Fourth place at IEM Cologne would be a standout success for almost any Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. But Astralis is not just any CSGO team.
Astralis has stood at the top of CSGO time and time again but the loss of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz has left the Danish juggernaut scrambling for a replacement. The squad might have found one in new young AWPer Philip “Lucky” Ewald. Can the young sniper bring Astralis back to the peak of CSGO? And is it really fair to expect Lucky to do so?
Before earning a spot on the historic Danish roster, Lucky AWPed for Tricked Esports for nearly two years. Tricked was a regular fixture of the tier two European CSGO scene but generally struggled to place well at larger tournaments. Lucky’s biggest championship is currently a $6,250 gold finish at Elisa Nordic Championship 2021’s Danish division.
— Astralis Counter-Strike (@AstralisCS) July 26, 2021
Denmark is one of the most competitive countries in CSGO but there’s currently a rush on new talent. Legendary in-game leader Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen is assembling a presumably Danish stack of his own. Daniel “mertz” Mertz, Philip “aizy” Aistrup Larsen, and maybe a return for Jakob “JUGi” Hansen, were the only other options assuming Astralis intended to remain all-Danish.
One thing going for Lucky is that he isn’t under as much pressure as some other AWPers. The team has six players signed, so he has a unique opportunity to ease into the position. Lucky will also be surrounded by many of the greatest CSGO players in history. All of Astralis’ players have experience working with younger talent. According to a personal statement, Lucky has been accepted into Astralis with a very warm welcome.
“When Astralis comes knocking, everything changes, though. It’s without a doubt one of the most professional organizations and I already feel welcome and part of the family,” said Lucky.
Once he’s grown more accustomed to the team, there are a handful of distinct ways that Astralis can utilize Lucky’s playstyle. Astralis famously avoids Train during the map pick phase but the shipping yard is one of Lucky’s best maps. He’s averaged .76 kills and .61 deaths per round on Train throughout his career. He boasts similar stats for Overpass, which Astralis has sometimes struggled on. The introduction of Lucky could help Astralis round out its map pool.
As for measuring up to dev1ce, it’s completely unreasonable to expect him to waltz into Astralis and become the best player in the world. For all his experience on Tricked, this is Lucky’s first time playing at the highest level of CSGO. It will take time for him to adjust and improve.
If Astralis’s players wanted another dev1ce, they’d have begged and pleaded with Ninjas in Pyjamas. Instead, the team brought in a young AWPer with plenty of potential, giving him the best circumstances he could ask for. Only time will tell if Lucky’s addition can bring Astralis back to number one.