It is surprising how well the new Astralis roster is performing, perhaps with the exception of Dylan Falco who predicted their success. The Danish organization has turned the tides in an extremely competitive league and now they have secured their spot in LEC Spring Split playoffs.
We spoke with the team's esteemed bot laner, Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup, about their victory against XL, how they became such a monstrous force with the addition of LIDER, the level of pressure to perform on this rising team, and his predictions for which teams will make it to the playoffs.
Aykut Sapaz, BLIX.GG: Hello and welcome Kobbe, thank you so much for being here with me. Congratulations on the victory you guys just had against XL. I have to say, that was like a statement game, just a very well-planned game throughout. Did you expect this game to go like it did, or did you expect anything else?
Kasper "Kobbe" Kobberup: I might have expected a draft that was a bit different, but I still expected to win, even though it might not have been as quick as we did. Initially, I felt a little sad because I would have preferred to play on the stage since I think it's much nicer. However, I guess this was more like a scrimmage game vibe as we were just sitting in the backroom playing. We got ahead with snowball cleanly, and the game was just over really fast, so I’m happy.
BLIX: Did they try to remake?
Kobbe: Haha, I don’t know. But like in our voice comms, we started to troll a bit like it was in scrims, you know? “We’re really ahead, they should FF.” You know, the kind of fun things you say within your own team to each other. So yeah, it was fun.
BLIX: It seems like this Astralis roster has their groove going on, you’re synergizing, you’re beating teams, made it to playoffs, locked it. Five other teams will follow you there but before we talk about them, you guys made it! How does it feel?
Kobbe: It feels good, obviously, to lock in the top eight at least. It was almost secured before our wins, but we were still coming into this week trying to win every game because we can still fight for the top seats, depending on other matches. Of course, there’s always a bit of pressure when you’re not truly 100% locked in for the top eight. I’m happy I’m not in that situation like we were in the Winter split when we started 0-5, and there was a lot of stress just to make the top 8. So the first step is completed, and now we can look forward to the group stages.
BLIX: Now, you’re there comfortably, you’re there as one of the top teams who entered first. I wanted to ask about the Winter split because back then, it was almost like you guys were a different team, with more bot lane focus. Now, LIDER’s here and you are playing through mid-lane. How does that change the feel of the game for you?
Kobbe: It feels good overall. I think we're a stronger team now and more versatile in how we can play the game. All our lanes are able to put on carry performances. So, in that sense, it feels good. In today's game, it was mixed, you know? I'm just playing my game and didn't really carry this game or anything. I just played my role, and my team is dominating the whole map. That feels good, and I think it's a positive change.
BLIX: That was very fun to see. You’re just playing in the bot lane, they’re just killing everyone on the other side of the map. But yeah, you made it, now you’re up there with BDS and G2 but two LEC teams unfortunately will not be there with you in the playoffs. Who do you think they will be?
Kobbe: It's actually hard to say. Heretics, XL, and MAD Lions... Most likely two out of those three. But it could be Fnatic as well. My guess would be Heretics because they only have two wins, and I think they have rough matches coming up. MAD Lions have hard matches too, but I feel like they're a team that can clutch it out. So my guess would be Heretics and XL won't make it, but anything can happen honestly. I think all teams have hard matches, so there might be some type of tiebreaker action.
The pressure of performing well
BLIX: Doesn’t that feel great? Anything can happen in this league, the competitiveness is very fun to watch. Is it fun to be there as well, to play within this league where everyone is so close?
Kobbe: Yeah, I think it's definitely fun. There's G2, the champions of winter, who I guess are the toughest to beat, but it doesn't feel like there's any team that's way above anyone else. You see the best of ones, though, so you gotta take that into account. I kept that in mind, but people are just beating each other left and right, and I think that's very exciting. Also, the fight for the top eight, I'm just happy I don't have to be under the stress of that now.
In general, if you look back to previous years, like in 2018, there was Fnatic; in 2019, there was G2. In those seasons, those teams were just one step above the rest. You were fighting for a second or third place, basically almost. I think other teams improved a lot, and obviously, there aren't any insane rosters. It's different from year to year. Some years, there's just one team that's insanely good. I think it's quite exciting right now.
BLIX: Speaking of past experiences. Astralis has never been the top org but this year, you guys are actually challenging the top orgs, you’re looking to find your spot there. How does the organization feel about your current performance?
Kobbe: Good, mostly. I've been at Astralis for two years. Last year was not really the best in terms of results, but I think this year, so far, it's looking a lot better, and I think they are also happy about that. The beauty of that is that we're a strong team of good players, and we're able to display a lot without much pressure from our organization, fans, or outside. In games like these, it really shows, I think. We can just play freely; there's no added pressure.
Let's say you're in a top organization like G2 or Fnatic, and you're losing, then it's... I know it from my TSM times, it's a big burden. So I know for sure how it is, and yeah, I just appreciate that I'm able to play every game without that added pressure, other than what I put on myself.
BLIX: That is a very interesting point you made because I spoke to 113 (Doğukan Balcı, Astralis’ jungler) the other week and he said: “There’s more pressure on us now because of our performance in the Winter Split.” Do you feel that’s the case for you as well?
Kobbe: I mean, not yet really, but let’s say we keep doing well and winning. Then, obviously, we will get to the point where there will be pressure because we have shown that we’re good and people expect us to keep doing it. I think at that point, there will be more pressure, but I still don’t think it’s comparable. I’m used to it anyway. I have played for a long time, in big and small organizations, and everything. So, to me, it doesn’t matter. But for younger players, it’s definitely a benefit.
BLIX: You’ve been through it all and now, on Astralis, hopefully we’ll see you as that team you described one day, the top team which will put pressure on the players with the legacy. But before we take that long walk, there is the first step. Who do you think will be the easiest matchup for you in the best of threes?
Kobbe: I want to think a bit. It depends on who makes it.
BLIX: Let’s say XL and Heretics didn’t make it as you said.
Kobbe: We haven't played Fnatic yet this season, so I'm not sure how we match up against them. Honestly, I feel comfortable going into any match. For me, it's easier that way. G2, Vitality, and KOI are teams I expect to be strong in the group stage, so maybe not those teams. But it doesn't really matter. There's double elimination, so we will have to play against everyone eventually. I don't really mind who we play against. I think we have a good chance, no matter what.
BLIX: Glad to hear. Well, thank you so much for your time. Lastly, I want to ask. Is there anything you want to say to fans out there who are very excited to see their favorite team make it to the playoffs?
Kobbe: Thanks to those supporting us and myself. I'm not really the most active guy on social media. I've said this before, but I still do read and appreciate every positive comment. Thank you.