One of the most experienced Danish in-game leaders, Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen, descended upon us to talk about the difficulties leading an international team, calling in English, and the future of multilingual lineups.
HUNDEN became an important part of the competitive CS:GO community since the launch of the game in 2012. Although he played exclusively in Danish teams, the 26-year-old has made some waves internationally, playing for teams like Copenhagen Wolves, SK Gaming, and myXMG. With the latter, he even attended DreamHack Winter 2014 — the very first Valve sponsored Major tournament.
For the past nine months, however, Petersen has been playing for a legendary German team ALTERNATE aTTaX. September of last year, HUNDEN officially joined the all-german line-up and for the first time in his career started calling in English. Since then, the German team secured a first-place finish in 99Liga Season 7 and ESL Meisterschaft: Winter 2017, and most recently made it to the final of GG.BET Majestic: European Qualifier, where they will face Team EnVyUs for a spot in the LAN finals.
“Making ALTERNATE aTTaX great again,” is what Petersen calls his efforts to take the team to the level he knows they deserve.
Vie: Before you joined ALTERNATE aTTaX you’ve been playing at the top of the Danish scene for a long time. What made you decide that it was time to “move abroad” and explore other options?
HUNDEN: I decided I needed to try out something new. After we ended up at number 21 in the world rankings with Tricked (Friis, Es3tag, Borup, AcilioN, and I) I felt it was time to try something different when Es3tag went to Heroic and Friis went inactive. So, after a few weeks, I had some good offers and stuff like that, I could have even moved to NA, but making ALTERNATE aTTaX great again was something that motivated me a lot.
Vie: When you joined them in September you were the only non-German in the team, that must have been daunting at first. What was the communication like? Was it hard for you to keep up with the rest of them?
HUNDEN: The beginning was rough. Before I joined them, I had played like 10 games of Counter-Strike in English with a very small amount of info. So in the beginning, when I had to explain everything in English until everyone was understanding my ideas was really hard. My hero in this lineup is for sure my coach Torbjørn “mithrtv” Nyborg. He became the head of the team pretty fast — all the players could go to him if they had some personal issues, issues with my way of calling, etc.
Vie: Did you have to set some sort of ‘No German’ policy in place?
HUNDEN: We tried to create some “No German” rules, but it seems like the Germans still don’t understand.
Vie: I’m sure you are used to it by now, but what was it like having to call in English? Did it make you change the way you approach shot-calling?
HUNDEN: It was hard in the beginning. The official matches in the first 3 months were really hard. I was nervous, I felt like I had to show up with some good reads and calls. But overall I think I’m improving a lot as an in-game leader now. I have a new understanding of the game now, thanks to Torbjørn’s hard work with both me and the team. I know how important it is to talk about the gameplan, reactions and stuff like that when we have time to practice.
Vie: Speaking of, aTTaX historically have been pretty much an all-German team. Now, like half of the squad are Danish. Was that your plan all along? Will we be seeing an all-Danish aTTax by the end of the year?
HUNDEN: I really really like all the German players who have been on the team and also in the management. Tizian was a special one, me and him found each other pretty fast, so I was sad when he got bought out of the contract [by BIG]. EcfN was one of the kindest teammates I have ever had. It was a hard goodbye — we miss him in the social part of the team. Niklas, the old general manager, the guy who made me join aTTax… Good guy, wishing him the best of luck!
So no, I enjoy all the Germans, all of them are great. aTTaX will never be a full Danish team! I like to call in English, and I’m improving a lot here!
Vie: And you are not the only one — there has been a massive uptick in international teams recently. What’s your opinion on that? Do you think communication is holding international teams back or is it something that can be easily overcome?
HUNDEN: Communication is harder for international teams only in the first six months. But when you start thinking in English, and your callouts start to come up naturally — like they would in your own language — it starts to feel normal. When things start to feel normal, you just grind the confidence you need.
Vie: I feel like you can’t talk multinational teams and not mention SK Gaming. It wasn’t just me, that was pretty crazy, right? How big of an impact can changing the primary language have on the team?
HUNDEN: It will of course have an impact on their team play and all the small things in the game. I don’t support this lineup change at all. They were the best team in the world when they just played in Portuguese, now it seems like they have a lot of misunderstandings and that will affect them for the next 4-5 months as well.
Vie: International lineups like mousesports or FaZe have been climbing the ladder quite impressively lately, but the overall “supremacy” of Europe seems to be fading. Would you say that has more to do with the increased level of other regions after all?
HUNDEN: Since everything is available just a few minutes after the game, I think it’s easier to study playstyles from other parts of the world. Also, there’s a lot of money in the game right now. The teams have enough money for full-time coaches, full-time analysts, etc. So I’m pretty sure we will see teams like TyLoo make it even closer this year if they will keep the same lineup.
Vie: Who would you say are the best free agents on the market right now?
HUNDEN: I’m not into the free agent show. But I’m pretty sure we will see faveN from EURONICS Gaming making even more of an impact this year. If we go to Denmark — if TeSeS [of Squared Esports] can get 100% into the game and learn the last part of teamplay, I know he will play for a bigger team this year. Since my best buddy AcilioN is out of Imperial, I know he will be a good pickup for all teams who want to be a part of a top30 team in the World.
Vie: Do you ever think about going back to play with your Danish comrades?
HUNDEN: Next for me is just staying here in ALTERNATE aTTaX and I really want to make them great again. I think we have a really good team now with Console on board. I love being here. I already had some offers from Denmark — who could support me full time as well — but they got denied because I love staying here!