Astralis hasn’t been playing well for more than 3 months. Something is off with their lineup and a change was needed. But I think that everyone thought it was going to be related to the IGL. Because after all, wasn’t gla1ve the one to blame for the failure. His performances weren’t great and the team he is leading is mostly failing, even against relatively weak opponents.
How Things Came to Be This Way
Until around January this year, Astralis used to be a formidable competitor. Few teams could rival their skill and the team had had almost 4 years of success. Majors, Minors, you name it. They won it all, often multiple times in a row. But it seems that 2020 had a negative effect on the players’ morale. They weren’t the only ones, of course, who experienced a drop in motivation as a result of not being able to perform in front of huge crowds. But the spotlight was on them, because they were the best team in the history of CS:GO.
Then, all of a sudden, the string of victories came to a halt. And it’s not just one or two teams that were now beating Astralis on a regular basis. It was a lot of them. So many that the former Major champions could no longer get into the top 4. From February till April, for 4 tournaments in a row, Astralis finished 5th – 6th, 7th – 9th or even 9th – 16th. Clearly something is wrong. But what?
The Rise of CIS Counter-Strike
Nobody knows exactly what’s going on, but the CIS region has been on the rise lately. Na’Vi was already a top 10 team. But who would have thought that 3 other CIS organizations would join them? And some of them, like Gambit, are now competing for the number 1 spot.
Under these conditions, Astralis would have needed to upgrade their playstyle. But they completely failed to do that and paid the price for it. The Danes are still ranked 2nd in the world, but it’s mostly an illusion. Realistically, they’re not even a top 5 team anymore.
When huge organizations that pay massive salaries to their players start failing, they need to change something fast. Because their business model is not sustainable unless they constantly win. Or at least, unless they’re constantly in the middle of attention. And CS:GO fans, like most esports fans, have short memories. If you don’t win anything for 3-6 months, you’re pretty much forgotten.
The Future of dev1ce
dev1ce is a formidable player. At 25, he has accomplished almost everything that can be accomplished in this esport. The only thing he hasn’t managed to win is the CS:GO Player of the Year Award. But he was in the top 5 for the past 6 years. And in 5 of those years, he was actually in the top 3. That level of consistency is extremely rare.
This move to NiP should bring dev1ce even more success, even though the Swedish organization isn’t exactly one of the best these days. NiP is currently ranked 11th and it’s mostly up to dev1ce to change that. I expect them to climb 3-4 positions in the next 3 months, and perhaps even more until the end of 2021. But I don’t see them getting higher than 5th.
This will be a big challenge for dev1ce, whose CS:GO career has mostly been one long adventure with Astralis. Can he adapt to other teams and new playstyles? Can he integrate or make others change to suit his CS:GO philosophy? We’ll have to wait and see. But a player of his caliber should, in principle, be able to improve the results of just about any roster.
Strangely enough, dev1ce is NiP’s oldest player, even though he’s just 25. He’ll have to work with some very young teammates to achieve good results. And he’ll do it as the team’s sniper. The IGL, at least for the time being, will be hampus.
Photo credit: IEM|Stephanie-Lindgren