Astralis launches new initiative to find the best young LoL and CS:GO talent

The new talent development program will seek to elevate young players into starting roles.

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Danish esports organisation Astralis has announced that it will be launching a new talent development program. The new talent teams, operating in both League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, will see the recruitment of young players aged between 15 and 20 from the Nordic region, primarily Denmark, who will be schooled in the ways of a pro player.

In a video published earlier today, Kasper Hvidt, director of sports at Astralis, introduces the system, and sets out its aims:

“Initially, what we want to do is create a long-term recruitment platform for the first teams,” he says. “We want to get down to that big pool of Nordic talents, Danish talents, where we have seen other teams recruiting from, get those talents into the Astralis methods.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to develop talented players who can either challenge for top spots in both Astralis’ LoL and CS:GO rosters, or at least become tier one players.

The new initiative will see the deployment of Danish coaches Mikkel ‘Donby’ Dobby and Anders ‘Kronos’ Schultz to oversee the emerging League of Legends talent, while former Counter-Strike pro Dennis ‘vnG’ Vang will be head coach of the CS:GO talent team. Alongside performance, Hvidt notes the talent team will be focused on ensuring a proper structure is in place, with a focus on developing player best practice: “we will try to educate them on how to be a pro: how to eat, how to sleep, all the good habits.”

Hvidt also states the talent teams will operate separately from both academy (LoL) and main squads (LoL, CS:GO): “At the beginning, the Counter-Strike Talent Team should not be seen as a 10-man roster. We will still progress with our 6-man pro roster, and we will have the talent team addition to the main roster.”

Denmark has consistently churned out world-class talent over the years. In LoL, it has provided us the likes of Worlds finalists Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winthers, Martin ‘Wunder’ Hansen, and Mads ‘Broxah’ Brock-Pedersen. In CS:GO, the quality of Astralis’ all-Danish roster speaks for itself, while Cloud9’s acquisition of Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen for $2.1m is the largest individual player deal on record. As such, this laser focus on bringing up more local talent looks to be a great move strategically.

Additionally, the move is also a huge boon from a regional perspective. Chris ‘CeejayShaw’ Shaw, who has previously worked with both Donby and Kronos at Nordavind and Invulnerables Esports respectively, tells The Loadout the program has great potential for Danish LoL as a whole.

“I think it’s a great idea and a great move,” CeejayShaw says. “I love that they are trying to bridge the gap even more between ERL regional talent and LEC talent, and I think it’s just an overall positive thing for everyone. The fact they are targeting younger, less experienced players, and the fact they are going to fully include parents in the process is something that is vital to a person’s success in esports, and can make an insane amount of difference in a player or coach’s career.”

Both LoL and CS:GO talent teams are set to be up and running by January, with the coaches having already identified potential targets. As such, we will be seeing both talent rosters competing in tournaments very soon.