Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: How would you say that the first six months in OG have been for you so far?
Abdul “degster” Gasanov: It was interesting. I liked it a lot. There were a lot of things that I just needed to learn for myself, to be a better version of myself at least and be a better player. It also helps me develop my English and team-playing experience. So, the thought of joining grew on me, and actually, it was a good decision for me, even if it was hard sometimes and some tournaments failed in my opinion.
It gives me a chance to be on an international team for a whole career and I think this is something that I would like to do. I'm not sure about it but that's how I feel at least for now. I already know how it's working […] when you speak only the English language, not mixing up an email and stuff like that.
BLIX: If a CIS team came, maybe not Natus Vincere but a team with a really good project, would you jump on that instead of an international team?
degster: Actually, it depends on which team has a very good project because people in Europe have a different mentality and I like this mentality a lot. It feels like people here understand that we are not only playing together, we're spending time together and they try to be not so toxic for you and stuff like that. So, it even changed me because sometimes I can be negative when I see mistakes but because of the atmosphere in our team, I'm not getting super mad as I used to previously.
I am trying to control myself because I also feel that these guys are trying and when I see that everyone is trying, yes, maybe sometimes they lose focus, but we are here to hold each other and support each other and it helps me to be a better version of myself. Sometimes it's hard, but it's part of the process.
BLIX: What was the mentality like back when you played in Espada and Spirit in the CIS region?
degster: I can tell you what I went through when I was playing in Espada and in Spirit, I was grinding as much as I could and most of the time, I was doing that. It was only in 2022 that I realized that it's not only a question of how many hours of work you put up, it's also about how smart you work in those hours. I did a lot of grinding in my career, but it felt like I was missing one thing. It was super important, but I didn't realize it or I didn't focus on it. It's the communication part here. I improved a lot as a teammate and in my previous teams, the most important thing was how we play. OG helps me improve, not only in the game but also outside of the game and even to improve the atmosphere.
Like, I have my “little bro” flameZ, that's always ready with his hand and it gives me a lot of vibes. For me, it's really important. Previously, I didn't understand it, so when anyone was saying to me that I should not scream because it was affecting him, I was trying not to do that. Then, after one week my coach came to me and said, “bro, you need to be super hyped”. You cannot be calmed down and always have something that you need to change inside of you without any real reason for you as an individual. You just try to be good with your teammates. Here, everyone is loving when I am hyped, when I'm giving slaps when I have a lot of energy.
They even encourage me sometimes. It just feels like they like me as a person, not just only as a player. I hope so, maybe they're such good professionals also and I really enjoy it anyway in both ways.
BLIX: Are you ever afraid that you're going to break flameZ’s hand by hitting it so hard and so often?
degster: [Laughs] Actually, yeah, sometimes I was giving him so many slaps but most of the time it is only when I have so much emotion, so I need to share it with him, so he is ready.
BLIX: Has he ever said that it hurts?
degster: I don't know, he doesn't tell me that I should not do that. He's still hitting his headshots afterward, so he's happy and I'm happy. That's why we are still sitting together.
Differences in the EU & CIS Scenes
BLIX: What is the biggest difference that you have noticed between Spirit and OG in terms of organization?
degster: I can say that people in Europe and people in CIS work super differently. I can try to explain it but I think the most important thing is that people in Europe act more professionally. I think in CIS there is a very small percentage of organizations that get more money than they spend in Europe.
It works differently and that's how it is because even stuff like media days and management works differently. When I first joined OG I got like three or four people that were connecting with me. They even added me as a friend and said we are happy that you are here with us, and I never saw that before actually.
BLIX: So, it's more of a friendly environment rather than just strictly professional?
degster: Yes, we have good relationships and I like it. I'm not asking them to be my best friends for my whole life but if it's going to be like that then I'm happy. If it's not, I'm also happy because we have good relationships because of the things that they have done and I'm trying to be good to them.
BLIX: What needs to be done to get better results and more consistent results this year compared to last year?
degster: It's a hard question. I can talk about the team and that we need to grow up and put a lot of things on the table to be at least a team who can win a tournament. And not like these teams that can be dark horses but these teams that people say “these guys are strong and they have a lot of chances to win tournaments”. For me individually, I’ve set a lot of individual goals and I will try to follow up with them and to not forget them. Actually, I was thinking of writing them on a list and reading them every day.
We had a bootcamp before BLAST here in Copenhagen and I hope to see the results of this job as a team. And also individually I was playing as much as I could and I'm really tired right now. But during the tournament, I will have rest. I will finally have eight hours of sleeping time and I just believe that it's going to work for us and also it's going to work for me because I am not happy in the place where we finished it. I also understand that I could play better.
BLIX: Can you tell me a little bit about some of the individual goals that you have for yourself?
degster: No, that's private. [Laughs]
BLIX: What about goals with the team? Any expectations for what you want to achieve this year?
degster: Yes, of course, I want to win tournaments and I think everyone on my team wants to win tournaments already. I think we should if we deserve to. In my opinion, if you don't win something like an important game or clutch, you just don't deserve it. Most of the time if you lose, you don't deserve the win and you even sometimes throw the game by yourself. So, one of the things that we want to have achieved together is to win a tournament. Also, we have set up goals for the Major and we need to just believe that we can go far.
I also believe in the work that we have done here, and we also have a trip of two tournaments in a row, after one break, and then two tournaments in a row again. It's going to help us. We don't have so many things to do, we just need to play and improve each other as a team and we will see where we will be in 2023. For me, it's really important here. I have to say I'm blaming myself a bit because I expect myself to be on a better level.
BLIX: Did you guys focus a lot on the map pool at your bootcamp?
degster: Focus was everywhere actually. Map pool problems on maps that we had in the previous season. We work individually, the coaches also take us individually to work with us. They even improved our English so we speak about English things for three players. For me, NEOFRAG and F1KU and yeah. That's how it is.
BLIX: What's your experience so far playing under ruggah?
degster: He's a very good guy actually. He's the type of coach that if he says to me that he wants to change something, most of the time we understand each other and I understand what he wants to do. Also, an important thing inside of him is that he wants us to win but he doesn't want to break the player to help the team win because he understands that it's not going to work for the player, and I respect him a lot for that.
He's a very good guy and I love him because this guy is an absolute legend for me in my life from the first time when I met him until this moment. I think we're going to have more time together. I hope so. He was doing something that I like even if sometimes you don't agree in the heat of the moment but overall, when you leave emotions, you are always thinking that I like what he is doing.
On the new update and Anubis
BLIX: Have you had any chance to play Anubis during the bootcamp? Do you think that it can be good for your team?
degster: I think we need to play it more in official matches. Practice never shows the truth. You can win all practices and come to the game and then lose with no rounds. Personally, I really like Anubis a lot. Yes, they're changing it right now, the skybox, as you can see, maybe you saw the update. They even updated Anubis and deleted one skybox that was really important, and it changed the meta already, but I think I also would like to play more official matches on this map to say more words about it.
The map right now though, I like it a lot. I just hope there will be more fixes for the skybox because it's actually sometimes super hard to defend bombsites and we will see how it is after that.
BLIX: So, we can expect more Anubis from OG this year?
BLIX: That’s great. Have you noticed any other things on the map so far that you would like to see changed other than the skybox?
degster: It’s a good question but I was not thinking about it. I need to look at the map. Maybe I would change something on the T-Side because it feels really strong for CTs to peek. They can easily peek you with flashes and you have actually no position to hold it from but it's something that you can just feel. I don't think that they need to change a lot other than the skyboxes, they need to think about what they can do with that.
I was playing FPL and people just threw three molotovs in one position and all of them from different positions and they just ran and threw them and you cannot play the game after that. There is no gameplay, they just throw three molotovs, leave it and that's how it is. I never felt like that on any other map because Ts cannot throw three molotovs from three different positions to one position and I think this one thing will be a very good change.
BLIX: Do you think that the AWP nerf has affected your playstyle compared to before when you had ten bullets?
degster: Sometimes, yes but most of the time people are already trying to adapt to it. So, there are no big changes. As it was, for example, in 2015, when they change the speed with zoom. So sometimes you can do fewer wallbangs and now you need to reload because you don't have bullets to kill all of these guys who will hide in site, for example. Also, it stops you from spamming through the smokes as much. But overall, the game has not changed a lot but if they bring three bullets in the magazine, maybe it will change the role entirely.
BLIX: Will you still play the same way now with five bullets in the chamber than before with ten?
degster: I haven’t thought about it. I feel that it's okay for me and that's how it is.
Feature Images: Copyright BLAST | [@jakhoward]