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"We’ve gotta start being comfortable taking more risks and let our nuts hang": New Astralis philosophy yielding spectacular results in playoffs

The North Americans have turned things around in spectacular fashion.

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Astralis certainly know how to get fans’ hearts pumping. Aside from a 2-0 win against CYCLOPS athlete gaming in the group stage, they have only played 2-1 games. Three losses in the group stage were followed by three incredible 2-1 wins in the lower bracket of the playoffs and today was no exception.

Having already eliminated tournament favourites Soniqs, then Brazilian upstarts LOS oNe, and Jonkoping Major champions Team BDS, they set their sights on taking down Berlin Major champions KOI.

The first map went in their favour, a surprising 7-5 off the backs of a 1v4 and a 1v3 clutch before they were pegged back by the same margin on the second map. Then, things finally seemed to be going smoothly for them on the third map, Border, as they led 5-1 -- but KOI returned the favour and soon had forced overtime.

In overtime, Astralis once again got to series point first, but KOI managed to drag proceedings to round 15. Finally, the North Americans took the win, managing to send a fourth team home in what has become an incredible Cinderella lower bracket run.

“You know, the guys were making more mistakes than they should have,” said Astralis coach Seth "Callout" Mik of their lost lead on Border in a post-match interview with SiegeGG. “They kinda let the pressure get to them a little bit in that second half.”

Despite the pressure, Callout stated that his team was not affected emotionally to a point where they let their heads drop and let their fears take over.

The newest Astralis signing Chris "Spiff" Park was also not cowed. Instead, he has been remarkably good for his team, despite his significant lack of experience. Recently having turned 18 years old, Spiff had not even played a single game in the NAL before coming into the Six Invitational.

His only experience had been with the amateur SCS League, where Astralis looked shaky and were knocked out by Six Invitational 2023 grand-finalists Oxygen Esports in the first round of the playoffs.

In a pre-event interview with SiegeGG, Callout had stated that his team’s play style had not been “true to [themselves]" and that his team had been “a lot slower”. Their goal had been to “peak at [the Invitational]”, which has certainly been the case for them and for Spiff so far.

Spiff echoed those sentiments today, stating that SCS had not been a “true showing” of the potential Astralis had with him.

However, the time spent gelling together was exactly what the team -- and Spiff -- needed.

“Everyone helped me tremendously, like learning to adapt and not get down on yourself,” he said, pointing to how those learning points helped in their matchup today.

Astralis have also been peaking at the right time, as hoped by Callout, and have done so in extremely clutch fashion -- nine clutches against Team BDS got them through to today and five clutches got them through to tomorrow.

“We had a sit down after that group stage and we talked about it,” explained Callout. “We said, like, ‘You know what, we’ve gotta start being comfortable taking more risks and let our nuts hang’ -- that’s literally the words we used.”

Astralis will now go up against G2 Esports tomorrow in the lower bracket semi-final. But, it is a G2 led by Fabian "Fabian" Hällsten, who has a 15-0 record against North American teams.

Nevertheless, Callout is confident of his team’s strength.

“We come out, execute (the plans) tomorrow, and we should be able to win. It really comes down to execution,” he said. “We know how to beat them.”

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