As 2015 came to an end, so did Nicolai ‘devve’ Reedtz’s and Andreas ‘Xyp9x’ Højsleth’s contracts with Team Solo Mid. The Americans had signed the duo, along with their team mates Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen, René ‘cajunB’ Borg and Peter ‘dupreeh’ Rothmann, following their 3rd place at MLG X Games Aspen in late January 2015.
With the contracts running out, and their player agent and manager Frederik Byskov publicly shopping around for a new home, the players received an overwhelming amount of offers from all over the world. However, the players chose differently and has formed a new team, surprising most fans and pundits.
I sat down with Nicolai ‘devve’ Reedtz and Andreas ‘Xyp9x’ Højsleth to talk about why they’ve chosen to build their own team, what really went on behind the scenes and how Astralis is vastly different from any other team they have been on.
How does it feel going into DreamHack Leipzig with a new name and brand new player jerseys, are you excited?
Xyp9x: I’m really excited for this. We have been talking about creating our own team for a long time, and now that it has become a reality, I can’t wait to compete under our new name.
devve: Obviously, yes. We have waited impatiently to announce this since we agreed on it. This is a player’s dream coming true. I am really excited and motivated to show our capability within our team under this new brand.
You’ve created your own team and own part of the company behind it. Can you walk us through why you chose that model?
devve: Well, internally in the team we agreed, when parting ways with Team SoloMid, that we wanted something new. Owning a part of the brand makes us motivated to do better as players, since that directly affects the value of our new company. We had numerous other offers, but this was one of a kind, and we wouldn’t let this slip away from us.
Xyp9x: As I mentioned before, it is something we have been looking into doing for a long while. When we were negotiating with all the interested parties, we mainly got short term offers (i.e for the rest of 2016). Players are in general very unsure about what their future holds if (or when) they no longer have the level to compete. By creating our own thing, we can help grow the business and transition into another role in the organization when we are done competing. Additionally there were also other things that would be improved with creating a new team, such as transparency of budgets, legal contracts and influence gear sponsors.
Obviously people are curious about your salary, would you care to disclose that?
Xyp9x: We have no problem disclosing our salary. All the players are paid $9,000 per month. This is a monthly average during the next 12 months. We actually start out a bit lower and end up a bit higher due to salary increases over the year.
Now that we’re on the topic of curiosity in the community, let’s get the numbers on the table, how big was the biggest offer you guys received?
Xyp9x: In terms of salary: $10,000/m per player. But that was excluding bonuses.
devve: We received a lot of crazy offers in the off-season, and if I remember correctly the biggest offer was around $10,000 dollar salary with a very high signing bonus and the possibility of revenue share after being in the organization for a few years. Also obviously 100% prize- and sticker money.
That’s kind of a big difference. Did Byskov tie you all down and forced you to sign the contracts or is there another reason why you didn’t go with the biggest offer?
devve: Haha, no I wouldn’t say that. Maybe it was the other way around. All of us were really excited with this new project, that we are going to play a huge role in. In addition to that, it was a priority to find a team that was grounded in the same region as us. We had a few issues dealing with timezone differences before, and we wanted to avoid that again.
I guess you could say that we picked the offer we believed the most in. We chose this over the highest offer because this time we valued our own long-term interests over a short term monetary deal.
Xyp9x: The biggest offer would make for a short term deal for 1 year. We believe in this project, because we as players have so much to say in regards to partnerships. When a player wants to use a product, it’s a hundred times easier to advertise, than when a player doesn’t like the product he’s using. This could also hinder performance which eventually could cost championships. We still have one of the best deals in the market, and I’m sure we will continue to have that.
You also talk about transparency and budgets, but why is that important to a player. Aren’t you just supposed to play the game and collect your salary and winnings?
Xyp9x: With all due respect to a lot of organizations and their owners: Some players are getting screwed. Many of us players, including myself, are young and don’t fully grasp what your worth is. But knowing how much an organization earns in partnerships based on you as players, is something that all players ought to know. I realize there needs to be room in a budget for managers, coaches, staff and other things, but if an owner cuts corners in regards to the players and their conditions, to take a larger piece of the pie, I’d personally be furious. In Astralis we know how the money is spent and that makes a big difference from our perspective.
So being very specific, what are some of the differences between Astralis and your former teams?
Xyp9x: We are in a very close dialogue with our owners, which makes the every day life for us much easier. We are also able to influence decisions on potential partnerships and we have legally bounding contracts, something I’ve never had in esports before.
devve: We basically have six employees in the management and their job is to keep us satisfied with all the internal stuff. This is something we’ve never tried before, nothing comes even close. The support means that we are able to focus completely on doing our job, namely creating the results.
Is there anything you want to say to the fans before jetting off for DreamHack Leipzig?
devve: I hope that the fans that followed us previously will still be behind us when we travel around the world in our attempt to make 2016 our best year we’ve had so far. Our journey only becomes more intense and enjoyable with all the support from the community. Much love to y’all.
Xyp9x: Yes, shoutout to all the fans, you are the reason we can make this happen. And I know a lot of people hoped that we would join an existing organization, but with this solution you don’t have to follow a CoD-team too 😉 cya in Leipzig!