Continuing our discussion from part 1, ztr discusses his removal from the NIP roster and his return to the Young Ninjas. The young IGL also discusses prospects and his future. Arnav “XL” Shukla: For you as a youngster who has probably watched Device play his whole career, how was the experience of playing with Device? […]

Continuing our discussion from part 1, ztr discusses his removal from the NIP roster and his return to the Young Ninjas. The young IGL also discusses prospects and his future.

Arnav “XL” Shukla: For you as a youngster who has probably watched Device play his whole career, how was the experience of playing with Device?

Erik “ztr” Gustafsson : I was definitely very excited when I first got the news that we were going to play with him and the whole time I played with him, it was a really nice experience.

XL: There’s been some talk about Swedish and Danish communication and the differences that may arise from that. How was Devices transition in this early period, moving from Danish to Swedish communication?

ztr: I know for Device, it was no problem. He had been living in Sweden, I believe, for quite a while before. He was really familiar with Swedish and it was no problem from the start. So it was all good.

XL: Coming into Flashpoint 3 you guys had some of those videos, like the vlog coming out that added further pressure to the team. Was it a big event for you to perform at considering the signing of Device?

ztr: No, not really. The bigger factor for me is that it was the major qualifier. So that was the bigger factor for me. Maybe put a bit of pressure because it was the first major in 2 years.

It came as a big surprise. I believed I was going to play until the major, but it did not turn out like that, so it came as a surprise for me.

Young Ninjas ztr

XL: So there you had a great event following a loss to G2. You made it to the finals before losing the series eventually to the MOUZ roster that was in red hot form. So what was the event like from your perspective?

ztr: Looking back, I think it was really good. We managed to pull out some really big comebacks, I believe. And just overall, we played really good CS at the event. I think we really deserve the second place, if not even the win maybe.

XL: Immediately after this event, you were moved back to the Academy side. Were you expecting this move at all, especially this quickly after your second-place finish?

ztr: No, I didn’t really expect it. It came as a big surprise. I believed I was going to play until the major, but it did not turn out like that, so it came as a surprise for me.

XL: Overall, how do you feel about your stint in the main NIP squad?

ztr: I think I did well. I did what was best for the team, and it maybe doesn’t show in the stats. But some people I’ve seen actually realized this and some people don’t. But what can you do about that?

Young Ninjas ztr
Young Ninjas ztr

XL: Coming back into the Young Ninja, did it take some time to adjust to the team structure, or did you immediately take over as the IGL again?

ztr: I immediately took over again and I just implemented some new stuff that I took away from listening to Hampus call, or maybe even some strats I took from them. But for the most part, it was the same as before.

XL: In the first season of the Academy League, you were one of the favorites coming into the event. Despite Nilo being unable to attend, you guys still looked strong at the LAN. Did moving to LAN affect the team in a positive or negative way.

ztr: I think it was positive. For the most part, we didn’t really play any different. So I think it was either a positive or just a neutral experience to be on that.

XL: In the finals, you lost to MOUZ NXT, losing all three maps in a row. How would you analyze that game and what went wrong that led to this loss?

ztr: I can’t really remember what happened. But I remember that we talked about it afterward, and we just didn’t play our game, and we were a bit afraid to do the things we did before because we met them earlier in the normal bracket at the LAN, and we won against them. But in the final, we lost three maps. So it was just that we felt a bit scared, I believe. And it didn’t do the same things that we did before then.

I think just overall, we were a bit afraid and we let M0nesy abuse us with his entries and just let him do his thing. And that’s what we didn’t let him do online. And that’s why we got destroyed. I think on the LAN.

Young Ninjas ztr

XL: In season two, you had a similar start to the event, going 3-0 in the group stage, only dropping two maps to Navi Jr. And after a loss to MOUZ NXT again in the playoffs, you found yourself against NaVi Jr. What led to you losing the series despite beating them earlier in the event?

ztr: I think it’s the same. And now we had a bit more inexperience with having debo on the team. And I think just overall, we were a bit afraid and we let M0nesy abuse us with his entries and just let him do his thing. And that’s what we didn’t let him do online. And that’s why we got destroyed. I think on the LAN.

XL: You had said in an earlier interview that you had a plan to shut down M0nesy, and that clearly worked online, but on LAN that not being executed perfectly led to the loss?

ztr: Yeah. Exactly.

XL: You went to watch the Major. What was that experience like for someone who could’ve been there?

ztr: For me, it was a good experience. It’s nice to see people playing on stage. I never actually got to be on LAN when I played because it was on hold. Yeah. But at the same time, I didn’t get sad, but it was not very nice to see that I’m not playing there. But overall, it was a nice experience, and I felt like it gives me more motivation to see how they are playing.

Young Ninjas lnz
Young Ninjas LNZ

XL: So now Linus has rejoined the roster after a period on NIP similar to yours. Do you think the experience has changed his playstyle from when you guys played together earlier?

ztr: Yes. Actually, I didn’t play with him on Young Ninjas, but I played with him when we got rid of when Eraa in the older Swedish team. I played with him, but from there to now, I think it’s changed a lot. He is talking a lot more. He has more confidence, I guess you can say. And he is not afraid to share his thoughts and to give people criticism when he thinks it’s needed. So I think overall he’s changed for the better. And I think it’s really good.

XL: With this new Linus-powered roster that the Young Ninjas have assembled, do you think you can perform better than the previous lineup did?

ztr: Yeah, I definitely think so. We just need some time to be able to see if that’s actually true. But I’m pretty confident that this will be the best Young Ninjas version for sure.

XL: Some fans have recently heard Legends of the game. Like F0rest mention that the Swedish talent isn’t growing as rapidly as before. What are some Swedish talents that fans might not know about in the Swedish scene?

ztr: If you can say talent, there’s two. There are twin brothers actually susp [Tim Ångström] and adamb [Adam Ångström]. One of them is playing in the team already and is doing pretty decent. But those two are the biggest talent, I would say as of right now.

The most important skill for tier 1 is the understanding of the game and being able to play as a team or be able to help the team and understand how you play as a team. The raw mechanics are I think something easy to work on compared to actual understanding of the game.

Young Ninjas ztr

XL: In the Academy League outside of the Ninjas, who do you think are the most promising talents?

ztr: I would say Torzsi is very good. The whole of MOUZ to be honest. And M0nesy, of course. Other than that, I can’t really think of anyone right now, but M0nesy is good and the whole of MOUZ for sure.

XL: What do you think is the most necessary quality for Academy players that might move to the tier one level?

ztr: I think it’s the understanding of the game and being able to play as a team or be able to help the team and understand how you play as a team. The raw mechanics are I think something easy to work on compared to actual understanding of the game.

XL: With rumors of Torzsi and M0nesy being possible moves for the teams coming up, how do you think they will perform in the tier one level?

ztr: I think if they have good enough help to implement themselves into tier one, then they will perform really well. So yeah, hopefully, they will get enough help from the organization they join to get implemented into turbulence.

XL: How much has the NIP period affected your calling style now?

ztr: I think I didn’t take too much from Hampus. It was only a few things maybe, but I still think that the overall understanding and the help I got from both THREAT and Hampus has affected my calling completely and how I’m calling now in Young Ninjas.

Young Ninjas ztr
Young Ninjas ztr

XL: And how was the experience working with legendary IGL-turned-Coach THREAT.

ztr: It was a great experience once. He was always coming up with new ideas and when I needed help with something, he always tried his best to help me.

XL: With THREAT moving to a technical director role, how do you think it will affect the team?

ztr: I don’t know, to be honest, but I think he will do just as well if not better, in his new role, because I think that is what he really specializes in being able to work on the more technical sides in the game.

XL: According to many Analysts, your stats don’t show your true value, but instead, your in-game style helps the team in ways that aren’t visible on the stat sheet. Stuff like delaying enemy pushes and providing supportive utility has inherent value that may not be visible in the numbers. Do you think this is a specialty of your playstyle that you have developed over time?

ztr: I think it was a specialty when I played for the main team because as I said earlier when I first joined the main team, I had to change some positions, and then I had to adapt and try to create new ways of playing them because I haven’t played them before. But now that I play young Ninas again, I’m back in some of my more comfortable positions. And so I wouldn’t say that it’s my playstyle anymore with being more of a delaying and supporting player.

XL: Who would you say has taught you the most in your career so far? 

ztr: Myself, for sure. Learning from everyone slowly accumulating knowledge.

I don’t think the nade drop change is game-breaking, but I think it’s only good for the game to add a thing like this that brings change to the meta and how you view the game. So overall, I think it’s a really good change. And hopefully, there will be more of them like this in the future.

Young Ninjas ztr

XL: What are your thoughts on the grenade drop mechanic. Despite the early outrage over it, we haven’t seen anything game-breaking so far, at least in Tier One play. How would you describe the change so far?

ztr: As you said, I don’t think it’s game-breaking, but I think it’s only good for the game to add a thing like this that brings change to the meta and how you view the game. So overall, I think it’s a really good change. And hopefully, there will be more of them like this in the future.

XL: A bit more of a fun question. If you could play on any team in CS:GO history, what team would you pick?

ztr: Probably like the old NIP with F0rest Friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt. One of those lineups. I would definitely like to play on them.

XL: Do you think you are ready to make the return to the top tier of CSGO?

ztr: Yeah, for sure. I think I evaluated the mistakes that I did from my past tenure in tier one. And I think I’ve developed a lot since last being there and I would definitely make the most out of the opportunity if I were to be given another one.

XL: And are you open to international rosters in your future?

ztr: Yeah, definitely. I think you can see now there are fewer and fewer full Swedish teams like even NIP are only down to three. Fnatic only has two. So I think going international is the best for the future. As of right now at least.

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Arnav Shukla - Writer of the Month: July

Arnav Shukla

Writer of the Month: July | Twitter: @xL_csgo

I am a hardcore Counter-Strike fan who loves to watch and write about CSGO. A student of the game's history and a bad player in game.