Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz is back in Astralis' lineup for ELEAGUE's Boston Major. The star AWPer has been out of action since November, nursing a hiatal hernia. Less than a year removed from their ELEAGUE Atlanta Major victory, the squad will be looking to rally behind his return for a repeat performance.
Ahead of the tournament, dev1ce spoke to theScore esports about returning from his injury, what last year's Major victory meant to him and what the future holds.
I wanted to talk about some important points in your career. Your first Major win at the ELEAGUE Major 2017 notably followed a long string of playoff exits. Can you recall how you felt after breaking through that barrier? How big of a milestone was it, in the context of your career as a whole?
dev1ce: I think I learned throughout 2017 how big of a deal it was for me because when you win thr Major you don’t understand it. You have no understanding of what it actually meant to me in a whole. Like taking a big perspective on my career, it’s been a long journey towards a Major win and it was really important for me to actually get it pretty early.
I’m only 22 years old and... I was thinking a lot about winning [a Major], and when I was around 21 years old I actually had the thought of I might go through my entire career without winning a Major and I would be completely okay with that because there’s only two of them each year and there’s so many good teams. And you can be unlucky in one tournament, two tournaments a year — that being Majors — and you can go through a lot of years without winning a Major so I was already in some way content with that it might happen, that I wouldn't win a Major, but right now I'm just looking forward and I'm going to go for five Majors before my career's over.
You were considered to be one of the best riflers in the world around the time of Astralis’ formation, which was when you switched to being a primary AWPer. Now you're considered one of the top AWPers in the world. Why did you make that decision to switch to the AWP in the first place?
dev1ce: So when I started AWPing it was primarily around the time when we got [Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander] in the team and it was because nobody else on the team actually could and would want to AWP. So it was more [that] I’ve played secondary AWP for a long time why not just try it.
It was actually Danny’s [coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen] idea. Since he played with [Christoffer "Sunde" Sunde] in 1.6 and he was also a rifler and he switched to the AWP and he thought that he saw some of the same capabilities in me, so it was, with all respect, more his decision or his idea. That was the primary reason we switched.
Another potentially important point in your career is your short break, due to your hiatal hernia. Other CS:GO players have been forced to take competitive breaks to due injury and illness (olof, GuardiaN, etc.) or compete despite their illnesses (GeT_RiGhT, fer, etc.) and its likely affected their gameplay. How big of an impact does your illness have on your competitive career? Considering how young you are, at 22 years old, how scared were you of your illness sidelining your esports career?
dev1ce: I think my illness got a lot worse in 2017 and at a point I actually decided to compete with it throughout the whole year. Actually at the Major, it was where it [started getting] really bad, at the Major in Atlanta last year. So for me it was more at that time about ignoring a little bit of the pain and just competing, and that was the trend throughout the year for me.
Obviously back then it was because I was worried about not actually being able to play with the condition I was in. And there were talks with the team about me going on a short break as well to clear everything up around after the PGL Major, but that didn’t happen due to I felt great after the vacation.
So it has a big impact, and it has had a much bigger impact than I would have wanted in 2017 but I definitely feel like the way I'm moving forward now with the two new experts I got connected with, they're helping me a lot. Right now it’s not about living with the pain, but now it’s more about balancing it out, living without the pain and actually being able to evolve as a player.
It’s something that I’m really grateful for. I’m feeling really good at the moment — obviously I still need to shake it off a little bit, I’ve been really sick. So it takes time before you're back at 100 percent. But I feel like moving into 2018 I feel like my condition will not affect me nearly as much and I'm just really happy going into the new year with a whole new energy and a whole new... in some way, it feels like motivation, right?
Year two of Astralis is almost over and last year saw you guys brought in big name sponsors like Audi and Jack & Jones. As a partial owner of Astralis, what are your thoughts on the organization’s growth so far? What’s next for year three of Astralis?
dev1ce: I think by far this was the most successful year of Astralis, both competitively and also on the partner and the [commercial] side. So I’m really happy that we’ve got to work with some of the big partners, and we’ve gotten [a] financial status which is really good within the organization.
Obviously that's something that's meant a lot to me. What also has meant a lot to me is that we’ve actually been really good at promoting ourselves within Denmark. We’ve been really thorough with that and throughout the year we’ve been in contact with Danish media.
Moving forward it’s definitely [about] going a little bit more international. Working more with our partners, creating some cool products, some cool content instead of just doing the standard sort of things. We want to create some more in-depth and some more personal stuff for you guys to watch since we feel like the [people] who watch us and follow us really deserve that.
Moving on to the Major, considering you just recently announced your return to the lineup, how much practice have you been able to put in? What will be the state of the team going into the Major?
dev1ce: Individually, I’ve been playing a lot. I think when you’re ill you tend to have a lot of spare time between the tests and I've had that for sure so I’ve just been trying to kill time a little bit with playing CS individually. So I feel actually pretty fine going into the Major. I’m not that worried about my individual level not being on top.
Other than that, as a team, we started practicing at the start of January and we had a bootcamp as well. I feel like we feel very ready — at the Major it’s more about your own team than about the other teams since there are so many circumstance you are unsure of and people can and will have made new stuff for the Major. So right now we are just focusing on ourselves and focusing on being 100 percent completely ready as of how we see it. I feel like we are going in the right direction, there’s not that long time until we travel to the Major, but we feel like we are almost there.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.