We thought this day will never come

Is the Astralis dynasty collapsing?

CS:GO
Astralis collapse

This is the most difficult test Astralis have faced. (Image credit: Astralis)

Astralis have built something of an empire within the CS:GO pro scene. In the span of two years, the Danish organization went all the way to being the undisputed greatest team to step foot in a CS:GO server. Now, for the first time since early 2018, they look genuinely vulnerable.

Imploding from within

A premise I’ve believed in going as far back as Astralis’ Intel Grand Slam win is that this team will not be taken down in the typical CS:GO way. In other words, their downfall, if and when it comes, will not be a result of someone overtaking them by virtue of the “new team rises to the top every few months” cycle that had marked the first 5 years of CS:GO’s history.

Astralis winning

Image credit: Astralis

No, this team was for real and it was not going away in a few months. That left us with the only remaining alternative – Astralis going down by their own bloody hands. The events that have unraveled in the past couple of weeks give us a hint that, yes, after two phenomenal years, the magical lineup may finally be done.

Team wins ending in individual loss

Sadly, this is not a matter of personal issues or in-game struggles or a rushed roster move. The obstacle the Astralis dynasty is facing is much more serious than that – the crippling effects of burnout.

The organization didn’t hide the fact that such issues are present among its players as they went out and admitted that’s the main reason for signing Patrick “es3tag” Hansen and Jacob “JUGi” Hansen, bringing the squad numbers up to seven players.

Turns out stress among Astralis players is even more of an issue than the org anticipated. In-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander, being the model captain that he is, stepped up first and required sick leave to deal with the ever-growing symptoms of burnout that had been plaguing him. That in itself was already a logistical problem for the team, because his replacement – JUGi, was no IGL. Neither are any of the other team members.

Then, just a week later, the person with nerves of steel, the clutch minister himself – Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, followed through with an announcement that he would be leaving for an indefinite period as well. Now that is alarming.

Trouble lying ahead

Losing two players in one week is bad enough. Losing these two players is irreparable damage. Losing them to stress is outright devastating. This is not a cold. There’s no timeline on when they will return and what is more key in the matter – there’s no guarantee in what condition the players will be when they report back for duty.

Astralis xyp9x

Dupreeh might feel he should have treated Xyp9x better. Now he has to clutch instead. (Image credit: Astralis via Twitter)

Xyp9x and gla1ve are consummate professionals and there’s no doubt they’ll do their part to come back as strong if not stronger. Yet, the world doesn’t work that way. Not everyone is Michael Jordan. Win three rings, take two years off, come back, win three more. Most people are Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer.

The Swedish legend has struggled with burnout, lack of motivation and the career damage those symptoms bring along. Once hailed as the best to do it, he just took a second leave of absence from FaZe Clan in the last two years. Unsurprisingly, he hasn’t been the same player since that first three-month break in 2018.

What is there for Astralis to do?

Nothing that they haven’t done already, really. The model CS:GO organization proved itself once again and did not go against the players’ health. Most orgs, and that’s not speculation but facts, would have berated the pair, and especially Xyp9x, who “came out” second, for leaving at such a key period for the team. At the very least, he would have been asked to play until the end of June when es3tag is set to join the squad.

Yet, there was none of that nonsense. And that’s why Astralis are where they are and no one has been even close to touching their dynasty for two whole years. That’s why they are the only organization that has a legitimate chance to recover from such a dire situation. That’s why they’ve had more success than any CS:GO team before them and likely any that will come after them.

Ultimately, it is this success that led to the current predicament, though. Mind you, we’re still talking of a team that routinely skipped events and is famous for taking care of its players like no other on the scene. Imagine what the condition of regular Joes is if that’s what the Danes are going through? But we’ll touch on that a different day.

The awakening

If this were anyone else, I’d bring out the tombstone right now. Given that’s Astralis we’re talking about, I’d limit myself to printing a couple of obituaries, just in case. The team is going to struggle, there’s no getting past that. Even the Danish machine can’t work properly without two of its wheels. But if we’ve learned something throughout their historical run, it’s that these Danes know what they are doing. If they are giving players indefinite leave, it’s because they believe in the process. Who the hell are we to question it?

The castle is under siege. Astralis brought in supplies. It’s up to the rebelling kingdoms to wear them down while they can because when those reinforcements come, who knows what could happen. And if you want to learn of this northern empire's glorious history, you need but to ask.

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