In order to improve working conditions for our players, it has been decided to increase the Astralis roster to six players. On this basis, Patrick @es3tag Hansen will be joining the roster.— Astralis (@astralisgg) March 22, 2020
Read more: https://t.co/8Zof2zu0Rz#ToTheStars#LetsGoAstralispic.twitter.com/lNyWWap6eN
It will be some time until es3tag will be seen in the server alongside the rest of Astralis as he remains under contract until 1st July. This means he could well make his debut at ESL One Cologne 2020, the biggest event in the CS:GO calendar.
In a Twitter thread, Astralis Group CEO and Founder Nikolaj Nyholm explained that the decision to sign a sixth player was related to previous health issues for star AWPer Nicolai "device" Reedtz back in 2017.
Astralis played BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2017 as well as the finals of both Esports Championship Series Season 4 and ESL Pro League Season 6 with different stand-ins while device was out of action.
We are here to operate the best team in the world. This includes the health of our players. It has been a long-standing ambition to have an extended roster since @dev1ce was out in fall 2017 for health reasons. We are happy to motivate this roster expansion in future interviews.— Nikolaj Nyholm (@nikolaj) March 22, 2020
Burnout and hectic schedules are also elements to professional play that have seen increased discussion from various players and teams in recent months with Team Vitality's own in-game leader Alex "ALEX" McMeekin stepping away from the team after a year that saw 36 weeks of travel.
While the move seems like a positive for Astralis and its players, the deal has not been as well-received by others in the scene including es3tag's former organisation.
Heroic was in the process of transferring its entire CS:GO roster to Chinese organisation FunPlus Phoenix who were playing in the first season of Flashpoint.
With news of the signing becoming official, it was announced by Flashpoint that FPX had forfeited the best-of-three against Orgless and team captain Casper "cadiaN" Møller shared a video explaining that it seemed unlikely that they would compete at all going forward as a result of the Astralis news.
FunPlus Phoenix had joined Flashpoint at the eleventh hour while Heroic was left without a team for ESL Pro League Season 11. The players will now be unable to compete in Flashpoint for unknown reasons and the forfeited spot in EPL is now unavailable to reclaim as BIG and Team Spirit were invited as the league went online due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The Heroic organisation will be pursuing legal action against Astralis, accusing the organisation of acting in bad faith and affecting the sale of its players to FPX according to a statement given by CEO Erik Askered to HLTV.
Astralis will be fielding the following roster going forward:
- Nicolai "device" Reedtz
- Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
- Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen
- Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander
- Emil "Magisk" Reif
- Patrick "es3tag" Hansen (from 1st July)
- Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)
Today, we announced that we are expanding our roster with the addition of Patrick 'es3tag' Hansen.— Astralis (@astralisgg) March 22, 2020
Coach @zonic talks about @es3tag, him joining the team on even terms with all other players, and how Astralis will work with the six-man roster going forward.#LetsGoAstralispic.twitter.com/U6pB3KyPvZ