During the media day for the group stages of Blast Premier Spring, TheSwedishJoker had the opportunity to talk to Vorborg about transitioning to the team, his thoughts about players and the changes to the map pool.
Hugo “TheSwedishJoker” Nilsson Meier, BLIX.GG: You are six months into your tenure as a coach for EG. How do you feel that the transition has been so far from being with a fully Danish team to an English-speaking team?
Daniel "Vorborg" Vorborg: Yeah, I think the full transition is still happening. I don't think it's settled. There's been a lot of learning for me because in Copenhagen Flames I've had a lot of the same players a couple of times and just the Danish players I think... they all think in a similar fashion. They think in a similar fashion about the game. So, I've had to kind of learn different ways of thinking about the game. Therefore spending a lot of time with the players talking about what can work for us in this roster and I'm not going to say we're done with it yet, we're not fully developed as a team, but so far it's going good and it's going in the right direction and I'm expecting this to be a good season.
BLIX: All five of your old players are in top twenty teams in Sprout, Fnatic and Heroic and you're in EG. Would you rather have this kind of success with the old team and have stayed with Copenhagen Flames or within the Danish scene than you guys are experiencing now respectively?
Vorborg: I, of course, would like success, but actually I did have options. But when I joined EG, without saying too much, I could have stayed in the Danish scene. I could have been in a team that was already in the top ten. So the reason why I chose EG was more for the long term. EG was the project as a whole that sold me the most. I really like the way management is thinking about how to run a team and how to build for the future and I guess the role I would have both in decision-making and all these things. So for me, that's what was the most important and EG has come through and everything they promised me so far. So, I'm still very happy with my choice, even though of course I want to have deep playoff runs, I want to win tournaments. So, I'm very happy to see some of my previous teammates. I guess it's only Zyphon that is yet to win anything, nicoodoz and roeJ won ELISA Masters, HooXi won the BLAST World Finals and jabbi won the BLAST Fall Finals. I also want to have those wins but I'm not in a rush to get that.
BLIX: What would you say are the differences in organization between Copenhagen Flames and Evil Geniuses? Maybe in terms of cultural differences coming from Europe to North America.
Vorborg: The first difference you notice is just that EG is way bigger than Flames. I was part of building Flames and you kind of had a finger in everything. You knew what was going on everywhere at the same time and EG, obviously there are way more people in the organization but also then to get things approved, it also takes a little longer because we need to go through the right channels but also at the same time we just have way more resources. We're looking at expanding the coaching staff. Something I always wanted to do in Copenhagen Flames but just didn't have the budget to do. So, I mean those are big differences but culturally I don't know if there's like [...] I don't at least notice a big difference. But I have also previously in my career worked in international organizations. I think that's been pretty easy for me. But yeah, the main thing is just more resources and more people behind us.
BLIX: You guys recently announced the removal of CeRq bringing in wiz instead. What led to that?
Vorborg: Yeah, the biggest reason was more like the side of the pros for wiz. I think at the end of every season we'll always evaluate the roster and figure out if we can make any changes that are beneficial to us. And wiz is just [...] Of course we followed him very closely because he was on EG Black and we also tried playing some tournaments with him. So, therefore, we got to see him up close and I see great potential in him. I think he's a very consistent player. He's very smart. He's still a little too quiet for my liking but we can work on that. But he's just like a very smart, consistent, logical-thinking individual, which is something I really appreciate in players. So, I'm hoping with exposure to a higher level of practice and also official opponents that he will grow. So, it's kind of a move towards hopefully having a great player. CeRq did have some issues finding consistency with us. I think a fresh start for him will also be very beneficial. I think he had tried a lot of different things back and forth and I think sometimes it can be hard to work your way out of a slump. But sometimes getting a fresh start, new team, new idea. He can reinvent himself and I think that's also going to be beneficial for him. But yeah, that's ultimately why we made that decision.
BLIX: How has he adapted to everything so far? Because I can just imagine how it must be to come from one of the Academy teams up to the main team.
Vorborg: I think it's going very well. He's fitting very well within the team. He's also already played with HexT for like three years in a previous team so he could also kind of introduce him to everything and I guess would make sure that he would feel comfortable here. But yeah, he had already played with also Brehze and autimatic in the Cash Cup and I had had a lot of conversations with him. So, I think overall, it's been pretty easy, of course, practice-wise, how we play [...] Of course there are things that he's still getting used to and there are certain things that we want from him that maybe his previous team didn't want from him getting used to there. But I think he's moving in the right direction very, very fast and the next part for me is just that he also becomes a bigger part of making decisions and that he's saying what he wants to do and how he can have success instead of only him trying to fit into how the rest of the team sees them having success.
BLIX: What would you say that he brings to the table so far? Do you think that he will be able to help you guys get into the top twenty again, get more invites and elevate you guys to the next level?
Vorborg: Yeah, definitely. I'm expecting even short-term, not only because of the change between wiz and CeRq, but he is definitely going to be a helping factor in this. But I just think as a team we're more settled in how we are approaching our game for this season. We still need a little bit more time to get that run-through on every single map but I definitely expect him to be a big part of it because I see that already in practice. Again, he's consistent and he's very logical. If we run into an issue, he's very capable of helping figure out a solution - "can we just do this instead?" "Or maybe I can do this". And at the same time, he's very level-headed and I feel like, of course, now I still need to see him in big official games, so we'll have to see before my final verdict. But I feel like he's just the type of player that can just [...] he'll just perform around the same level almost no matter what you throw at him. And that's something especially when you're playing against tier 1 opponents, that's very, very valuable.
BLIX: So, so far, he gets a pass?
Vorborg: Yeah, of course, we will give him a little time to develop, but yeah, he's been doing very well. So, I mean, I'm very happy with him so far.
BLIX: I want to talk to you a little bit about neaLaN. He came to the team last year and has never been really in an international team before. How's that been? How is he as an In-Game leader and how do you feel like he is progressing in the team?
Vorborg: Yeah, I think he joined the team at the same time I did. I think initially he probably came in a little too soft on the team. In the beginning, I think he had them or I know because I talked to him, but he had the mindset that he was joining a team with autimatic, who's a major winner, CeRq and Brehze, who also won huge tournaments, been number one in the world. I think he came in and he was like "hey, let me kind of see what they can teach me. They've already been number one in the world so let me see what they can do". And I think it's definitely working better for us when he's, of course, we all respect each other in the team but he shouldn't [...] think that anyone knows better than him. He also just needs to bring forward his ideas because at the end of the day as an IGL he has a huge part in how we end up playing on the server. So obviously it's very important that he's super comfortable with how we're playing. So, I think in the offseason we spend a lot of time with him talking about all these things, him taking even more responsibility and also again, like how we approach the game and the system. We're kind of building our T and CT sides around so he's progressing very nicely. And we've introduced him, like in the offseason, we talked about some completely new ideas and I think he's been able to adapt somewhat a new way of calling to him or a new approach at least very fast and to a point where we're already doing very well with it. So I'm very happy about that and I think he's just continuing to evolve as a leader and playing more and more a role in terms of motivating the roster and all these things, but he's definitely headed in the right direction.
BLIX: Valve came out with a new update at the end of last year and you guys have been able to play and practice on it for some time now. What are your thoughts on it so far? Was it a good change overall to bring in Anubis and change the AWP and the M4, or would you rather have seen them do something else?
Vorborg: I honestly never really think too much if I like things or if I don't like things. It just is what it is. We just have to adapt to it. We just have to roll with it. I'm fine with it. I think five bullets in the AWP. I don't think it changes too much. Having the M4[A4] being more prevalent now, I think it's overall a good thing for the game. I think the silencer was very strong and also helped out the CTs quite a bit. I think in our practices at least, we're seeing the Ts getting a lot more rounds now. I don't know if that's the reason or if everyone just cracked the way to play T now. I think Anubis is a lot of fun. I always enjoy theory-crafting new maps and it's just kind of like leveling the playing field in a way, a new map. Everyone needs to learn it from the beginning, but the map design of it, I'm not a big fan of it. I really dislike maps where you can, from spawn, execute both A and B without having to take any sort of map control. I think it makes the Ts able to skip taking map control, which is the hardest part of playing CSGO. Anyone can run a set strategy and just "let's go execute A". So, for me, that also levels the playing field a little bit more, but I feel that on this map you have to gamble too much. You have to play strong for sites early. I don't love the map design, but I'm still enjoying figuring out how we can be the best possible on the map.
BLIX: Would you have rather seen another map come into the map instead of Anubis, or Valve taking out another map for some of those on the bench, like Cache, Cobble or Tuscan, for example.
Vorborg: I'm very new school in Counter-Strike. I didn't start working in Counter-Strike until 2019. So Cache and Cobble don't really have a special place in my heart. The only map that I could see coming back that I would be happy with was Train, just because I liked how that map played out and I thought that was interesting. But again, I don't necessarily have big preferences on what maps we’re playing. I just have to deal with it and figure out how we play those maps.
BLIX: With that in mind, do you like the way that the map pool is going, taking out some of the old-school maps and putting in some new maps?
Vorborg: Yeah, I think it's interesting. I think it keeps things fresh. Personally, I also think it helps me because I have fewer years of experience on Mirage than everyone else, but for me at least, it always gives me a burst of motivation. I think it's fun trying to figure out new things and it's interesting to see how new things play out. So, I think it's a good thing for Valve to keep things fresh.
BLIX: Is Valve going the right way with adding maps that have been made by the community, such as Ancient and Anubis?
Vorborg: Yeah. Personally, I don't care too much about who made the maps but I can understand why the community would care. So, I think any way you can kind of engage the community is a good thing. Of course, as long as it doesn't come at the expense of competitive integrity and all these things. I think it's a good way and I know the community is making a ton of good maps and skins and all these things. So to me, it's only a plus if we can both keep Counter-Strike a competitive game, but also engaging for the community. In the end, people are in a similar position to me, working off of Counter-Strike, being a competitive team, or whatever it is. At the end of the day, we're at the grace of the community is engaged with the game, because if no one cares, then, well, there's no job for me. So anyway, whatever shape or form that we can make Counter-Strike a more entertaining game to follow and watch and care about, to me, is a very good thing.
BLIX: I would like to ask you how the practice has been coming into this event. I remember you tweeting quite a bit about the practice on Twitter. How has it been for you overall?
Vorborg: It's been great. I think the practice has been going very well. I expected us to get better with the practice but I honestly feel like we're kind of ahead of schedule of what I expected. Again, we've changed a lot of things in terms of roles, positions and just a general approach to how we want to structure our game. A lot of people had to learn a lot of new things and we've only had, I think, like ten practice days, something like that, before we now have to go into the official games. So, I thought we might be in a rough spot, but I think I'm actually very hopeful for these games even though we're facing some of the best teams in the world. I, of course, don't believe we're favorites against Heroic, but I do have a feeling that we have a good chance and I expect it's going to be a competitive series no matter who we're going to face.
BLIX: Can we expect some secret tricks to come out of the sleeves for these matchups?
Vorborg: Yeah, we've worked hard on all the maps. We have a lot of set strats and I think Heroic and all the other guys can anti-strat us all they want from last season, but I don't think they're going to get a whole lot out of it. So, I think everything we're going to pull out to the opponent is going to be a secret because we haven't done a whole lot of it before.
BLIX: HUNDEN was recently announced as the new analyst for Astralis, previously coach for Heroic. I'd like to know your thoughts on that. Was it ethically correct for them to hire HUNDEN keeping in mind everything that he did in the past? Do you think that they could have done something else or was it a good thing?
Vorborg: I think for them it's probably going to be a good thing. I think he's a very smart individual, so I mean competitively, I think it was a good move. Ethically, I honestly think the only thing I can really, I guess, use is where to go, which is if he's not banned, then ethically the rules that are set up, it's fine to hire him then. I think each team needs to figure it out for themselves. I think there are still people out there that wouldn't want to work with them. But if everyone within the team and the organization, which of course I believe that's the case, otherwise you probably wouldn't have hired them right? Then I think they are perfectly entitled to do whatever they think is the correct thing for their organization.
BLIX: My last question. Valve came out with a new Major ranking recently for future RMRs. Was it the right move or would you have liked to see them wait or do something completely different?
Vorborg: I honestly don't think the seeding system was that bad at the Majors. I feel like one thing that I really liked was that the Majors weren't based on any ranking system. It was all about the qualifier and how you performed at the RMR, at the Major. Because I feel like the ranking systems are arbitrary in a way, one being that the teams are in a better position like ourselves in EG. We have both the BLAST spot, we have the EPL spot. So, it's easier for us, in theory, to be higher on the ranking system than it is for a team that has no partner slots and I don't like the fact that that can also buy us an easier way into the Major or have better seeding at the Major, which, no matter how you look at it, just by being in these franchise leagues, it is easier for us to get more points, which would grant us better seedings in whatever tournament. And I kind of liked having the Majors, like, the last in my mind, like, pure tournament, where it didn't matter who you were, how much money you had, what you've done before. It's all about how you perform at these qualifiers and at the tournament and that will just determine everything. So, I mean, the reason why the teams, in the end, play each other, is because they didn't do well enough in their previous games or anything. And I like having cutthroat tournaments like that again, just where you can't really [...] Yeah, it's just all about who's best right now, and I like that. And obviously, the Buchholz seeding system has its flaws, but every single system has its flaws when you need to in a few games, figure out who's the best. But that's also, like, a part of what makes the tournaments exciting. So, for the only thing, like with the new ranking system, I can also see why they put that into place. Not every team has to go through the Open Qualifiers because of scheduling issues. Like last time around, Astralis had to play an Open Qualifier while they were also playing the BLAST Fall groups, I think it was, and I can see why. And it's just hard to make the entire yearly schedule fit for some of these teams, so I can see the reasoning, but personally, I honestly don't like that. It's based a lot on your prize earnings, which, again, I feel like it's heavily skewed toward teams that are in EPL and BLAST. So, I don't think it's the fault of the teams that are in EPL and BLAST. That's how it is. But I like the Major being a tournament that is open to everyone. No one has to look up to anyone else.
BLIX: Do you think that the Buchholz system is still the best system for the Major?
Vorborg: If we have to determine within the parameters that we have how many games can be played, then, yes, I believe it's still the best.