Astralis have broken CSGO, as the old saying goes, and we don’t mean in the flashy but ultimately overrated fashion some people thought FaZe Clan did a couple of years ago. Back then, and just for a couple of events, the superteam looked so sharp pundits wondered how you could possibly even compete, a question time has certainly answered when it comes to FaZe, but the Danish five had spoiled things for everyone else to a far greater, and more realistic degree, and it’s started to leak outside the server too.
First they spoiled the Major, by making it totally predictable through a combination of preparation and professionalism. While others were still having a night out before a big game, or just doing their veto based on feel (we see you, Xist), Astralis came in with a plan, a coach that does his job and a clear vision of what each opponent wanted to do, and as a result they have walked away with two Major titles from two Majors. Not bad, but not what we are looking for.
No, the thing that they have ruined today is the ranking/tier system in CSGO. For a long time people talked about the Danes and Team Liquid being two of the best, with the likes of Na’Vi and FaZe maybe a hair behind but, with Astralis pulling away, CSGO has become very fragmented at the extreme top level. It’s true that the top 20 is pretty close, but when it comes to 3, 2, 1, the gaps are growing at an alarming rate, with no team having a semblance of an answer yet.
Tier of their own
If you were to rank to best teams in the world right now, in terms of the level they sit on, it’s pretty obvious that only one team is close to being as good as Astralis, and that is the American mix of Team Liquid. We’ve seen the likes of MIBR anti-strat the Danes to some success, although North did it better under MSL, and there are moments when the sheer individual brilliance of s1mple and electronic has worried the world’s best, but both of those scenarios are rare, and in the latter there is always the combination of Zeus and Edward to balance out the fear.
That means that technically, the likes of Na’Vi, Renegades and ENCE are all tier-three teams, if you start at one, as there is nobody on Astralis’ level, and it’s not realistic to suggest that Na’Vi or RNG are close to Liquid. You might argue ENCE are, but we still don’t have enough data on the Finns to know if they played to their level at the Major, or at other events where they did less well, but those folk who put Na’Vi alongside Liquid are either loyal fans or seeing a different team to this writer.
It doesn’t seem like a lot, but in some ways this is even bigger than running through the Major, as pundits are unable to truly express a comparison between Astralis and the teams that are supposed to be their rivals. At Blast events, in BO1, they are still beatable, but when it comes to actual competitive events that test teams properly Astralis aren’t just the best CSGO team in the world anymore, they a different kind of CSGO team than any other, and that is a level of dominance we rarely - if ever - see in sport or esports.
Image credit: Astralis/Blast