Sources: zonic ponders leaving Astralis as contract nears end
Like four of the team's players, the veteran coach has only a few months left on his deal.
The 34-year-old coach, whose deal expires on December 31, is contemplating a future away from Astralis after growing disillusioned with the team’s direction. One source said that tension between the team and the organisation has been building for several months, with the contracts of the core members of the squad set to expire at the end of the year.
If Astralis are unable to reach agreements on contract extensions, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, Emil "Magisk" Reif, Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth will all be able to leave for free on January 1. Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen still has over a year left on the two-year deal that he signed with Astralis when he joined the organisation from MAD Lions in July 2020.
Multiple sources also indicated that Astralis have already started planning for the 2022 campaign and have placed Heroic coach Nicolai "HUNDEN" Petersen at the top of their list of coaching candidates. The 30-year-old has been with the Heroic organisation since April 2020, though he did not perform his full duties between September 2020 and April 2021, when he served an eight-month ban for using the spectator bug.
zonic has been Astralis’ coach since the organisation was created, in January 2016. The 34-year-old, who represented iconic teams like SK, NoA and mTw during his playing career, is one of the most revered coaches in all of esports and has steered the Danish team to multiple trophies over the years — including four Major crowns — and an Intel Grand Slam title. In 2019, he was named Coach of the Year at the Esports Awards.
The first cracks in Astralis began to appear in the middle of last year, when the team underwent several roster iterations due to two of their players, gla1ve and Xyp9x, going on medical leave after showing symptoms of stress and burnout. The team bounced back after the player break and showed a renewed vigor and intensity following the arrival of Patrick "es3tag" Hansen, who ended up being sold in October to Cloud9 in what Astralis CEO Anders Hørsholt described as "one of the biggest transfers on record".
After getting their Major-winning lineup back on track, Astralis returned to form just in time for the final stretch of the season, winning DreamHack Masters Winter and IEM Global Challenge, and placing second in BLAST Premier to finish 2020 as the best team of the year for the third time in a row.
In the past, Astralis had always been able to work through issues, but a poor start to the 2021 season led to the departure of one of the founding members of the team. In April, the Danish organisation announced the blockbuster transfer of star player Nicolai "device" Reedtz to Ninjas in Pyjamas after he expressed his wish to be part of a team closer to his home in Stockholm. The 25-year-old was replaced by Bubzkji, who had featured infrequently for the team, leading to questions about how the AWP role would be handled moving forward.
Read more: Comment: What now for Astralis?
Unsurprisingly, results since device’s departure have been mixed. Astralis placed 5th-6th in DreamHack Masters Spring, sixth in Flashpoint 3 and 9th-12th in IEM Summer, leaving the top five in the world rankings in mid-June and dropping to eighth at the start of this week. The Danish team have earned a direct spot in IEM Cologne’s main stage and will play their first match only on Friday. They have been placed in Group B alongside Natus Vincere, FURIA, Heroic and four teams coming out of the Play-In stage.
Astralis and zonic declined to comment when contacted by HLTV.org.