Photo via Ubisoft/Eric Ananmalay
Astralis showed up to their Charlotte Major press conference all wearing sunglasses – cool, calm, collected, and having fun. It’s the same combination of attributes that netted this team a spot in the Major quarterfinals with a perfect 4-0 record through two days, and led to their NAL-leading Stage 1 performance.
Through four games, before their press conference Astralis looked like they’re real Major favorites. A slow start in the opening game against Wolves segued into a 7-2 thrashing of BDS, one of the world’s best teams. Roman “Forrest” Breaux said, “It just shows our standard. That’s how we play Siege. It’s nothing really special to us, it’s just another game.”
David “iconic” Ifidon chimed in, saying, “I think our team’s mindset is…BDS…G2….we don’t care who you are, we’re just going to show up and play.”
Astralis certainly do more than just show up, and “playing” might be downplaying their skill. Iconic led the field in SiegeGG Rating and K/D after day two, and was second in the field in clutches, behind only Nathan "Grizzly" Harding.
Day two saw Astralis beat Wolves by a solid margin, and survive an upset bid from Chiefs 7-5. The numbers don’t lie: a 4-0 record in this style of group is enough to qualify any team for the playoffs phase. Astralis could forfeit the next two games, they could all run out of the same window every round on defense, they could try to win attacks with knives only and they’re still going through.
“That game didn’t show, that last match didn’t show the same as we like to play to,” said head coach Seth “Callout” Mik of the team’s day two performance against Chiefs, which qualified them for playoffs. “It’s pretty good. On to the next one, got to secure first seed now.”
One of the things that set Astralis apart, at least so far, is their difference post-tactical timeouts. They always seem to come at the perfect time, and after Wolves went up 3-1 on Astralis in the first game of the group stage, it was the tactical timeout Callout took that turned the tide.
“Callout just points out the problem that we can’t see,” Forrest said. “And usually, any of us has a solution, or Callout has a solution, and we just mold with it.”
Astralis does three things profoundly well: attack, adapt, and play trades. They are seemingly always in a position to equalize their teammates’ deaths.
However, there are still questions to be answered. How will this team fare in best-of-threes? Theoretically, they should flourish under a North American crowd, but will the lights be too bright? They struggled against BDS on the third day of competition, losing 2-7, but secured the top seed in the group with a 7-3 victory over Chiefs.
Time will tell how high Astralis can fly. They hope it’s to the stars, and with their efficient teamwork, they might just make it happen.