Astralis set to sign es3tag as they look to build six-man roster *
The Danish giants came in at the last minute and hijacked FunPlus Phoenix’s plans to sign es3tag along with the rest of the Heroic squad, with the Chinese organisation now left to ponder their future in Flashpoint and in the game.
This will be the first roster change for Astralis since the organisation signed Emil "Magisk" Reif from OpTic in February 2018 following the sudden departure of Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye to North. The Danes ended up turning that situation into an opportunity as they ushered in a new era in competitive Counter-Strike, winning a staggering 16 Big Event titles, including three back-to-back Majors. On top of that, they scooped the $1 million Intel Grand Slam Season 1 prize, and set a new record for the longest stint at No.1 in the world rankings - 406 consecutive days.
But results have dropped off since the start of the year, causing Astralis to lose their No.1 world ranking to IEM Katowice champions Natus Vincere earlier this month after four months at the summit. Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander’s troops will have to play the BLAST Premier Spring Series Showdown after finishing last of their group in London and were trounced by Na`Vi in the semi-finals in Katowice.
es3tag joined the Heroic squad from Tricked in June 2017. He has averaged a 1.06 rating on LAN while with the team, whom he helped to victory at Games Clash Masters 2018, the Toyota Master Bangkok 2018 and DreamHack Open Atlanta 2019.
It is currently unclear when es3tag will join up with the rest of the Astralis squad as he is currently in Los Angeles competing in Flashpoint with FunPlus Phoenix, whose future in the league has now been thrown into doubt.
Astralis currently have a 2-1 record in the ESL Pro League following Friday’s close victory against ENCE. They are slated to play at the ESL One Rio Major and BLAST Premier Showdown in the next three months, but the coronavirus outbreak has put a large question mark over the two events.
Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)
UPDATE: Erik Askered, CEO of Heroic, provided the following statement to HLTV.org: "I am unable to comment at this moment, as we are making legal preparations. This is due to the fact that we know and can prove that Astralis has acted in bad faith, and have considerably affected the sale of Heroic to FPX."
UPDATE 2: Nikolaj Nyholm, CEO and Founder of Astralis, issued a statement on Twitter after his organisation confirmed es3tag's signing. According to him, "no actions were taken to the detriment of Heroic or FPX", and Astralis offered es3tag "an employment agreement starting July 1" after being informed that Heroic wanted $800,000 for a player who had three months left on his contract. His full statement can be found here.