NA vs Astralis: The Rematch

Harry Richards
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Illustration by ANDYJ. Source: Astralis

Astralis used to be a name to strike fear into every NA team. With the exception of OpTic for one event in 2016, their mechanical style crushed NA team after NA team. Cloud9 barely got a round, and we don’t need to remind you of the narratives against Liquid.

NA are weaker now than they were then, but so are Astralis. So would that narrative prevail?

ATK were the first Americans to rock up, with a European import included of course. They smashed the Danes 16-8 on Mirage, abusing Xyp9x and gla1ve on B time and time again — before their uber-talented Macedonian ringer CacaNito decided he could abuse the A players too.

On Inferno they barely let up, storming into a 13-7 lead on the favoured T side.

What followed was familiar to any seasoned CS:GO fan: NA shoving Astralis up against the wall, before device and company ducked under the choke hold and laid them to rest.

The comeback was inevitable, especially after ATK bottled a 5v3 post-plant on the B bombsite in round 30. You can usually win 2v4 post-plants with ease on Inferno, so losing a 5v3? That’s embarrassing at best.

Astralis’ lower bracket gauntlet run continued as they dispatched of Spirit — a “top 5” team, according to some — to put themselves one win away from playoffs.

It was finally clicking into gear. But Liquid pulled the gear stick out of the car.

device, gla1ve, and Xyp9x had been 13-0 since 2018 on Nuke against EliGE, NAF, and nitr0 but that record meant less than nothing when they couldn’t even put up a fight, losing 16-8 on their own pick.

Mirage was next, the map that Astralis had looked so weak on ever since adding blameF and k0nfig in 2021. It was a punish pick, and boy did Liquid punish.

blameF sat behind the boxes every single T round, device was whiffing sitters, and gla1ve couldn’t put together a mid-round for his life. Astralis’ previously mighty system mustered just one gun round all T side, as they slumped from 11-5 up to a 16-12 loss.

This is not the old Astralis; it’s not even 2015 TSM. Farming NA was as crucial to Astralis’ identity as the nade damage, the PR statements, or saving in 3v3 post-plants. Losing that just shows how much they have lost themselves.

March 19, 2023

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