Astralis' zonic on standing in at the Major: 'We decided 4 hours before we had to wake up that I was going to play'

by Dennis Gonzales Jul 11 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Adela Sznajder / ESL

Danny "zonic" Sørensen is a CS 1.6 veteran and the long-time coach for the Danish squad Astralis. Despite his team being forced to field two stand-ins, himself included, they have retained their Legend status at the ESL One Cologne 2016.

zonic took the time to speak with theScore esports on Day 5 of the Major, going over the success they found despite their bad luck and looking ahead with their full roster.

Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted following the team’s exit from the tournament.

How’s the team feeling after the quarterfinals?

I think we're better today, but we were obviously a bit disappointed yesterday. We didn't expect anything against Dignitas and we didn't expect anything against, but the way that we lost, because we are winners, we got disappointed.

Considering that whole stand-in situation I would say you guys overperformed. You had a stand-in already, you weren't with your final lineup, and then at the last second Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann got sick and you had to stand-in. What was your reaction to that all happening?

So dupreeh had some stomach aches during the first day when we lost against Dignitas, during the first match. He started having some stomach aches but he thought, “ah, I'm just going to go on the toilet, see what happens.” And then the day after, against Gambit, he started having these cramps and we were thinking about food poisoning.

We started wondering where we had eaten and if he got something special. And then late at night, he was like, “we need to see the doctor.” Xyp9x [Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth], dupreeh and I went to the doctor. And then at, I think it was at like 10 o'clock, the doctor said that it was-

His appendix.

Yeah, exactly. And we [were told that they] need to operate. There was no chance that we could postpone the match, because it was just a crucial match. Our main goal with gla1ve [Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander] was to make it past the group stage. So we wanted to get [dupreeh] ready for that match, but the doctor said that there was absolutely no chance that he's going to play. We decided at like 2 a.m., four hours before we had to wake up, that I was going to play.

That's crazy. Even if you had the choice of finding another stand-in, there was no time.

Yeah man. I had to ask “What gear am I going to play with?” I could obviously use dupreeh's but I'm not fond of his mouse.

So what did you do as far as equipment? Did you have to go out and buy everything?

I asked Graham [Graham “messioso” Pitt], the tournament manager here, and he had some gear. I asked for a Rival, but I'm so rusty with it because back in my day there was like four or five different mice. I just asked for a Rival cause I played with that at ELEAGUE and I kind of liked it. But then he came with something called Rival 100 which was just so small and my hand was so big that I couldn't play with it.

We had two hours of warm up, so the first hour I spent trying to finding the Rival that I was using. And then they came with one and I had 45 minutes to warm up, so I did that and took it from there.

I heard you guys made a big strategic shift as far as your roles, how was that brought about?

Obviously, we didn't have time to discuss anything. We knew that Kjaerbye [Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye] was replaced before the event, we pretty much gambled everything that we were going to win the two best-of-ones. We didn't play Cobble, Nuke or Cache, so there were some role changes.

I pretty much called some of our mid rounds so that karrigan [Finn "karrigan" Andersen] could focus on his AWP full time, then the roles within the team were pretty much loose. dev1ce [Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz] could do whatever he wanted as long as he just communicated. Other than that, we did some set plays that we knew from home, because I pretty much know what everyone is doing.

It was a mixture of everything but it was rather messy sometimes.

But despite that, you guys have retained your Legend status. Overall would you say you're satisfied?

Yeah, definitely; we couldn't expect more. As I said before, the main goal with gla1ve was just to pass the group stages. Now we can focus on playing with dupreeh again and we got Kjaerbye back as well.

I think that this team has struggled a little bit, missing some group stages lately, and that has been due to some identity problems. We haven't been able to figure out how we want to play, now we have removed dev1ce from the AWP and put it on karrigan. He’s doing a lot better than before and dev1ce is finding his role as well, also carrying quite a lot.

Going forward, you guys are going to be competing in ELEAGUE. What are some of your expectations going there?

Our new approach, which we are extremely confident in, I think we can do quite alright but it all comes down to who we are going to face. Now that we don't have SK in the tournament I think that we have a better shot of winning it, but it's a tough tournament.

We're going to need some good quality practicing when we get home; we only have seven days and then we're going to stay there for as long as we are in the tournament. Maybe we'll win, but we are definitely aiming for the semifinal or final.

Since you mentioned it, do you have a comment on the SK ruling?

I am obviously sorry for the ex-SK guys; I think that they are the biggest losers in this battle, but I actually think that ELEAGUE is protecting the players by having such a rule because I think it comes down to the orgs not being able to switch the teams.

If orgs are going to switch the five players that they have, then they cannot participate in the tournament; I don't think that SK was aware of that. But maybe if some part of that is also the fault of ELEAGUE, but maybe not, I don't know, maybe in terms of the PR not letting the community know and not having it transparent. But I understand their move, and I think it's good for the sport, that you keep it professional.

For people who don't understand esports, if they see five players playing for one team and then when they go through the playoffs they are suddenly playing for another team, that's extremely unprofessional. Even though I feel sorry for the Danish guys, I feel that it's the best resolution, when someone has to be disqualified at least.

If I remember correctly, gla1ve is actually part of that Team X/ex-SK roster.

Yeah, he didn't play with them in the group stage for ELEAGUE, but he joined them afterwards. And he's also very disappointed not going to Atlanta but, I know that Friis is devastated by it because that was their last event and now they have a whole month of vacation, and they pretty much started preparing for ELEAGUE.

Speaking of vacation, after ELEAGUE, what are your own plans with Astralis?

We have two weeks vacation and then we are going to start preparing for ESL Pro League.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Dennis "Tarmanydyn" Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev. You can follow him on Twitter.