Half a year into M80’s journey within Counter-Strike, they have taken part in various online competitions that ranged from ESEA to CCT and ECL, but it wasn’t until they competed in ESL Challenger at DreamHack Atlanta that they were able to obtain LAN experience and have a chance to face some of the world’s best teams.
For M80’s opening contest in Atlanta, they faced VP in a best-of-one that started relatively close with a 6-6 first half before a 2-7 run on the T-side led to their defeat.
During M80’s participation in DreamHack, BLIX spoke with Fritz "slaxz-" Dietrich for an interview regarding having Rory “dephh” Jackson as a stand-in, facing VP, competing and practicing in NA and his thoughts on the 2023 season.
Having dephh as a stand-in
Pedro Romero, BLIX: I want to first cover the obvious thing concerning the team with dephh [Rory Jackson] standing in for maNkz [Marcus Kjeldsen]. How has that experience been going for you and the team in the tournament?
Fritz "slaxz-" Dietrich: Obviously, it's a shame that we can't play with our full lineup in our first LAN tournament, and we would have loved to show up as a full lineup. Playing with dephh is great because he's an amazing guy and it's a lot of fun to play with him, but you could see there was a lot of stuff that was uncoordinated. In many rounds, he didn't even know what he had to do. It's just hard to play, but I think we still had a great showing and we had fun and we gave them a fight.
BLIX: He certainly did put up a fight, especially in the first half, with M80 tying with VP 6-6 at the half. What made it possible for you guys to stay at pace with VP?
slaxz-: I think we are just a pretty good team, to be honest, and we showed up to play. Also, if you consider it, we didn't win a pistol and we didn't win a follow-up round, but the scoreline was pretty close and I think we just showed up and had great rounds. We came here with a lot of confidence, and we didn't show up because it's LAN or because it's a top-ten team. We just showed up and played well.
Looking back at M80’s 2023 season
BLIX: Taking a focus on this year overall for the team, from them getting into CS in the summer and then standing out as one of the top teams in North America, how has the team's progression been from your perspective?
slaxz-: Since I joined them, we have been playing super well. I must say it's a little bit hard to practice in NA just because practice usually starts super late, and there aren’t as many good teams in comparison to Europe. But I think we still improve from time to time. We started a little bit slow, kinda. We lost our first game against Party Astronauts, but since then, we have won every single match, no matter what.
Sometimes we play badly and sometimes we have our struggles, but we ended up winning every single match after that. So I think we are improving and we show up no matter what and that's a great sign. That's because usually, you can lose against anyone and sometimes everybody has some little things when they lose, but we showed up, we won everything and it has been great. We have made good improvements and I am having so much fun.
BLIX: And the same can be said for your individual play. You have been performing as one of the best players on the team in its current iteration. How can you consistently perform as one of the team's best in all of the competitions that you've been a part of?
slaxz-: I think it comes down to many things. I think my individual level and confidence have just been good over the past eight months or something. And it's also just the roles I have. Obviously, just being an AWPer and playing the AWP roles just makes you have good numbers, and you have to have those good numbers. If you play my role and you don't have good numbers, then there's something going wrong technically. So yeah, they've made it so easy for me, to be honest.
For CT sides, it's kind of up to the AWPer themselves to make sure that he performs, but on the T-side, it's always a little bit dependent on how the team plays, what your job is and what your roles are. But yeah, they've made it super easy for me, so I've just been coming in, doing my thing, adapting to some small stuff they do, and it's been going great.
BLIX: What kind of input would they give to you that helps you be who you are on the server?
slaxz-: To be honest, they just gave me responsibility. I came in here knowing that I have to be a voice and that's exactly what I want and that's exactly what I did in my last team. On the CT side, I have responsibility. That means I need to talk, I need to call rotations, I need to call plays and stuff like this, and if I don't do this, then I did something wrong. It's my job, but this is also what I want and what makes me play better if I have to do those things and take on responsibility. And on T, it's a little less, but it's more like mid-round coordinating and stuff, so they just helped me make sure I know my responsibilities.
Transitioning from CS:GO to CS 2
BLIX: And putting the focus on you in particular, what was the biggest thing that changed for you the most when it comes this year?
slaxz-: I think the biggest change, of course, was CS2. In the beginning, it felt super bad. I think in the first two days, I tried to play AWP, and I was like, 'Okay, it's not gonna work.' Then I played a lot of AUG and rifle only, but one day, after a few patches--and I don't know if something changed--it just felt like, 'Okay, you can actually play the AWP and be effective with it,' and then I had to adapt to it a little bit. You need to play differently. There's some stuff you can't do anymore and this was super hard, but now it's been going great.
And I must say it's also just PCs. It's crazy to say, but having a good PC with a lot of FPS makes the game so much more playable it's crazy. I didn't know I didn't have a good PC at home technically because in CS:GO it was always fine, but as soon as I played on a different PC, I was like, 'You can actually play really well in this game.' This was, I think, the hardest change, and then coming, obviously, with traveling to the other end of the world and just being here for a whole month or six weeks just to play Counter-Strike, it is a big change. But M80 made everything so easy for me, and the whole team is so welcoming and so nice. To be honest, it was not hard to perform with everything around.
BLIX: Comparing CS2 from what it was to what it is now, how would you compare the two versions?
slaxz-: When it got launched, it was very bad. I hated it so much, to be honest. It's still hard holding angles, but with how people were moving and jumping, it was almost impossible to hit them because everything was so bad and weird. But yeah, I think if you compare it really from day one to now, they improved it so much and so quickly so I think it was a huge difference to the beginning and well done. At least they updated it frequently and fast and made it more enjoyable to play, and I think right now it's already pretty good.
BLIX: And just to wrap it up with an eye towards 2024, what do you think is going to be the biggest goal for you to accomplish?
slaxz-: Personally, our goal is to qualify for as many LAN tournaments as possible and also just show up. It's really important for us to play LANs but also have some kind of deep run. Like, not even playoffs, but maybe play Katowice play-in and qualify for the main event or stuff like that. It's just playing on LAN and competing and then also having good showings, taking maps off good sides and just growing as a team.
With me coming in, I think it's only one change, so technically, only the AWPer changed. It's not the craziest change, but I think we are changing a lot right now and we are growing as a team. We just want to become a really good team, and it's probably going to take some time, but our goal is to become a consistent team and [get to] the top 20 and fight and try to get 15th, 10th and everything. If we say for the whole of next year, my goal is to be in the top 20 and make the Major. This is probably what every player wants, and it is what I want, so I think goal number one is to make the Major.