Four teams have crashed out of the event featuring most of CS:GO’s best and brightest, and now there’s no more room for error: the knockout rounds are upon us. First, it will be Astralis facing the team affectionately known as “budget FaZe” instead of the real one after mousesports made it past the real one and Fnatic in two close series.
For the time being, Astralis are still the team to beat in Counter-Strike, winning four out of the eight major events they’ve attended since March – winning three in a row between May 12th and June 10th – with a second place and two semi-final spots to show for their performances at IEM Sydney, ESL One Cologne and IEM Katowice. It’s a sign of strength in and of itself when a discussion about a team’s potential era even begins, and it really feels like mouz will have to fight against history in Atlanta if they want to get to the finals of ELEAGUE Premier.
There are more concrete reasons as well to treat the international side as underdogs. Their recent roster change from STYKO to Snax is clearly still a work in progress as they struggle to make up for the loss of a dedicated support player by someone who clearly aspires to be a star player once more – something that has definitely made a dent in their performances judging by their awful result at Cologne. Certainly, they’ve done better in the ELEAGUE studios, even if they’ve cut it fairly close against both FaZe and Fnatic in the groups. chrisJ’s recently given an interview to HLTV where he stated that they “have most of the basics down now” and “can actually play some proper CS together”, strongly suggesting that the growing pains blighting their 9-12th finish in Cologne are behind them. There’s certainly no better way to prove the point than by taking down the mighty Danes.
To have a chance against Astralis, two of their players will certainly need to step up: both Snax and chrisJ are in the negative after going 5-4 on maps overall. The Polish newcomer’s -12 stat and 0.64 ADR is the tougher one to judge considering the fluidity of the roles right now in the team, but the in-game leader’s -44 K/D is a shocking performance so far, only going positive on two maps, and even then by one and two kills respectively. Such performances will not be anywhere near enough against gla1ve and his entourage.
Looking at the Danes, nothing but a tournament win would count as an acceptable result: as stacked as the field is, it’s still only an eight-team event, and it’s fairly tough to consider yourself the best if you can’t beat the rest. For now, no one can match them in terms of tactical acumen and the cohesion of their system gives them a better chance against flair-based aggression than some of the line-up’s previous iterations did.
Astralis haven’t dropped a single map so far throughout the event and have a 4-1 map record over their opponents on LAN over the last six months. All in all, a bet on their 2-0 win seems like a very safe bet – especially if Dust2 comes up, a map where the Danes are 4-0 in the same period, a stat including a 16-3 mauling of mouz at Sydney just as the international roster was dropping off their StarSeries 4-induced high –, but there are a few pointers to look out for that might indicate an upset by mousesports.
For starters, you might want to get your hopes up if Cache somehow gets through the veto process, it being mouz’s best and Astralis’ worst map over the past half year. They could also have a good shot at Inferno, the only map they’ve managed to took off them in the same period at Sydney – then again, they don’t boast a 77+% winrate on it like their opponents do. It could also be as simple as a confidence thing. Mousesports have had some decent successes against Astralis in an online environment recently, so this kind of comfort could be the key for them to pull off an upset. There’s also the fact that even though mouz’s Mirage has been mostly adapted to by their opponents, they still have a lot more practice and experience on the map recently as the Danes do. Is this enough to get them past one of the best CS:GO teams at the moment? It’s not very likely. This is one of those matchups where it seems fairly clear that something has to go wrong for the expected winners for chrisJ and co. to even have a chance, but they are certainly a strong enough team to take advantage of any such occurrence if the moment arises.