Astralis Wins London CS:GO 2018 Major

          The competitive scene of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive witnessed Danish organization Astralis claim victory at the FACEIT London Major, one of only two $1,000,000 major championships scheduled for this year.

          But first, let’s take a deeper look into what the game even is. After all, what is CS:GO? In short, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive consists of two five man teams over an objective, usually being two bomb sites. One team plays as the Terrorists, who must arm a bomb at a designated spot and make sure it goes off. The other takes control of the Counter-Terrorist, or CTs. Their mission is to defend the bomb sites, and in the case that a bomb is planted, defuse before it’s too late. Matches are split into rounds, and first team to win 16 rounds wins.

          While it may sound straightforward, there’s so much more that goes into it. On top of raw mechanical skill/reaction times players need to have, strategies and mind games come into play. The game features an economy system where players are rewarded money to spend on equipment depending on how they do. This adds another layer of remembering the enemy’s economy and knowing how to buy in order to counter them. Think of it like 3D chess, where each time is constantly trying to predict and outplay each other. The title was created by the gaming industry giant Valve, who are known for other classic works such as DoTa 2, Half-Life and a series of other hit franchises.

Valve Logo set as the foreground over artwork of two posing Counter Terrorists. Artwork courtesy of Valve Corporation.

          The tournament spanned across many weeks, building up towards a finals which took place last weekend. 24 teams took arms, but after some intense matchups only one remained. Participants include ‘Legends’ from previous majors, such as FaZe Clan, Fnatic, and Cloud9 (the North American team who raised the trophy in January). ‘Challengers’ took them on, featuring well known teams such as North, BIG and who are returning. Lesser-known organizations like Rogue and Team Spirit had a chance to play through the ‘Minor Challengers’ section.

          The remaining player count slowly dwindled as the games went on. Through a swiss system bracket, first it went to sixteen. However, only the 8 best made it to the stage of the SSE Arena in London. Most games were pretty decisive, with every match of the Quarterfinals being best of three and all but one ending 2-0. That momentum was carried into the Semi-Finals, where Astralis won both maps against Team Liquid. On the other half of the bracket, Na’Vi defeated MIBR (whose roster change grabbed two of January’s Major winners) in a similar fashion. That left the giants of the CIS region to take on the Scandinavian powerhouse that is Astralis.

NaVi Roster; (from left to right) Coach Mykhailo “kane” Blagin, Egor “flamie” Vasilyev, Oleksandr Kotsyliev (top). Denis “electronic” Sharipov, Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev and In-game leader Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko (bottom). Image provided by HLTV.

          Natus Vincere, often abbreviated as Na’Vi or Navi, means “Born to Win” in Latin. Win they have, with their Counter-Strike team reported to have earned almost $3 million since their foundation in 2010. The Ukraine based organization features some of the best talent that the CIS region has to offer, including S1mple, one of HLTV’s top rated players in the world.

Astralis Roster; (from left to right) In-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Emil “Magisk” Reif, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz. Roster shot courtesy of Astralis eSports.

          Astralis comes from the Minor Challengers stage, and has expressed their dominance across all of their matches played. They’ve looked good since March’s ‘Intel Extreme Masters,’ where they’ve placed top four in almost every tournament they’ve played in. They’ve also come in 1st place in most of those top four placements, including the million dollar ELEAUGE CS:GO Premier. So obviously, there’s a lot of talent there. With nerves of steel, the relatively new two-year-old team competed against the legendary Na’Vi.

          In a best of three fashion, the first game between the two took place on Nuke. This vertical based map uniquely features the bomb sites stacked on top of one another, connected by vents and various stairwells between the two. In the beginning, it seemed to be going completely in NaVi’s favor, with the team winning the first three rounds. However, it seems that was a turning point for Astralis. It wasn’t until nine rounds of wins NaVi was able to break their streak, and by then it seemed like it was too late. Even though Astralis lost the pistol of the second half, the task was too big for NaVi, and the game ended 6:16, decisively in the favor of Astralis.

          The next map was on Overpass, a large slums based map taking place in Germany. One of the few official maps where CT spawns on a bomb site, it features a lot of good angles and players experience close & long range encounters. While this game started undoubtedly in the favor of Astralis, Na’Vi was able to steal round five and get back into it. The half ended pretty even, at 6:9. It was still anyone’s game. However, once again Astralis began to shut down the legends on Natus Vincere. While there were a lot of close rounds, the Danes took five rounds in a row and subsequently the map shortly there after. NaVi was able to try and spark something on round 21, but couldn’t keep up as Astralis only needed two more rounds to secure the win.

Final standings of the Faceit Major Finals – Provided by Faceit.

          In the end Astralis made what was scheduled to be a four-hour event last no more than two-and-a-half hours. With the win, four of the players on Astralis now join the very small roster of multi-time Major champions in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive history. Team leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander stated “I’m proud of everyone on the team. They’ve been working so hard throughout 2018, winning our second Major title and our first for [Reif], it just means a lot to us.”

Astralis holding their newly won trophy. Image courtesy of Faceit/Astralis.

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