As the in-game leader of Astralis, Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander has led his side to victory on the biggest stage of all. Winning the ELEAGUE Major 2017, Astralis now find themselves ranked second in the world, in close competition with the leaders, SK Gaming. The player-owned Danish organization has had phenomenal talent since their formation in early 2016, but it was only through the introduction of gla1ve’s leadership that results began to follow. During the PGL Major group stage we spoke to gla1ve about his attitude to leading, and how he came into the role.
Gla1ve first got into CS during the days of Source, and even then had a keen eye for the route to success. Rather than ignoring the earlier title of 1.6, he took to watching the best at both games for inspiration.
“When I started playing in CS:Source at 14 years old, I realized I had a really good aim,” says gla1ve. “But I also started to realize, how could I get to the top? And I could probably get there just because of my aim, but I also understood the lack of IGLs and how important they are to the game. So I started watching a lot of demos and even though I played Source, I watched a lot of 1.6 demos. I tried to understand how (the leaders) were thinking, and when you know how they were thinking, you can incorporate it into your own game.”
Back in the early days, before the advent of streaming, keeping up with players in and out of the game was more difficult. Player comms were not recorded and many tools we now take for granted were absent. Because of this, gla1ve took his learning to a more direct level, attending tournaments to try to observe IGLs in action.
“At Danish local events – that’s what we were playing back then – I stood by the in-game leaders, FeTiSh for example, to listen to what he was saying to his players and how he practiced,” recalls gla1ve. “I tried to listen to how he works his players, how he drags them around the map.”
With such dedication to his training from the offset, it’s no surprise to see gla1ve now heralded as a tactical mastermind, capable of meticulously controlling his side to outmaneuver their opposition. Speaking bluntly, but without bragging, gla1ve is open with his views, indicating he believes the IGL role to have grown easier over time. As the competitive arena (and money involved) expands, the top teams have the luxury of employing ancillaries to ease the burden.
“Yeah there can be a lot of work but today we have analyzers, we have coaches who do most of the prep for you, so today being an IGL is mostly about having a great mindset about the game,” gla1ve says. “You have different qualities as a player. Some people are good with their head, some with their aim and some people are good with snipers, with really quick reactions. One of my specialities is understanding the game quite well. I’m good at making a game plan and at making my teammates comfortable in playing.“
Echoing remarks by other IGLs, handling team emotions appears to be a crucial aspect of modern CS leadership. In this, gla1ve imposes a more controlling approach: If you don’t give players time to think for themselves, they won’t have time to lose focus.
“That’s a really big part, to make them feel comfortable,” gla1ve explains. “Always tell them what to do, don’t let them think too much for themselves because that could cause some interruption in your game plan. So tell them what to do and be sure of what the opponent is doing. There is a lot of work, but it’s mind work.”
Such a commanding approach requires an incredible depth of mental fortitude and dexterity while playing, and even gla1ve is willing to admit it’s not a flawless methodology.
“It depends on how I’m playing myself, to be honest,” says gla1ve. “If I am having a good game, if I’m confident in my own games, then I know what to do. Then I’m really good at telling the other players what to do. But when I start to get surprised by the opponent’s team, if I don’t feel confident with my mouse, then I’m thinking too much about that and I start to give the other players a little more space. Sometimes it works, sometimes it’s definitely not the best option, but it can happen.”
Gla1ve and Astralis will be disappointed with their performance in the PGL Krakow Major, losing out in the semifinal to the eventual winners, Gambit. Because of this, you can be sure that gla1ve won’t be resting on his laurels during the player break this month. Since his beginnings in source, gla1ve has shown a mind built for leading, always focussed on the bigger picture. It’s likely we’ll see him in charge for some time to come.
“Because I constantly watch CS, I have a hard time watching just for the fun of it,” gla1ve says. “I watch the radar all the time. I need to look at it it and say, why is he doing that? Why is he rotating? What happened on the map? So yeah, I think you just have that mindset when you’re the IGL.”