HUNDEN sat down with our very own TeaTime to talk Mad Lions, Rejin and his team goals for 2020!
TeaTime sat down with the man himself - the myth, the legend, the godfather of Danish Counter Strike (though some would say the grandfather of Denmark) who has just had a very successful week after qualifying for Dreamhack Open Leipzig and IEM Katowice. He is the IGL of MAD Lions, and recently went from Tricked into MAD Lions as a full team organisation transfer.
You can watch the full video with more content from TeaTime and HUNDEN here, or at the bottom of the page.
How’s the team atmosphere like right now?
We’re really hyped right now, really happy. When we saw the qualifier this time and who was invited, we thought we had a really good chance to qualify for Katowice this year. That was amazing. We began practice really early around the second of January and played for ten hours each day.
We really wanted to qualify for this tournament and when we saw that we had to play against North in the Open qualifier we thought it could end up 50-50, but we won the game pretty easy in my opinion.
Was that a best-of-three in the open qualifier?
Yeah, the last match of the semis was a best of three. We won 2-0, 16-8 and 16-4 which was a really sick game from us and we were really happy afterwards.
You guys lost 2-1 to North a few weeks ago, so I’m sure the boys must be happy to give some payback as well. Speaking of the boys, you have a very young squad overall. You’ve got a lot of fresh talent, and you’ve been with them for most of 2019. The results are clearly visible with them levelling up. How does it feel to you who is kind of a father figure for this team, to be able to nurture a team like this for a full year?
It’s amazing to finally have a full lion for almost a whole year. We had the same four players for nine months. I’ve never tried that before since my players always get bought by Heroic or something like that. It was nice to have the same lineup, and I think we could have broken through with some of the older Tricked lineups as well but we didn’t have the time to do it so this time is pretty special. All of us believe in each other, which is also new to me - and it’s pretty amazing to experience this part of Counter-Strike as well.
That’s an interesting point that you’ve brought up about poaching in the past too. No matter what you do, the fact that your players are playing “real Counter-Strike” makes them a big prospect for other teams to pick. Now that you’re in Mad Lions, which is a much bigger organisation, how does that change?
I think it changes since we’re not in the bottom of the food chain anymore in Danish CS. The level between us, Heroic and North is pretty much the same and we have basically the same contracts. No-one wants to move to the other teams because it’s the same salary and the same everything. That’s perfect for me since I can finally build up the team and become the second best Danish team behind astralis.
Hunden we have to be honest here now. The last time you played in a big event was in 2014 at Dreamhack Winter. Why has a Hunden team not made it to a big event in so long?
That’s a good question. I think it’s because of the food chain in Denmark that I mentioned. It’s been so hard to me. Every time I brought up a player, he has been stolen by a better team and that’s hard to live with because you have to make results instantly if you have to make it to a better tournament. After we won V4 in Budapest I think we made that agreement on this team that we would stick together on this team.
If we didn’t get a better contract like we did with MAD Lions then it’s understandable that you’d go for that amount of money which some of the other teams can offer you. Now we can start coming to the big events like Katowice. That’s amazing for me since six years is a really long time and I’m really happy to be back at bigger events. I think I can lead teams to these events and that’s pretty good.
You left for Alternate Attax in the middle for a while and went away from Denmark. We can still see the structure and tactics you left behind in Alternate. Why did that pairing not work for you and why did you decide to come back to Tricked?
I was never really happy about my time in Alternate. We didn’t make the results I wanted to make. I played there for a year and a half without making it to top 30 once and didn’t even qualify to a Dreamhack Open. The time there was good for me as a leader but not as a player because we couldn’t qualify for anything and it was just rough in every single qualifier. The time was hard since no results were had and some of the players on the German squad were just happy about winning Meisterschaft and the 99damage league. We weren’t on the same page with what we wanted to achieve and the time on Alternate was incredibly hard for me since I wanted more than what we were getting, while some players didn’t want to do that.
Did you get any offers from NA teams? They definitely need ingame leaders.
Yes, but I never left Denmark because I have a son and at one point I also had a girlfriend. I will stay in Denmark because that’s the most important thing for me that I can stay together with my boy.
You’ve been talking a lot about your expectations in what you want to do and where you want to go. Last year you were asked about expectations at the V4 Festival and you said that you just wanted to beat one of the better teams there. You’ve always been realistic at managing expectations - is part of that making it so that your young team doesn’t just get a big head or something?
It’s hard to say. It’s good to be realistic with what we can achieve and afterwards we can dream about winning a tournament. When we came to V4 we saw that NiP had some weaknesses and MiBr had some weaknesses. We wanted to beat a tier one name, and even if the teams aren’t tier one the name is still there. We set the goal to beat one of them and thought that we’d find Mousesports in the final and would lose to them. Ultimately we were happy to meet VP since we had a bad final from being so nervous and would probably have lost to a better team.
Mousesports has a coach you actually know! Rejin was coaching Tricked Esports in 2019 before he moved to Mousesports to coach them. People always talk about the influence you’ve had in all of Danish Counter-Strike. Do you see that reflected in how Mousesports plays with him as a coach and a Danish IGL? Do you ever see your style?
Yeah! I think they took a lot of our strats in the beginning of Mousesports from Tricked. I was a little surprised in the beginning but then I thought that hey it’s working against the best teams in the world. If you just hit your shots then you can still win with them and that was nice to see. I actually started to believe more in myself and how I created my own strats because I could see that it was working against the best teams. Some of the tools I taught Rejin to do, he also did those in Mousesports and they were really happy about it. I’m glad that he’s on a team like that - especially with the success they have right now being the second best team in the world. I think that they can even fight for the first spot if they beat Astralis again as they did in Odense.
You’re at a high point going into 2020. Like you mentioned though, seeing Rejin succeed under Mousesports was a confidence boost. Obviously there’s been a lot of points over the year which have been on the lower side. Have you ever thought that “Maybe I’m not the best IGL, maybe I don’t have what it takes?”
No, not really. I think 2019 was pretty much the best year for me since forever. We started off with Copenhagen Games and have made it to the playoffs of every LAN. Our quota has always been achieved and we’ll always try to set them higher and higher. It sucks that you played 3 finals and lost each one - but sometimes finals can be like 50-50 chances. I’m really happy at the end of the day and don’t think I’m going to leave yet. At one point I’ll do something different from Counter-Strike but right now I haven’t thought about that.
So you’re in MAD Lions now. It’s not just that you have a big name behind you, it’s also the fact that you have a lot of Spanish presence behind the brand because they’re huge in the Spanish League of Legends scene. How does it feel having this huge fanbase coming in and having the extra Spanish banned behind you?
It’s so fucking nice to see all the support when you’re winning games or losing them. We’ll take a while to get used to it since our fanbase in Tricked was like a small city in Denmark only. We had like a thousand fans or something like that and now we have one hundred thousand! We need to get used to that and get the support on our side too. It was great seeing that at Sevilla, where even though we’re Danish they supported us so much and it was great to play on the stage despite losing the semi. It was awesome to see that okay we have a home crowd here and we want to play more tournaments in Spain too.
This is going to be the big ‘impolite’ question I have to ask. In 2017 we saw Heroic coming to a sharp rise, in 2018 we saw Fragsters on the rise, and in 2019 we’ve seen Tricked. The one theme that we’ve seen is that these Danish teams fizzle out to mediocrity or become irrelevant. How are you guys different?
We’re different in that way that we have a way bigger organisation behind us. That’s a key point to keep in mind. When Fragsters did well, they tried to find a new org and that wasn’t possible. We were so lucky to get a new home and grow even more in 2019. Our team is also a bit different because we have a strong leader in me and have Peacemaker with us as well so we have a strong leader in 2019. There’s so many things to come up with in 2020 and we can see that Peacemaker has so many good ideas and that’s why we’re different from Fragsters in 2018 and Heroic in 2017. I’m pretty sure we’ll make some great results in 2020.
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So like I said, you’re always realistic about expectations. What are you hoping for from Katowice?
I hope we can continue our playoff streak. I hope we can make quarterfinals or top 6 or whatever. We have a good chance to make some upsets happen. When I met MiBr at V4 they didn’t prepare for us at all and they got wrecked. If people don’t prepare then that’s what will happen. After they did the veto I went to my coach and said that they don’t know what’s going to hit them soon and we just owned them. Everything can happen and some of the top teams will be surprised to see how good we are.
What are your goals of the team this year?
I see us ending being a top 10 contender this year - especially after qualifying for Katowice and Leipzig. If we have some good results at the London ICE Challenge then we should have a good chance for it too. If we look at the rankings then I don’t see any teams that we can’t beat around us which is a great thing. It’s time to take the next step which will also include improving our map pool and our strats. A lot of teams are using our strats so we’re going to change a lot of things and make some new things. That’s why it’s important that we have a guy like Louis (Peacemaker) behind us right now who is watching like 100 demos a day and has so many strats.
Thank you so much for joining me Hunden. It’s been a pleasure.
Images via Dreamhack