After losing two of its players to the rigors of what can be a brutal tournament schedule, the best Counter-strike: Global Offensive team in the world has hit a bit of a bump.
After Danish CSGO team Astralis announced that Lucas “gla1ve” Rossander and Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth had taken a step back from the game due to burnout, the team announced that Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer and Jakob “JUGi” Hansen would step in to fill the veteran’s shoes. But the organization’s ongoing plan to build a deeper roster of backup players has gotten off to a rough start.
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In March, Astralis announced the signing of Patrick “es3tag” Hansen, stating that the team would continue to add players to its roster and citing the need for a deep bench to combat CSGO’s packed tournament schedule. By May, the team had also signed JUGi as it waited out es3tag’s contract with Heroic that expired on July 1. Astralis cited the need to give its players breaks, specifically telling WIN.gg that the plan for an expanded roster was a long time in the making.
“For [Astralis,] the idea to create a six-man roster, or an even a bigger roster long term, started almost 3 years ago. [Our] main reasoning is, and has always been, the health of the players and the focus on each individual player to be as close to 100% as possible during tournaments. Physically and mentally,” Astralis Group’s director of sports Kasper Hvidt said.
Soon after, the team announced that both gla1ve and Xyp9x would be taking time away from the team, with both players citing burnout from the professional Counter-Strike circuit as the reason for their hiatus.
Unfortunately, Astralis’ deep roster hasn’t been performing as well as the team would like. Over the new players’ first several games with the team, it’s been a rough start.
In Astralis’ first matchup against a top-ten team with JUGi on board, the Danes lost against G2 at DreamHack Masters Spring. With Xyp9x still present, gal1ve’s designated stand-in didn’t perform very well in his first real test with his new team. He posted a mediocre 24-37 against G2’s Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and company. Snappi didn’t fare much better in Astralis’ next match, the team’s opening game at the BLAST Premier Spring tournament. Against a young Ninjas in Pyjamas team, both Snappi and JUGi put up dismal performances in the best-of-one, posting map totals of only seven and eight kills, respectively.
It’s expected that it would take some time for both players to become comfortable in a brand new system, but these performances don’t bode well for Astralis. With the next Regional Ranking tournament CS Summit 6 fast approaching, the team is facing a 40% penalty for switching out two players between Valve’s CSGO Major qualifying events. After moving CSGO’s first Major of 2020 to the fall, Valve instituted a new qualification system to make up for the long wait in between last year’s StarLadder Berlin Major and 2020’s ESL One Rio.
While Astralis seemed confident when it spoke to WIN.gg on whether it was concerned about the 20% roster move penalty that came along with Valve’s new qualification system, they might be a little more worried now. Especially with their two stand-in players performing so poorly.
Astralis’ next test comes in the form of two matches against Ninjas in Pyjamas and ENCE. While the NiP match is already a concerning sight after Astralis’ 16-7 loss against the young Swedish side, ENCE should also worry Astralis. The Finnish team has also made their own roster move after struggling for some time, adding Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen in April. Since then, ENCE has seen improved results after with their new player. If Astralis drops either one of these next matches, it may be time for fans of Astralis to start worrying.