Astralis is without a doubt the most successful team in the history of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The Danish team is the only side to have won four Major titles, of which three have been won back-to-back. But Astralis’ win at the Berlin Major could be the most important one yet.
Before the Major, Astralis hit a slump and the boys looked to be a shadow of their former selves, with the ‘Blastralis’ controversy sending shock waves through the pro scene. A string of early tournament exits saw Astralis head into the player-break as struggling former champions, with the world rightly touting Team Liquid as the next dominant force in CS:GO.
But the Danes know how to cope with pressure. Despite looking weak in the group stage, this was a team who had spent years learning from its losses to cementing its name in the history books as the best team in Counter-Strike history. There’s no doubt about it though, the road to the team’s fourth Major title was full of twists and turns, so how did Astralis actually manage to win the Berlin Major?
The Rocky Remnants of ‘Blastralis’
The summer of 2019 will not be looked upon favourably by the chronicles of Danish Counter-Strike. Astralis’ lack of tournament appearances, outside of the team’s commitment to the Blast Pro Series, caused a steady decline in performance and the overall world rankings. The side, which was dubbed ‘Blastralis’ by the CS:GO community, felt isolated from its competitors. In this time, Astralis’ greatest achievement was a third place finish at ESL One Cologne where the boys’ easy run through the bracket was halted prematurely by Team Vitality.
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Astralis also lost HLTV’s #1 world ranking in June after previously holding it for 14-consecutive months, and the odds of the team winning the Major plummeted. To an outsider, it appeared the Astralis era was well and truly over.
From zero to hero
For fans of Astralis, the Legends Stage of the Starladder Berlin Major, was torturous. Despite picking up easy wins against DreamEaters and G2 in the opening stages, Astralis struggled in a best of three series with Peter ‘Stanislaw’ Jarquz’s NRG roster. The Danes were unable to control Tsvetelin ‘CeRq’ Dimitrov, and NRG romped to a 2-0 victory. And while Astralis later went on to secure the next series 3-1 against Cr4zy, the Danes struggled to show their dominance on the server, losing an uncomfortable game on Dust 2, 29-31.
There is always pressure when you play, but we thrive under pressure
Following on from that, Astralis had just under a week to prepare for their first play off match against Team Liquid, which was set to be a monumental task. Some things would need to change if the Danes were to defeat the titans of Northern American Counter-Strike, and thankfully for Danish fans everywhere; they did.
Astralis has always had a strong map pool and it’s a nightmare for any team trying to work out how to counter-strat them. Astralis’ strength in depth allows the team to perfectly tailor the veto to specifically weaken an opponent’s game. And even though Astralis’ performance had been somewhat lacking in Berlin, this knowledge was used to their advantage against Team Liquid. Liquid was caught off-guard by the selection of Vertigo in this series, and although Overpass was more competitive, the Danes edged it out 16-13 and dispensed of the Grand Slam winners with ease.
How a top CS:GO team prepares for a Major
As an organisation, Astralis has access to some of the greatest resources in esports and the team are surrounded by high quality support staff to improve their game. The level of preparation that Astralis brought to the playoffs was highly visible in the second series against NRG, especially on the opening map of Train. “We decided to approach the playoffs exactly how we always do – through thorough preparation, focusing on our strategic game, communication and individual play,” Astralis’ coach Danny ‘zonic’ Sørensen explains.
It was apparent that Astralis had a strong desire to reclaim the top spot in CS:GO. The loss reignited a fire within the team and it played a big part of their preparation for the match against Team Liquid, according to zonic. “We didn’t worry about the game versus Liquid. We looked forward to facing them because our games against them are always intense and exciting,” he says.
“There is always pressure when you play for Astralis, but we thrive under pressure, so it doesn’t bother us to be honest. We deal with two kinds of pressures – the pressure from the outside, which definitely was there – perhaps even more so on Liquid, and the internal pressure that comes from inside the team, which has always, and will always remain the same.”
Device returns to form
The birthday boy performs
Device was voted as the MVP of the Starladder Major. He achieved a HLTV rating of 1.26 in the tournament and maintained an impressive 83.5 ADR across 13 maps. It's not a bad accolade to earn on your birthday!
It would be impossible not to mention Astralis’ star player as a contributor to the team’s success. Nicolai ‘device’ Reedtz had the highest level of individual impact in the majority of Astralis’ matches. He had the best statistics on his side in every play-off series and finished the grand final with an insane 102 ADR (Average Damage per Round) Without device, Astralis may not have won this Major.
But with all the odds stacked against them, the Astralis boys pulled off the impossible. The Kings of Counter-Strike have returned and now have a fourth Major victory under their belts. But the most decorated team in CS:GO history are still hungry for more. “We continue to stay hungry and motivated. We always want to do our best and take it one game at a time. The goal was to win, and I’m super happy that we managed to do so,” zonic adds.