Following Vitality's win over G2 at the BLAST.tv Paris Major RMR, BLIX sat down with Vitality's IGL Dan “apEX” Madesclaire to discuss the team's upcoming game against MONTE, the schedule that the team has, and his long career, among other topics.
Hugo "TheSwedishJoker" Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: Congratulations on your win against G2. You qualified for the Major yesterday, how did it feel to finally secure a spot at your home Major in Paris?
Dan “apEX” Madesclaire: Qualifying for the Major for a team like us is kind of normal, but it’s never easy at the RMRs, we all know that. The feeling is really good about qualifying first, but today the good feeling is that we took the game as we had to do. We had nothing to lose and we played some really good, solid CS that helped us to go through. That’s the most important thing, we just played some good CS without having too much pressure and we beat G2 2-0.
BLIX: Do you think that you would have gone 3-0 in your group if you had played like you did today?
apEX: Maybe, but we all know those games are “pressurized”. It’s the most pressure because if a team like Vitality doesn’t go to the Major it’s the biggest fail in the world! If a team like Vitality goes to the Major it’s nothing crazy, right? We have the best player in the world so who cares? It’s all about that, it’s a lot of pressure on us, especially when it’s on home soil. Playing the same way yesterday would have been a bit harder, obviously, we made more mistakes and were more nervous. But today it was really good!
BLIX: You have your final tiebreaker game tomorrow at 10 am against Monte, and then you’ll play at IEM Rio on Monday. How does the schedule work? Isn’t there a risk of burning out, with jet lag and the time zones coming into play, and have you talked about it?
apEX: Obviously Rio will not be as important as the other tournaments because otherwise, we would kill ourselves. We are leaving on Sunday and we’ll have jet lag and everything, but we’ll take this tournament without pressure in Rio. We’re going to give our best but obviously, we’re going to be tired when we arrive so obviously it’s not going to be easy.
BLIX: Coming into the match against Monte, they’ve been on an incredible individual level and surprised many teams. How do you think this match is going to play out? Will it be more of a game of individual CS?
apEX: Of course when you play a team like Monte you need to be on point individually. I haven’t seen them that much yet, but for sure they’re hitting their shots hard. BOROS (Muhammad “BOROS” Malhas, ed.) has been insane this tournament, so for us, it’s just about watching and being ready for anything. They will do everything to beat us individually, so it’s just about getting prepared. We need to win these games, because we’ve been losing so many games like that against lower opponents, and we need to show up on the day.
BLIX: You’ve been in the scene for a very long time and you also were a Major champion with Envy at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015. How does it feel now, being at the last CS:GO Major and having a new game on the horizon? Did this qualifier feel like the most important set of matches in your career after the Cluj-Napoca final, aiming for the Major on home soil?
apEX: It’s been a long chapter for me, it’s been eleven years of CS:GO at the highest level, so that’s a pretty good feeling, to be honest, I’ve been doing really well overall. But I’ve missed two Majors, and the two I missed were kind of my fault: one I got banned when KQLY (Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian, ed.) got VAC banned, and the other one I was benched in G2 so I couldn’t attend the tournament. Overall the good thing is that I made all the Majors I could, I gave everything to get to the Majors I could and that’s what matters to me. Now we have the Paris Major and to end this chapter of my life that has been CS:GO, one of the most intense and important ones in my life, I’m really happy to be there, trying our best to lift the trophy.
BLIX: You’ve been in CS:GO for eleven years, as you said, so do you think we’re going to see you make the switch to CS2 this summer?
apEX: Yes, of course! I don’t feel done yet, I will make the switch obviously. The game is not a big change I would say, I played just a little bit but I will play more and it’s nice for players like me because it gives extra motivation to grind again. I’ve been playing on Source professionally, then on CS:GO and now CS2, so three different games being a professional... that will be amazing! I’m just really happy it’s new, I don’t have anything against new, it’s a bit weird but nowadays I don’t give a fuck. I will stop my career when my teammates or my staff tell me “You’re done”. And then, I will most likely agree, but right now, I’m still so hungry. I'm still playing a lot and trying my best for my team to perform, creating strats, creating things, individually helping my teammates, dropping nades and dropping AKs. *laughs* I’m ready to give my ass to win, so not much to say except that I’m still there and I will be there for a few more moments for the haters!
BLIX: During these eleven years you have made a lot of switches, moving from an aggressive entry rifler in the French scene to this international project Vitality where you’re the IGL. How do you feel that you have developed as a player over the years? How much room do you feel is still there for you to keep developing and getting better?
apEX: Of course, you can always improve and nowadays in CS you have to improve every day, otherwise people will beat you. Obviously, I’ve done a lot of roles, I used to be the star rifler, then I was a more supportive player and then I became an In-Game Leader. I will keep being an IGL, no way I switch back to something else, I love it! I’m working my ass off so that’s what’s the most important thing. I just want to keep improving every day just to make my team better.
BLIX: Did you ever think you were going to end up playing in an international project after spending so long in the French scene? Do you think it was the right time for the switch, or should you have done it earlier?
apEX: I was close earlier, in 2018, I was close to joining MOUZ with oskar (Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný, ed.) and suNny (Miikka “suNny” Kemppi, ed.), in place of STYKO (Martin “STYKO” Styk, ed.). I was about to go to this lineup, but MOUZ and G2 didn’t find an agreement. Then I think we had to do it, the French scene was really poor in terms of players, and when you have a player such as ZywOo and you want something big like Vitality do you need to move on. I think that was the right step to go international, we haven’t shown it yet as we’ve only won one tournament but let’s see how it goes in the near future.
BLIX: Are you not closing any doors for an eventual return to the French scene?
apEX: I think it’s going to be tough. I’m not going to play in tier two or tier three, I will play in tier one until I can and then I will retire, so for me, I will maybe go back to another international team. But I think a tier-one French team right now would be tough.
CS2: Beta, release timing and tournaments
BLIX: Have you been able to play the CS2 beta yet?
apEX: Yes, I played maybe five or ten minutes in Pro League but I don’t care yet. We have more important things coming like the Major in Paris and all other tournaments, so I will see whenever I’m done with all the other things.
BLIX: Do you think it was the right time for Valve to release it?
apEX: Of course, eleven years of CS:GO! Even though we kept breaking records and even more records, I think it was time for them to release something new. We also need young casual players to come, and we need more players to play our game, so I think it was the right decision. Imagine having the best FPS, it’s eleven years old and it still has the most players! It’s insane, that’s why CS is so powerful.
BLIX: We’ve been talking about Source 2 for many years now. From what you’ve seen of the game so far, has it matched your expectations for it or has it been different in any way?
apEX: For me, it’s really similar to CS:GO, but I didn’t try the game enough so I can’t say much.
BLIX: Obviously you guys will fully focus on CS:GO for the last Major, but after that have you talked about how you will divide your time? For example, if some tournaments are on CS:GO while others will be on CS2?
apEX: I think if people keep doing tournaments in CS:GO it doesn’t make sense. We cannot have two scenes, we need to have one and that’s what matters. So I hope it’s going to be on CS2 and fuck CS:GO after all!