Has Astralis Lost its Starry Promise?
Imagine some of the best talents in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) lumped together in a group, speaking the same language, hitting their shots and sharing the same pages both in and out of the game. It sounds like a fairytale, no?
Composed of five Danish players from the fabled 2015 Team SoloMid (TSM) roster, Astralis was born out of a desire to create a strong lineup that can go toe-to-toe against the best teams in the world. At the time of their founding, Fnatic with Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer was still at the top of the CS:GO food chain, though Luminosity (which later became SK Gaming), as well as Natus Vincere, started to show their respective strengths in big-ticket CS tournaments.
Back in TSM, the Danes took six championships, with three of them won against Fnatic in the grand finals of a tournament. They were never out of contention as one of the top-four teams in the world and many people dubbed them the “Swedish killers” for consistently beating Fnatic whenever they faced each other in offline tournaments.
However, recently, it seems that Astralis has lost its path to the stars.
What went wrong for them? Can they come back from this slump?
At the beginning, there were high expectations from Astralis, both on the players and on the team as a whole. After all, they were always among the best players on the server, with Nicolas “device” Reedtz standing out as a star player with consistent high-level performances regardless of the tournament they were participating in, as well as a reliable clutch player in the form of Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth.
However, they have failed to meet expectations as they didn’t frequently place among the top-four teams in the tournaments they participated in during the early part of 2016, let alone placing a championship trophy on their rack. Astralis is yet to win a single outing and unfortunately for them, they have been booted out of the semifinals of every major tournament they participated in.
After the disappointing finishes, they decided to change things up a little bit by replacing Rene “cajunb” Borg with Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye. Despite the player swap with Team Dignitas, Astralis has neither gained any significant ground nor won any big-ticket trophies. The “Danish curse” of choking in the semifinals continued.
As a result, they began their descent in the ranking charts, and at the time of this writing, Astralis is currently ranked number eight and nine by HLTV.org and Duncan “Thorin” Shields, respectively, with both lists predicting the Danes to fall out of the top-10.
Harsh Facts and Potential Redemption
Astralis needed to step up at a time when the international CS ecosystem was getting extremely competitive. There is no need to cite many examples for this argument; the very fact that Team Liquid has reached the finals of this year’s ESL One Cologne, as well as the strong appearances of Asian teams at prestigious LAN tournaments, should be more than enough to prove this point.
Unfortunately, Astralis’ current tournament results do not show their potential as a team. As a matter of fact, the Danes have lost seven out of the last ten maps that they have played together, having their worst loss against Cloud9, 8-16 on Overpass. It can be considered that they played their recent games under different stand-ins due to Kjaerbye’s sickness, but the results clearly tell that the Danes are not having a great time recently.
If Astralis is to regain its place among the game’s greatest sides, they must think outside the box; it should not be hard for them to do some extra work on their tactics and setups with Finn “karrigan” Andersen and Danny "zonic" Sørensen at the helm. With strong entry fraggers in Peter "dupreeh" Rothmann and Kjaerbye, the Danes should have that extra firepower needed in order to gain mileage when competing against the world’s best CS teams.
It is not impossible for them to get out of the slump they are trapped in right now. After all, they have tasted lots of success both in their tenures as TSM and Team Question Mark. In addition, they have one of the best rosters in CS:GO, with each one of the players having performances that are good enough to fill highlight reels. They also have a well-managed player-owned organization that will give them the motivation and the space needed to concentrate on winning their matches.
It will be a rough climb up the mountain for them, but for a lineup that has beaten the world’s best team in the past, nothing is impossible.
What do you think Astralis has to do in order to get back to the top of the rankings? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Cover image taken from the official Astralis FB page. Rights belong to their respective owners.