With their full roster in the Copenhagen tournaments in 2018 and 2019, Astralis performed below expectations and could not reach either final. This is poor and it has fuelled discussion on whether Astralis is ‘cursed’ at the Royal Arena when examining the two events in isolation.
Looking at the context, statistics and more, this 'curse' myth that has grown out of these results appears to be dispelled. Instead, hometown showings in BLAST for Astralis have been unfortunate cumulations of other factors.
BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2018
Ahead of the Copenhagen event in 2018, Astralis were riding the wave of their dominant era. They had enjoyed a spectacular year, won the recent FACEIT Major and of their nine previous LAN events, they had won seven, including the last two in a row. They were the tournament favourites as the games began.
In line with the BLAST format, Astralis played five best-of-one match-ups in the first stage, winning three and losing two. Their two defeats came at the hands of the eventual finalists: Na'Vi, with a 16-9 scoreline in favour of the then-Ukranian roster, and NiP, who were able to claim the win in a close 16-14.
The NiP defeat was close, and on Overpass, one of the Swedish side’s strongest maps. One of the key factors in the result was the individual performance of Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen for Astralis. He totalled only nine frags in the thirty rounds, with the rest of his team’s average at over 21. The firepower gap he left meant Astralis were lacking and failed to beat NiP.
For the Na'Vi match-up, the CIS team were in flying form in Copenhagen, turning up and winning all but one of their maps. They hit excellent form off the back of Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev’s phenomenal play. He had over 20 kills in every map he played in Copenhagen. An in-form Na'Vi and an in-form s1mple are two different tests, but facing them both is a tall task for even for a team of Astralis’ calibre to overcome.
The supposed presence of a ‘curse’ at Copenhagen in 2018, is perhaps overstated. After a run of consecutive tournament wins, Astralis would stumble at some point and it just so happened to occur at BLAST Copenhagen 2018. Astralis still won three matches, but everything clicked for Na'Vi over the event as they were in ‘tournament form’, which carried them to victory over the Danes. It was unfortunate that dupreeh did not show up in a tight game against NiP which marked the second of their losses.
BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2019
Astralis had recovered from a difficult period in the middle of 2019, and finished in the top four of the previous four events they had attended with a win at the StarLadder Berlin Major to reclaim their spot at the top of the rankings.
A return to their old strength in addition to factors such as being on home turf, Liquid’s poor form and top teams such as Evil Geniuses missing out all meant that Astralis were once obvious favourites going into BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen.
The Danes experienced some déjà vu as they once again lost to NiP and scraped a draw with Na'Vi from the jaws of defeat. They also lost 16-2 to a formidable eventual winner in FaZe Clan, only managing two wins overall in the group stage. In the end, the Na'Vi tie was irrelevant, because even if Astralis had won they would not have made it to the finals as the teams they had already faced had performed better: FaZe, Na'Vi and NiP.
It is well-known in CS:GO for teams to have off-days and for the four-time Major champions this struck at the worst time on the opening day of play.
The FaZe defeat was a complete one-off against a team who stormed through the tournament, only losing one map all event. Astralis also faced two star players from Counter-Strike past and present in Marcelo "coldzera" David and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer, whose K/D differentials both exceeded +10.
Heading into the NiP game, Astralis had lost brutally to FaZe to open the tournament. The mental resilience of Astralis is well-documented, but a potential Copenhagen ‘choke’ must have at least been in the back of the players’ heads, alongside an element of surprise FaZe crushed them. Astralis’ stars did not turn up on Overpass, with Andreas "Xyp9x" Hojsleth the only player on the team to have a positive K/D.
Subsequent mental fragility, perhaps, caused the star players to have a poor game against NiP as the Swedes secured their spot in the final alongside FaZe at the expense of Astralis.
Sometimes, pressure can overcome even the strongest.@astralisgg put on a show that the home crowd will never forget.— BLAST Pro Series (@BLASTProSeries) November 2, 2019
Thank you for playing your hearts out, and mustering a comeback to take home the BLAST Stand-Off in Royal Arena 🇩🇰#BLASTProSeries #Copenhagen #ToTheStars pic.twitter.com/oZpX9xgw1D
Considering an off-day and shaken confidence caused by an upset, Astralis perhaps did not ‘choke’ in Copenhagen this year. This instance was a case of bad luck, as poor performance saw Astralis lose their two crucial games on the first day.
Is there a 'curse'?
The purpose of this article is not to defend Astralis or justify their defeats, instead, it is to dispel the myth that Astralis is cursed in Copenhagen. It is undeniable that Astralis’ full roster have performed poorly in both, but that does not necessarily mean there is a curse.
At the 2018 tourney, Astralis were, by the law of averages, destined to stutter at some point given their flying form. dupreeh failed to step up in a close game against NiP and Astralis faced an in-form NaVi and s1mple as he challenged for the best player of the year spot.
In 2019, an off-day struck for Astralis at the worst time, as they faced the two eventual finalists. The huge margin of defeat against the marauding FaZe perhaps caused mental fragility, meaning star players fired blanks against NiP.
For CS:GO teams, off-days and off-tournaments are part and parcel of the game. It just so happened that unlucky lightning struck twice in Copenhagen, two years in a row for Astralis.