The four-time major-winning organization absorbed a tough loss to Team Spirit in the upper bracket finals of group A. Though the first two games of the series were competitive, Astralis narrowly avoided a historic loss in the decider.
The series opened on Inferno with Team Spirit looking very strong, taking five of the first six rounds on the T side. A huge round from Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander jump-started a return to form for Astralis, with the team playing lockdown defense and building an 8-7 lead at halftime.
Team Spirit looked ready to take back control after winning the second pistol round but Astralis denied the conversion and once again took the reins and started closing in on the victory. A wacky play by Abdulkhalik “degster” Gasanov let Team Spirit get a few rounds in, but Astralis sealed the opening victory 16-11.
The action then moved on to Train, with Spirit starting on the CT side. As fans expected, Team Spirit got off to a very strong start with degster and Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov posting massive rounds one after another en route to a 10-5 first half.
On a heavily CT-sided map that left the door open for an Astralis comeback, but Team Spirit took the pistol round to start their T half and converted a few times over. That put Astralis into a very precarious position and while they broke off seven rounds to keep things tight, Team Spirit was just too close to the victory to be denied. A couple of rounds let Team Spirit take a 16-13 win to force the decider.
Map three was Dust 2 and the expectation was that Team Spirit and Astralis would once again combine for a hard-fought, tight match. Instead, chopper and degster were just on too much of a roll. The duo racked up kills and pushed Team Spirit to a perfect, 15-0 half.
— Astralis Counter-Strike (@AstralisCS) February 21, 2021
Facing down the first 16-0 defeat in organization history, Emil “Magisk” Reif managed to narrowly score the defusal to win the second pistol round. The loss still came in short order, with Team Spirit denying the conversion to take a 16-1 win on the map and a 2-1 win in the series. This was just the second 16-1 loss in Astralis history, with the first coming from North in the finals of DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018.
Both Astralis and Team Spirit are headed to the IEM Katowice 2021 playoffs. Astralis will face either Furia Esports or Virtus.pro in the quarterfinals. Team Spirit starts in the semifinals and will face either Gambit Esports, Natus Vincere, or Team Liquid.
Regardless of who ends up matched against Team Spirit, the Russian squad is a serious contender to win the tournament. Team Spirit is white-hot at the event, winning five series and boasting a 9-2 map record. They’ve faced consistently tough competition throughout too, defeating the likes of BIG and G2 Esports ahead of this showdown with Astralis.
This was a big statement victory for the team and there’s a real chance that they could walk away with the championship.