Astralis’ latest championship victory has again caused people to ask themselves what the best way to prepare for a major performance really is.
By early 2019, the Danish team had already established itself as one of the greatest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sides of all time. Two major championships and one of the most dominant streaks in the game’s history spoke to Astralis’ greatness.
But something happened in the summer season. Astralis began to slip. Their hold on the world’s number-one spot was lost to North American side Team Liquid, who long lingered in Astralis’ shadow. The Danes went from winning nearly every event they attended to struggling to sometimes struggling to make the top six in the final standings.
Fans immediately began to ask the obvious question: What had changed for Astralis?
Not every great team’s fall from grace can be easily explained. Astralis had not made a change to its roster since February 2018, and no chemistry issues had been made apparent. Some members of the team had dealt with personal hardships, such as when Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen suffered the death of his father. But dupreeh persevered and spoke openly about how that tragedy affected him after the team won the 2019 Katowice Major.
One potential culprit seemed related to Astralis’ preparation. It was something the team had always prided itself on, and it may have faltered midway through 2019.
Members of Astralis have spoken to the team’s style and pace of practice being a big reason for its success, and coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen is often given credit for what he brings to the squad.
One of the clearest ways in which the benefits of this rigorous practice can be seen is in Astralis’ famed utility usage. No other teams seems to reap greater benefits from grenades, flashbangs, smokes, and fires than does Astralis. This is a benefit earned through rigorous preparation, study, and coordination.
But Astralis’ decision to attend BLAST Pro Series events over other, bigger events called into question the team’s continued dedication to pursuing greatness. If Astralis was more interested in attending events run by the team’s own parent company rather than attending events with the best available competition, what did that say about the side’s desire to train and compete?
Eventually, Astralis split from parent company RFRSH, seemingly in part as a result of the controversy that surrounded the team’s spring and summer tournament schedule. The team then took off significant time prior to the 2019 StarLadder Berlin Major.
This decision created much discussion in and around the CSGO community. Was it the right call for Astralis to cease competing nearly two full months prior to its next big tournament?
Players and teams are always looking for a way to get a leg up on the competition. This has included the use of performance-enhancing supplements in and around tournament play.
More recently, research and development have led to the creation of products designed specifically to boost playing performance in ways that are safer and more reliable.
Pro players are typically tight-lipped about the products and supplements they take to improve performance. Even practice routines have become a secretive business for many top teams.
For Astralis, taking significant time away from pro competition seems to have been the right call. The squad bounced back from its difficult summer in a big way, winning another major championship in Berlin after defeating Avangar in a one-sided final.
But that’s not going to stop the debate around how teams can best prepare to compete at the highest level. Astralis’ next moves will be closely monitored by fans and peers alike. Such greatness brings about equitable attention. Judging from the results to date, Astralis can handle all the attention in the world.