Astralis signs es3tag, plans to compete with 6-man CSGO roster

Nick J. March 22, 2020

Danish Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Astralis announced an agreement this morning between itself and Team Heroic to acquire Patrick “es3tag” Hansen. Astralis announced the deal early this morning through an official press release.

While the signing itself is impactful in and of itself, Astralis positioned the move as a transition from a five-player roster to a six-player roster. At its most basic, the Astralis organization now has an official, permanent stand-in that will be available to relieve any player for any reason, not just in emergencies. The press release argued that a “5-player roster leaves no room [to give players] physical or mental recovery.”

es3tag to Astralis as the Danes solidify their position in CSGO

"This approach is no different than in traditional sports, but it’s new to Counter-Strike, and a
change like this will take time to optimize for full advantage. The players, coach and our
performance team have been involved in this decision and everybody agrees it is the way to go," said Astralis' director of esports Kasper Hvidt.

Astralis' acquisition of es3tag has CSGO mired in controversy

The move isn’t without controversy, however. As of yesterday, es3tag had played matches as a member of FunPlus Phoenix in North America's Flashpoint, a rival league of ESL Pro League. Astralis is a part-owner of ESL Pro League.

FPX announced it had signed the Heroic roster and joined North America’s Flashpoint league on March 11. By Saturday, March 21, rumors began to circulate that Heroic had backed out of the deal while also looking to transfer es3tag to Astralis.

Both Heroic and Astralis were once owned by Nicolaj Nyholm of RFRSH Entertainment before RFRSH split its holdings. The move resulted in the Nyholm-held Astralis Group taking Astralis and League of Legends team Origen under the newly-formed Astralis Group while RFRSH rebranded into BLAST Entertainment. 

This move strengthens Astralis competitively and also undercuts a rival CSGO league. The organization posted losses of $5 million in its first annual report after going public.

As of now, FPX has not announced its plans nor the plans of the rest of the Heroic roster. Since es3tag won't transfer to Astralis until the end of his contract on July 1, it's possible that Heroic plays out Flashpoint under the FPX banner.