfortunate circumstance — zonic playing, and the fact that they were barely able to beat Dignitas, and they also have gla1ve in, who's not a standard player. I think everyone was just kind of thinking, myself included, that it could have very easily turned into a beatdown, just a really quick series, and we were wondering how much of a fight they'd be able to put up. Because we're not expecting anything out of zonic, we knew he was going to be a little bit weaker of a player individually. But I think everyone kind of had the sense that it could have been a really quick series.
zonic was also coming into the team replacing one of the team's strongest players, in terms of stats even.
Yeah, and he's also an important player in the sense that he's the guy that goes up first, he's the entry fragger, so he's the one that opens everything up for other people. And there's also that whole device/dupreeh duo for that squad that has always been the biggest point of attack, the biggest point of power.
So all of a sudden that disappears and it just goes completely the other direction. So I think we were all apprehensive on what that could have meant about how well they would play against a team like Virtus.pro.
Virtus.pro has been in kind of a weird spot for a long time, actually. They were relegated from Pro League, and I think if you ask anybody they're still in the midst of their slump. Yet here they are, at the major in the semis.
The crazy thing about Virtus.pro is that they're a team, at these big tournaments, no matter what form they have going into it, they always show up to play. Even in 1.6, when these players were in their prime, they were a team that was known to really struggle at smaller events, struggle in leagues ... and then they'd come into the majors and they'd be phenomenal. They'd be incredible.
I think they've won something like seven or eight world championships in 1.6 That's just kind of a trend they've always had.
And also, the nature of their playstyle: they don't have this great structure, this great tactical foundation. So it is very momentum-based, and they just mentioned it on the desk, which I think is pretty true, that Virtus.pro is one of the few teams that can play up to the best in the world, and also play down to a weaker opponent.
I think that definitely this probably should have been a cleaner victory for them, just looking at the paper. But you can't really do anything with gla1ve and dev1ce for having the series they did, that was incredible stuff.
I was looking at the draft, and VP took Astralis' map on Overpass. And then the next one was on Train, which is one of VP's stronger, more consistent maps.
That's the map they're known for, both in overtime as well. And they're no slouches on Overpass either, that's the crazy part. Overpass was also a map where zonic ended up having like nine kills throughout the whole map, maybe. Maybe in overtime it got up toward 12 or 13, but it was essentially a 4v5. And that's not to be disparaging toward zonic, he's in an impossible situation, but that's just a testament to the kind of performance that dev1ce had.
Speaking of Astralis' players — although he's technically not an Astralis player — gla1ve really stepped up in a pretty short timeframe. He really only had like a month to prepare with Astralis I think.
I don't really think he prepared that much with them. I think they used kjaerbye, because he's the long-term plan. So I know most of their practice, especially because they just had ECS finals, they just were in Atlanta for ELEAGUE, so most of their practice and lead-up to this has been playing with kjaerbye, just to assimilate him for the long-term.
With gla1ve they only had like a week, maybe a little over a week. So for him to step up like that ... a lot of people forget as well that gla1ve was on one of the top teams in CS:GO back in 2013, Western Wolves. He's one of the top players from that team and they were very strong in the early stages of CS:GO. He's kind of disappeared from this Danish scene that has so much talent in it, and then he just comes back and has this kind of performance, and everyone's like, "Yeah, okay, I remember gla1ve."
Someone was mentioning that he was one of the tacticians on Western Wolves as well.
Yeah, I think so.
That's the other thing, too. Just to touch on it a little: gla1ve and s1mple are coming into this major as kind of one-offs, for their respective teams. s1mple has already made his name known currently. gla1ve is maybe less well-known in the current space of CS:GO but I think now he's had a bigger profile. It's just unfortunate given the recent ruling about Team X.
Yeah, that is a bummer. Also, you look at a team like Dignitas, they struggled and also didn't get out of groups, so all of a sudden you have Magiskb0Y from Team X, ex-SK I guess you could call him, who had a sick performance at ELEAGUE, just an insane week there on LAN. gla1ve who came in ... these are two high-powered, high-calibre players that all of a sudden are homeless in the Danish scene, and you have a Danish team that's struggling in Dignitas. So I'd be very surprised if there wasn't some kind of movement there.
Not even in just Dignitas, but maybe even in Astralis itself. I know there's more paperwork to get through because of the whole player ownership thing.
I think Astralis is going to stick with the lineup they have, at least for the time being. That would be interesting, but I don't think it will happen any time soon. I think they're going to have to stick it out and see where they can go with kjaerbye before they make the decision.
They haven't been able to play with him, they've had only a very short amount of time with him, so before they even assimilate him into the team, I think it would kind of be crazy for them to be making a roster change so soon, before they know who they want to keep, what exactly they need, what kind of roles they want to fill.
Just to switch gears a little bit, and going back to ELEAGUE, correct me if I'm wrong but this is the first event you've done in between all the ELEAGUE stuff.
Has that been kind of a transition, going from ELEAGUE back to, I guess, non-ELEAGUE stuff?
No, not really. First of all, the year's been so busy even before ELEAGUE that we're all just used to being at so many events, and then doing so many different things, that it's gotten to the point where the adjustment is pretty quick, pretty easy for us.
It is a little bit dfifferent in the sense that you're not at a TV production company, but I mean ESL does a fantastic job with what they have here. This has been incredible, they've treated us so well at this event, it's also a Major. So there's all these other factors that make this ... I mean, Cologne last year was my favorite tournament, I think I'm hopefully not speaking out of line and saying I believe Anders and Semmler are on the same page and they've been out at ELEAGUE; Thorin's first time in Cologne for this event, so I think we all understand ... Yanko was there last year as an observer, so he's happy to be on the desk.
Everyone just kinda knows this is an epic tournament to be at.
The stage reflects that, I think.
Yeah the stage is really cool. The stage isn't too bad (laughs).
Shifting back to the Major, we've had some pretty crazy performances and results that have already happened. What is your read on the bracket ahead of us?
I think the quarterfinals are pretty spelled out in who should win them. I think there's clear-cut favorites, and I don't know how much wiggle room there really is for the underdogs to actually upset anything. I think Astralis playing Virtus.pro that close was insane, but I still think that's pretty clear-cut: that VP should get out, SK and Flipsid3 I think that's pretty clear-cut that SK's going to win that, probably big; that's going on as we speak, so forgive me.
Gambit vs. Fnatic, that should be Fnatic although Gambit is a dangerous team. And then there's Na`Vi and Liquid: and I will tell you that a lot of analysts, because we have a whole group that does our predictions [...] I know a lot of us really wanted to put Liquid there because that's such a tantalizing upset, but I think we all came back down to earth and put Na`Vi there. It's the safe bet. I think that would be incredible, if Liquid somehow won that.
Do you think that's the match-up where, if an upset did happen, it would be most likely?
I think that's the most likely one. I also think actually, people would be surprised to see Gambit have a shot at beating Fnatic. I think they are kind of like a dark horse sleeper that no one really quite respects how good they are quite yet, myself included. That's one of the regions that I have followed the least, the Eastern Europe/CIS region. But they are a very good team, and it all depends. Most Tier 2 teams are at that point where their stars don't always show up, and you don't know who to rely on, you don't really know what to expect out of them. So if Gambit shows up, Fnatic could have a game on their hands.
That's the other thing too, regarding Fnatic: at least from what I've seen, it doesn't look like Olof is necessarily 100 percent. It's still kind of the rest of the team that are ... maybe not carrying him, but are stepping up.
He definitely has started some games out slow, he's had some weaker games where you can see him pick up the pace. I know part of it is, when he was in Atlanta at ELEAGUE and giving interviews and everything, he said, "I have no pain in my arm, I haven't felt pain in my arm in a long time, my arm is great, my arm is 100 percent and the doctors all cleared me." It's the mental game that he's lacking, it's the confidence that he has to do the things that he was doing before, and in the back of his mind saying, "what if my arm gives out now? What if I just have this shooting pain and can't make this play?"
And that takes a lot of time to get over I think. I think that's part of the reason you see him start slow in some of these games, like last night against FaZe, he started slow and he was going crazy by the end of the game. Because once you get into that game, you tend to forget about it as the match goes on, you stop thinking about it so much. I think that really helps him, that his team is incredible and able to carry him through some early struggles.
If you had to call a winner for the tournament, who would it be?
No hesitation. I think we'll leave it at that, honestly.
They're definitely the favorites, they've looked the best, absolutely looked the best. I think we all want to see that SK/Fnatic final.
Na`Vi though ... the next team I'd pick after SK would be Na`Vi. It wouldn't even be Fnatic, which is pretty interesting. The interesting thing about Na`Vi is that GuardiaN just came back from his injury, just like olofmeister, but Na`Vi actually seemed to get better because of it. Him being out, him being weak for so long, it forced them to find ways to give guys like Edward, who is now playing amazing, seized is still playing really, really well ... flamie's incredible, Zeus has his games. They've found ways to get everyone involved and now, when they win, it's not GuardiaN dropping like 28 and everyone else sitting around 17 or 18. Everyone on the team is right around 22 or 23 kills, it's a very even distribution.
I feel like something like that's going to happen to Astralis, because they had to switch up their setups given zonic and given gla1ve, and I'm curious to see if the setup they've been using here with their stand-ins is something they'll try to transfer over to their current lineup.
That would be interesting. I don't even know how much they talked about it, I think more of it was just ... once they got zonic in, they had to figure out places to put him where he would not be put in the high-pressure situations and then work around that. I think that was their main focus. I don't know if it's something they'll have to worry about doing, but it could be interesting.
dev1ce used the AWP a lot more than I thought he would, because I know coming into this tournament they made the switch back to dev1ce on rifle and karrigan AWPing. But I think just out of necessity he picked it up, and played phenomenally with it.
Another person that's kind of picking up the AWP more recently is markeloff. It's kind of been like here and there, but there's some hype starting around it.
Yeah, I mean he's legendary, he's known for his AWP in 1.6, he's one of the highest impact AWPers to ever play the game. So it was cool to see him against NiP, especially on Mirage, have that stretch of the match where he just dominated with it. That's a lot of fun to see, it's a lot of nostalgia coming in. I don't know how realistic it is that they'll keep doing it full-time, I still think it's like one out of every five or six games he picks it up, he does something incredible with it.
It all remains to be seen as well. The only way it works is if he's actually practicing with it, but he's got WorldEdit on his team so it's like, you can't really encroach on that shit.
Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking
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