Global Offensive has had another great year. Championships were won, roster changes have been made and legacies were built. The latter part is very true for the Danish team known as Astralis. Now that the dust has settled this is a good opportunity as any to look back at the achievements of this roster.
Astralis - A Legacy In The Making
For years the core of device, Xyp9x and dupreeh, this roster has been playing at top echelon of Global Offensive. They had various mentors along the way. Their biggest success came with the addition of karrigan in late 2014. He was a suitable candidate, as the Danes parted with their IGL FeTisH. Looking back, we can see that the addition of karrigan helped cement themselves as part of the top. However, as close as they were to the peak, it was still other teams of that time that won championships, most notably EnvyUs and Fnatic. It would be only in 2018 where the team would just be in contention to win tournaments, and they did so in flying colors by securing multiple first-place finishes with some of the most tactical and cohesive counter-strike to date.
Tournaments, Trophies & Glory
It is important to note that Astralis didn’t have the best start in 2018. At the start of the year, we had the Eleague Boston Major in January. Having secured a spot in the semi’s of the previous major PGL Krakow, Astralis, was one of the 16 teams battling out for a spot in the play-offs for Boston. They had a terrible start and a pretty bad run in total. They took an early loss to the European mixture of Mousesports 16-2 on Train. Things didn’t really get better from here as after a very close victory against the Danish counter-parts of North allowed Astralis to move on to take decisive losses against Fnatic and eventual champions Cloud9. Devastating news hit the Danish roster as their star player Kjaerbye left to roster after the major. When remembering this split, the members of Astralis recall it as devastating news (interview link).
Now with the addition of “Magisk” into the mix, it didn’t take them too long to continue their relevancy at the top. Their first trophy of the year was in Dreamhack Masters Marseille 2018. The Danes had an easy cruise throughout the entire event without dropping a single map, a telltale sign of things to come. Their fifth event of the year was IEM Sydney, which had more European teams in attendance when compared to the previous year. This still looked like another event for Astralis to take, as they had an easy journey to the finals. Here they had to go up against Faze Clan, who were in a weird state at this point. They had Xizt as a stand-in and very early in the event, they lost a bo3 series against the Renegades. However, against all odds, not only did Faze clan miraculously secured a 0-3 victory, they did in probably closest fashion possible. All three maps going to some tight scorelines (19-17 on Cache, 22:20 on Overpass, 16:4 on Train). But an ugly scenario like this would never rear it’s ugly head ever again, for Astralis.
They quickly bounced back after this one with solid first-place finishes in ECS Season 5 and ESL PRO LEAGUE Season 8. The second half of the year is where true dominance begins. Of the 11 events they were in attendance, 8 of those were first-place finishes. And of course, they snatched the big one, a victory in The Faceit Major (without a single map dropped in the play-off’s). The other two where 3rd-4th finishes in the cathedral of Counter-Strike, ESL One Cologne and Blast Pro Series Copenhagen. The other one, a second place stop at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm. If we sum it all up, with 18 events in attendance 11 1st place finishes, securing a victory in a major and the sought after Intel Grand Slam, Astralis ended the year with approximately 3 500 000 $ in their pockets.
A Never Ending Map Pool
A quintessential piece to success in modern counter-strike. No longer is it feasible to play the 4 maps as it used to be in the beginning of CS:GO’s lifespan. With 7 maps in the mix and one constantly in and out in rotation, it’s imperative to have a good workaround at least in the 5 to succeed in the top level. But in order to dominate the playing field, you can follow the example of Astralis’ tight map pool.
This lineup and the ones before barely played cobblestone. During their time with G1ave it has remained a permanent ban and wasn’t even played in 2018. With that being said, it was still in the map pool for the events they finished poorly i. e. IEM Katowice, StarSeries Season 4, the Eleague Boston Major and the event they won in an incredibly dominant fashion Dreamhack Masters Marseille. And even though it was their weakness in the veto process, they showed how well they’ve been able to work around it.
And this is where the strength of the map pool really comes in. Because they are such a solid force on 6 of these maps, Cache can be instantly veto’ed out in any bo1 or bo3 affair. It did slip up in that bo5 game against Faze in Sydney and ever since then (a full 5 month period) it was played against AGO and Na’vi and against them victories were acquired.
Dust2 however, was one of the least played maps by Astralis. And with it coming into the map pool, there really hasn’t been a team that could take down Astralis in a convincing fashion. It was rarely the first pick and a lot of teams like Faze Clan and Liquid have tried to win against them, but they couldn’t succeed.
Astralis have had one of the most dominant runs on Nuke so far in cs. With them having 27 consecutive map wins the only streak of a similar notion would probably be 2017 SK’s run on Train which ended the streak at 21-0. What’s more interesting is that it hasn’t been a solid ct defensive that pulled Astralis through the victories it has been the t side. 51.3% of rounds won have been on the terrorist side which is an impressive feat.
I’d like to talk about the big 3 of the Astralis map pool. Inferno, Overpass, and Mirage. These have been the most played maps for the Astralis side with Inferno being played 75 times, Mirage 45 and Overpass 42 in online and offline competition. What’s also crazy is how the former two maps, have been driven entirely by the ct defensive. For Mirage that’s 56.7 % rounds won on the ct side and for Inferno that’s a solid 52.5 %.
The players are the ones to put all the theory-crafting outside the game in the practice. With the Astralis players being in the forefront of creating meta and gameplay changes in Counter-Strike. With them having a solid system of team play it’s no wonder we can see them flourish in this environment.
G1ave has turned out be one of the better fragging in-game leaders in the year 2018. His worst event was the Eleague Boston Major where the team finished dead last and he had an abysmal rating of 0.78. Ever since then, however, the team leader has been able to perform at a much higher level. Without a doubt, his best event of the year was Dreamhack Masters Marseille where he finished with a whopping 1.34 rating and was awarded an EVP reward. He wasn’t able to replicate a game of a similar rating throughout the year but his professional approach to the game, ability to find kills through smokes, have all been valuable assets for Astralis.
Xyp9x had a pretty difficult start in the year. He wasn’t able to find his groove after the major nor the following IEM Katowice and StarSeries Season4. As the story goes, after Marseille, the entire Danish roster finally clicked and they began their journey to conquer the world of counter-strike. But in this voyage, the 23-year-old had some difficulties keeping up with his teammates. Even the Eleague premier event where his teammates sat at pretty comfortable 1.1 ratings, Xyp9x was at 0.95. Even though his impact was still credible it wasn’t as great as for the remaining players. But alas, he did have a strong showing at Dreamhack Marseille finishing it with his best rating of the year 1.29.
The latest and youngest addition to the Astralis roster was Magisk. The 20-year-old had been presented with a great opportunity with Astralis as he mentioned in an interview with HLTV.Org. He noted “It was pretty easy for me [to transition into Astralis] since I could take over the role dupreeh had been playing, which is the role I had always been the most comfortable with, and he could get back to the role Kjaerbye had, which is what he had always felt most comfortable with.” In his first event with the Danes, Magisk showed us some promising performances. Even though the likes of Astralis ended up finishing 5th-8th due to the loss to Na’vi, Magisk finished the event with a 1.08 rating, highest of his teammates. In the following event, IEM Katowice, he proved that progress was being done as they finished the event in the semi’s after a loss to Faze. As for many of the Astralis players, Dreamhack Masters Marseille has been a great moment for Magisk finishing with a 1.29 rating at the end. His run of form didn’t stop there as the player would never dip below a solid 1.06 rating throughout the year.
Dupreeh has always been a solid fragger for this team. Even though his team didn’t have much success at the start of the year it didn’t take him too long to improve his standing. He was now able to play in the positions of Kjaerbye, this meant that Dupreeh could get back to his role he was more comfortable in. We could say that Marseille has been the starting point for Astralis dominance and the players in general, but as Dupreeh ended that event 1.14 rating, the lowest of his comrades. With his new role in hands, Dupreeh has the 5th highest opening duels won percentage in the world (49.7%) combined that with a 4th best KAST in the world (73.7%). It’s no wonder why he’s been imperative for Astralis to triumph.
There’s no way in the world you can discuss Astralis in any conversation and not mention Device. He has always been among of the top players, however this year under the guidance of G1ave and the addition of Magisk, Device has been able to show us his best form yet.