The unsung champions - Astralis remain SK's greatest threat

MIRAA
July 15th, 2017 23:24

Current Major champions Astralis may not have won a big event since March, but it would be foolish to underestimate them in Krakow.

The sands of time move quickly in esports. It seems like it was a lifetime ago that Astralis won the ELEAGUE Major crown, which shows just how many international tournaments we have had since then and just how much the landscape of the scene can change in just six months.

Astralis’ title-winning campaign in Atlanta was anything but a coincidence. After all, just one month before they had already shown promise, placing second in ELEAGUE before winning the ECS Season 2 Finals. It was an indicator that the Danish team were finally getting over the mental block that had seen them crash and burn so many times in the past.

The conditions were ideal, too. SK were still figuring things out after parting ways with Lincoln "fnx" Lau, while FaZe remained largely an outsider – something that would change only with the addition of Nikola "NiKo" Kovač –, and the prospect of a revolution loomed over G2, who looked a far cry from the team who had wowed the community before the 2016 Summer break.

Astralis' chances should not be written off at the Krakow Major

Under Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, Astralis finally managed to live up to expectations surrounding the team, with the new system introduced by Finn "karrigan" Andersen’s replacement bearing fruits in just a few months. After countless bitter moments over the years, the hard-working Danes had finally done it – they had entered the Olympus of Counter-Strike.

Astralis then flunked at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, where they were sent packing in the semi-finals by Virtus.pro following a weird series in which all three maps were one-sided. IEM Katowice would be the team’s first real test in a while – SK already had João "felps" Vasconcellos, and FaZe were playing their first tournament with NiKo. With the Brazilians bowing out of the tournament in the groups, Astralis stole the show, posting convincing wins over Natus Vincere and Danish rivals Heroic before disposing of FaZe – who had played one series fewer as a result of topping their group – three maps to one in the title decider.

The Danish team passed that test with flying colors, but what remained in the back of everyone’s mind were Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth’s fantastic performances. The 21-year-old, who had come under scrutiny when the team struggled for form, punched above his weight and played some of the best Counter-Strike we have ever seen from him, setting a new record for 1vx situations won at a single big event and earning the title of Most Valuable Player (MVP). Xyp9x’s resurgence, much like his team’s, reflected the improvements of working under sports psychologist Mia Stellberg.

"I think losing many semi-finals in the same way made us think it was a good idea [to hire a sports psychologist], and that was why no one on our team was skeptic about it," Xyp9x recalls.

"She is indeed a part of our success, and looking back, it was a great decision to bring her on board."

That was the last trophy that Astralis have won - if you disregard the single-match ELEAGUE Clash for Cash, that is. At the StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 event, they came within touching distance of the title but wasted two precious match points against FaZe before losing the final map in overtime. karrigan's side would once again be Astralis' nemesis at IEM Sydney, this time in the semi-finals, while at the ECS Season 3 finals the Danes could not fend off SK's challenge in the last-four stage.

Since their victory in Katowice, Astralis have only lost series to FaZe (StarSeries and IEM Sydney) and SK (ECS Season 3), but in all cases the matches went to all three maps, which shows just how close these teams are. Besides that, they have lost best-of-one encounters against North (StarSeries), SK (IEM Sydney) and Cloud9 (ECS Season 3).

EGB.com's odds as of July 15:
Team Rate Ratio
Brazil SK  2.924  30.78% 
Denmark Astralis  3.991 22.55%
Europe FaZe 7.264 12.39%
France G2 9.615 9.36%
United States Cloud9 18.405 4.89%
CIS Natus Vincere  19.231 4.68%
Sweden fnatic 25.140 3.58%
Denmark North 26.706 3.37%
Europe mousesports 31.359 2.87%
Other Other teams  16.304 5.52%

FaZe did not look particularly convincing in Cologne, barely making it out of the Swiss stage and then losing out to SK 2-0 in the semi-finals, with the first map being a complete demolition job. This could mean that FaZe's flame is burning low, even if karrigan seems to have an edge over his compatriots, at least in series. And as for SK, the Brazilians enter this event with the wind in their sails after winning five of their last six events, but the team's success has come at a cost: the players are feeling "a bit burned out" as a result of such a packed schedule. 

It has been three weeks since Astralis' last offline appearance. Their decision to skip ESL One Cologne, which was announced in April, however surprising it was to many, has given the team a lot of time to prepare for the Major - more time than any of the other candidates have had, at least. The Danes have had plenty of opportunities to study SK's tendencies and to reflect on the recent losses to FaZe. But before they can think about the playoffs, they will have to worry about the potential curve balls that the draw for the Swiss stage rounds might throw at them.

After spending over six months at the top of our ranking, Astralis enter the Major almost 500 points shy of SK and over 100 points behind FaZe. They have travelled to Krakow well prepared and determined to make history, even if shaken up by Nicolai "device" Reedtz's recent personal tragedy. Write them off at your peril. 

Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
410
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Denmark Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Nicolai 'device' Reedtz
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.16
Maps played:
937
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
1000
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Brazil Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Age:
27
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
412
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.17
Denmark Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossander
Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossander
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
757
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.18
Denmark Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
1091
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.17
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
613
KPR:
0.82
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Nice article! :)
2017-07-16 00:25
#16
 | 
Mongolia Tendies 
Yes, I agree
2017-07-16 00:26
Penta easy top1
2017-07-16 00:27
#19
 | 
Mongolia Tendies 
Mate top 8 confirméd
2017-07-16 00:27
#53
suNny | 
Brazil abdidede 
ez4GODSunny
2017-07-16 01:01
#89
 | 
Germany No_Kappa 
Great Article! Now Astralis players can read this and stop feeling like they are underdogs. THIS WILL PUT extra pressure in their team and make them choke even harder than usual. <3
2017-07-16 03:12
lol, in a week Astralis will be two time major champions xD
2017-07-16 09:32
#122
 | 
Germany No_Kappa 
nice comment Santa Gift flag
2017-07-16 12:52
Said the the man who thinks that team can choke cuz of hltv article, LUL
2017-07-16 15:43
#126
 | 
Germany No_Kappa 
astralis are chokers surely not because of an article
2017-07-16 17:02
For what fucking reason are they? U seem to be in 2016 still
2017-07-16 17:09
#128
 | 
Germany No_Kappa 
they have a coach that is but a massage dude to tell them everything is going to be okay they need fucking psychologists to ensure their safespace basically the emos of the scene. 1 gram of pressure = choke
2017-07-16 18:05
After what I heard, I should say that there is nothing to talk about with you
2017-07-16 20:27
#130
 | 
Germany No_Kappa 
> After what I heard There's nothing to hear. It's only text! LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL
2017-07-16 22:10
haHAHA penta retard , 0-5 confirmed already sry
2017-07-16 10:32
Baited. If anything I've been defending SK for this whole year. Nt tho. Your bait was too good until you said 0-5.
2017-07-16 13:27
#133
 | 
World b3rg0n1k 
replying here to be in top. hltv admins=asstralis delusional fanboys. they get fired if they don't jerk them off every single article and when they finally win an event they even add "!" to the title expressing their orgasm. please, try to be impartial if you want to fool people you're journalists, you know? i still remember getting banned for 1 month onjly for calling device overrated 1 year ago, which btw he is, #3 2 years in a row even tho he did nothing, now in 2017 he still does nothing, he is at the same level as gla1ve, which you could argue is more impactful as he is the one calling. device can only clutch 1v1's, with some exceptions ofc and get easy kills with the awp so please stop sucking him off, he is the only player that doesn't get any impact in astralis ban incoming for being so obscene allowing myself to use such expressions as "sucking off", i should also be locked up, right? also, used the overrated word near device :( rip, 10 years inc like my main
2017-07-17 10:47
G2 is
2017-07-16 00:25
#7
FalleN | 
Brazil kAduzera 
Ez 4 sk
2017-07-16 00:25
Ez FaZe
2017-07-16 00:26
Astralis LUL, living in the past
2017-07-16 00:25
expected from danish site
2017-07-16 00:25
#23
Algeria W0r 
Indeed
2017-07-16 00:30
lmao
2017-07-16 00:44
ikr
2017-07-16 01:52
#79
 | 
United States p!perS 
right wtf
2017-07-16 02:07
#112
 | 
Indonesia evilpoland0 
+1
2017-07-16 08:47
#14
Zeus | 
Germany Suullly 
Astralis > SK Gaming
2017-07-16 00:26
#31
rain | 
Germany k1nG1337 
+1
2017-07-16 00:36
We are not in early 2017, stop living in the past. Oh wait you are a nip fan, you cant LUL
2017-07-16 01:06
hu3
2017-07-16 02:37
#134
Zeus | 
Germany Suullly 
To read these comments, after Sk got destroyed, so funny
2017-07-23 19:10
G2 > SK
2017-07-16 02:40
#98
 | 
Brazil jny13 
I dream of you and SK GAMING
2017-07-16 05:19
#17
 | 
Poland mamba99999 
Would be so cool if VP trolled everyone and reached the final, maybe even won it.
2017-07-16 00:27
#24
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
>VP >Final 2017 Pick one.
2017-07-16 00:30
They reached the final of ELEAGUE Atlanta and DreamHack Open Las Vegas, both of which were held in 2017?
2017-07-16 00:36
#35
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
... Come on mate, do you think i was serious with that post? lol. Still, VP have been performing like fucking trash for the past 3+ months.
2017-07-16 00:38
No they have not, they have done a solid job.
2017-07-16 00:40
#40
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
??? Yes, Solid job winning small shitty LANs like Adrenaline Cyber League 2017 Look at the rankings, they started to dodge and lose lots of LANs etc and dropped to #14 in a few months
2017-07-16 00:42
They almost beat SK Gaming but unfortunately SK Gaming beat them 5-4 with a strong comeback.
2017-07-16 01:07
#62
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
1/8. Yes, lets talk about a random football match and not the actual game.
2017-07-16 01:21
You have never once mentioned that we were conversing exclusively about Counter-Strike.
2017-07-16 01:22
#64
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
lol`d
2017-07-16 01:22
They do that every time
2017-07-16 00:43
vp will win any tournament
2017-07-16 00:45
#47
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
K-EK
2017-07-16 00:48
#50
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
Please learn to read comments... #35
2017-07-16 00:51
#25
Algeria W0r 
I really hope those veterans will do it one more time.
2017-07-16 00:31
ez for astralis #1 team of all time device mvp astralis era incoming cry is free for the favelas
2017-07-16 00:28
#87
 | 
Denmark MeToxi 
If astralis loses its because device just lost 2 good friends
2017-07-16 02:51
#93
FalleN | 
Brazil nclsnz 
Looks like "fear". No excuses, please. A team is made of 5 ppl, if 1 cant play, there's more 4 that can do the same "damage" as that "1"
2017-07-16 03:35
#105
 | 
Denmark FeNoM_XD 
gr8 London m8 But I think I've got the point, you're trying to say that it's ez to play 4v5 in this game right? Welp maybe in some cases yes but in this major nope, astralis needs their sniper to hit shots, they need everyone to step up if they want to join back to back major winners club
2017-07-16 07:18
#111
FalleN | 
Brazil nclsnz 
Ok. Who will be playing in his place ? The coach ?
2017-07-16 08:38
#120
 | 
Denmark MeToxi 
He will still be playing, ofc, he will just be mentally distracted.
2017-07-16 10:21
If anything, once pain has faded, device should give his all in order to dedicate his trophy to his fallen buddies on sunday 23rd
2017-07-16 16:57
#21
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
Nah. SKs biggest threat atm is FaZe. We`ll see if Astralis "shows up" at the major.
2017-07-16 00:29
>FaZe >Biggest threat Pick one.
2017-07-16 00:41
#42
 | 
Sweden 4Sweeeden 
? hltv.org/team/6667/faze 3rd at ESL One Cologne 2017 2nd at ECS Season 3 Finals 2nd at IEM Sydney 2017 1st at SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 Finals 2nd at IEM Katowice 2017 Yes, not biggest threat, just finishing Top 3 at every event lol.
2017-07-16 00:43
... Come on mate, do you think i was serious with that post? lol.
2017-07-16 01:08
G2 is the only thread to SK atm
2017-07-16 01:54
#22
 | 
Moldova OptimusBlyad 
ez 4 fnatic
2017-07-16 00:30
WTF? Astralis? A threat for SK Gaming? Let me see if I got this straight. You guys are saying that a team that hasn't won anything for 4 months straight, failed to qualify to ESL PL Finals, refused an invite for the most prestigious CS:GO tournament, ESL One Cologne, is a threat to SK Gaming? The best team of 2017 so far? A team that out of the last 6 top-tier tournaments won 5 and reached 3rd place in the 6th? A team that won 3 titles in 2 weeks? A team that goes into the major with the spot of best team in the world with maximum points in the World Ranking while Astralis has half of SK's points? Yeah right. And to make a whole article saying how Astralis is a great team? I'll tell everyone now, at the moment, the only team that can pose a threat to SK is SK. They are only gonna lose this major if they make mistakes and it's gonna 100% their fault. Cause at the moment there's no other team in the world who can beat SK Gaming. Not Astralis, not G2, not Cloud9 and definitely not FaZe Clan. But could you guys be a little more biased please?
2017-07-16 00:33
#32
 | 
United States shroudy 
The one time these 2 lineups met in a bo3 it was one of the best series of 2017 and extremely close Stop being intentionally stupid, you give your country a bad name
2017-07-16 00:36
>the only team that can pose a threat to SK is SK Ohh... you're gonna be amazed...
2017-07-16 00:38
This post title states "greatest threat," which doesn't mean that they are a threat, but that they are strongest match-up to SK Gaming of the 15 teams.
2017-07-16 00:39
#45
 | 
Turkey Algan_Algan 
If sk matches g2 in Playoffs, sk can eliminated
2017-07-16 00:48
#61
 | 
United States Jammin800k 
Well I guess with that logic then even if SK goes out in groups they're still the best team in the world.
2017-07-16 01:19
Lel did u just say that cs summit and dh summer are top tier events
2017-07-17 10:32
#27
OCEAN | 
Sri Lanka LOLTHUG 
laugh reacts only
2017-07-16 00:33
#28
awwe | 
Netherlands stejesus 
maybe g2 but astralis XD
2017-07-16 00:34
Hahahahhahhah
2017-07-16 00:44
#29
 | 
Turkey Algan_Algan 
It will be suprise and faze win major
2017-07-16 00:37
"FaZe did not particularly convincing in Cologne..."
2017-07-16 00:35
#39
f0rest | 
United States HLTVGOD 
WE ARE ASTRALIS #MAJORNUMBER2INC #RUNDEVICE #RUNDUPREEH
2017-07-16 00:42
#49
fer | 
Brazil davidzor 
G2 is the only team that SK struggle atm.
2017-07-16 00:51
#51
 | 
Brazil BuddyINSANE 
Let's go my TEAM, we can punch them again! We smart, we loyal, we friendly, we are from BRAZIL! Kreygasm
2017-07-16 00:59
#60
fer | 
Brazil Ze_Pequeno 
not true.
2017-07-16 01:17
no its faze
2017-07-16 01:06
And everyone's greatest hope is CLG. #period
2017-07-16 01:10
#59
cu | 
Other jia 
even for fallen astralis isnt the biggest threat, G2 in a good day can take a bo3 from sk
2017-07-16 01:14
#66
f0rest | 
Serbia dankooo 
Yeah... No
2017-07-16 01:26
#69
 | 
France G2kennyS 
No. It's G2
2017-07-16 01:28
+1
2017-07-16 01:38
Lul, "Astralis remains SK's biggest threat". Astralis hasn't got a decent winning streak against SK, if they lose the first match against Immortals, they'd surely be questioning themselves and feeling quite a few pressure. Plus, they haven't played in a while, that means they're not as fresh as SK, they need great results.
2017-07-16 01:43
#74
 | 
Denmark g0dKendrick 
expected actually
2017-07-16 01:44
#75
 | 
Indonesia FinZzz 
Its funny that people take astralis so lightly, especially sk fans.
2017-07-16 01:50
Agree Astralis still absolutely hard, Faze are tired of losing and SK still haven't a won in bo3 G2. It will be an amazing major
2017-07-16 02:22
yses
2017-07-16 06:02
#77
fer | 
Brazil cadik 
>Australis >2017 LUL
2017-07-16 01:53
I love hltv because of these articles, love to read about CS better than just watch videos
2017-07-16 02:19
astralis will go out in groups, dupreeh will choke so hard
2017-07-16 02:20
nice article, more of this please!
2017-07-16 02:44
Honestly the winner of the major is heavily dependant on the semi finals matchup. G2's in game style is effective against SK as their style against SK generally plays on countering coldzera, plus the fact that the individual players are better than SK on paper. But SK on paper, should beat FaZe as SK has aim stars while FaZe is more tactical based with lesser aim. G2 vs Astralis I haven't seen yet, but I think it will go in Astralis's favour slightly. But in the end, all the 4 best teams can have a route to victory. G2 will win if they play vs SK and maybe Astralis, SK will win if they play Astralis and FaZe, FaZe will win if they play Astralis and maybe G2, and Astralis will win if they play against G2 and maybe SK...? Well they all have the potential to win.
2017-07-16 03:10
#90
 | 
Lithuania k42 
dont forget the upsets
2017-07-16 03:17
#97
 | 
Japan Balikali 
how G2 players are better than SK? its a lie. IMO
2017-07-16 05:14
Coldzera and Fer > G2
2017-07-16 05:33
#107
 | 
Denmark FeNoM_XD 
felps < shox TACO < bodyy FalleN = kennyS fer < NBK coldzera > apEX
2017-07-16 07:32
#110
 | 
Brazil ;---) 
fer < NBK i lol'd
2017-07-16 08:32
#113
 | 
Europe akaDragon 
shox > felps boddy = TACO kennyS > FalleN NBK = fer coldzera > apex
2017-07-16 09:06
#115
 | 
Denmark FeNoM_XD 
NBK's raw aim is far superior than fer's
2017-07-16 09:15
#119
 | 
Brazil ;---) 
not even close, in term of skills, fer is muchabove than NBK, and not just that, fer in this year is prob a top 3 player
2017-07-16 10:21
#91
 | 
Brazil r0d1 
why they put a Danish flag in a polish tournament material?
2017-07-16 03:30
#92
FalleN | 
Brazil Pr0dyg 
FINAL: SK X G2
2017-07-16 03:31
#94
fer | 
Portugal balthz 
agree
2017-07-16 04:02
ez nip
2017-07-16 04:49
#99
 | 
Brazil humakimak 
nice article ez for ferGOD top1
2017-07-16 05:28
WTF? Astralis? A threat for SK Gaming? Let me see if I got this straight. You guys are saying that a team that hasn't won anything for 4 months straight, failed to qualify to ESL PL Finals, refused an invite for the most prestigious CS:GO tournament, ESL One Cologne, is a threat to SK Gaming? The best team of 2017 so far? A team that out of the last 6 top-tier tournaments won 5 and reached 3rd place in the 6th? A team that won 3 titles in 2 weeks? A team that goes into the major with the spot of best team in the world with maximum points in the World Ranking while Astralis has half of SK's points? Yeah right. And to make a whole article saying how Astralis is a great team? I'll tell everyone now, at the moment, the only team that can pose a threat to SK is SK. They are only gonna lose this major if they make mistakes and it's gonna 100% their fault. Cause at the moment there's no other team in the world who can beat SK Gaming. Not Astralis, not G2, not Cloud9 and definitely not FaZe Clan. But could you guys be a little more biased please?
2017-07-16 05:47
who is astralis? i dont see them in cologne...they new team?
2017-07-16 06:12
#114
 | 
Europe akaDragon 
Astralis is a team that defeated VP to win their first major , so they are a pretty known team.
2017-07-16 09:08
where is NIP %???
2017-07-16 07:15
#109
 | 
Brazil acca90 
to be honest I believe way more on G2 than astralis or faze in a match against SK
2017-07-16 08:14
#117
Denmark tpz 
agreed.. although I thinks it's a circle of which teams do better against each other, because I also believe more in astralis than SK in a match against G2. No doubtedly SK are favourites though. Dream final would be SK vs. astralis
2017-07-16 09:50
#118
 | 
Oceania darkspear12 
SK's threats right now are Faze,G2 and Navi i think. Astralis is not as strong as before.
2017-07-16 09:55
Navi isnt consistently a threat to anyone
2017-07-17 10:35
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.