cadiaN talks CS future post-Heroic: “I still have a lot to achieve”
Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller spoke with Dexerto about his benching by Heroic and mapped out his future plans, even opening the door to a role change in Counter-Strike 2.
“Who knows what the future entails for this roster?” caster Adam ‘Dinko’ Hawthorne said as Heroic crashed out of ESL Pro League Season 18 in the group stage, calling it “a new low” for the team.
With the benefit of hindsight, cadiaN believes that losing to the eventual champions, MOUZ, and to a semi-finalist, Monte, was not as bad as it initially looked, though it still stings him. But the signs that the team was vulnerable had been there for a while.
In the lead-up to the event in Malta, cadiaN had even spoken about the struggles that plagued the squad, expressing his concern that the team was not “playing to our philosophies and principles.” Somehow, somewhere, Heroic had lost their verve and become a static rendition of themselves, abandoning the fundamentals that had made them one of the best and most unique teams in the game despite lacking the star power of some of their rivals.
cadiaN understood that a change was necessary. But in the end, his vision for the future of the team was met with resistance.
“We had talks on how to move forward and progress,” cadiaN explained to Dexerto. “And I think, ultimately, we had different visions on how we would achieve our goals.
“I wanted some changes and some people wanted a different way.”
cadiaN doesn’t want to go into detail about what type of changes he wanted to make, but he is adamant in his belief that they would have taken Heroic to the next level, pointing to a four-year record of roster swaps that were received with skepticism but constantly took the team up the ladder.
“I think they would have made us more competitive in the big tournaments and the big stages and they saw it done in a different way,” he said. “It would not have created the right fundamentals for the future if we met somewhere in the middle.”
cadiaN steps down from Heroic’s roster four years after joining the organization — one of the longest active stints in the CS:GO scene. He led the team as it went from being a middle-of-the-pack side to a regular presence in the top 10 and, eventually, a title contender and Major finalist.
But he was much more than just the in-game leader. He was the most vocal player on the team and, at times, a father figure to his younger teammates. Even during the team’s darkest periods, like in the HUNDEN scandal, and in the toughest losses, he always knew how to draw attention to himself as a way to shield the other players, who aren’t so adept at handling the spotlight.
Perhaps nowhere is that better illustrated than in ‘Game and Glory’, the Counter-Strike documentary by ESL and BBC Studios about the IEM Rio Major. cadiaN is the lead figure in the 48-minute-long video and the only Heroic member who is interviewed, apart from Kasper Straube, then the organization’s Head of Performance.
“I feel a lot of pride,” he said. “Many people see me as the face of not just the CS team of Heroic but more or less the organization, you know? I have been able to build a team and a brand more or less from nothing. We didn’t have the funds or the same opportunities as the other teams at the beginning, and we fought our way up, becoming better and better with each and every small change, and the theory-crafting of how to play CS.
“We were ahead of the curve in terms of scouting the right talent and making roster moves at the right time, and that brought us to a position where Heroic was a big enough name to get a spot in both BLAST and ESL, to reach No.1 in the world rankings and to win big trophies.
“The main thing that fills my heart is pride, and I’m happy that I have spent so much of my career with such great players and amazing friends. There’s no grudge, we separate as friends. We have been working super hard and pouring in sweat, blood and tears to make it work. It has been an incredible journey that a lot of people can look back on and think, ‘Okay, if they could do it, so can I.’”
cadiaN’s future in Counter-Strike 2
cadiaN isn’t willing to dwell too long, however, on things that he can’t control and is instead focusing on the next chapter of his career. “I’m super motivated,” he said, adding that he is “already grinding” Counter-Strike 2.
He has spent the last five years playing for Danish teams, but with Astralis and Heroic being the only top teams in his country at the moment, he is looking abroad for playing opportunities.
“I believe that a lot of the things we have done correctly in Heroic I can transfer to the next place I’m going to,” cadiaN said. “I know I can bring the five percent that other teams need to win.
“I have my ideas of which teams I could instantly make better and which teams could, or should, potentially consider involving me. But at the end of the day, it’s not up to me to decide which teams are interested in me.”
The Counter-Strike scene is currently in a state of flux as tournament organizers across the globe transition to CS2 for the final leg of the season.
With so many question marks around what the rest of the year will look like, cadiaN is willing to take his time to find the next destination. “I’m not going to make a move just to make a move,” he said, before noting: “I’m confident that there will be a lot of teams reaching out to me.”
He added, “I’m only considering joining a team that I can win with.”
cadiaN believes that he has proven himself “as a great leader and a great fragger with the AWP”. His demeanor is merely confidence in his abilities, not cockiness, and is part of the reason he is such a polarizing figure in the Counter-Strike scene.
Despite that, he is willing to relinquish some of his duties and reinvent himself again if necessary.
“I have found a rhythm for making both of those roles work together,” he said, “but for the perfect fit, I would be willing to separate [from] the roles.”
And not be the AWPer?
“Or not be the IGL.”
Though he has not set a timetable for his return, cadiaN clearly has one tournament in mind: the PGL CS2 Major in Copenhagen. The event will take place at the Royal Arena, the same venue where he lifted the BLAST Premier Fall Final trophy in 2022, which he described as “one of the best moments of my career.”
“Getting back to Royal Arena and greeting the Danish fans is definitely a big motivation for me,” he said.
Only a few Counter-Strike players can boast that their journey to the big leagues was a straight line, but cadiaN’s voyage took more unexpected turns than most. There were times when his career looked like it was going nowhere, but he persevered and reached the very top at the age of 26, by which point most players are already past their primes.
For someone that many never expected to get to this stage, being removed from a team isn’t more than just a speedbump. Like he noted in ‘Game and Glory’, he is the type of person who “always gets back up.”
“That is exactly what is going to happen,” he said nonchalantly. “I’m not even close to giving up. I still have a lot to achieve in my career. I would call it a winner’s mindset.
“I want to win the big trophies. I went to the final and the semi-finals of the last two Majors. I want to win a Major. I want to win Katowice and Cologne. Even though I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, I’m far from satisfied.”