By Taras Bortnik
Special to VPEsports
ESL One Cologne wasn’t Astralis’ best showing, but they did show improvement. Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander spoke with VPEsports about the team, his leadership style, personal life, and the rise and falls of eras.
Astralis exited the event in the semifinals after a 2-1 loss to Team Vitality.
VPEsports: This is my first interview with an Astralis player – so I have to ask, what makes your team so special?
gla1ve: I think we contribute to each other very well. We have a really good position for everyone, everyone is happy with the positions they have. Sometimes we are a bit shaky, but we always find a way to go back and find ourselves once again. We are always fighting to get back to the top, and we are really fighting a lot when we are on the top as well to stay there for a long time.
VPEsports: You’ve been with Astralis for awhile now, so how has your approach to leadership changed over time if at all?
gla1ve: Actually, I think it’s almost the same as at the beginning. I’ve had the same approach the whole time that I’ve been playing with this team, and I still think it’s the right approach to have when you are playing under a good, strict leader. I like to tell my teammates what to do most of the time. Of course, I want to give them freedom, but in the middle of the round, they need to listen to me because when I’m on point, I know what’s best for the team. I know how to get the best percentage to win a round.
VPEsports: As you just said, you like to command. Does it in any way affect you out of the game: when you are with your family, with your partner, and so on?
gla1ve: I don’t think so. I think it’s more work-related. I’m a really calm guy – in real life or when I’m an IGL of Astralis. I don’t think it affects my life, to be honest. It’s like a shirt you put on. When you put an Astralis shirt on, you are going to be an IGL for your team. That’s my role and I really love it. But when I’m at home, I can chill and let others decide what I’m going to do.
VPEsports: Is there any border between your professional career and your life out of the game? Is there any difference between gla1ve and Lukas?
gla1ve: Yes. I think there is a lot of difference, actually. When I’m gla1ve, I can be pretty stressed sometimes, because you want to work a lot and you want to do good all the time. When I’m Lukas, I’m just really chill and I just want to have fun, relax, and don’t feel stressed at all. There are a lot of differences between gla1ve and Lukas, I think. I could have named a few more things, but that’s the most of it.
VPEsports: When was the last time that your emotions were so high that you couldn’t hold it and you had to let it out?
gla1ve: I think the biggest relief I’ve had, which I can remember right now, is probably the moment after we won the Grand Slam. We worked so much, we worked so hard to win that thing in Odense, in Denmark, so after that, I was just like “Oh my god, I’ve been stressed so much for this, and now, it’s finally over and I can relax.”. That’s how I felt. I could really feel the emotions coming up to me, and I could feel my brain telling me that I could relax because I worked too much.
VPEsports: I’ve spoken with many captains in CS:GO, but I’ve also had conversations with captains from Dota 2. I’ve spoken with experienced players and they said that they are working on themselves by reading psychology books, working with psychologists, and generally improving many mental parts of their job. Tell me about your approach. As a captain, you obviously have to coordinate your teammates inside the game, but you also have to keep them in a good mood so that they can perform.
gla1ve: That’s true. I really like psychology myself. It was my best class in school and it was the thing that I listened to the most, always trying to do my best. Psychology means a lot to me, actually. I tried to use the things that I’ve been learning when I’m playing and while I’m the leader. I used it in my life as well. I’ve been talking to sports psychologists for a couple of years now, as we all have in Astralis. I’m trying to use all the things that I have learned. I’m using it every day.
VPEsports: When was the last time you used it?
gla1ve: Something that we’ve used a lot in Astralis is that we like to be really honest towards each other. This is something that I use in my real life as well, and this is something that we learned from our sports psychologist. We need to be open, we need to talk about the problems we have. If you don’t talk about it, it will be in the back of your head. It will be inside your stomach so you can feel it. Not all the time, but if you don’t talk about it, it will be there, and at some point, it will be too much for you. You need to be open about it. I use it with my girlfriend as well when I have some problems with her, or with my family, and I tell them what my problem is and how I want us to fix it. To be open about stuff like that is really difficult. It’s one of the toughest things to learn in life, but when you actually learn it you will be much happier.
VPEsports: You are by any measure a successful player, however, sometimes the relationships of sports or esports stars are not as successful as their careers. Players might focus too much on their career and spend less time on their relationship(s), so it might cause issues between partners…
gla1ve: It depends. In some periods of your life – or some periods of the year, I would say – you have to focus more on CS than you do on your relationship. Then, you have other periods when you focus on a lot more on your relationship and a bit less on CS. You have to make it up. I want to say that you have to have a girlfriend that is alright with you prioritizing CS sometimes. She needs to be able to know that this is your career, this is what you have been working for, this is what you want, and this is what you love. You love her as well, but you need the best of both in some way. For her to be supportive of that, that is the most important thing that you can have as a CS player, and that’s why I’ve been lucky.
VPEsports: If it’s not too personal, how did you meet your girlfriend?
gla1ve: That’s a really funny story, actually. We met each other in Sweden a long time ago at DreamHack. I think it was 2014-2015, something like that. We were friends, we didn’t do anything. I think she maybe had a boyfriend and I had a girlfriend, so we just talked. And then, we didn’t talk anymore because we had different relationships and stuff. After that, someday when we were both single we just wrote to each other. Then we decided that we should maybe try to see each other and it went down very well and now we are together.
VPEsports: Love… That’s probably the most important thing in every man, don’t you think?
gla1ve: Love. Love and winning, that’s true.
VPEsports: In general, can we say now that the Astralis era is over and we are looking for another one? And is it bothering you?
gla1ve: Yes, I guess, but it’s not bothering me. Not really. We had our time. We had it all in 2018 and we had it at the beginning of 2019 as well. Now, it went a bit down, and we are doing everything we can to pull ourselves back up. No, it’s not bothering me because I know that is what happens in every player’s career. It goes up and down, and right now, we are on our way back up. Actually, right now I’m pretty happy.
VPEsports: I know from sports experience that some teams, best teams in the world as well, eventually start to play worse. From their perspective, it looks like it’s all the same. They play super good, they have a great understanding of the game, and everything is on point, but eventually, they are not a #1 team anymore. Do you feel like you lost the key to your success?
gla1ve: No. Actually, I don’t feel like we lost something. Of course, we need to improve some stuff when it goes a bit down, but I don’t think there’s that much that we need to fix. I think it’s just small details. Maybe we just forgot some things we were really good at last year, which we are not good at anymore. It could be some individual things, it could be some team things. I just think that sometimes you go down and then you pull yourself back up and then you will be #1 at some point again. Maybe, let’s say, we will have it in the next half of this year or in 2020. We would have the same things that we had in 2018. You never know. Right now, we are on our way up. I’m not thinking too much about the past or what has happened in the last three months. What has happened, has happened. There is nothing to do about it. Right now, I’m just looking forward to winning again.