Apeks capped off their eventful 2023 season with a grand finals appearance in ESL Challenger Atlanta 2023 against Virtus.pro in front of a raucous North American crowd. Continuing the momentum from their second-place finish in the Elisa Masters Espoo tournament, Apeks cracked the top two once again following victories over GamerLegion, The MongolZ and Monte en route to the finals and looked to have the potential to win the whole thing.
However, an equally as excellent VP team seized the tournament from Apeks’ grasp as a 2-0 result went the former’s way to capture the ESL Challenger trophy and $50,000 in prize money. Nevertheless, difficult as it is to absorb the grand finals loss, there’s reason to have optimism within the Apeks camp.
Having made a few roster changes following the team’s semifinal run in the Paris Major, which saw players like Ådne "sense" Fredriksen get called up from the academy side, Apeks remained in decent form as the calendar flips from 2023 to 2024
Following Apeks’ defeat to VP in the grand finals, BLIX sat down with Ådne "sense" Fredriksen for an interview on his experience at the tournament, the differences he encountered with Apeks compared to when he was with Apeks Rebels, his goals for 2024 and much more.
Competing at ESL Challenger
Pedro Romero, BLIX: Commiserations on the loss to VP. Just to start off this conversation, what's going through your mind in light of the defeat?
Ådne "sense" Fredriksen: First of all, I'm really happy that we were able to reach the finals. I know that we didn't really expect it before we came into the tournament. We came just right after reaching the finals in Elisa [Masters Espoo] as well. Of course, I'm sad and it's annoying that I played so poorly in the final, but it's a good tournament overall.
BLIX: Getting a little bit into the finals, what do you feel went wrong individually speaking?
sense: I just think that I've never played against a team like VP. They're playing so slow and they're not giving you anything. Everything is calculated, and they know exactly what they're doing. It's just that I was not prepared enough for it.
BLIX: Taking the focus over to the tournament in general, where you made the finals and finished second, what do you think worked well for this team in this competition and in the matches that you guys played in?
sense: I think it's the same as we did in Finland. We got this sports psychologist, Mia [Stellberg] and we've just been having the same mentality from there and brought it to this tournament. We were just playing loose and having fun and actually enjoyed playing the tournament instead of being really serious and really try-harding. We're actually enjoying ourselves now, so we're playing with a lot less pressure and that's kind of nice.
BLIX: And what about you? What is your takeaway from this experience of being with the team and playing in a tournament such as this?
sense: I'm just trying to learn as much as possible and enjoying every moment. We'll just see what the future brings.
Going from Apeks Rebels to Apeks
BLIX: I wanted to touch upon you joining the squad from Apeks Rebels on a trial basis. Given that it's been more than two months now since making the move, what do you feel you've adjusted the most from your time so far with the main team?
sense: It's probably my new role. In the academy team, I was the captain, and in this team, I'm playing more of a lurker-anchor. It's just been adjusting to those positions and being as comfortable with them as possible.
BLIX: Do you feel as though your input in terms of contributing to the comms and strategies changed from the Rebels team to the main team? Did you also feel that sort of change to a big degree?
sense: Of course I do because the academy team was full Norwegian, so everyone was fluent in Norwegian, and then in the main team, we were speaking English. So, the communication in the main team, I wouldn't say, is that much better, maybe, but I will say that for me, it was easier to communicate in the academy team, but I still feel I'm doing my job in the main team.
BLIX: Looking at your year overall, from playing with the Apeks Rebels team up until now on the main team, what do you feel has been the biggest thing that you had to adjust, generally speaking?
sense: The thing I need to adjust for next year is just my individual level and become better individually. Right now, I think I'm lacking a little bit since CS2 came out. And yeah, it's just to step up my individual level, and I then think it will be good.
BLIX: That being said, I'm wondering where you see yourself with Apeks in the future since you're on a trial basis with the first team. What do you see the future looking like for you for 2024, whether it's with this team or maybe someone outside of that?
sense: I'm not sure what the future is. I'm going on Christmas vacation now. I mean, the future brings what it brings. If Apeks want me, maybe I'm staying. Maybe I'm going back to the academy team. It's impossible to say right now.
BLIX: Looking at the entire year for you in particular, what do you think was the one thing that went well for you (i.e. biggest positive from your game)?
sense: I have two. It's the Elisa finals and the DreamHack Atlanta finals so that's it.
BLIX: Sweet, short and concise. I appreciate that. Going a little bit ahead for 2024, what do you feel is your one main goal?
sense: My dream is to win a Major but I don't think I'm right there yet so I'll probably say that qualifying for a Major is my goal.
BLIX: Where do you think you are gap-wise in achieving that goal of reaching a Major?
sense: We just made back-to-back finals so I think I am pretty close. I hope so at least. But it doesn't matter if you reach two finals, you still have to qualify for the Major and anything can happen in the Major qualifiers.