Three months ago, Astralis headed to Charlotte for their first-ever international event in their second stage under the legendary Danish banner. They had just topped the NAL, after having signed Seth "Callout" Mik as a coach and Roman "Forrest" Breaux as a player.
Off the backs of an exciting style of play and searing performances from Forrest and David "iconic" Ifidon, Astralis found themselves exactly where they expected themselves to be -- the grand final.
Unfortunately, fellow NA team DarkZero stood in their way, and Astralis lost 2-3.
“We weren’t happy,” began Callout in an interview with SiegeGG. “But you know, once we got a couple days, you know, kinda reset, rest a bit … everyone was pretty proud of where we came as a team.”
Astralis’ achievement was also made more impressive by the fact that outside of Aaron "Shuttle" Dugger, none on the team had ever made such a deep run in an event.
At the Berlin Major, neither the Charlotte Major champions, DarkZero, nor will world champions TSM FTX be in attendance. With Astralis having been finalists in Charlotte and NA the strongest region by international results in 2022, eyes naturally turn to them as favourites to win now.
Callout, however, was humble in his response, avoiding placing the burden of those expectations upon his own team. But as he continued, he revealed the undercurrent of bridled confidence that runs through Astralis heading into this Major.
“A team can’t really say they are the favourites,” smiled Callout. “But, you know, I think that if we play the game and uphold our standards the way that we wanna do it, then I think we have a good shot at winning this.”
Astralis’ standards have seen them top the NAL a second stage in a row, a likely herald of a championship-winning team. They have not only been able to excel in the BO1 and BO3 formats, which will be the two main formats they will play at the Berlin Major.
“I think it really comes down to like, the standard that we set in practice. … Our goal in practice a lot of times, you know, to learn something new every round,” Callout explained. “We kinda embrace making mistakes.”
Astralis have also avoided post-event burnout, as affected TSM after SI 2022 and has seemingly affected DarkZero after the Charlotte Major -- a remarkable feat considering how easily morale could have dropped after a close loss like they suffered in Charlotte. Countless players have highlighted how the current format gives little time for them to rest, with there being a near-constant requirement to improve.
“We talk a lot about burnout management,” revealed Callout. “We have a lot of different techniques we can use for it. You know, like, there’s stuff like… it’s basically like completing the stress cycle and we always talk about that.
“It kinda comes down to each individual on the team, along with me making sure, you know, I’m not working the guys ridiculously hard constantly… which, you know, I have done in the past before which has led to a little bit of burnout for us.”
But an argument against crowning Astralis favourites comes from South of North America; Brazil. All four Brazilian teams will presumably be at full strength in Berlin, with none of the visa issues that prevented three from playing in person in Charlotte. They will also feature SI 2021 champions, NIP, and Sweden Major champions, FaZe Clan amongst them.
“I think they’re all a threat,” answered Callout when asked about Astralis’ chances against the Brazilian teams. “If we slip up … they can beat us, definitely.”
Catch Astralis on the international stage again at the Berlin Major, which will run from Aug. 15 to 21, and read up on everything you need to know about the event.