At this point, Team Astralis’ worst possible enemy is themselves. The only way they’ll fall down from their spot on top of the perch is for some sort of chemistry issue to disrupt the team’s success. Otherwise, the gap between them and the rest of the CS:GO world will just keep on growing.
Or, will it?
Team Astralis, as great as they are and have been, are not without competition — not when Team Liquid and FaZe Clan recently revamped their rosters in hopes of improving their chances contending and a couple of possible rising powers from the rest of the world.
Below, we have decided to rank Astralis’ biggest possible threats, by current talent, previous production, upset, and how well they potentially match up in a series.
North’s year hasn’t been all too great, but there have been notable highs. Case in point, they’re one of the only teams to beat Astralis at their best, snatching the crown from their Danish rivals at the DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018. But, there were also painful lows, including a 17th-19th place finish at the FACEIT London Major 2018.
Hopefully, North can learn from all of those painful lessons and use their successes as motivation to establish themselves as a solid contender this 2019.
Freddy ‘KRIMZ‘ Johansson’s year with Fnatic could be described as a tale of three halves. They had a first good few months of 2018, but roster shuffles come, and in between, they had a number of lackluster performances. However, as the year came to a close, they’d slowly inch themselves back to relevancy, with their best performance coming at IEM Chicago 2018 where they very nearly eliminated Astralis in the semifinals and were striking distance of a title.
Had they successfully pulled that off, they would’ve probably had more confidence to close out the year, and who knows?
Ninjas in Pyjamas
Ninjas in Pyjamas closed out the year strong, finishing the year within striking distance of a Top 5 spot. However, the lineup feels underwhelming at best. Although they have their fair share of individual firepower and their players are all well capable of taking over games, they have yet to pull together a collective performance that shows that they’re good enough to consistently perform at an elite level.
Don’t let the #5 ranking on HLTV fool you, mousesports are easily the most inconsistent of all the teams considered by many as top-tier. An argument could even be made that they’re not as good as their ranking states, and their previous performances help prove that.
Since winning ESL One New York 2018 with Janusz ‘Snax‘ Pogorzelski on their roster, mousesports have reinserted Martin ‘STYKO‘ Styk back into their lineup, finishing within the Top 4 of a Tier 1 event only once, and just recently, bombing out of the IEM Katowice 2019 minors, which means they’re going to miss out on the first CS:GO Major of 2019.
So much for Top 5, huh?
4. FaZe Clan
What’s the best case scenario for FaZe Clan with Dauren ‘adreN‘ Kystaubayev and Janko ‘YNk‘ Paunović on their roster? The ever-so-consistent adreN plays at least half as good as when he helped Gambit Esports win the PGL Krakow Major, with YNk’s influence proving to be positive as he helps Nikola ‘NiKo‘ Kovač become the best IGL he can possibly be, and Olof ‘olofmeister‘ Kajbjer Gustafsson playing well enough to help give NiKo the entry partner that he deserves?
Notice that we didn’t even mentioned Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács or Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard, because, really, the success of FaZe Clan lies on how well they’re able to integrate adreN into their roster and how well NiKo can prove himself as the iGL.
If everything goes well, FaZe Clan could end up giving Astralis a good run for their money for the #1 spot, but, until we see them in action, we can’t help but wonder what the worst case scenario is for this team.
The previous MIBR roster was a lot more successful than most people give them credit for. Sure, the end results did not show it — only one LAN title and two runner-up finishes — but they owe their losses more to the fact that Team Astralis just kept on dominating everyone than how bad they were.
This isn’t to say that they didn’t warrant any criticism though.
The team failed to address many of their issues, putting Jake ‘Stewie2K‘ Yip in an awkward position where he wasn’t allowed a lot of freedom to make aggressive plays, often playing support to Marcelo ‘coldzera‘ David. However, when Stewie2K was allowed to play at his best, MIBR was at their most dangerous. Too bad that didn’t come more often, or else, he would’ve still been playing with the team.
Now, Stewie2K and Tarik ‘tarik‘ Celik are gone. In their places are former SK Gaming members, who, as we all know by now, imploded at the end of their lineup’s life, with João “felps” Vasconcellos showing frustration on how the team was under-utilizing him.
Considering that Epitácio ‘TACO‘ de Melo can always be expected to perform, MIBR’s success going forward lies on how well felps can adjust back to the same role he was in before, or, better yet, if MIBR can find ways to utilize him better.
If it’s more of the latter, then MIBR could achieve the same levels of success that the 2017 SK Gaming lineup did, if not more.
2. Natus Vincere
Surprisingly enough, Natus Vincere chose to stand pat when the other top-teams decided to shuffle their rosters to help give themselves the best chance to take down Team Astralis. Perhaps they thought their lineup was sufficient enough as it is. Or, maybe, there just wasn’t better talent available.
After all, who are Natus Vincere going to take off their roster? More importantly, who are they going to slot in?
Danylo ‘Zeus‘ Teslenko, for all his faults, is one of the driving forces of Natus Vincere, as his leadership has proven itself to be necessary for the CIS-based organization to succeed. Meanwhile, both Ioann ‘Edward‘ Sukhariev and Egor ‘flamie‘ Vasilyev deserve the benefit of the doubt, although the organization’s patience for both players must be running thin after what was a lackluster 2018 from both players.
Oleksandr ‘s1mple‘ Kostyliev and Denis ‘electronic‘ Sharipov are essentially untouchables unless Natus Vincere are offered a pretty sum and even then, they should probably balk at any offer.
As presently constructed, Natus Vincere is a top-tier team. But, the question is, can they take down Team Astralis? Maybe. I mean, it’s not outside of the realm of possibility for s1mple to unlock yet an even higher level, which he has consistently done year after year.
1. Team Liquid
Stewie2k is one of the most mechnically skilled players in the game and he knows. Unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, MIBR had other ideas on how to utilize Stewie2k, which didn’t really pan out so well most of the time.
Team Liquid will do well to learn from the mistakes made by MIBR.
Sure, they could still use Stewie2k as a support-style bombsite anchor, and he’ll do well in that role. But, if they let Stewie2k take over the game, they’ll have a secondary AWPer who could just as easily slot in as the team’s main AWPer, allowing Team Liquid the flexibility where everyone can play roles where they’re most comfortable.
Team Liquid may not be on Team Astralis’ level just yet, but their ceiling sits closest to the all-mighty Danes.
Team Astralis dominated a 2018 where they didn’t really start on a right note. They weathered the loss of longtime member Markus ‘Kjaerbye‘ Kjærbye and brought on onboard Emil ‘Magisk‘ Reif, who has been absolutely magnificent for the rest of the team. A year more of being together should only make this team even better, which inevitably raises the bar for the rest of the teams who are trying to contend against them.
In other words, “threat” is more of a relative term here.
But, it’s not like Team Astralis are the first powerhouse to dominate CS:GO and we’ve seen such teams rise and fall in the past. The fall will happen. Just exactly when that will happen is the question.
Until that happens, we can only wonder which team will help bring about that downfall.
Which teams do you think have the best chance of dethroning Team Astralis? Will Astralis ever really give up their throne? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.