A long-term target for the organization, Victor “Staehr” Staehr was finally captured by Astralis in the recent off-season. A player who shot to fame thanks to his performances for Sprout at the IEM Rio Major, he has so far struggled to recapture that form on his new team.
We sat down with Staehr at IEM Cologne to talk about his difficult start to life with his new team, proving the doubters wrong, and how the first Major of CS2 in Copenhagen is the team’s only goal.
Sam "AN1MO" McKenzie, BLIX: You've opened your time here in Cologne with a win against Team Liquid, how are you feeling?
Staehr: I feel great, we just beat them at BLAST as well where we felt like we had good control of the game and I think we did here too. We had a couple of fuck ups, but overall, good control and it was clean.
BLIX: Astralis have always had a pretty good history against Liquid, you're obviously new to the team and there's only device and NAF from the peak of that rivalry left, but why do you think it is? Do you think there's some form of mental block for Liquid?
Staehr: Haha, I don't know. Now you mention NAF, he was playing extremely well against us this game so it's hard to tell. I don't know why it should be like that, Astralis having a good history against them I mean. But for this game at least we just had good preparation and everyone was ready from the start. We were all hyped up and that's what matters the most, so that was the reason today at least.
BLIX: At the start of BLAST you lost your opening games against NAVI and BIG, and Pimp especially was very critical of this team, and maybe fans were as well. Do you think you've turned that around now having qualified for the Fall Final and starting off with a win here?
Staehr: For sure we turned it around. After the first two games at BLAST, when we lost those, we had full practice which helped us a lot. We talked about a lot of stuff and really grinded to get on the same page on every map that we thought was shaky and after those four days and with a little practice before the tournament, it helped boost us like 50% from where we were at. Then winning and showing that we are actually good and can win against good teams for sure helps too.
BLIX: What about yourself and your individual levels? Are you happy with the way you've started life with Astralis? You've had a couple of games that maybe weren't you at your best.
Staehr: I wouldn't say I'm happy with my own performance yet. I've had some okay games I would say, but also some not-so-good games. It's a little bit of a rough start, but as long as we win I don't really care. The team got it today, I didn't do much, but it's fine for me as long as we win.
BLIX: Why do you think you are struggling? Is it because you've changed a couple of your roles?
Staehr: I don't know, I think it's just getting started with a new team. We need to know how everyone reacts to different situations and get on the same page. Otherwise, you get surprised sometimes, you're not ready for something, right? Some communication can slip through if you don't know how each player wants to play every situation and then I think when I know that and understand every situation, I can control things myself and start to play better.
BLIX: So it's just a matter of time until we see you at your best?
Staehr: I hope so and I think so. I hope when we get really established I will play better.
BLIX: We did an interview recently with your former teammate lauNX, and he said the vibe in Sprout didn't feel right towards the end and it was definitely the right time to leave. What's your view on that? Can you give more insight as to what he meant and why it was?
Staehr: You kind of just said it, right? Towards the end of Sprout, it was just a dead team. The last couple of tournaments we played, the last couple of months there, everyone knew that some stuff would happen. Stuff with lauNX, and then with me with Astralis, it was known for almost a year that they were going to come in again. It wasn't safe, it was a big possibility. When you're on a lineup that won't continue at all, they just changed three players or something, then the vibe goes off and we still played as good as possible, but you just can't hype yourself up for a match when you know 'okay, in a week we won't play together anymore.'
BLIX: In terms of hyping yourself up for a match and preparing for a match, you're now with Astralis, who a few years ago were the best team in the world, but now there are not so many expectations for you to succeed. How does that affect your preparation and hyping yourself up before a match? Do you put more pressure on yourself because you know you're playing for Astralis, or is it less so anyway because it's the current Astralis?
Staehr: I don't think I put pressure on myself. Of course, I know I want to perform and everyone else wants to as well to get back to the top. But it's not something I think about a lot, I just play the game and see how it goes. We also talked about the fact that it's not about the placements in these tournaments right now, it's about whether we improve or not, and right now, we're improving every day. That's the only goal we've set so far.
BLIX: So how far away do you think this team is away from being a true trophy contender?
Staehr: Right now we just started, so it's hard. There are some well-established teams that didn't make any roster changes but when we get some more practice and more games under our belt, I think we can go on and beat some really good teams. We've already had good control in these matches against Liquid, we haven't struggled at any point and if we keep going like that, we have a good chance of being up there, for sure.
BLIX: In the run-up to the Paris Major, the Vitality players spoke a lot about having a plan and that plan leading to Paris, as a team. Have you guys spoken about PGL Copenhagen and that maybe it's okay to not win anything so long as you peak at that Major?
Staehr: Kinda, yeah. As I said before, right now, our only goal is to improve, but we've said that we really want to be at that Major. It's in Denmark, it's the first in CS2 and it's going to be massive. We've talked about that as the only placement-oriented goal we have, we really want to be there. It's in Denmark, we're Astralis and everyone's going to be cheering for us. It's our only goal.