Until Liquid’s victory at DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019, Astralis had been the best team in CS:GO. And they had held that position for close to a year. Now they need to fight back and prove themselves once again but their performance at recent events started to make people wonder: for how much longer can they maintain their top three position in the global rankings? And perhaps more importantly, can they become once again the best team in the world or are they doomed to end up like all the other champions of the past?
In this article, we aim to provide a better understanding of Astralis’ rise to dominance and underline some of the warning signs that have started to appear in their game.
Astralis Rise to Power
Astralis started its rise to the top of professional CS:GO at the end of April last year. And they quickly became an absolute monster of a team. This was not the first time when the Danes tasted success.
Astralis had already won a Major back in January, 2017. It may sound unbelievable at this point, but at the time they played in the Grand Final of ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 against Virtus.pro. Since then, VP lost most of their roster and all of their glory, being a tier 2-3 team.
By contrast, Astralis went on to become one of the best teams in the world for around one year, and then simply turned into a god-tier team with the help of Magisk, who had been playing for OpTic Gaming. It’s actually quite ridiculous to think how much a single player has managed to change the playstyle and prowess of Astralis, even though few would call him the star of the team.
Trophies Won by Astralis
The trophies won by Astralis since that DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018, which they won against Natus Vincere, are quite numerous. There are 12 of them in total and all of them are important. Among these 12 are also two Majors and the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018, which was practically a Major in terms of its prize pool, participants and importance.
The full list of trophies won by Astralis over the last 14 months is the following:
- DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018
- ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals
- ECS Season 5 Finals
- ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018
- FACEIT Major: London 2018
- BLAST Pro Series: Istanbul 2018
- IEM Chicago
- ECS Season 6 Finals
- ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals
- BLAST Pro Series: Lisbon 2018
- IEM Katowice Major 2019
- BLAST Pro Series: Sao Paulo 2019
All of these victories made Astralis the team they are today. The failures, if you can call them that, during this period, were mostly top four results (2nd – 4th). In fact, with just one exception, all of them were top four results. And most of these were actually lost Grand Finals. Here’s a list of these 2nd place instances:
- IEM Sydney
- DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018
- iBUYPOWER Masters IV
- BLAST Pro Series: Madrid 2019
So in total, Astralis managed to play in 16 Grand Finals over the last 14 months, and won 75% of them. This resulted in what some have called the Astralis era. Arguably, it’s not over yet as no serious string of bad results has occurred yet. But the warning signs are starting to show. We’ll come back to those in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at why Astralis is so successful.
Astralis Keys to Success
What are the ingredients that make a CS:GO team great? The professional scene is now full of teams that have amazing rosters and impressive past results. The common features among these teams are the following:
Most of the best teams have some of the best players in CS:GO in their rosters. Take for instance Na’Vi, whose success in 2018-2019 can largely be attributed to s1mple. Without him, things would not have been so simple for the CIS squad. In fact, they probably would have had less than 20% of their success, had it not been for this amazing player.
Astralis scores high in this department too. Just consider the fact that their lineup contains dev1ce and gla1ve, two of the best players in CS:GO, both tactically as well as mechanically.
Captain @gla1ve_csgo turns 24 today 🇩🇰
— Astralis (@astralisgg) June 7, 2019
Communication is crucial whenever you’re dealing with team-based games. In CS:GO, this part is probably even more important due to the complexity of the strategies and tactics being employed, as well as the short amount of time that’s available to make decisions and adjustments.
Thanks to the fact that gla1ve and zonic are probably the best IGL and the best coach in CS:GO respectively, and also because the entire lineup is Danish, Astralis has amazing synergy and in-game communication.
This is where most teams struggle. When the results aren’t amazing, an organization tends to immediately make a roster change. In other classical sports, teams have a certain maturity and understand when things aren’t working at all and when they will start to work if you have the necessary patience and give a set of players the time they need to blend as a unit and develop cohesion.
The biggest asset for Astralis is probably their vast roster experience. Four of the five active players and five of the six members (with the coach) have been together for almost three and a half years. Let that sink in. Three and a half years in esports, where most rosters don’t even last a year.
With this kind of advantage, no wonder that Astralis is able to dominate the scene and smash most of the other competitors with ease. Their map pool after so many years has become all-inclusive, meaning that they’ve mastered around 5 maps and can play them to perfection. And on some of these maps, their percentages are off the charts. Just take Nuke and Inferno for instance, where they are almost unbeaten in dozens of encounters.
Astralis Recent Problems
Astralis is currently going through some difficulties, caused in part by their own in-game mistakes, but also by the fact that they’ve been for such a long time at the top of the global rankings, that everyone has had ample time to study their tactics and strategies by watching replays over and over.
After more than a year of total dominance, Astralis might also be facing motivation issues. No doubt, the players will want to enjoy some of that success and just take it easier. But as soon as they do that, other teams such as Liquid and ENCE take advantage of the situation and catch them unprepared.
This is exactly what happened at the two most recent BLAST Pro Series events. The first, one, BPS Miami, ended with a disastrous performance for Astralis, their worst in more than a year. They ended up losing to three teams at that event: MIBR (2 – 16), Liquid (14 – 16) and FaZe Clan (5 – 16). In every one of these three games, Astralis played uncharacteristically bad. Mistakes at every turn, bad luck, strange coincidences.
Then came BPS Madrid, where they lost against ENCE. Once in the Group Stage and once in the Grand Final. Three maps, three defeats. This is not good when you consider the fact that Astralis will likely encounter ENCE at future events.
Can Astralis Survive the Summer?
Astralis will have a hard test this Summer, starting with ECS Season 7 Finals, where they need to prove themselves again. So far, they don’t look capable of that, as they already lost against a much weaker opponent, FURIA Esports, in their first match.
It came close, but it’s a 14-16 defeat in our opening game against @furiagg.
— Astralis (@astralisgg) June 6, 2019
If they start losing to more than two teams at important events, then their era of dominance will come to an end. The main teams they need to start beating again are ENCE and Liquid. But can they do it?