Astralis’ Semi-Final Curse Broken?
Everyone remembers the many failed clutches and catastrophes of Astralis’ 2016 CS:GO major runs. It’s no secret that they are notorious for competing strongly in majors and still falling short of the Grand Final.
Throughout the duration of 2016, they reached the semi-finals of both majors. They took dramatic exits to NA’VI and Virtus Pro, respectively. However, it seems as though Astralis’ woes are becoming a thing of the past. With their recent first place victory at the 2017 E-League Major, Astralis hope to put the semi-final curse behind them. On top of winning their first major, they just won IEM Katowice. They beat out Faze clan for the trophy.
They have looked like a new team ever since Finn “Karrigan” Anderson left, and Lukas “Gla1ve” Rossander joined. He became the shot caller of the squad in October. Gla1ve’s transition into the squad seemed almost seamless. Their form noticeably improved with the better shot calling. Karrigan was one of the original five 2014 Dignitas players to form Astralis, and he will be missed. Unfortunately, the transition seemed necessary after their 10th place finish in the ESL Pro league.
The team has been loving the new environment under Gla1ve. It seems to be revitalizing them. After having so many years under the same shot caller in Karrigan, it must be refreshing for the players to have new ideas and strategies to go around.
Andreas “Xyp9x” Hojsleth said in a recent interview: “I think what we had achieved with both cajunb and karrigan was what we could achieve. We couldn’t progress and it was really hard to progress as a team at that time. But now that we have gla1ve, it feels like we can always improve.”
Xyp9x has been part of the Danish core of Astralis since its beginning. These players have been trying to win a major since 2014 on team Dignitas. While the change may have been heart wrenching to long time fans, it is good to know it was for the best.
Astralis’ recent success may have a lot to do with their recent addition of an E-sports psychologist, Mia Steelberg. Xyp9x in that same interview said Mia was saying, “Within two to three months, you can probably make the best team in the world.” The players said they laughed at the time they heard it. As they worked with her though, their minds began to change.
In less than a few months, their play has noticeably improved. Not necessarily in skill, but in mental fortitude. They would go down a few rounds, and their economy would be weak, but they wouldn’t lose their grip on the game.
What is allowing them to be so dominant currently is sticking with the competition and playing with more adaptability. No doubt, with a lot of help from their E-sports psychologist.
There were many moments in the Grand Finals of the 2017 E-League Major, where you could really notice the difference in their play. When they went down they didn’t panic. They played cool and calculated. In Game 3 of the Finals, they found themselves dangerously down 12-14 after losing to a partial eco round from Virtus Pro; but they didn’t let it phase them. They kept up the pressure enough to take it back 16-14. Whether it was their E-sports psych grab, or the Gla1ve pickup, Astralis are looking like the team to beat in 2017.