Reigniting the flame

Interview with Asger "AcilioN" Larsen

Copenhagen Flames brings an exclusive interview with in-game leader, AcilioN. Our CS:GO team has recently experienced both highs and lows in performances and achievements. AcilioN shares his personal story of his passion for gaming and Counter-Strike as well as his future goals for the team. He also shares his thoughts on heavier topics like feeling burned out or feeling down after being kicked from a team. 

Acilion's greatest achievements

2016 – 2nd at CEVO Pro League Season 9
SK Gaming – 30,000$

2018 – 1st at Copenhagen Games
The Imperial – 50,000$

2018 – 1st at Games Clash Masters 2018
Heroic – 50,000$

2018 – 1st at TOYOTA Master CS:GO Bangkok 2018
Heroic – 40,000$

A Competitive Mindset

AcilioN has been a gamer from a young age. It all began with great titles like Age of Empire and Red Alert until he reached his teenage years and Counter-Strike 1.6 caught his attention. He spent countless of hours after school with his classmates which was the only option he had to play his soon-to-be favourite game title.

He found that he was naturally gifted and the many hours previously spent on gaming at a young age was also making its impact on his performance. One day, his father brought home different PC components and started building a proper gaming PC for AcilioN. He now had the opportunity to continue the grind and his personal development in CS at home.

AcilioN tells that he has always had a competitive mindset and wanted to push himself to the limit:

“I’ve always considered myself being very competitive. I used to play football (in Vanløse, red.) in the best Danish league when I was 15 years old. I practiced more or less 6 times a week. Besides football, I played CS at home. Eventually, I thought that football was not as fun as CS so I ended up playing much more CS than football. I never do anything without trying to be the best. I automatically set myself some goals I want to achieve. My first goal as a CS player was to earn at least 10,000 DKK (1,333€) by playing CS before retiring as a player. When you reach that goal, it’s on to the next; you want a monthly paycheck before retiring from CS. And then I have just gradually continued setting new goals for myself.”

On Joining Copenhagen Flames

The effort needed to challenge and beat the best requires a lot of hard work and dedication. AcilioN knows that you need a solid foundation before you can start building a career as a professional CS player: It requires an organization with a proper infrastructure, a great work ethic from yourself and teammates you can cooperate with during good and hard times. When it comes to his reasons for joining Copenhagen Flames, he states the following:

“I chose to join Copenhagen Flames for several reasons: I used to play for Heroic back when they were known as RFRSH. The current version of Heroic is something completely different, but back when I joined them the first time they were part of RFRSH Entertainment and it was really nice to be part of that organization. They had an actual office and great facilities. Everyone around the team always did their best to help us (the players, red.). Both in terms of sporting matters, but also that you got paid accordingly. The last time I was looking for a team, I quickly thought about my time in RFRSH and compared this experience with what Flames could offer me”.

He continues:

“One thing is their office in Copenhagen, where we players can practice and occasionally set up bootcamps. Especially their organizational structure and infrastructure, for instance with Vorborg as Coach and Director of Esports, appealed a lot to me. I believe that in terms of my development as a person and as a CS player, Flames was my best option at the time I was looking for a new team. It means much more to me to win titles and trophies rather than to focus on earnings and prize pools”.

AcilioN's gaming setup at Copenhagen Flames' office

AcilioN’s setup at the office.

AcilioN is also well aware of what is at stake for a newly established team where farlig and Basso are the only familiar faces of our CS:GO team. He has both short-term and long-term goals for the team at this very moment:

“New teams usually have the goal to climb the world ranking in order to receive invitations from international tournaments and LAN’s. That is supposed to be our primary goal and therefore, it is our first goal as Copenhagen Flames to qualify to an international LAN event. At these events you can show your own worth and skills. LAN matches also help you climb the ladder more efficiently compared to online matches. But my ultimate goal is to become one of the best teams in Denmark.”, AcilioN declares.

Copenhagen Flames always aims to be compared with some of the best teams in not only Denmark, but in the entire world. AcilioN wants him and his teammates to be able to go all the way to compete against mastodons such as Astralis. His goal is to not just play against them, but actually beat them:

“We want to go up against teams like Astralis and be able to not be entirely crushed by them. I want to beat them!”.

2018 - a Year of Success and Failure

Before AcilioN joined us at Copenhagen Flames; the circumstances for being an esports athlete had had its upsides and downfalls. In just one year, he established his own team, The Imperial, and won Copenhagen Games against Heroic.

“I think there has been many great experiences in my career. But the biggest moment of my career was definitely winning Copenhagen Games 2018. When I began playing with Tricked in 2017, everything went fine. We reached world rank #22, but then I left Tricked because I once again wanted to become an in-game leader. After I made this decision, I joined Dignitas who had a stacked line-up with lots of great players. But things just didn’t work out. Because of all the complications within our team, the organization chose to kick me. All I could think was “What the hell am I supposed to do now”. I felt no one wanted to play with me anymore, and that there was nothing I could do from this point. I had to start from scratch before I could build myself up again. I had to start all over if I should ever stand the chance to reach the goals I had set for myself.

Therefore, I created my own team (The Imperial, red.), where I picked some rookies who had no former experience with playing HLTV matches. We started our progress slowly and actually reached second place at a Danish LAN where we faced Tricked in the grand final. We put a lot of hard work and dedication into this project which led us to attend Copenhagen Games. We barely had enough money to travel to the event. We participated – and then we won the whole event. That was the biggest moment for me personally, because I felt I had finally proven everyone wrong. After Copenhagen Games, I joined Heroic and I really felt I was back in the game”.

After The Imperial won Copenhagen Games in 2018, AcilioN was offered a spot as a stand-in for Heroic and at a certain point he got the opportunity to fully join the team. 2018 was truly the year where AcilioN’s career began the ascend to reach fame and glory. From the moment he won Copenhagen Games in 2018 with The Imperial, a year went by and the tables turned. First, he got benched from Heroic and then later on he was kicked from the team just before Copenhagen Games 2019. Yet again, AcilioN had found himself on top of the world just to fall back down to earth again:

“To be kicked from a team is basically the same as being fired from your job. It does sometimes have a bigger impact on your life when you’re a pro CS player. Mainly because some of the teams you played with would consist of players who were some of your closest friends. When you feel that they suddenly turn against you is just really hard to go through. The first time I got kicked from a team was with SK Gaming. I was really close with one of the other players, and even though we had a great friendship, he continued playing while I had to leave. That takes a lot from you. It’s just really hard”.

He continues: “Now that I am older, I feel I’m mentally stronger when something bad happens to me. I always manage to quickly get back up on my feet after I fall down into a hole. But I can imagine some players might become really depressed when they experience getting kicked from a team. I usually think that things must happen for a reason. I always thoroughly consider the reasons for why I got kicked and what I can do better in the future. Then I quickly forget all the bad things that has happened to me and I move on. I still consider those periods of my life without a team as some of the the worst. When I got kicked from Heroic, I was really down. I have to admit that the thought of retiring occurred to me. But whether I play on the same leves as Heroic or on a lower level, I always feel happy. I just feel that I was made for this. It is my passion”.

Feeling Burned Out

AcilioN has occasionally felt the heavy weight of feeling burned out as an esports athlete. To him, it is important to let someone else have the main responsibility of organizing and managing the team. He has also implemented certain daily routines in order to stay focused and concentrated during practice or matches:

“I occasionally feel burned out. The main reason for burning out for me is when I feel I have to organize everything myself as I did during my time in The Imperial. I was very pleased with the way RFRSH handled things: they organized everything for us. They brought some standards to our profession and I see that these standards are repeated at Flames. Vorborg makes sure we face every game we play equally importantly. I only have to focus on practice, playing, and my role as in-game leader. Vorborg takes care of the rest.

When it comes to daily routines outside of CS, I usually focus on getting some fresh air before I start playing. I may skip this routine now and then, but I feel that if I skip the walk, it’s going to impact my performance. Whether I go for a walk or go to the gym doesn’t really matter. I definitely feel a difference not just with my mood, but also my mindset and concentration.

In terms of diet, I don’t really put my energy into it. I have always eaten healthy. I can imagine if you only drink soft drinks and eat burgers or pizza it might have an impact on your performance. But I just eat normally, so it doesn’t really matter much to me. When we have a late match-up for example after midnight, I need to have an energy drink. I don’t drink coffee and I’m also aware of the stereotype directed towards gamers drinking energy drinks and eating unhealthy food. But when we play games after midnight, I need some energy to stay focused and concentrated in order to perform well”.

What Does the Future Hold for the Team?

Let’s return to more happy times and what is store for our CS:GO team. AcilioN is the oldest member with a lot of experience and knowledge of the game. He sees much potential in this current roster – which he believes is full of raw talent that just needs the right guidance and structure:

“My way of leading a team is that I always seek to play by the book. Though there is no actual “book” for in-game leaders to follow. I always prefer my team to be very structured. I want every single member to know exactly what tasks he has to complete and what actions to perform. But at the same time, I also want my teammates to be able to show up individually and think for themselves. We don’t want to be too predictable – and so I also tend to listen to to the others. I try to manage everything myself, but I also try to learn to be managed by my team-mates. It’s hard, but it is an on-going learning process.

I also consider this line-up to be a mini version of The Imperial. We have some really talented players, who really know how to get the right frags or individually have an impact on the match. We prefer the Danish way of playing CS – which is the way I want to play CS. That is one of the reason we Danes perform extremely well: we have all grown up together and we also tend to play with the same style. As a matter of fact, the culture within a team is very important. We are all Danes and understand the Danish way of communicating and behaving. We have no differences in culture or way of living. We know how to approach each other with issues and we just understand each other on a basic level.

During the bootcamp in September, we focused a lot on getting to know each other, practice and watch demos etc. together. For instance, we had just begun playing a new map and everything fell into place after just 2 hours of demo-watching and discussion. Normally, it takes so much of our time to practice or discuss different topics, because you might have a tendency to look at Instagram on your phone while you’re waiting to respawn the next round. You may focus on something completely different – for the simple reason that you are by yourself at home instead of being physically together at a bootcamp”. 

With the recent announcement about Basso’s break from CS due to personal reasons, TeSeS has stepped in to replace Basso until he’s ready to make a comeback. At the same time, Vorborg will get coaching assistance from TekziNz who will be the new strategic coach for our male CS:GO team.

AcilioN completes the interview with a comment on the team’s current situation:

“First of all, I hope Basso will return soon. It is really important to take a break from the game now and then especially when you always have to perform at your highest level. That is just part of being a professional gamer. And if you don’t take the breaks you need, it can really impact your routines, the way you play and train or even communicate with your team. Luckily, we have quickly found a temporary solution with TeSeS stepping in. I always prefer to play very structured and TeSeS is more strictly structured than I am. I’m sure he can bring new knowledge and strategies to the team and be of great assistance for me as our in-game leader.

I’m also very pleased with having Tezkinz on board as strategic coach. He can complement Vorborg by giving us some great insights during our matches and sessions of practice. We are hungry for better results than what we have shown lately, and I believe now is the time to show the world what we are made of!”.

Copenhagen Flames CS:GO Team
AcilioN of Copenhagen Flames with his armed crossed

Name: Asger Grunnet Larsen
Age: 23
From: Vanløse, Denmark
Favourite maps: Nuke & Mirage
Favourite weapon: SG 553
Favourite game besides CS:GO: Teamfight Tactics