Astralist set a new record for itself in the 2023 LEC Winter Split. Ever since the team rebranded from Origen, they had failed to make it to the top six in the league. However, after an 0-5 start to the season, the squad bounced back with surprising sturdiness. Astralis even came close to making it to the top four of the split but had to bow to MAD Lions in the end.

For Astralis bot laner Kasper “Kobbe” Kobberup, the fact that Astralis even made it this far was a surprise. The Danish veteran spoke to Em Dash at the end of his Winter Split run and explained how internal struggles plagued the team. Kobbe also discussed his personal improvement and why Astralis relocating its LEC team from Denmark to Berlin may have helped him in-game.

Missing out on a top-four finish

Welcome, Kobbe, and thanks for taking the time to chat. MAD Lions showed a very strong performance today in the rematch—this time, they were able to beat you without Astralis taking a game back. How do you look back on the series?

I’m pretty disappointed because of the 2-0. I didn’t really care too much about losing the first game. That was still a close game and we tend to lose the first game every time. But game two was a disaster from level one.

We already lost 2-1 in the last series we played against them, so it was hard to say if this one would be easier or harder. I definitely think MAD played well. They seemed well-prepared in draft. Maybe we were not at our top level, but they had a good plan and they were just better.

“I always go into the match expecting to win.”

Since you played against them before, what did your preparation look like?

I mean, we had our Twitch/Cassio. [Laughs] I guess that didn’t really work out the first time, though. The drafts in that series were a bit different in general, I think.

Otherwise, we spent our week preparing for BDS, since we had to play them first regardless. Then we had one day to prepare for MAD, so we went into the series with the same ideas we had practiced throughout the week. It wasn’t anything special, I think.

Since, as you mentioned, you also had to play against BDS and the weekend could turn into a bit of a grind, did you feel confident heading into the weekend?

I felt very confident going up against BDS. It’s the beauty of this format. I think, in the regular season, they performed better than us. But with this format, I was confident about the plan we had for them.

Against MAD, I was confident too because we had a close series last time, and I thought we could perform similarly. I always go into the match expecting to win. But when I went into the MAD Lions series, I knew it would be harder than against BDS. No disrespect to them, but MAD Lions is very good.

Kobbe Astralis LEC 2023
Astralis lost twice to MAD Lions in the LEC Winter Split Group Stage. (Source: Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games)

A rough Winter Split behind the scenes

Though the split sadly ends here for you, I think few people expected Astralis to be in a position where they could’ve made it to the top four. It seemed like the team ramped up throughout the split. What’s your perspective on this?

We prepared early for the new season, so I definitely didn’t expect to go 0-5. Just based on scrims, I think we were at a good level. Then problems occurred. Our scrims became worse. For the first two weeks, we didn’t perform up to our level on stage. It was only in week three that we started playing.

In general, considering what went on behind the scenes and in scrims, I think it’s a bit hard to… Hm, I gotta be careful with what I can say.

“There are just a few problems that are really big. They fill up everything. We will need to fix them going into the next split.”

Well, I spoke with Finn as well and he did say that there were a lot of fights behind the scenes. He was scared that the roster would explode.

Yeah. We just had a talk after the series and obviously, I’m disappointed, sad, and angry that we lost. But, in general, we think it is a miracle we even made it to this point. I can’t really go too much in-depth with it. There were just a lot of problems.

Have those problems been solved now? Or do you have to work on them as a team for the next split as well?

The problems are definitely not solved. I don’t know how I would describe it. I felt that we were a bit like Fnatic at some point. [Laughs] We had so many problems every day in scrims. But then we actually performed well on-stage, after the 0-5 start. There are definitely a lot of problems that need to be fixed.

It’s not that everything is a problem. There are just a few problems that are really big. They fill up everything. We will need to fix them going into the next split.

Kobbe Astralis LEC 2023
It took some time for veteran Kobbe to get used to playing with newcomer Doğukan “113” Balcı. (Source: Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games)

You’ve been playing for a while and you carry a lot of experience with you. You play with a few players who are much less experienced, such as Dajor, 113, and JeongHoon. How do you go about fixing those issues, from a veteran standpoint?

There were a lot of disagreements in the team, which is normal for most teams since players just see the game differently. It’s about how quickly you can get on the same page. With 113, for example, there is a fine line between being hard on someone, giving criticism all the time, and being a good guy and praising him.

It’s just one example where, at the start of the split, he needed to get comfortable. But it’s obviously not just him. As a team, we were not performing well on the stage. I’m pretty happy with his growth though.

In general, there were some problems in the team that we needed to fix that just took too long to fix. They’re not solved yet, basically, gameplay-wise.

“One month before the split, and during the entire split, I put a lot more hours into the game. (…) Back in the day, I don’t think I cared that much about solo queue.”

All things considered then, it does sound like a miracle that you made it to the top six of the Winter Split.

Yeah. It’s just that, the place I’m coming from, having played for so long and going through so many situations, I just came to accept what we did this split. I don’t think Astralis made it to the top six before, so we got that checked as well. We don’t need to think about that.

Obviously, I want to make it to the best-of-fives. I don’t know. I’m still disappointed in the end.

Kobbe Astralis LEC 2023
Kobbe looks back at the Winter Split with mixed feelings. (Source: Wojciech Wandzel for Riot Games)

How moving to Berlin helped Kobbe’s performance

That’s completely understandable, I think. Let’s talk a bit more specifically about the bot lane performance. There were many strong LEC bot lanes this split and you and JeongHoon were definitely among them. You only played together for one split last year—how has your synergy evolved since?

From the get-go last Summer Split, I think we were pretty good together. We were probably not the best in the league, but I think we had a good level. This split, we’ve been a lot better. We’ve spent more time together to get on the same page and understand each other. We did a lot of work outside the game as well, just by talking about matchups and everything else. I think that helped a lot. That’s something I’m happy with. This worked well from week one, basically.

It’s something I expected as well. I’ve been playing for so long that I should be able to play well on-stage from day one. I’ve been pretty happy with how we have evolved. I think we have shown a lot more of what we can do.

“In Berlin, I don’t have the same social life. That’s a difference. While I’m here, it feels like I’m only here for work. In Denmark, I had a nice social life and a job.”

Last year, Astralis struggled clearly in the LEC. I think, if I compare your last year to what we’ve seen from you so far, this year also looks much better. Do you agree with that?

Yeah. It’s a mix of things. There is the duo thing, of course. I think we’re steadily improving. But for myself: we’re in Astralis, so we don’t have the luxury of chilling in the regular season and in the offseason. We started early with practicing and with scrims.

One month before the split, and during the entire split, I put a lot more hours into the game. I’ve been spamming Champion’s Queue, I’ve been spamming solo queue… Back in the day, I don’t think I cared that much about solo queue. Now, I’ve been in the top twenty for most of the split. I think that always helps.

We also had a different situation last year when we were in Denmark. Now we’ve been in the gaming house in Germany for a while, and it just makes me put a lot more hours into the game as well.

Do you feel more comfortable here?

Well, for real-life stuff it’s not as nice. It’s hard to get mental resets. I think I was still working hard in Denmark, but if I needed a break, it was easy for me to talk to some friends or family, or hang out with someone. In Berlin, I don’t have the same social life. That’s a difference. While I’m here, it feels like I’m only here for work. In Denmark, I had a nice social life and a job.

But my plays have improved. I spend more hours grinding the game, so that’s a big difference. We scrimmed a lot, we spam a lot of solo queue, and things with me and JeongHoon have improved a lot. It’s nice to see that rewarded somewhat, at least.

The 2023 LEC Spring Split kicks off on Saturday, March 11th, at 6 PM CET. Astralis plays its first game of the split against KOI at 9 PM CET. You can watch the game live on the official LoL Esports site.