Astralis enter 2022 as underdogs, aim to return to greatness
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Astralis are a new team. The former line-up that became the greatest to ever play the game was split up when Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz chose to go to Ninjas in Pyjamas. They were split, once again, when Emil “Magisk” Reif, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen were moved off of the active roster. These members were replaced by Benjamin “blameF” Bremer, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke and coach Alexander “ave” Holdt.

“I will never ever not have a huge respect for those who are leaving us,” Astralis’ in-game-leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander said. “We could never have done what we did without them, and they are still good friends. But, for Astralis, I truly believe this is what we needed.”

Astralis have played three events since adding blameF and k0nfig to their roster. They finished third at the BLAST Premier: Fall Final, 9-12th at Intel Extreme Masters Winter and 5-6th at the BLAST Premier: World Final. These are not necessarily the results that fans of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have come to expect from the most successful organization of all time. But with a new roster, it’s a new era for the team. Even still, gla1ve believes that the “sky is the limit” for this current iteration of Astralis.

“There is so much quality on this team, that we can reach all our goals, if we take the time, do things right, and don’t stress because of the pressure of experts and fans knowing better,” gla1ve said.

Astralis in 2022

The past year was a time of change for the organization. Although blameF and k0nfig are both Danes and strong culture fits for the team (on more than one occasion, blameF has talked about how well the team is gelling behind the scenes), there are still issues to be ironed out in the server.

Young gun Philip “Lucky” Ewald has pivoted away from the AWP and taken on a rifling role, with gla1ve picking up the “big green” in his place. The Astralis map pool is shifting, incorporating Mirage, which has been the team’s perma-ban in past years. And, generally, it is taking the team some time for everyone to settle into their new roles.

“It will probably take another three to four months before we get everything down,” k0nfig said. “We still play to win every game, though. We insist on doing things right, so we might not win everything quite yet.”

Winning everything might sound unrealistic, but it’s what fans have come to expect of the Danish org. They’ve redefined what it means to create an “era” by winning four majors; three of them back-to-back. They have a massive a fan base that brings massive expectations.

“I will never complain that we get too much attention or the fans demand too much,” gla1ve said.

gla1ve at IEM Winter
Gla1ve at IEM Winter. | Photo by Adela Sznajder. Provided by ESL

But gla1ve and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth have already cemented themselves as Counter-Strike greats. If this version of Astralis fails to lift trophies, chances are the ire of fans will be directed at the newcomers in blameF, k0nfig and Lucky. Both blameF and k0nfig have played their fair share of CS:GO, but when you’re constantly compared to guys like gla1ve, the greatest in-game-leader of all time, it can make things difficult.

“A lot of people have said a lot of things about gla1ve,” k0nfig said. “I can only confirm that he is one hell of an in-game leader and captain. Together with [Xyp9x], they are the culture bearers of the team and they share eight major titles between the two of them, so of course you have a lot of respect. They are champions, but even champions can learn. And now we’re teammates; we’re on even footing.”

Astralis are going into 2022 as a team with something to prove, and it’s not a situation they’ve often found themselves in over the past few years.

“Astralis is not the same if you look at the roster and playing style,” Xyp9x said. “But, then again, we’re Astralis and that hasn’t changed a bit.”

The team’s road back to former glory begins in February with IEM Katowice.

Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.
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