After Fnatic's first match with Astralis, DBLTAP's Nathan Fusco had the opportunity to speak with Maikil "Golden" Kunda Selim. Golden talked about Astralis' new lineup, the new Major point system, and what it was like to return to Fnatic at the beginning of this year.
[The following interview has been edited for clarity.]
Nathan Fusco: So you faced the newly rostered Astralis yesterday, and unfortunately it didn’t go your way. But were you surprised how Astralis played even with two stand-ins? Do you think they can continue at this level with Bubzkji and es3tag or is this more about the online atmosphere?
Maikil "Golden" Kunda Selim: “Um, yes. I think they will be contending for some titles, but I believe they have some surprising movement like they did some surprising things against us. We didn’t know who was playing where. We had no information to go off of. That played in their hands. Except for Nuke. You can see on Train, that we adjusted our game from them taking "Pop" or rushing it and we started making counters against that. We switched our game style completely. We came back and I believe we should have won Train, but they won every clutch round, the one-on-one. It was their day and they played pretty well.”
NF: Do you think teams will be able to figure out Astralis once they understand how they play with the two new players?
Golden: “I believe their style will change. Like if you look at their new player Bubzkji, he’s the X-Factor. He will do stuff that’s very unorthodox. He will be their aggressive player and do stuff for them all the time. If you can keep an eye on him, it will help. We already kinda knew how he played, but on a new team, it’s a bit different. He can almost do every role. He’s the one you have to get used to.”
NF: When you first saw Astralis make these roster changes and add a sixth and seventh member, was there any talk on FNATIC to make a similar decision to add more players to the roster?
Golden: “We briefly spoke about it and decided this was not for us. Because it’s a very weird feeling to pressure the players to do certain things. It can either backfire or it could be very good. It’s about how the team is structured, but I don’t think it would be good for us.”
NF: How have you and the team dealt with the pandemic and continued online play? How do you guys stay motivated?
Golden: “It’s taken a toll on us. You can see it in our performance lately. Definitely, the pressure isn’t there anymore for younger and newer teams. And we can excel in those areas when the pressure is high. So coming from being very good in LAN environments and playoffs to just playing in your room or office, and feeling this isn’t anything special. But we are doing our best with our sports psychologist and working through every small detail that makes us feel like we are at an event. We are still doing a before the game match meeting and exercising or things we do normally before a LAN event. But still, it’s more about aiming, running around and shooting and playing as confidently as you can then playing with experience.”
NF: You guys are currently sitting in 8th place with 1875 points. Do you like this new Major system, or do you think it should only be used in its current state and then go back to the old version?
Golden: “I think it should stay for future Majors. I don’t see a big flaw in the system. If you have this many qualifiers in the future, you have a pretty good chance at qualifying. As long as it’s not online in the future.”
NF: Let’s talk about your return to Fnatic. What was it like having to leave the team all those years ago and then coming back at the start of this year?
Golden: “So when I had to leave, and I had my sickness, I learned a lot, and the team, Fnatic, the players matured a lot. All of us matured. Like when I came back and flusha came back, we had really good sync about how the game should be played. We didn’t really need to do a lot regarding the past. Because the past was the past, and our sports psychologist and coach already had a set structure to speak to one another and to speak about criticism and talking to each other if there was a problem.
And we were really bad at it in the prior roster. That created problems that we couldn’t handle at the time. But now, we feel very open with one another and how we play is basically second nature. I grew up playing learning from them, went away, learned some new stuff, like how to be a leader, and play my own game. So when I came back, we meshed really well.”