The Astralis Counter-Strike team is one of the best teams of all time in the game. Their current dominance just goes to show how a group of players can come together and improve dramatically. The Danish team recently won the ESL Pro League Season 8 LAN finals in Odense Denmark. This was their fourth victory in the Intel Grand Slam and with this, they secure the prize money of $1 million. The prize money is good, but it is the dominance with which Astralis has stamped their presence on CounterStrike which is interesting.
Astralis: The Contender
For the longer period in time, Astralis was always the contender to become the best team in the world. Back when the core of this roster was Dignitas, they were always on the losing side to NIP. Over the years, the world’s CS: GO scene saw Swedish dominance followed by Brazilians. Astralis was also the best team in the world during a brief period of time. However, their current dominance shows no signs of waning and there is simply no competition for the Danish team.
For most of the teams, there is not much wrong with their practice or performance. However, Astralis is just one step ahead of the rest of the pack. They have identified what is necessary to stay on the top and that is often the most difficult part for any top tier team. For Astralis, their path to the top has seen many roster changes and playstyle changes. More importantly, Astralis is not afraid to identify their weaknesses and faults. As we head into the new year and closer to the Katowice Major, there still seems to be not much in competition.
The Astralis team has multiple factors working for them right now. These include the Coach, the support staff as well as the player’s preparation.
Danny “Zonic” Sørensen
Zonic is a veteran in Counter-Strike 1.6. He was a part of the famed mTw team and is widely considered the greatest Danish player [ until now]. However, even as we witness several Danish players race ahead in the hall of fame, Zonic is a firm force behind them. His coaching style has helped develop the young talent in the Danish region.
The unique style and practice regimen for Astralis means that they are able to work on their mistakes. Reaching the top is not difficult, we have seen multiple teams reach the very top of the CS: GO scene. However, not everyone can stay on top for an elongated period of time. Teams fall prey to stagnation and lack of creativity as they reach higher in the ranks. Others are able to counter their playstyle with ease.
This Astralis roster is notorious for working on their own mistakes. They are able to identify areas of weakness in their playstyle and work on minimising these mistakes. Device uses heatmaps to understand how their opponents might approach the game. Zonic is an inspiration for the team. He was the firm hand behind the team after the spontaneous roster change early in 2018. After losing Kjaerbye to North Gaming, many felt it would be the end of the strong Astralis performance. Instead, when Glaive stepped up for the team, Astralis went on to dominate the rest of the year.
Device and Dupreeh
These are the two biggest names on the astralis roster. The roster always revolves around these two players who have been instrumental in Astralis success. They have been together for a very long time. Right from their Dignitas days, this duo has been the cornerstone of the Danish counter strike scene.
Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz is one of the world’s best players. He was recently announced as the 2nd best player in 2018. S1mple took the Number 1 spot, however, as a team player Device is much more valuable. He has enabled himself to be the star on the team but is not afraid to take a step back when he is not firing on all cylinders. In the past few tournaments, we have seen Glaive pick up the AWP for the team when Device is not feeling comfortable with it.
Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen is one of the most underrated players on Astralis. Despite being the highlight of many Astralis plays, we feel his impact on the team’s results is much higher than just the scoreboard. He undertakes a lot of risks with his gameplay and often comes out ahead of duels. He provides his team with crucial real estate and is able to help the team gain ground while taking a site. Dupreeh has a very fun attitude and is responsible for keeping the Astralis spirits high.
Glaive – The Interlink between the team and the coach
Glaive stepped up as the In-Game Leader for the team after Kjaerbye moved to North Gaming. Being a member of the team since 2016, Glaive was no stranger to the players. However, Astralis was able to build their team from the ashes. They brought MagisK on their team and together they scripted one of the biggest success stories in CS: GO.
Glaive is given a lot of credit for the team’s success. His impact on the team’s performance is clearly visible on certain maps like Nuke. The mid-round calls will see Astralis suddenly change direction. They do this with such lightning speed that even the casters take a few seconds to understand their concept and gameplay. Glaive’s impact on these rounds can single-handedly change the outcome of the round.
However, apart from his performance in-game, Glaive is also a big contributing factor to the team’s form out of the game. He has been able to keep the players together and maintain a healthy working relationship amongst the players. And he is not an in-Game Leader who akes a back seat allowing the star players to steal the show. While consistently maintaining his position in the middle of the scoreboard, Glaive is more than willing to pick up the AWP as well. We saw his performance in previous tournaments being crucial to Astralis winning crucial maps against Team Liquid. His confidence rubs on the rest of the team as they watch him getting animated on stage.
The incredible Support Staff
When the Danish players formed Astralis, it was always going to be a team focussed on players and their well-being. It is no surprise to see them bring on support staff. It is this lineup of support staff that takes a lot of pressure off from the players themselves. The players are allowed to focus on their gameplay and in-game strategies.
One of the biggest force behind Astralis is Mia Stellberg. She has been instrumental in helping Astralis in their mental development. The Danish players were characterised as ‘chokers’ for a very long time. They would consistently bow out in the semifinals of big tournaments. Their inability to win matches definitely affected certain players mental strength. We all know that Device was one such player who lost a lot of confidence in the latter half of the tournament. With Sports Psychologists such as Mia helping the players, they were able to regain a lot of their confidence back.
In general, I think eSports is very demanding. It’s a hectic, stressful sport, and you can’t lose your concentration for one second.” Kjaerbye talked about the effect Stellberg had on the team with Mashable.com, “We really liked her way of thinking and her mentality on how to win. She really helped us with the team spirit and everything. And I think that’s what made us beat most teams right now.
How long will Astralis stay on top?
This is a question that does not have a definitive answer. There are just many things going right for Astralis. While their individual players are putting up really strong performances, the team as a whole is also doing well on a strategic aspect. With Zonic and Glaive working hand in hand to help the team stay on top of tactics, this team is looking extremely strong. Right now there are only a few days for the next major. With many top teams undergoing roster changes, we don’t expect anyone to be strong enough to challenge Astralis. However, we have seen upsets in the past. Teams like Gambit, Cloud9 were able to win the entire Major despite being massive underdogs for the tournament.
Astralis can definitely put up a very strong performance as a team for a long period of time. However, other teams will definitely be searching for weaknesses from the Danish roster. With so much time on the top, it is obvious that Astralis should not be able to sustain this momentum. Astralis is still the favourite for the IEM Katowice 2019 Major. However, their status as the best team in the world post the Major might be under threat.
Do you think Astralis can maintain their ‘best team’ status throughout 2019? Let us know in the comments below.