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(Photo: ESL)

By Taras Bortnik

Special to VPEsports

Another Major and another trophy for Astralis. Following the squads hosting of the trophy, VPEsports sat down with Danny “zonic” Sørensen, the teams coach.

zonic discussed the teams success, his role as coach, what he’s had to sacrifice, and the competition. You can read the full interview below.

VPEsports: After all these victories, you are probably a big reason why Astralis are so good. What makes you so special among all the coaches?

zonic: I don’t know how Zews is doing his job in MIBR or Kane in Na’Vi, for example. I can see what I see when they stand behind the players and how they are talking in time-outs.

But for me it’s… I don’t look to other coaches that much. I trying to focus on making sure that my players are motivated, evolve themselves, and that we have a high quality of practice so we keep being innovative, being able to learn from our mistakes. I feel like I am putting my heart and soul into this team so when we playing on stage and I’ve been preparing for certain opponents or when we are practicing at home or boot camp or when I have personal conversations with players – every time we go on the server, I still want to make sure that I give 100% of myself to make sure that we win. And the only one thing I can do at the end when I stand behind them is to roar and make sure that I am there for them.

VPEsports:  How do you manage to keep the players motivated and focused after so much success?

zonic: I think it comes down to after each Major or any other tournament we go home and then we evaluate – what was really nice for us, what was wrong, where is a room for improvement? And then one thing that I think we do really well so far is that we skip a lot of events, comparing to other teams. We don’t want to attend all events, we want to have a break, for example after this tournament players will have 4-5 days of break. For me it’s really important that players get to see their families, friends, girlfriends, cause I think that will play a huge part in their being hungry and motivated all the time. I think a leader should go first and for me it’s really important that I’ll go first to show them that even if I have two kids at home and wife, I still work 100% for them.

There are a lot of things that I missed – my kids first walk for example or first day in school. I missed that for being with Astralis. For me, it’s really important that they also know it. So they would feel like ‘Ok, we somehow owe this to Dani because he’s really working hard for us’. I am super proud of what they have become.

VPEsports:  Prior to the match you said that you had a hard time before the grand final. Why?

zonic: It was difficult because usually I have an idea of how Na’Vi plays or how Liquid plays because we’ve played them at events. But if you would ask me before the Major who’s playing for ENCE, I would probably remember but it but it wouldn’t be as fast as with Liquid for example. After we won against MIBR and we saw that in the grand final we are going to play against ENCE, we knew that they don’t like Cache, but I really expected that they wouldn’t ban it, cause they are the underdog. So I had to prepare five maps and that’s from scratch.

VPEsports:  Do you believe one of the reasons that Astralis is so unbeatable is because Cobblestone isn’t in a map pool anymore?

zonic: Of course it helped us when Cobblestone was removed, but Astralis was a completely different team back then. If Valve bring Cobblestone back into the map pool of competitive CS:GO we would definitely play it. We can play all seven maps and I am pretty sure that if Cobble would have been here we would still have been playing now with this roster, because Magisk was really good on this map, if you can remember. It’s tough work, it’s dedication that makes us that strong.

VPEsports:  We all know about Dupreeh’s loss. Can you tell us about how you managed to keep him in good shape and mood for this tournament?

zonic: It was all about the talking and supporting. ‘How you doing today, Peter? Do you want to have breakfast with a team? Do you feel like practicing?’ Just having some talks. We’ve been having our sports psychologist at home to talk everyday and then It was up to me so I could give a sense of how Peter’s doing.

VPEsports: Did you have any individual talks?

zonic: We had a couple. It was important that he talk to someone from home. For me, it was just about giving him space and making sure that we are here for him.

VPEsports:  What do you think about people trying to copy your playstyle?

zonic: I think it’s normal when you are the best team in the world. You keep being the best team for a certain amount of time and it’s normal that people will mold their playstyle around how you play. If you are a team that keeps having success, then I guess at some point people will focus on you, copy your strats and know the way you are playing. Because for every tier-2 team, their goal is ‘okay, let’s play like Astralis and see how it works out’.

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