In this 2 part interview Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, sat down with Emil "Magisk" Reif about their time in Vitality and playing against his former team Astralis.
Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: You've been a Vitality for about a year now. How would you say that the first year has been for you?
Emil "Magisk" Reif: I think the first year has been good and bad in some way. I mean, there's been good and bad about it. Obviously, winning has been, that's a good thing, but we also struggle a bit finding consistency the last year but also the first half year; we feel like we needed to have a replacement to go to the next level and become a top 5 team in the world, so that's why we also changed a player. So in that sense, we felt a little bit like it wasted the time a little bit in that sense, but obviously, I think looking back at it, I don't really have too many regrets because I know we work really hard, and we really try to make everything work out. So yeah, I'm positive for the next year because we have a lot of things we can learn from last year, and we have a lot of things we know we can do better. So in that sense, I'm really positive for this year.
BLIX: You guys were one of the favorites coming into the Rio Major, which didn't really go your way. Now, new year, new start. What do you think will be the difference between last year's Vitality and this year's Vitality?
Magisk: As I mentioned, I think we have a lot of things we can learn from the last year, including the schedule, and the way we handle the way the schedule is supposed to be planned. So in that sense, I think we ran out of gas at the end of the last year because we went to tournaments all over the place and we practiced really a lot. So I think in the end, a lot of it comes down to us running out of energy as well because we are playing too much in that sense. So for me, it's about finding the balance between working really hard but also finding time to rest and become humans again and have a life on the side of this career and this wonderful job because everything needs to work out to have the players perform on the highest level. So yeah, I think we have a lot to learn from last year, and we already had two days before coming here with our PCs just planning and talking and making sure that we can be as ready for the year as possible. So yeah, I think it definitely is going to make it easier for us to perform more consistently throughout the year as well.
BLIX: What do you feel went wrong at the World Finals? The team came 5th-6th, but maybe you had higher expectations?
Magisk: So, as I mentioned, I think it came down to the energy. People who were running out of energy also maybe a little bit disappointed from the majority, of course. So I think that's also the consistency that we needed to find that even though sometimes we may not have the best energy, we still have a consistently high enough level to be able to perform on the highest level. So, to be fair, I think it's like we lost the G2 game, which was like, I think it could have gone both ways. Honestly, I felt like the game was in our favor, looking back at it, losing a lot of eco rounds and throwing the advantage rounds and stuff like that. So I mean, obviously, they played a really good tournament, but looking back at the game, I think the game was in our hands, and we didn't close it out. That's how Counter-Strike is sometimes; you can't rely on always performing on the highest level. But if we want to be consistently good and be a tough team, we obviously need to close out the games like that because otherwise, we're going to have a tough time winning tournaments
BLIX: I believe you used to IGL at least a little bit with apEX. What are the IGL roles now? Do you still split those, or have apEX taking it over completely?
Magisk: It's mainly apEX, I would say, 95% of the time. I have stuff to say and like that, but he loves to make a plan, and he said and call around that. So I'm not helping as much as I used to. So yeah, I think it depends on the in-game leader that you play with as well. Like, they have different ideas of what works and what doesn't work. So for me, I follow the plan he makes, and obviously, sometimes he asks for ideas, and then obviously, I will support him in that way and be there to come up with ideas. So yeah, it's obviously a little bit different from Astralis, where I used to help a lot with calling and also periods where I was the in-game leader. So it is a bit different, but I also like it in a different way. So now I can focus a little bit more on just playing my own game and not always have to think about what is good for the team here and there.
BLIX: Would you say that you have a little bit more of a comfortable spot now than before in Astralis?
Magisk: I mean, obviously in 2018, 2019, and also for the majority of 2020, I was just the second in-game leader, like trying to help out, but it was not something that I was like full-blown into, like always having to come up with calls and stuff like that. It was always gla1ve who was always in-game leading there, and obviously, I had the stuff to say, but it was, of course, primarily him. And obviously, I liked that because I could still focus on my game but also still had something to say. So I like both ways because now [...] Both ways can be good because you get more responsibilities in that sense. But now I have to focus a little bit more on myself. So I think both are good in different ways. So obviously, sometimes it depends on how you perform as well because if you perform really well, it can be nice to take over a little bit more because you have a good idea. The plans come more naturally when you're playing good and sometimes when you play bad, it's pretty nice that you can lay back a little bit and just focus a little bit on your own game. So yeah, I think there’s both good and bad in both situations.
BLIX: You'll be facing Astralis in the tournament's first game. They brought back device again, your old teammate. Do you think that was the right move by him to go back and also bring in Buzz? Does the new roster have the potential to get back somewhere close to where the old Astralis was?
Magisk: Yeah, I think it was a good move from device. I think that the issue is that when I play, I have been away for one year from competitive. It's really unknown the level you get. You don't really know how committed people are and how much energy they put into it. I know device, so I know he's going to give everything, but all teams, they might not know that. So that's also why I think I have no idea, actually. But it could have been difficult to find the team if you wanted to join somewhere else. That's just my thinking because I have no insight into this because when we talk as a team, I know we talk about ourselves as friends. We don't talk about this kind of stuff because it's private, and there's no reason to ask too many questions about it. We can have fun and be friends on the side, but it can be a risk, taking in device because you don't really know what you get. But for me personally, I know him as a player; I know him as how much he committed he is to the game and how much he loves it, and how hard he works. So I know that Astralis know this as well.
So that's also why I think it's a good investment from them to bring him back to the team. Also, I think it gives some confidence to the team that you get him on the team. And I think they finally feel like they have this star player on the team. Obviously, Farlig's a good player as well, but he's never really been the same caliber as device, at least for what he used to be. So for me, it's difficult to say how good they're going to be because it obviously depends on the level the device comes to. Maybe he's going to be a top 2 player in the world. Maybe top 1, maybe top 3, maybe top 5. Maybe he's not going to be a top 10 player in the world; we don't really know. So for me, it also depends on the level that he's going to bring to the table. But I also think taking in a new guy, Buzz; it's a big risk. No one really knows how good he is; maybe he doesn't even know himself. I mean, playing on LAN is different from playing online with the team, and there's also going to be the first time he's going to play in an arena and the pressure is going to be there. It depends on how he's going to handle it as well. And maybe if he gets a good start, he's going to have confidence, he's going to start building on that.
It's impossible to say for me; I know for a fact that if everything goes smoothly for them, I think they can be one of the toughest teams in the world for sure. I mean, if they play it to the best level, they have good players, they have good roles in that sense. So yeah, it's impossible to predict. It also depends in their own trust in the team. Maybe also if blameF can make more space for the other guys as well and sacrifice a little bit for the team and I think then I think they have all the pieces to become a really strong team. If Buzz also finds his groove and finds the confidence, then I don't see why they shouldn't be able to become a good team.
BLIX: You played Astralis a few times last year. Now it's gla1ve, Xyp9x, and device versus you, zonic, and dupreeh again. Do you still feel like you have that rivalry now coming into the matchup?
Magisk: Not in the same way. I mean, in the beginning, it was, of course, a little bit of a rivalry, but I don't know [...] I didn't really feel like it was a big rivalry for us. I didn't think too much about it because I don't know, it didn't bother me too much if we lost or won against them. I think, in some sense, I wanted them to have success, obviously not more than me, and the other way around. I know they don't want me to have too much success, so it's a weird thing, but we wish each other success, but we also wish that our paths and our own career will be better. So I think that's natural when you're competing, and I don't think there's anything wrong in saying that. I wish that my team is going to be more successful than theirs. I think it's normal to say because otherwise, I wouldn't be competitive. So, yeah, I definitely think that for me, it doesn't really matter in the game, we're going to be enemies, but afterward, we're gonna be friends. So, I mean, it doesn't change anything. They want to win, I want to win. At the end of the day, it's just Counter-Strike and the better team is going to win.
Image: Copyright BLAST | [@jakhoward]
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