The HLTV King's story spread throughout the Counter-Strike scene. After winning the Danish Invitational with Infinite Fall, joeS would continue to make a name for himself. The team never got as far as they did in that tournament, but a few second-place finishes and some top 5 placements made it easy for Joe to get a transfer. He wanted to play on Fnatic, but with Krimz being unbanned, he was unable to secure a spot. So he took a chance and joined a new lineup in Astralis.
Astralis won many tournaments, which was surprising for a completely new lineup. Kjaerbye had a lot of potentials, but Zonic knew he needed to be replaced. People questioned Astralis when they traded Kjaerbye for joeS, as he was considered "too old" and "a fluke". This gave Joe an incredible amount of motivation within the team, and Astralis continued to win tournament after tournament. In the PGL European Minor, Astralis lost every pistol round, yet still beat HellRaisers in a two map series to get into the Major.
During the Major their journey continued, taking down their Danish rivals, Dignitas, and taking on Faze on Overpass in the decider map in a best of three. The first map was a stomp, the second map went to overtime, and the third map ended up with a masterclass performance from dev1ce and Astralis beat Faze 16:11 on Overpass to get into the semi-finals.
On the other side of the bracket, Cloud9 and Immortals were battling through their two map series. In a match that could have gone either way, Cloud9 took it over Immortals. This put Cloud9 against Astralis in the Semi-Finals, with a spot in the finals and a chance at winning their first CS:GO Major. In a huge upset, Astralis beat Cloud9 16:14 on Cache in the first map, and 16:2 on Overpass to advance to the Finals against Virtus.Pro.
This was a major moment for Joe, as he was almost 30 years old and still competing at a top level in the game he loved. dev1ce sat across from him and said, "You're going to win this, you know it, we all know it. We deserve this!" The rest of the team agreed and they were all visibly fired up. Astralis dominated Virtus.Pro on Inferno 16:4, then Overpass, 16:9. The third and final map on Vertigo had been the most dominant from Joe that CS had ever seen. He was dry peeking by the end of the first half and hitting every headshot. There was a technical timeout after Snax smashed his keyboard in the 28th round. Pasha was bottom fragging and saying in all chat "JoeS cheater".
He could not believe it. He had won a Major tournament with a brand new lineup! The first Astralis Major! They had gone through the Minor, the qualifier, and a top-quality field of sixteen teams to win the entire tournament. Joe and Astralis were on top of the world. They had won $500,000 and a spot to play in the next Valve Major. The victory laps through the booths, interviews, and celebrations would go on for hours. Kjaerbye wasn't living up to the hype though, and he was drifting from the team and never matched up to Joe's skill.
In the coming months, Astralis continued to dominate and win tournament after tournament. Everyone on the team went to a brand new level, while dev1ce and joeS both setting mind-boggling records. In the ECS Season 2 Finals, Astralis was on a rampage. This was their first tournament with Magisk on the roster, he was standing in for Kjaerbye as he was taking a break from the game. Despite the lineup change, they stomped FaZe into the ground and Kjaerbye might never get his spot back.
Kjaerbye would end up leaving Astralis for North, teaming up with CajunB and k0nfig, Joe's ex-teammate from his second championship-winning lineup. Kjaerbye was a great rifler and had amazing potentials, but Magisk was now surpassing him. Magisk was a phenomenal player, who took Kjaerbye's spot to create the first Dream Danish lineup. The team was the best in the world under Astralis, and with ELEAGUE around the corner, they had something to prove.
ELEAGUE was the most prestigious tournament in all of Counter-Strike, and Astralis was expected to come out on top. Their Group Stage followed, with zero close games, a 16:4 stomp over Cloud9, 16:7 over SK Gaming, and a 16:3 stomp of Gambit Gaming to secure 1st seed. Then, they took on Liquid in the Semi-Finals in a Bo3 starting out on Train. Liquid looked good with players like Twistzz, EliGE, Nitr0, and Yannick "Nico" Perrin. This was a BO3, so the winner would go to the Grand Finals and face off against Fnatic. Astralis took the first map on Vertigo with an easy 16:6. Astralis took Train, 16:10, with their game-changing clutch minister Xyp9x, leading the team in kills. It all looked over for Team Liquid in the third map on Mirage until Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski turned the tide with an incredible blind three kill spray down. Nitr0 led the team to close out the map and it was 2:1 in the series, Astralis leading.
On the fourth map, it was a very close game in the first half on Dust 2. Joe was checking every corner, lurking in the tightest zones. It was a back and forth war that could have gone either way, but Astralis edged out the half at 8:7. During the half, gla1ve was hyping the team up in TeamSpeak saying, " This is CS. If the game isn't over in the first 30 rounds, you're in a fight to the death." It was a methodical bomb plant that Joe held onto, rounding the corner to find a kill. At 14:11 in the game, it was an epic 1v1 duel between joeS and EliGE that guaranteed their win. The map was over at 16:11 and Astralis had won the Semi-Finals of the ELEAGUE Major.
Their opponent Fnatic was not one to feel safe about though, as they were the greatest team of all time and had won back-to-back CS Majors in Boston and Krakow. Fnatic had changed their roster before the ELEAGUE Major, adding dennis and twist as stand-ins, but this was still a top lineup with Lekr0, Golden, twist, and Flusha. The stadiums were packed and people were lined up on the streets outside to watch the TVs that displayed the tournament. CS was never bigger at this time, and you had the two biggest teams going at it.
Zonic told the team, " With Fnatic on our ass, we gotta be playing our best to take them out. If we can't close out this game, then we are done, we might as well all hang up the mouse and keyboard. CS has never been bigger. This is the Live Finals. Get your composure, you got what it takes to get us 400,000 viewers, but you can't let them down. This is our fucking chance! Let's do to them what they've done to us!"
As the Astralis team was taking a seat, Fnatic would roll in and the crowd was chanting anxiously, "FNATIC, FNATIC, FNATIC". Astralis did not let this hinder their spirits. The series would start off on Overpass, the new map created for the Major. Astralis would win it 16:10, with Magisk leading the team with 22 kills. gla1ve was extremely happy in TeamSpeak saying, " We don't like this map, but I think we've made it work. The pistols were a nightmare for us, but we destroyed them, and then that sniping was insane! Dev1ce, you did an amazing job and nailed all of them. In the end, we're here for the Major trophy boys and we'll keep that trophy forever to remember this moment!"
The second map of the series would be on Inferno. Fnatic would pick up the pistol round but would struggle to get any economy in the following rounds. Astralis took a quick 5:1 lead in their favor. Three more retakes would give Astralis an 8:1 lead and it looked like Fnatic would be unable to bring it back. Golden won a 1v1 at B, spraying down Xyp9x and getting the extra money from the bomb plant to give Fnatic the economic edge they needed to bring the map closer. Flusha, doing Flusha things, had an incredible flank on Banana in the second half which resulted in a kill through the smoke and a wall-bang kill at coffins. This made it impossible for Astralis to make a comeback economically.
With the series tied at 1:1, the third map was set to be Mirage and Astralis had the advantage because they had prepared anti-strats for Fnatic's Mirage. This map, they won the pistol, with joeS delivering three kills, two by headshot. Dev1ce's AWP shot was on point, as it was the entire series, and he eventually took the first gun round away from Fnatic. Xyp9x had an amazing round on A-ramp, multi-fragging the enemy, giving Astralis a 4:1 lead. The rounds kept coming and Astralis was showing why they were the best team in the world. They had won several rounds with insane clutch plays and this was an inferno-esque type play.
In the second half, Fnatic won the pistol instead of Astralis. Maikil "Golden" Kunda would do some fancy footwork and eliminate Joe and Astralis into a forced save round. This happened twice more on the map and Astralis was losing.
The final round of the map was a 5v5 between both teams. The score was 15:14 in favor of Fnatic. Xyp9x once again would have the last laugh and would get an ace. The crowd was quiet and the colors in the stands were dim, but it was a moment that will live forever in CS.
The game went to overtime and Astralis was quickly closing in on Fnatic's T side. Flusha had two rounds where his clutch could change the game, but he was falling short over sheer mechanical skill against Astralis. Magisk and Joe proved to be a deadly combo in firepower, while Xyp9x could close the rounds for them in dire straits. gla1ve was a master tactician on Mirage, proving to be a top tier-one in-game leader in CS history, showing his MVP caliber performance once again while closing the game at 19:15.
Fnatic would have one chance to turn this series around. And then there was one. The crowd was roaring, pumping up the boys of Astralis. They were now at match point and Fnatic was on de_dust2. The noise in the crowd reached deafening levels and it seemed like the fans were going to collapse the roof of the stadium.
Fnatic would get the first pistol round, but Astralis would fight back and win the next round. gla1ve was calling aggressive strats and had Fnatic against the wall. Fnatic would tie it up at 14:14 but then the kick happened. Magisk got the entry frag onto the B site, was traded out by Golden who was then traded out by joeS. Joe follows up with a multi frag onto twist at B doors and dennis at car before dying to Flusha's spray through the B doors to Mid. Flusha would then wrap around from lower tunnel to upper tunnel where he kills dev1ce and gla1ve in 2 consecutive kills.
What then would ensue would be one of the greatest 1v1s of all time. Xyp9x and Flusha starting at B site and sentry, and then Flusha starting to work his way up to car while Xyp9x took the boost up to upper tunnel where he would eventually trade out Flusha and clutch the round.
The crowd erupted and the decibel levels became too loud for human hearing. If you listen to the crowd, it goes into some low pitch notes. This was the moment that sent Astralis to the stars. Starting the 30th round, every player on Astralis knew this was the moment to prove they were the real deal. They didn't want overtime, they wanted to finish this game now.
The round begins and the teams set off, with the Terrorists having a good spawn for a long push to the A site. Joe tells Magisk "I'll flash you mid" and the awareness and teamwork is absurd, as Magisk runs down mid and receives a flashbang and kills dennis instantly through doors. Xyp9x on the other hand runs into B site dry and kills Golden immediately, and then unloads to kill twist. Flusha and Lekr0 get a traded kill onto Xyp9x, Flusha falling to Joe and Magisk, leaving Lekr0 to attempt the 1v2 retake as he hides in a smoke.
Joe would move his crosshair across the smoke and the crowd would erupt in noise, indicating Lekr0 was there. He used that advantage quickly, spraying the smoke down. Lekr0 didn't last, and it was the major winning moment. He could not believe it. Astralis had won their second Major tournament! The crowd cheered in delight, not even knowing what this win meant for the future of CS:GO but pure elation and happiness.
It was the most shocking moment of esport history, no one expected Astralis to win, not at this tournament. This was supposed to be Fnatic's tournament! After all, they were the team who popularized the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive meta game and had influenced a whole generation of upcoming pro-players to go for the same meta. Fnatic were also being hailed as the best team in the tournament. They had beat the two American titans in the competition, but then got out played by the Europeans.
Zonic grabbed everyone, hugged them all, huddled them together and said, "WE WON THE FUCKING MAJOR, AGAIN! WE DID IT! WE ARE THE BEST!" Then he hugged them harder to feel the excitement. Everyone in attendance was in shock. After a recent controversial loss to Cloud9, this was the biggest upset in all of esports.
The crowd hopped into chants of "AST-RO," chanting for the Astralis players." "Ast-rowwww, Ast-rowwww!," Magisk showed signs of happiness, by jumping and pumping his fist up in the air. The rest of the team was celebrating their victory. Astralis had won the Major. "Ast-rowwww!," Xyp9x exclaimed.
Joe was still on his PC, playing CS, with a tear in his eye while all the celebration was going on around him. He had reached new heights in the game he loved. If he were to die today, he could die happy. Where could he go from here? What could he achieve from this point forward? He didn't care. He proved to the world he could become the best at an old age.
"I just got a KDR of 1.8," Joe thought to himself, "but I still won the Major title, and the investment is paying off. I think this is everything I ever wanted, to walk away as a champion." The screen went off and the room was plunged into darkness. "It...it was all for nothing... it didn't matter." Joe turned off the computer, put on his raincoat, and exited his room. He strolled down the hallway into his kitchen. A glass of water was quickly filling with the tap.