By Arseny Kuzminsky, CS.MONEY
David n0rb3r7 Danielyan talked about the team’s plans for the year, chemistry with teammates, the influence of Solaar, mou and AdreN, and also named three favorite skins from his inventory.
Finding time to communicate with the media is quite difficult for professional players. And they don’t always want to. A huge number of training sessions and dozens of tournaments— CS players from major league organizations are protected by the walls made of PR specialists, team managers and legal contracts. But people closer to us, simple Twitch averagers, have to combine the routine of an esports player and home life with the need to maintain contact with the audience, whether it is communication on the stream with subscribers or interviews in the media.
David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan and his K23 team have to play a lot to achieve certain goals. Practice makes perfect, right? This statement has been proven: the team reached HLTV’s top 20 and has been here for quite some time. It’s the tag’s highest point in history (14th place), and the boys won many tier-2 tournaments. Which, to be honest, is absolutely deserved: they play great, despite the rather young roster. However, one can imagine the amount of time and energy spent.
I intercepted David on his day off on the eve of his flight to St. Petersburg for the bootcamp. Would you agree to give an interview on a rare free weekend with such a job?
N0rb3r7 and I talked about:
- Ambitious plans for 2022
- K23’s map pool and map rotation
- Contributions from Solaar, mou and AdreN
- Dealing with cheaters and bettors
- Emotions, control and psychology
- Cases and knives all go for trade
How are you? Is there a lot of pressure these days? There are a lot of matches.
Now, we have a lot of practice. We’re loaded, but now, for example, we have two days off, so there is time to take a breath. And this week, the preparations for RMR begin, so you need to take a break, let go of the officials, correct mistakes and be 100% ready for the qualifiers.
You made it to the Pinnacle Cup playoffs, congratulations. Was the group difficult?
In the group, the first two matches were okay-ish, against Endpoint we lost our pick, but then won their pick and the third map without any problems. But against BJAYS it was more difficult, most likely due to the fact that there was a delay in the schedule. We waited for the team to finish and instead of starting at eight, we started only around ten. We played awful, I would say, but we won.
And in the playoffs, as usual, there’s only one goal: to win.
K23 is now 14th in the top HLTV. This is your peak. Will you be higher?
The place does not press, on the contrary, it motivates us to climb further. And for 2022, the plans are simple: top 5 at least. We showed ourselves well online, so we should be given invites to large LANs. Unfortunately, the organizers do not see our potential, so they do not give invites.
By the way, what do you think about the updated RMR format, where Europe plays together with the CIS?
I don’t even know what to say. I think they are choking the CIS region instead of giving us six slots instead of five like last year. But if we want to qualify for the Major, it shouldn’t matter to us which qualifiers it is. And in any case, if we go to the RMR, we will be ready for it and all the teams that will be there.
Accordingly, will you bootcamp?
In Moscow, where I live, there are no problems with ping, and in St. Petersburg, it’ll feel even finer: the connection with European servers there is way better. We’re bootcamping before the first qualification with a full squad.
You have not met with top-class teams for a long time. Are you ready for the upcoming qualifiers for BLAST and the Major?
We are not afraid of big teams. But when playing with them, we run into problems that do not arise against lower-level teams. Therefore, in the games against Astralis, Heroic and BIG, there were some mistakes that we don’t usually make. They were due to the fact that we really wanted to win and there were silly mistakes.
Statistically, your Dust and Mirage lately were pretty strong. Are these your strongest maps or is it just a coincidence?
As for Dust, it’s hard to say, because, after the update with the mid window, it became a little more difficult to play as the T-side. We gain more rounds for defense than attack, so if we take 5-6 rounds for T, then the probability is high that we will win the map. And with Mirage, it’s simple: it’s a fully studied map, you don’t need to know anything about it. Everyone in the team knows this map, so everything is fine with here, we often pick it and win.
And which maps are the weak ones, what else needs to be worked on?
We still need to work on Dust, on Inferno. And Overpass. We will be working on them in the near future and fixing troubles just in time for the RMR qualifiers.
What about the map pool? Is Vertigo OK? Do you want to return Cache?
To be honest, I really don’t like Vertigo. [laughs] I really hate it, I try to avoid it in FPL and FACEIT. Instead, I would return Train. It was very good, I liked it a lot.
How did you get into CS? You are 20, but you already look like an experienced player.
I started in 2016, then I went to LANs in Moscow. I spent a couple of years like this, I assembled my team in 2018. We started playing well and I was noticed in Winstrike in the fall of 2018. Then they took me and probably from that moment my professional career began. I was noticed by boombl4 and iksou—I stood out in my team, and at one of the hubs, it seems, we performed well. Then the offer came.
Together with NeaLaN, you are now the old-timers of the team. Did you have offers from other clubs?
After the third RMR last year, Sprout approached, but there was nothing else. I didn’t go to Sprout, because it is an international line-up and I’m not very confident in my English, I thought that I might not be able to cope. But I was sure that if at that time we would have made substitutions and played differently, then everything would have worked out. And, as you can see, that’s exactly what happened.
If someone huge invites you, will you leave?
I never thought about it. We are playing well now and if offers come in, I think the guys will refuse. Of course, NAVI, Virtus.pro, Gambit, or Entropic will not make substitutions, they have strong lineups.
At the same time, the team is young, and xsepower is the oldest at 23 years old. Does your age affect the game and results?
The numbers don’t matter. We all feel the same way, behave the same way. There is no generation difference, at least in the game. But sometimes outside the game happens. [laughs]
Based on the previous question, tell us about your coach Solaar. What is his main merit with your roster? How do you work together?
If you take the training process or official games, he is a very disciplined coach. But outside of the game, we can relax, joke, and so on. His main merit is that he helped NeaLaN and me to step up, which we ourselves could not do. He helped us in moments that we could not understand, and he explained in more detail how and why. And over time, we began to experience what he told us and appreciated his contribution. Something that we did not understand conditionally a year or a half ago.
You played with mou and AdreN in K23. What did these legendary players teach you?
Their experience is also passed on. Maybe it’s not so with NeaLaN, but they affected Fame very much. If you compare him a year ago and now, they are absolutely two different players. I think it was specifically the contribution of the trio – mou, AdreN and Solaar.
It used to be that you spoke harshly about other teams and players. For example about cheaters. Why did this happen?
There was still suspicion before, at the beginning of my career, when Nafany and sh1ro blasted. Back then, most of the CIS players said that they were cheaters. But this is purely the opinion of each player. If not proven… it’s just speculation. When teams start to play abruptly in a way that we have not been able to play for two years, as if at the snap of a finger, something is not right. And they just jump into the top 20. This is no accident.
Akuma added fuel to the fire, also gave a suspicion that there are such things, cheats or what it was when the teams suddenly burst. But you can’t prove it.
What about match-fixing and bettors who unleash their hate upon you? What to do with it?Yeah, you don’t have to do anything. People place bets on a team, they lose, and it’s all around to blame: the team, the players, anyone. “They were paid, this is all a script”, and so on. I often begin to communicate with such people and explain to them that no one is forcing them to play. In general, I enjoy communicating with such haters. Of course, there are adequate people who, after a dialogue, come to conclusions, but there are also inadequate people who are ready to sell their souls for a bet.
Who’s the team’s main psychologist?
Solaar. We don’t have any particular emotional players besides me. And Solaar helps me develop, pointing out moments and telling me how to do better. And if I can’t deal with them myself, he finds a solution for me. There is progress thanks to Solaar, I have matured and changed as a person and player. My emotionality and aggression have no purpose. I never show it to teammates or people, it’s just game moments.
Finally, I want to congratulate you on the knife you got from the new case, I saw it on neaLaN’s Instagram. Are you lucky with rare drops at all?
I’ve been lucky quite a lot lately. When a case comes out, I immediately tell my bros: here, boys, I’ll open it now and there’s gonna be a knife. And specifically with this knife, here’s the fun story: we were at the bootcamp then, a case came out, and I said to X5G7V before going to bed: “Tomorrow I open the case.” I had one left, and a butterfly dropped.
But most often I open cases on the stream: it’s entertaining content, people like it, everyone immediately starts to rejoice in the chat. Outside of the stream, I open only some new ones. But in general, if I want to, I’ll take it and open ten new cases. Still, I’m not into collecting stuff, most often I immediately trade it, but depending on skin.