Heroic captain Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller discusses the upcoming BLAST Premier Fall Final and building on their PGL Major Stockholm results in an exclusive interview with Dexerto.
“I remember,” cadiaN says, laughing, after opening a 2017 picture of him shaking hands with Nicolai ‘HUNDEN’ Petersen.
The picture was taken at the very first BLAST event, BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, held at the Royal Arena — the same venue that will host the upcoming BLAST Premier Fall Final.
He attended that event while enjoying a short break from competition to visit family and friends in Denmark after some months in North America with Rogue.
So much has changed in cadiaN’s life since then. Four years ago, it looked as if his career had gone stale after stints on teams like mousesports, Copenhagen Wolves and SK Gaming. Now, he is leading the young and vibrant Heroic, the best team in Denmark and one of the best in the world, and fighting for top honors.
After years of struggle, the story of cadiaN’s impressive resurgence is still difficult to grasp for many.
“Probably a lot of people would be surprised and would not have seen it coming because at that stage I had been playing professionally for three years or so,” he says. “I guess I have found my groove, learned from some mistakes and gotten even stronger in the areas where I can thrive and where I can give a lot to a team.
“I’m super thrilled to be at this stage of my career and I’m hoping this is not the top for me.”
CadiaN still has some distinct memories of attending that BLAST Pro Series event, recalling how he was “completely stoked” at the atmosphere inside the arena.
“I jumped around like some crazy maniac when dupreeh made those two AWP highlights on Mirage,” he said.
“You also have in the back of your mind that you’d love to be there yourself playing.
“It’s safe to say that it’s a dream come true to play at the Royal Arena in front of the Danish crowd, also because, as many people know, playing at BLAST events as a non-partner is fairly difficult (laughs). It’s not something you can take for granted.”
Major expectations and pressure
Heroic head to the BLAST event with confidence sky-high after an impressive run at PGL Major Stockholm. They finished 3rd-4th and were just one round away from beating G2 Esports in a keenly-contested semi-final affair.
For Heroic, it was a much-needed boost after they had found themselves caught, again, in the spectator bug drama involving former coach HUNDEN.
The campaign in Stockholm has also helped to dispel the criticism directed toward their LAN results and how they were a stark contrast to the highs reached by the team in the online era.
“I definitely think it was a step in the right direction,” cadiaN says of the Major run. “Being top four has shown a lot of people that we can play on LAN.
“Some experts had put a lot of emphasis on that one result in Cologne [Heroic finished 7th-8th at IEM Cologne], which was in a studio environment.
“I’m not going to say that because of one result we are a LAN team and we can do it every time, but we have definitely shown that we are capable, right? That’s the first step.
“We’ve shown that we have the same potential on LAN and online. Now, I want to make sure we can do it as many times as possible.”
But despite the fact that a huge weight has been lifted off their shoulders, cadiaN stresses that the semi-final run in Stockholm has come with its own burden.
“I think there’s more pressure, but it’s better pressure,” he explains. “By showing we can do it on LAN we won’t have to hear as much about the whole LAN and online discussion, but people are going to expect you to win tournaments and to make the semi-finals and finals at other events.
“Group stage exits and stuff like that are definitely things you will want to avoid. But I think it’s a different pressure because…”
There is a brief pause as cadiaN reflects on everything that the team have been through in recent months. And then, he says, “The whole coach storyline and the onliners thing put negative pressure. That’s off our shoulders now, and it’s more like positive pressure now. People are expecting and hoping for good results.”
Taking on NAVI
There is no question that we are living in a NAVI era. The CIS giants have been the dominant team of 2021 and will have two more chances to add to their trophy cabinet before the end of the year.
In an interview with HLTV.org during the Major, Rasmus ‘sjuush’ Beck said that Heroic had lost their best-of-one game against NAVI “to ourselves”, not necessarily because their opponents had been the better team.
NAVI looked unbeatable in Stockholm and did not drop a single map throughout their title-winning campaign. How does cadiaN think that a best-of-three final against them would have played out?
“Probably more teams think the same way we do, but we believe we are the only team who can beat them,” he says. “I think they know it too, to be honest.
“B1ad3 said when he was on ‘HLTV Confirmed’ that we were their biggest rivals, and that was at a time when they were losing online games to Gambit and playing some insanely close best-of-three match-ups with us but were still winning.
“With the way our playstyle is and the way their playstyle is… There have been one or two best-of-three series already that they know they should have lost. As sjuush said, we lost that match to ourselves. If we play at our best, they know we can beat them.”
Heroic may soon have to put cadiaN’s words to the test. If they beat FaZe in the first round of the BLAST Premier Fall Final and NAVI move past BIG, the two teams will lock horns in the upper bracket semi-finals.
CadiaN starts rubbing his hands together, visibly excited about that possibility.
“I’d love to meet them, I think it’s going to be a very interesting match-up,” he says. “We saw that the bo1 at the major could have gone either way.
“Basically, I think the goal for a lot of teams is to stop them from winning the rest of the tournaments this year. They’ve already started the NAVI era, and it’s about not just beating them but ruining their chances of cementing that kind of place in CS:GO history.
“I think it’s well deserved that players of the caliber of s1mple and electronic have finally won a Major. But that doesn’t mean we will go easy on them. We will give our best to beat them.”
Breaking Astralis’ hegemony
Astralis’ success in the last six years has allowed them to build a massive fan base in Denmark and overshadow their domestic Counter-Strike rivals. CadiaN himself experienced that when he was part of North, an organization that struggled to find their place in the scene and eventually shut down their operations.
But that trend is starting to change, according to cadiaN.
“The number of Heroic supporters that have come over the last two years has been absolutely insane,” he says. “I am expecting a lot of Heroic jerseys, a lot of Heroic chants [at BLAST].
“Obviously, it’s going to create even more of a rivalry with the Astralis fans. Back with North, Astralis didn’t even have to care about North because they couldn’t compete with them, but we’ve beaten Astralis a lot of times, and it’s hurting the Astralis fans.
“I’m definitely expecting a lot of people to cheer for us. That’s also what I could see in Stockholm. The atmosphere in our semi-final against G2, especially in that Inferno comeback, and the chants that I could hear, even though the headsets, were absolutely insane. I’m expecting a good time.”
Four years later, cadiaN is about to return to the Royal Arena, this time as a competitor and one of the event’s headliners, his journey to the top as improbable as it gets.
The roar of the crowd and the warmth of the fans from that 2017 event have left an indelible mark on him. He’s expecting a similar reception when he steps onto that stage in front of thousands of fans as he and his team look to break down another barrier in a year that has been “good” but “difficult” at the same time.
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He is ready to create new memories.
“Our main goal, and one of the important criteria to make 2021 successful, is to win a tournament on LAN,” he says.
“We have three chances now until Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and I think that if we just win one of those three, this will have been a very successful year.
“If not, it will have been a successful year, but one with a lot of things to improve on. I think the learning curve and the experience that we have gained from the LANs are super valuable and put us in a super good place for 2022.”