Heroic.Stavn: Major, chemistry, football, Danish esports, RMR system, and more!

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By Arseny Kuzminsky, CS.MONEY

Heroic are more confident than ever. Like a hungry young predator in the midst of a densely populated jungle, they had just scared off an alpha male in a fierce battle and were able to find a path to a teeming oasis. All that’s left is to get there and earn their place. Their first stop is BLAST Premier: European Spring Showdown.

However, Martin “Stavn” Lund is trying not to lose his head. On the contrary, he is restrained, cold, albeit cheerfully friendly. Yes, this will be the second Major in a row in his life (and his second overall), and he is torn apart from the inside by emotions and the desire to go on stage again and witness the energy of cheering fans. But the focus remains on the goal, and at first glance, nothing will allow him and his team to be distracted from the task at hand.

In an exclusive interview for CS.MONEY, Stavn shares his expectations from the upcoming tournaments, talks about the chemistry in the team and what football has to do with it, names the person who influenced his career and development most, highlights a favorable future for esports in Denmark, chooses talented peers, and reveals the secret behind his beloved M9 Bayonette knife.

“Now, we want to qualify [for BLAST Spring Finals]. I would say we’re the strongest team right now. I feel like we’re on a good level. We’re going to do it step by step, taking one match at a time,” Stavn opens our chat. And looking at the table, Heroic are the undoubted favorite, true. But next, after BLAST, the team will head for the bootcamp to get ready for the Antwerp Major. And Stavn is eager to show what they’ve got.

Going to the Major was our number one goal for this year. So the RMR in Romania was a really important tournament for us. It was a really nice feeling, especially after beating NAVI and going directly to the Legends stage. We’ve had so many close games previously and lost to them every time. It was a really good feeling and we are really happy with the result.”

Major Expectations and RMR Qualifiers

Answering, how differed their approach against NAVI before the win, Stavn outlined the team’s chemistry:

“We had a good feeling going into the game. A different feeling than for some of the other games where we have met them before. We have lost to them so many times, so we tried to go with a different style in the game and it worked out pretty well. I feel we were playing really nicely as a team. Everyone was coming up with ideas and in the middle of the rounds, everyone was on. It was just really amazing to see that we could play so well in such an important game against probably the best team in the world”.

It’s going to be Stavn’s second Major, as well as for most of his team. He talks about the experience gained from Stockholm and the plans for Antwerp.

“The last major went exceptionally well, I would say. We lost in the semifinals in a close game to G2. And that whole experience, our first major,  was probably still the sickest, most insane thing I ever experienced in my life. It was a really insane moment to play a Major on stage, in the semi-final. And now we’re going to play the Legends stage. First of all, we want to reach the playoffs, it is a personal and a team goal, for sure. Coming into the playoffs, getting that feeling again, playing on stage. From there, I think we’ll just see how it goes. I feel like NAVI is a bit shaky right now, FaZe is obviously really strong. But I feel if we can find our game, our top game, we can go all the way.”

Getting revenge on G2 would be nice as well. It is always been nice playing them, really close matches.

This time, Heroic and Stavn personally are confident about the results. All thanks to the experience gained from Stockholm’s 4th place. 

“Going to this second Major, we believe that we can actually win the whole thing. [Stockholm] was the thing that helped me personally, but also the team. We actually believed that we could go all the way and actually win this, even though we were not the favorites. So I think, when you’re playing this important tournament, just believe in yourself, believe that you can actually do it and good things will happen.”

RMR Qualifiers could be a cruel thing. EG left behind, lots of good teams too, top-tier orgs being at risk at a Bo1… People continue to argue about RMR’s fairness and what should be done to make things better. For example, Thorin wants to allocate Major slots to “elite teams” so they don’t have to play qualifiers equally with low-tier teams. At some point, Stavn agrees with him, but with a caveat:

“I feel there should be some kind of [prize slots for] the top teams from the previous Major. I pretty much agree with Thorin. I don’t know what it should be, if it should be like top four of the previous Major, maybe top eight, or the current top rank teams, something like that. Because I feel like there’s a world where some top teams choke in these best of ones, and we also saw that and it could go wrong. Obviously, then they probably didn’t deserve it. But then again, you don’t wanna see a Major without some top five teams. That’s not nice. It’s hard to say what the perfect system should be, but I think there could be some changes in it, for sure”.

Highlighting Heroic Players

After discussing the Major, we switched to the Heroic roster itself and I asked Stavn to tell a thing or two about his teammates and how are they ready for the tournament. It’s been a little over a year for them since Refrezh and Sjuush joined. 

“From the beginning, we actually played really well. We won our first tournament, ESL Pro League 13,  after only being together for a few weeks. So we just knew that this was a really good team. I and Refrezh have played together many years ago, back in Fragsters, a Danish team. So we have a good relationship. And also me and Casper [CadiaN]. We have played together for a long, long time now. And I’ve said this many times before as well, I and CadiaN have a really good synergy: obviously, he’s the in-game leader, the captain of the team. And I try to give a lot of ideas to him when we play. We just have a really good synergy regarding how to play the game.

For the roles of the team, I would say Sjuuus is just a reliable, probably the best in the world, anchor if you ask me. On the CT side places, the parts where he’s alone doesn’t have a lot of help and he’s just really good at taking care of himself, getting those double kills. He’s a really good anchor. TeSes has great mechanical aim, we’ve all seen these spray controls he does. It’s insane sometimes. That’s also why he takes a lot of duels in the map control, on T-sides. And Refrezh knows these choker roles on CT and T sides. He has a different view sometimes on how he thinks situations should be played. That gives a lot of advantages. And he thinks a lot about the game, he’s a really, really, dedicated player. We enjoy playing together. 

Highlighting the strongest and weakest sides of Heroic, Stavn recognizes quick thinking and creativity as the former and overdoing as the latter. 

“I think the strongest part of our team is our ability to find solutions in mid rounds when we are in these four on fours, both on CT and T with 40, 50 seconds on the clock. I think we are one of the best teams in the world at finding these solutions and coming up with ideas really quickly and everyone just are adapting and reacting to it. And we just have a really good flow when it comes to that. That is really important If you wanna be a top team. I think that’s probably one of our strongest parts. As for the weakest, it is hard to say. Every team has weaknesses. Maybe, we sometimes can be not closing out the rounds that we are supposed to win. Sometimes we overdo stuff in winnable situations, where we should a hundred percent win the round. And then sometimes we are not closing it out in the right way. I just think we need to work on it more, talk about the different scenarios that come up in game, and just keep improving, learning from mistakes.”

Coach, Team Chemistry, and Football

The latest addition to the squad is Richard “Xizt” Landström, who firstly was interim coach for Heroic but then signed a new contract with the organization. Even though Xizt is from Sweden, he fully understands what the five Danes are talking about, Stavn confirms. 

“Most of the time we just talk Danish and he understands what we say 100%. But we don’t understand his Swedish as well. [laughs] So when he’s taking a time out or when he’s explaining something, it’s mostly going in English, everyone on the team is really good at English. So it’s no problem. But I think it’s really amazing that he understands what we say in Danish. Xizt is an older guy. He’s been on the Counter-Strike scene for a long time. I wouldn’t say that he knew Danish before joining the team, but from what I’ve been told by him, he’s been playing with other Danish players in the earlier days, many years ago, so he has experience with Danish players. So it came really quickly to him.”

Heroic’s decent team chemistry is something that turns up here and there in our dialogue. I didn’t need to ask if they were attending any special teambuilding exercises, because of what I heard between the lines: they’re just good friends who enjoy playing CS together. Winning titles is the only thing left for them, and it acts both as a motivator and a pressure point.

“[This picture of us playing keep-up] is just something we’ve been doing ever since we created the team, basically. I think everyone on the team enjoys football, enjoys watching the games and playing football. It gives a great team vibe, doing something else, some funny activities outside just sitting in front of the computer. So that’s something we do at almost every tournament: we bring a ball to the tournament and we just play some of it and get some fresh air. It’s something we enjoy a lot.

I support Barcelona and especially Lionel Messi, I’m a fan. He’s in PSG now, so I’m also rooting for them, but mostly for him. And CadiaN is a Ronaldo fan, so we have a lot of heated discussions sometimes. Outside of football, that’s probably the only part where we disagree a lot, but we can still watch the games together and enjoy football.”

Casper “CadiaN” Møller seems to be an important person for Stavn. And Martin agrees with that. 

“I’ve always been playing CS since I was a little child. It is all I know, basically. But for the pro level, I would say CadiaN probably affected me the most. He has a lot of experience, played for many years and when he came into Heroic, we clicked really well together. And we are affecting each other’s careers in that way and keeping improving each other in that way.”

Denmark and Family

In Denmark, esports is vastly spread and nowadays it’s common here and there. But it took time to set things up. Digging a little about Stavn’s career and pro player development, I’ve asked him how he got into CS. 

“In general, esports all over the world has been increasing a lot in the recent years. Back when I was six years old, I don’t think it was that natural that every family and parents wanted to have their child play computer games all day. But I come from a different family, because my dad always was really fond of video games. And it’s just been a really integral part of my childhood and I’m really grateful for it. But I think nowadays, in 2022, esports has grown a lot in Denmark. We have one of the main TV channels showing every tournament with a lot of viewers. We have communities. And Astralis helped a lot: they have created this big amusement park in Copenhagen where people can come and play CS for fun. So I think it has grown a lot in recent years and it’s more normal now.”

M9 Bayonet as A Shox Tribute

Rounding everything up, I’ve asked Stavn about his favorite CS:GO skins and why he wears them. One story came out pretty surprising.

“[I have a] M9 Bayonet that has some more meaning to it. It’s obviously a cool skin, but… When I was little and saw Richard “shox” Papillon playing, I became a big fan. It was at the start of CS:GO, when he was one of the best players in the world, for sure. He had the M9 Bayonet Crimson Web. And yeah, I remember when I started playing CS, I tried to copy him, so I had one for myself. Minimal Wear. Field-Tested is not so good, Minimal Wear is better. [laughs]”

Stavn’s Three Favourite Skins:

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