Third time’s the charm
Astralis, on their third attempt at an Eleague competition outside of the Majors, managed to secure their first regular season Eleague title. After failing at Eleague Season Two against Optic and Eleague Premier 2017 against FaZe, they finally secured a title in the Eleague Atlanta Studios. They also have the distinction of being the first team to simultaneously hold the unofficial triple crown of league titles in Eleague Premier 2018, ECS Season 5 and ESL Pro League Season 7. That’s a cool $1,000,000 in the bank thanks to that trio of wins. Interestingly all three of them were against Team Liquid. In Atlanta, Liquid had the extra emotional impetus that came with them dedicating the game to Epitácio "TACO" de Melo’s father who tragically passed away on Saturday. It would have been a magnificent tribute had Liquid succeeded, but Astralis were stubbornly sublime and unyielding on the server. The Danish stars have also only lost at three offline events this year after acquiring Emil "Magisk" Reif. Those were Starladder i-League Season 4, IEM Katowice and ESL One Cologne. Five wins out of eight LANs attended is an astonishing record.
This is the first team in CS:GO history that seems to have the ability to play all seven maps in the map pool with such proficiency. They are also one of the very few teams where all five players have the ability to take a starring role. However, I’d like to focus on a particular triple threat that I feel defines their current success. The aforementioned Magisk has been an absolute terror to opposition teams on CT sides and has contributed massively to what must surely now be acknowledged as the most formidable defensive outfit in the game. His supreme command of spray control and ability to stay alive on A site defences has become the bedrock of their holds. Astralis’ victories are built on impressive Counterterrorist halves and Magisk has a lot to do with it. That’s been true of many of the best teams in recent memory. The distinction Astralis has among classic lineups like 2015 fnatic and 2013 NiP is that their Terrorist side efforts are also among the best in the game. In game leader Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander’s dynamic calling must get a lot of the credit. Gla1ve is also the best fragging IGL in the game at this point in time. As part of the entry fragger team with Dupreeh, gla1ve’s ability to multi-frag in such a difficult role while simultaneously calling makes him unique amongst IGLs. No other IGL contributes as much as a fragger. No other IGL is as effective a strat caller right now. Of course, you knew it was coming. I have to mention Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz. He’s always a consistent threat with his intelligent and dynamic AWPing. He is one of the world’s best and he fits perfectly within the tactical system of Astralis. Predictably, Eleague Premier was yet another MVP performance from the Astralis superstar.
Ominous signs...for everyone else
Dreamhack Masters Stockholm will be the next time we see the team in action. That tournament will be a good warmup a week ahead of the FACEIT London Major. We’ll get to see where the majority of the best teams’ form is at before the big one. Would you bet against Astralis in their current form for both titles? I certainly wouldn’t.