Under Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander’s leadership, Astralis have been rapidly working their way back to the top, fighting old demons and old enemies in an attempt to win a tournament before the end of the year.

At ELEAGUE, we not only showed that we are a team that should be taken seriously, we showed that we are prepared to work hard for results and that our old enemies can be beaten.

Leading at the group stage, we were able to defeat NiP in the quarter-finals, before moving onto SK Gaming in the semi-finals. Although we fell short in the final against OpTic,  the boys, who took home $140,000, accept that they were outperformed on the night and have vowed to work hard to get the results they want in Anaheim and beyond.

Here’s how our tournament unfolded:

Quarter-final vs Ninjas in Pyjamas on de_cobblestone (13-16), de_train (16-2) and de_overpass (16-10)

Our matches against NiP have ended in tears for the last 14 months but in a captivating Bo3 we were finally able to overcome the Swedes to progress to the semi-final.

We faced the Swedes on their map pick first and although we traded the first couple of rounds, we were able to take a convincing 5-2 lead  from Kjaerbye’s deagle quad kill and dev1ce’s UMP ace. Our streak was quickly ended by a quad kill from Xizt’s force buy though and we had to scramble as CT’s to end the half 8-7 in our favour.

Despite a quick pistol round from the boys allowing us to extend our lead to 11-7, friberg stepped up NiP’s defensive efforts with two triple kills and a quad kill which led to a five-round win streak for the Swedes. Despite a triple kill and clutch from dupreeh at 15-13, NiP came rushing out on an eco to pick up the first match.

On our pick Train, the boys felt more comfortable and that showed in their performance. We started off with a 3-0 lead following a successful pistol round which was then extended to 6-1.

NiP, who struggled to work out the best way to attack in the first half, were dominated by the boys in defence who were able to retake sites with ease. There was a blood bath in popdog in the 14th round as dupreeh sprayed down three to take our lead to 12-2 before the final round of the half which also went our way.

A 1vs3 clutch from device at electric box got the boys off to a great start as terrorists following the plant, which then set them up for an easy 16-2 victory.

On the final map on Overpass, we got off to a great start again, winning the first five rounds as CT’s. A double entry from friberg in the sixth round helped set up NiP’s first round but Astralis’ economy meant that they were able to fight back and extend their lead to a huge 9-1.

Great team work from GeT_RiGhT and f0rest in a 2vs4 situation caught the boys off guard on A site, allowing their economy to stabilise. Another four rounds helped the team narrow the deficit in the first half, which ended 9-6 in our favour.

The insatiable Swedish duo combined once again in the second pistol round and the following two gun rounds  to level up the scores, but we were able to take control of the game with a full-buy.

Lurking in canal, dupreeh grabbed a double entry kill to help set up the streak and momentum for the boys and Xyp9x finished off a 1vs2 clutch with a controlled AK spray to help us seal the match and our historic victory.

Semi-final vs SK Gaming on de_Overpass (16-11) and de_train (12-16)

The boys broke the semi-final curse with an emphatic win over the current world champions on Friday and continued their winning streak on Train.

Although the Brazilians took  a strong five-round lead on the CT side on Overpass, the boys were able to fight back and with calculated rushes and flanks, were able to penetrate their defensive line. Xyp9x was on fire for the entire match, pulling off triple and quad kills left, right and centre, to help the boys secure sites. His high ADR of 124.4 on the first map alone, showed the impact he had on the pace of the game and helped dictate the outcome.

A quick comeback from the team took the half time scoreline to 8-7 and the boys soon hit the ground running in the first pistol round with a fiery battle in canal.

A classic 2vs5 retake and defuse from gla1ve and dupreeh in the 18th round set the tone for the first match and the boys quickly gathered momentum to take them to match point. Although SK tried to fight back with three rounds, the damage was already done and we took the first match soon after.

Train, SK’s fortress and usual pick followed, but the boys were looking for revenge from our last clash which ended in a disappointing loss. Taking the first pistol round, we quickly followed it up with strong buys to guarantee the next two rounds  and kjaerbye protected our win-streak with a defensive flank to take us to four rounds.

Despite a tactical pause from SK, nothing seemed to work for the Brazilians and the boys continued to lock down the sites and cement their 11-0 lead. We dropped a few rounds towards the end of the half, but fans were left gobsmacked when we wrapped the half up with a 12-3 lead as CT’s.

A quick push onto A site in the opening round of the second half rocked SK’s defence, prompting them to force the next round. The move turned out to be successful and FalleN built on the round win to close the deficit by just two rounds. Wiping the sweat from their brows, the boys picked themselves up to win the next couple of round and secure their place in the grand final and become the team to end SK Gaming’s 17-match win streak on the map.

Grand final vs OpTic: de_train (16-9), de_cobblestone (6-16) and de_overpass (11-16)

Casters and analysts alike have been talking about or rise on Train ever since we toppled the kings from their throne in the semi-finals and on Saturday, we had a chance to take an early lead and grow our confidence for the following maps.

The boys got out of the starting blocks with a sense of urgency as terrorists, charging straight out onto A site. device landed a double kill with a 180 degree shot and NAF-FLY got a shock when he tried to knife gla1ve.

By round three, device had already landed seven kills which was set to rise as we continued to dominate the game for the next six rounds. OpTic tried on a number of occasions to save an awp but in round nine Xyp9x unleashed beast mode against a force bought side who were desperate for kills.

OpTic regrouped for the tenth round and holding the angles on A site, stanislaw pulled off a remarkable double kill to get his side back on track with an all important defuse to take the round. The win obviously boosted their confidence too, as NAF-FLY grabbed a quad kill in ivy to take another round.

By the end of the half, we were winning 11-4 and another decisive pistol round ensured we got off to the best of starts on the CT-side. Although the North American side were able to catch a breath with four rounds in a row, they were unable to keep pushing onto site successfully and a 1vs3 clutch from dupreeh sealed the win.

We have not had the best of results on Cobblestone in the past and unfortunately our momentum from a incredible victory on the previous map was not enough for the boys. Instead, OpTic stepped their game up and made our life hell.

Taking the first seven rounds, OpTic looked invincible as terrorists, pushing their way onto site as a unit and picking us off one by one. A 1vs3 awp and M4 clutch by device got us a round, but the everlasting North American economy did not take a hit and we once again found ourselves facing a confident and equipped opponent.

The first round was not great for us and although we took three rounds right at the end, the unflattering scoreline sat at 4-11.  We were unable to smash our way through the green wall though and the North Americans took the match point easily from tariq’s two entry frags.

In the decider on Overpass, OpTic took the pistol round but a strong force buy from Astralis and an expertly timed deagle shot from kjaerbye on boost meant we were able to fight back straight away. Unfortunately though, we fell victim to the North American’s game plan for the next six rounds and with mixwell on 8 kills and only 2 deaths by round five, it soon became apparent that OpTic meant business.

Following a time out by the boys, dupreeh was able to pull off a quad kill helped out by mixwell’s nervy nade throw, which ended up bouncing back behind friendly lines after catching the wall. The Spaniard, obviously incensed by his mistake, soon made up for it with a quad kill in the next round.

We were able to pull things back slightly towards the end of the half with a few clutches from the boys taking the scoreline to 7-8. A strong performance from NAF-FLY all round help deal the final blows to our ELEAGUE campaign and his quad kill in the opening pistol round hammered the first nail into our coffin.

dev1ce, who had been quiet as a CT-side AWP’er, suddenly woke up in the 20th round, when he won a quick 1vs4 on B site, but our next force buy failed and the boys were left with a weak economy. A couple of our B pushes were successful towards the end of the match, but our determined opponents continued to add bricks to their towering green wall, which we were unable to topple.

Following a 11-16 victory on Overpass, the North American team deservedly clinched the trophy and pocketed a cool $400,000.

While we share our disappointment with the fans, it has to be noted that since we acquired gla1ve at the start of this tournament, we have won 68.5 per cent of our matches and our results have been rapidly improving.

Since the end of the tournament, the boys have moved into the fourth spot on HLTV’s top ten teams in the world and they are excited to lead their fans to a deserved victory in the near future.