10th June, 2020

2020

So far and onwards

Astralis has played the last tournament prior to the 2020 tournament break. The last stand was taken in the playoffs of DreamHack Masters where Astralis was eliminated in a gripping best-of-three series against Ninjas in Pyjamas. But we are halfway through 2020 and there are more than a few things to look back at (and forward to).

JANUARY

LAUNCHING 2020 WITH NEW AND FAMILIAR PARTNERS

Astralis x CS.Money

2020 blasted off with new and old friends in the commercial department. Januar 16th, Astralis joined forces with the digital trading platform CS.Money, fusing the two logos to commemorate the partnership on the Astralis jersey. 

The 12-month deal was put in place to give fans of Astralis and Counter-Strike a digital platform on which they could win and play with skins used by the players in designated tournaments.

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Astralis x OMEN

OMEN has been a part of the Astralis family for quite some time now and at the beginning of the year, the gaming-oriented hardware manufacturer chose to extend their stay. 

The extension of the strong relationship contributed to a strong opening month for commercial partnerships in the Astralis camp. 

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Astralis x CULT

In late January, Astralis launched a partnership with Royal Unibrew, one of the major Danish breweries. The deal brought a new, Astralis-branded soft drink to the shelves in supermarkets and convenience stores all over Denmark.

The two flavors (Blood Orange and Lemon Lime) rolled out in mid-March, stamped with the message of the Astralis DNA, performance culture, and healthy lifestyle.

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Astralis x GLHF

Just as the first month of 2020 was ending, Astralis Group and Astralis made a new friend in the GLHF, an esports audience competition platform. The partnership was the first deal to not include exposure on the player jersey, but a major deal focused solely on media and content deliveries.

The partnership has enabled Astralis to further strengthen its brand and has opened for a new way to engage with the ever-growing fanbase.

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FEBRUARY

BACK IN THE SERVER

The year of competition began in London at BLAST Premier Spring Series. A tournament Astralis signed up for as one of 12 partner teams. Astralis, who ended 2019 as BLAST Global Finals Champions, did not go far in the revised format. Two losses against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Natus Vincere meant no direct qualification for the BLAST Premier Spring Finals. A rocky start in a professional Counter-Strike circuit.

Astralis with encouraging words for the fans following the BLAST exit

IEM Katowice

Astralis began the prestigious ESL tournament with a swift 2-0 victory against Cloud9. The Battle for Spodek Arena came down to a thrilling series against the Frenchmen from Vitality with Astralis booking a spot in the playoffs after a double-overtime match on Vertigo.

Trailing the crucial playoffs qualification came a comfortable way into the semifinals of the annual $500,000 tournament in Poland. The team defeated Fantic 16-9, 16-8 in a quick 2-0 to secure top 4 and a semifinal game against Natus Vincere. 

The semifinal became the end of the line for Astralis who was sent packing by a red-hot NAVI squad - a powerful force that ultimately ended up winning IEM Katowice 2020.

No trophy this time around but a top 4 finish and a gigantic leap of improvement from BLAST Premier Spring Series a few weeks prior.

MARCH

THE FOUNDING FATHERS OF PRO LEAGUE

Prior to Pro League S11, Astralis and ESL entered a strategic league partnership alongside 12 other top Counter-Strike teams as founding members of the new league.

At Pro League S11, the partnership came to fruition when 18 of Europe's best teams clashed. The tournament was played entirely online due to the global COVID-19 crisis.

The group stage was off to a scary start with a loss in Astralis' opening match against Ninjas in Pyjamas. But the wind quickly came to sails of the red star team who ended up winning the entire group, going undefeated in the four following games following the loss.

Highlights from Astralis' group stage match again ENCE.

30 UNDER 30

While waiting for the Pro League playoffs to begin, Nicolai 'dev1ce' Reedtz snuck his way into Forbes' annual 30 under 30 list in the 'Sports & Games' category. The list highlights young stars and entrepreneurs. With four major titles and the most MVP awards in the history of Counter-Strike, the Astralis AWP'er claimed his spot on the prestigious list.

INCREASING THE ROSTER

in the continuous efforts to improve long term performance and working conditions for the players, Astralis decided to increase its active roster to six players by welcoming Patrick 'es3tag' Hansen from July 1st.

The Astralis roster has felt this change to be necessary and has, up until that point, coped with stress by prioritizing tournaments and travel during certain periods. 

APRIL

THE PRO LEAGUE COMEBACK

After topping the group at Pro League, Astralis had a crash landing in the playoffs losing the two opening games versus NAVI and Fnatic. One more loss away from elimination, Astralis managed the reverse sweep with three consecutive wins and set the course for the semifinal.

Mousesports was packing a surprise for Astralis in the semifinals and stunned the team resulting in another top 4 tournament finish for Astralis.

Pro League S11 highlights

WE ARE ASTRALIS

Fan from all over the world sent thousands of photos to recreate the Astralis star made up of people from all walks of life. Several editions of the Fan Star had to be made to fit as many people as possible and even then, the pictures kept coming.

The Fan Star is a monument to the fact that Astralis is not just the logo, the players, and the staff. Astralis is everyone who helped us reach the stars.

April / May

ROAD TO RIO 

PLAYING FOR THE MAJOR

The Rio de Janeiro Major was supposed to take place in May but was, like many other events, postponed due to the global pandemic. The Major was pushed to November 2020. Instead, regional tournaments were put into place. Three tournaments, scattered across the year leading up to the November Major.

The award for placing high is a lion's share of RMR-points which in the end will determine which teams qualify for the $1,000,000 in Brazil.

Astralis is still the reigning Major champions after their win in the Mercedes Benz Arena at StarLadder Berlin. This means that Astralis began the first Road to Rio tournament with 800 RMR points putting the team in a comfortable spot ahead of the first qualification tournament.

MAY

ASTRALIS WELCOMES JUGI

Before the Road to Rio playoffs, Astralis signed a 7th man to its active roster: Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen. Like es3tag, JUGi returned to the performance culture under which he performed best at his best back in the day. But unlike es3tag, JUGi was able to begin work right away seeing that he was not bound by a contract. 

It was too late for JUGi to participate in Road to Rio but he would soon have his time to help out the squad.

WORLD PREMIERE OF VOICE COMMS

For the first time ever, Astralis released part of their voice comms to give fans an insight into communication that goes on during a professional Counter-Strike match.

The video received thousands of views within minutes of release and had amassed no less than 250,000 views after 24 hours. This anticipated piece of educational entertainment, currently sitting at 578,000 views, is part of a series with four episodes currently available on the Astralis YouTube channel. Much more to come.

ROAD TO RIO PLAYOFFS BEGIN

8 top teams fought to be the best in Group A in Road to Rio but Astralis was the only team to prevail. 5 wins and 1 loss saw Astralis fly into the playoffs in one of the year's most crucial tournaments.

After sending G2 to the lower bracket and ending FaZe Clan's 8-map winning streak, Astralis booked their first Grand Final of the year. 

FIRST TOURNAMENT WIN OF 2020

In the Grand Finale of ESL One: Road to Rio, Astralis bumped into G2 once again. The French team had impressively clawed their way into the Grand Finale through the lower brackets. Now, a best-of-five series against the hungry G2 squad stood between Astralis and the 1600 additional RMR points.

Astralis displayed a form doing the finale that seemed to be the amalgamation of hard work and the lessons brought on from some of the more devastating defeats earlier that year.

The best-of-five series was over in a blink and with a 3-0 victory, Astralis had secured their first tournament win of 2020 and a strong buffer in the RMR leaderboards with 2400 total points.

Highlights from the Road to Rio Grand Finale

GLA1VE ON SICK LEAVE

The Astralis veteran Lukas 'glav1e' Rossander announced a three-month-long break to deal with burnout following the long fight in Road to Rio. The increased roster already put into place made his departure easier to deal with from a competitive standpoint as Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen could instantly fill the fifth spot.

With DreamHack Masters approaching fast, Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen did not have all the much time to prepare with the team but they went off to a good start anyway. With Astralis, JUGi beat both of his former teams, Heroic and North, and the team made it to playoffs set to begin in June.

YOU CAN BANK ON IT

Following the Road to Rio success, Astralis Group and the nordic challenger bank Lunar set up to launch a partnership including a brand new banking experience catering to the growing gaming audience. 

The introduction of an exclusive Astralis VISA credit card in September will give fans branded payment and a digital universe revolving around the Counter-Strike team - only available through the Lunar app.

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XYP9X TAKES A BREAK

Like In-Game Leader Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossander, Andreas 'Xyp9x' Højsleth also felt the need to step back and recover mentally from the immense pressure of playing at the highest level of professional Counter-Strike.

Seeing as Patrick 'es3tag' Hansen was still bound by contract, Astralis had to seek a substitute elsewhere taking Marco 'Snappi' Pfeiffer in on loan for the duration of BLAST Premier Showdown and DreamHack Masters.

June

THE PRESENT

With BLAST Premier Showdown and the playoffs of DreamHack Masters, this timeline comes full circle. An Astralis roster consisting of Nicolai 'dev1ce' Reedtz, Emil 'Magisk' Reif, Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen, Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen, and Marco 'Snappi' Pfeiffer showed gradual improvement through the last two tournaments before the tournament break.

Alas, the team could not overcome the other top Counter-Strike teams with longer-standing, more routined rosters. Marco 'Snappi' Pfeiffer put in a great effort despite being a temporary player and Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen has been working hard to find his groove within the team.

By the time August comes, a new season begins and by then Patrick 'es3tag' Hansen will see his Astralis debut. 

"We need a change!"

In a blog post on astralisgroup.net, Kasper Hvidt writes an honest insight about Astralis' roster expansion plans, giving the players an opportunity to step back and recharge if the immense pressure of professional Counter-Strike becomes too overwhelming.

"The message of protecting the mental and physical health of our players is essential for the future of our industry. We have carried this message since day one, and we have invested significantly in improving the conditions on and around our teams."

Read the entire blogpost here.

BUILT TO LAST

The first six months of Astralis is done and dusted. Anders Hørsholt, CEO of Astralis Group, zooms out and touches on the things the initiatives that have been launched during this time and what it will potentially mean for the future. 

"I am confident we will see the team rise again - and get even stronger. Again."

Read the entire blogpost here.