We interviewed Tricked Esport’s captain Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen, who is now leading his team at WePlay! Forge of Masters S2.
Tricked have already made it to the Top 4 in Kiev
photo credit: 99Damage
We discussed how the Danes approached the tournament in Kiev, what skills he wants to have in his players, North’s recent struggles, and dealing with the criticism from the community. At the end, HUNDEN shared his thoughts on what are the strengths of the Danish scene, and who is the best player from Denmark as of now.
It’s your first LAN since the V4 victory. Because of that, did you consider yourself as a favourite coming into this tournament?
Yes, one of the favourites for sure. I think, it’s us and forZe. They have been playing good lately, made the final at the BLAST Moscow, so they are a really good team. I don’t consider us as the main favourite, but I see us going to the final and meeting forZe there.
Regarding the preparation, did you take this event as any other or it was more than that?
We had a few problems before this tournament because I had a surgery three weeks ago, so we hadn’t been able to play for almost one and a half week. When I came back, we played six days straight with 8 hours of practice, so we are prepared for this event. However, we still need to fix all the small mistakes so we can be 100% ready as we were at the V4 tournament.
After the V4 triumph, you became the third-best team in Denmark, getting ahead of North. Did you consider it as an achievement?
Of course. Sometimes, I think, we are going to see some dethrones in all the countries. North are not performing well at the moment, but they still have a huge organization behind them, and if they wanted to buy some players from us or Heroic, they would just do it. Right now, they are trying to focus on their own line-up and get back to the #2 spot in Denmark. However, I don’t think they will get back there again because us and Heroic are just too good for them now.
Speaking about the North current line-up, you don’t think they are going to bounce back, and they will require some changes?
I think they can bounce back, actually. I think they have a good line-up, and I think they are patient about everything. They work hard, gade as an in-game leader is really, really good, and him and mithR are working really closely together. With cajunb coming back and all the experience he’s got, I do think they can come back. Also, because they have aizy and Kjaerbye, which are, in my opinion, two players who can be in the Top 5 of the world, I think they can bounce back. They need more time and more structure. If they do that, I think they can bounce back.
You just said that gade is a good in-game leader, but he became one just recently. Why do you think so?
I think he’s got a really good understanding of the game. Especially with him and their coach, mithR, they can improve really, really fast because I know they are working a lot of hours. They are working every day and trying to see how to approach the game from now on.
We all can be honest that North haven’t been good since MSL left them. They haven’t played good T sides, but at ESL Pro League this week I think they played some really, really good T sides on both Dust II and Train. It depends on time, but I don’t think they have what it takes to knock out even us or Heroic right now.
People see you as a wise and experienced player who is good at discovering future talents of Counter-Strike. When you are out there scouting for players who have potential to be stars, what are the specifics that you look at?
It’s hard to say, as it’s different for pretty much every player I find. But one of the things I want them to have is motivation to become better and willingness to listen to what I say to them. I’m not the best player in the world, but I know how to play the game. I know what to do to make talents even better.
We have a strong playstyle in Denmark. Pretty much all the teams are playing in the same way: us, Astralis, and Heroic. If it’s working in Tricked, it might also work if you are going to play for Astralis later on because it’s the same playstyle, and we know how to play around it.
You’ve discovered so many good players, who are on good teams right now. Do you think that if they stayed loyal to you, you would be now on a Top 10 team at least? Do you regret anything?
I don’t regret anything, but I think that some of the players regret not playing with me anymore. We have a really good team now, everyone is trusting the process and the progress as well.
Some of them might regret it, but all of us can be honest about it. JUGi played his best in Heroic, same goes for niko, but right now niko is not on any team while JUGi is not shining in North. They are having a hard time right now, but I think they would also have that at this moment if they had played with me. It’s hard to say, but I don’t think anyone regret what they have done in 2016-2017.
You are being criticized a lot by the community, that is no secret. How do you handle all that pressure?
That’s a good question. In the beginning, it was hard. In 2013-2014, I didn’t want to play anymore. I was close to quitting the game and just focusing on my studies. I just said "f*ck HLTV, f*ck everything, I don’t want to listen to this forum anymore", so I decided to just play the game and believe in what I’m good at. I’m a good in-game leader, and that’s what was the most important to me.
Of course, I love HLTV today, but it was hard for me when I was getting messages all the time that you are bad, you don’t know how to play the game, etc. When you start to live with it, ignoring all the trolls, then it’s going to be fun and you can use it as motivation to become better.
Your career as a professional player will eventually end. After that, do you have plans to become a coach? Maybe you would become as successful as zonic, for example.
I wish I could be as successful as zonic right now. He is pretty much the best coach in the world. The team behind him is trusting him so much and that’s nice to see, but what I’m going to do in the future is still unknown for me.
I actually can be an agent for a lot of players, so I can guide them in that way as well. I’m not sure if I would become a coach right after I stop playing, or I’m going to try something different. I’m also one of the experts on the Danish TV when they broadcast the tournaments and stuff like that. All these things, I can do them as well, so I might do something different when I’m done playing for the first six months, and then I will go and coach one of the better teams in Denmark or Europe.
The Danish scene is special in a way that teams there work better when they are one-national, while the international scene is moving towards the international landscape. In your opinion, why does it work in Denmark?
I think it’s working because when you study in Denmark, you get money for studying so you don’t have to get a job beside your studies. You can play a lot of Counter-Strike in Denmark. I think it’s one of the main reasons: you can study and then you can go home and play. You don’t have to work so you can pay your rent and stuff like that.
One of the things is, we love to grind. We have a Danish pro league as well where all the players are playing. There, we play with the North players, the Heroic players, etc. All of us are playing together, we like each other, and no one hates each other, to be honest. I think that’s one of the better things. All the in-game leaders can talk to each other, we try to talk to each other about all the things we do on the server: did you see this, I did this, do you like it, I will steal it from you now, f*ck you (laughs). That’s how it goes, we like to talk about Counter-Strike a lot. I think the grind mentality is the key to our success.
Who do you think is the best player in Denmark right now and why?
In 2019, I think the best player has been Magisk from Astralis. The firepower he’s got, and the way he plays -- he never plays the good positions in Astralis. I just think he is the best Danish player right now, together with device as well. Both of them are the two best players without a doubt, but I think Magisk has been the better player this year.
How does he get an edge over device?
I just think he does more impact than device right now. He doesn’t play the AWP, he is just a rifler which has a really, really good aim. The game sense he’s got is crazy, and I think he is the better player right now, to be honest.
HUNDEN was interviewed by @EllanarkJesus