After struggling to find their footing at the start of 2023, fnatic surprised many by qualifying to the BLAST.tv Paris Major in a strong 3-0 fashion. Following this strong result for the storied organization, BLIX sat down with Dion "FASHR" Derksen to discuss fnatic's qualifying match, FAHSR's personal goals and the Benelux scene, among other topics.
Note that this interview was conducted following fnatic's victory over B8.
fnatic and FASHR's recent form
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX: Congratulations on qualifying for the Major. How was the feeling throughout the game? You guys had a solid first map, then the second map was kind of shaky. Can you talk me through how it went?
Dion “FASHR” Derksen: Yeah, we did a really big anti-strat on them, because last time we actually lost against them, and when we watched back that game and we were like "What are we doing, we need to prepare for this one," because they’re a really good team. In the anti-strat as well we saw that they play like a tier-one team, they mix up everything and they go together, they’re really good! So we didn’t underestimate them at all, and then into the first map, you could see that we had clear reads on them and we played as a tier-one team should.
I think on Nuke the nerves kicked in a little bit because we still had the right reads but we couldn’t kill them, we choked a little bit in certain rounds. And I think on Ancient as well, we had the right reads on our CT but we just couldn’t kill them sometimes and it ended in 1v1s and them winning clutches. Then on the T side, I think everyone stepped up massively with the comms, with the energy and everything. We see how good we can play and then everything fell together, kind of lucky in the end with some rounds but I think we deserve to win in the end.
BLIX: It’s only your second Major, and almost been one year in tier one, in fnatic, how’s it been so far?
FASHR: It’s actually really amazing, I’m having some hard times sometimes against the top of the top because I need to adapt still, and I’m working really hard to come to the tier-one level as well because I’m not there yet. I’m trying to do whatever I can and obviously, this helps, that I can play at the Major again and show what I’m worth. I just need to work harder, and I have already worked really hard, to actually become a top-20 player in the world.
BLIX: Is that a personal goal for you, reaching the Top 20?
FASHR: Well, it would be nice! I don’t want to say I cannot do it, because then I don’t believe in myself, but it’s going to be really hard and I’m not that young anymore, you know? So I just need to keep working and then great things will happen I think.
BLIX: You guys have been having mixed results recently. I spoke with Nico "nicoodoz" Tamjidi and he said that you had consistency issues and he had some personal issues as well. How have you guys been going through this period, and now going 3-0 and qualifying for the Major?
FASHR: I think in the end qualifying 3-0 is a huge relief for us, because up to this point, we didn’t have great games as you said, we’ve lost against some opponents we shouldn’t lose against. I think even in the OG game in IEM Dallas Closed Qualifier, Mirage, we lost 16-6, but every round we knew what they were going to do, we just didn’t turn up individually. We’re happy that we can show on the RMR that we can actually do it because it’s a confidence boost for us as well. We go to IEM Rio obviously later, so we need the confidence to make it to the Playoffs there as well.
BLIX: You’re still pretty new to the tier-one scene, but you have guys like Fredrik "roeJ" Jørgensen, nicoodoz and obviously Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson who have been around the block. Have the guys been helping you out to be more comfortable and maybe develop a little bit faster than you normally would?
FASHR: Yeah, I think everyone does. In game we switched some roles because some things really didn’t fit me and everyone’s open to the change, and doing anything as long as we keep working hard. Samuelsson also, our manager, helps a lot with it as well, we all have individual talks and especially for me we have a whole schedule, like what I need to do to improve faster. Because you don’t have the time to improve, you need to do it as fast as possible.
Everyone is just straight-up honest to each other, like if you mess up and we see it on our after talk, we just say it to our face, so it’s instantly fixed for the next game. We all can take criticism really well, no one gets tilted and everyone can say anything, so that’s a big help for everyone. If you make a mistake and people don’t mention it, then you do it five times and they don’t mention it because they’re afraid that you’d get scared or whatever, that doesn’t help right? And if I mess something up, instantly, like the coach even, just says "You just need to do this and this." Just be honest, that’s the only way I learn, and I think we all do it pretty nicely.
FASHR's early career and the Benelux scene
BLIX: You were in ECSTATIC before, were you scared coming into fnatic? Because it seems like a pretty big step on paper. How was that initial time for you compared to how you have it now?
FASHR: It was a huge step, yeah, but I kept believing in myself that I could do it. At the start, it was a little hard because every role I played was different, and every position was different, so I needed to learn all the routines and all the things. Because all the roles I played for three or four years in every other team were the star player positions and then this step against tier-one you just get punished if you make mistakes. For me, it was kind of hard to adjust but now I think I found a fit, I’d say. There's a huge difference between tier two and tier one, so I’m happy with the performance at the moment. I just need to keep working hard and good things will happen, as I said.
BLIX: You’re coming from the Benelux scene, you’ve had a lot of talented players from there in the past, like Chris "chrisJ" de Jong, but we’ve not seen many people come up after you and chrisJ. What do you think is the issue with the Benelux scene? What do you think needs to change to pick it up and create more chrisJs and FASHRs?
FASHR: It’s two things, I think. We don’t have anyone with experience who can teach the young guys, and I think it’s a money thing obviously because you cannot play professionally in the Benelux. You don’t even get a part-time salary, so it’s really hard to break through. I made the decision to leave everything aside and just give it a go, whatever I do I’d just commit full-time in CS, even with no salary, and for me, it paid off, but people don’t really want to do that, because it’s a huge risk. I think right now what I’m trying to do is help the scene, and if all the teams who play in ESEA Advanced, ESEA Main, or whatever, they can always reach out to me and I can help with some things.
That’s why I’m trying to teach the new guys a little bit, right? Maybe we just need to invest in our scene. They cannot learn it themselves, because I thought I was a pretty smart player when I was playing in the Benelux, then I went to Thomas “birdfromsky” Due-Frederiksen and I realized I was just dumb as shit! *laughs* So yeah, you need the experience to teach the young guys as well, and I think that’s what we’re lacking at the moment.
Goals for the future
BLIX: Have you guys set any goals or objectives with this team?
FASHR: I think the main goal for us this year, so talking to the winter break again, is to win an S-Tier event. But until the summer break I think getting a top-four placement at an S-Tier event, that’s the goal we set. I hope we can do it! We’re not overconfident, like "we want to win this event, or this event," we take it step by step. I wouldn’t say we’re like a new team, but we’re still an inexperienced team, especially with me and roeJ, and William "mezii" Merriman, obviously we don’t have that much experience, right?
BLIX: As you said you guys are inexperienced in the long term, do you see yourself as a little bit of an underdog or do you see yourself as one of the favorites that should be able to go through?
FASHR: I think it all depends on who’s there, right? I think last Major in the Challenger’s Stage we had a 2-0 start, and then we went 3-2 in the end, so the nerves kicked in a little bit. But in the Legends Stage, we went 3-1, playing against Cloud9, we won against BIG, they’re not bad opponents, right? I think we have it in ourselves to do it, it’s just we need to keep up the communication and the hype, and then I think that’s where I think we are the strongest team there is. I think of all the tier-one teams we might have the best mentality, just without tilting and keeping the hype up.
BLIX: I wanted to get your thoughts on CS2, have you been able to play it yet?
FASHR: Yes, we all got access on the first day, Valve gave it to us. I don’t want to say we made a rule, but we decided to not play CS2. We played two or three matches because we want to focus on qualifying for the Major. That was our main goal, and if you go like every evening, play CS2 on stream and get viewers, you’re not working, right? We wanted to make the Major, and everyone grinded for hours. I think every one of us had at least 100 hours in the last two weeks and for me, as a player, I don’t think I’ve had that for the past five years! We really put in the hours to qualify for the Major, and now I don’t want to say we can relax a bit but maybe we can play one or two more CS2 games to get in shape.
BLIX: Do you think that it will be a big transition from CS:GO to CS2? Just looking at it, do you think that it will take time to get used to?
FASHR: Yeah I think it will, actually, it felt a little bit different. Obviously, the smoke disappears with nades and everything, like it’s going to be a whole new meta, right? I think a lot will change actually, I want to see newer maps as well because I don’t really like the lighting on Dust2. When I was in lower tunnels I nearly had to wear sunglasses because my eyes were blown out with lightning!
BLIX: And then with the flashes as well!
FASHR: Yeah, it's too intense I think. We’ll see, I think it will be a big change, to be honest.
BLIX: Do you feel like Valve’s timing to release it now was correct, rather than waiting? You know, you have the beta until the summer and then it’s open to the public.
FASHR: I think it’s nice timing. I think it’s nice that they don’t really set a date that they want to release it, because it’s better that they release it when they think it’s ready, so they don’t have stress with a deadline. So I think the timing’s fine, it’s whatever.
BLIX: BLAST Paris will be the last CS:GO Major, so the last chance to win one, does it put a little bit more pressure to go as far as possible and write your name in the history books?
FASHR: Yeah, obviously anyone is dreaming of that moment, to win a Major. I don’t want to say "Put a little bit extra pressure," but it would be really nice to have the fnatic name win the last CS:GO Major because I think fnatic had a dominant era and it would be nice to close CS:GO with a fnatic Major win.
Blix: Have you talked about how you guys will divide the time between CS:GO and CS2 after this Major? Now you’ve been really focused on CS:GO, but as it gets closer there will still be CS:GO events, how do you think you will divide it up?
FASHR: I think it really depends on the tournament organizers, I think when they switch over to CS2 tournaments we have to switch as well, and I don’t know how the transition is going to be. Like, if CS:GO really goes away or there is one update coming and suddenly you can’t play anything other than CS2? We don’t know, so we have to just find out and I think the biggest tell for us to switch is when the tournament organizers switch.
BLIX has already conducted an interview with FASHR's teammate, nicoodoz, be sure to check it here.