Steven R. September 7, 2019
The grand finals to the StarLadder Berlin Major are now set.
After besting NRG Esports 2-0, Astralis will take on Avangar in the final series of the event. The Berlin Major has seen an emphatic return to form from Astralis, who punched their ticket with a statement victory over a hot North American squad.
NRG Esports surprised many by deciding to open the series on Train, the map where they defeated Astralis in a quintuple overtime marathon in the Legends Stage. While that made sense given their previous success on it, Astralis showed no fear by sprinting to a 8-0 lead that was sparked by a massive clutch by Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz in the pistol round and amplified by impenetrable defense by Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth on the B bomb site.
Tarik "tarik" Celik stepped up for NRG Esports down the stretch, though. He managed to crack Astralis’ defense and help NRG get on the board to a 10-5 score by halftime.
Astralis had a good lead but Train is a CT-sided map, which put them into a tricky position after NRG took the pistol round, converted, and started closing the gap. Despite that, NRG couldn’t gain too much momentum.
When Astralis is firing on all cylinders, every win is hardfought and expensive, and when they take a round it is typically the start of a streak. That’s what happened here as Astralis chipped away at NRG, got a streak going, and closed things out 16-10.
In another surprise, Astralis picked Overpass for game two. Though they aren’t known for their dominance on the map in the same way they are Nuke or Inferno, they undoubtedly felt confident there after beating Team Liquid in the quarterfinals.
The game got off to a wild start as NRG put five players in connector and sprinted back and forth from site to site. Astralis ultimately won, setting the tone for the first half.
NRG Esports swung wildly with its play but rarely connected, with Astralis once again playing aggressive, confident, and effective. Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte topped the server by going 18-9 in the first half, but that did little to help NRG as they once again headed to halftime down 10-5.
A successful pistol round for NRG hinted that they might be able to turn things around but they seemingly had their heart broken when Astralis stole their momentum away with a successful eco round. That left NRG in a freefall which didn’t end until Astralis took the win 16-9 to take the series.
Astralis is back in the finals at the Berlin Major
Astralis is in prime condition at the Berlin Major. The organization was the definitive best team of 2018 and started 2019 strong with a victory at the IEM Katowice Major. The team inexplicably sputtered from there, posting memorably bad performances at the ECS Season 7 Finals and BLAST Pro Series: Miami which left their elite status in question.
At this point however, it’s safe to say Astralis is back.
They’ll be taking on a streaking Avangar who have looked very strong throughout the Berlin Major. They advanced to the grand finals with a win over Renegades and proved they can hang with top opponents with earlier victories over Team Vitality and Team Liquid.
Astralis will face a tough fight against a Kazakhstani squad that has a nation behind them, but if they can pull it off, they will make history.