Astralis finishes 3rd/4th at IEM Oakland – Astralis.gg
Astralis at IEM. Image courtesy of ESL

 

After securing a place in the ELEAGUE playoffs with an emphatic victory against SK Gaming, the team headed westward to Oakland, California, in the hopes of going all the way. Facing off against five teams in the group stage, pundits and players alike felt that they were capable of creating an upset and making their way up the tournament ladder.

In the groupstage the boys impressed on Train and took convincing wins against teams like NaVi and Team Liquid, but when it came to crunch time, they were unable of upsetting world champions SK Gaming in a Bo3 in the semifinal and ended up taking home $29,000 for placing third/fourth alongside FaZe Clan.

Here’s how our tournament unfolded:

de_nuke vs G2 Esports (12-16)

Inspired by tournament rules, which stated that the top placed team in each group would land a place in the semifinals, the boys began their campaign on Wednesday against G2 on Nuke.

While the team has improved on the map after acquiring Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander as the ingame leader, the attempts to dominate the match were thwarted by the French side who played a near flawless match. We started off well as CT, retaking B site and defusing the bomb with a second to spare in a two on two situation. Another round followed for us as we held G2’s offence off once again but were drawn into a 2-2 scoreline at the end of the fourth round.

AWPer Nicolai ‘device‘ Reedtz got the team back on track with two kills in the fifth round and with gla1ve asserting his new leadership style, Peter ‘dupreeh‘ Rasmussen was able to find an incredible three kills from inside A site taking the scoreline to 7-3.

However, two rounds later the French side, led by player of the match SmithZz, were able to fight back and bag three rounds before the final round where gla1ve was able to win out a 2v1 in a closely fought battle near vents, taking the half time score to 9-6.

Even though we won an anti-eco against G2 after the switch, the French side were clinical with their defence and they took six rounds in a row to take a 13-9 lead, which we were unable to overcome despite a tactical timeout and a desperate attempt at preventing match point.

The first match of the group stages ended 16-12 to G2 and in an interview with HLTV, gla1ve admitted that we took the wrong approach against the team.

de_train vs Team Liquid (16-1)

In the afternoon, the boys faced Team Liquid for the first time as a complete roster on Train where we demolished them 16-1.

Starting off at CT, Andreas ‘Xyp9x‘ Højsleth got us off to a great start with a USP triple kill on B site in the first round and another triple kill with an AK in the fourth round, leaving the overwhelmed American side to take a tactical pause before the sixth round.

The match allowed the boys to showcase their improvements and change of style with new in game leader gla1ve, who in the following round pulled off a ludicrous triple kill, retake and defuse.

There’s always one friend who gatecrashes the party and on that day P1mp was able to end our winning streak to take their only round of the entire match. Luckily for us, our economy meant that we were able to complete a full buy and ended the half 14-1 and another two rounds as terrorists were all we needed to wrap the game up.

All of the boys ended the match with a plus 1.11 rating and it was no surprise for our fans when we opted to face Natus Vincere on the same map in the following game.

de_train vs Natus Vincere (16-9)

This time we were able to show our T-side prowess and we took the first three rounds following a series of successful pistol and anti-eco rounds, but lost out when Na´Vi were able to get their hands on some real fire power in the 4th round.

However, s1mple’s awping was not enough to stop the boys, and the dupreeh/device-combo were able to team up and wreak havoc on both sites for the next nine rounds until Edward put an end to the win streak in round 14, taking the scoreline to 12-2. The Ukranians also took the last round of the first half making it a 12-3 scoreline at the switch.

Na´Vi were able to squeeze a couple of rounds back as terrorists in the second half, but our defence proved to be too much for them when we closed the match out 16-9.

de_dust2 vs Immortals (19-15)

For the final two matches, the boys decided to switch up the map choices and in the third  match of the day we took on Immortals on Dust2.

The closely fought match, which ended 19-15 in our favour, was initially a mad race for dominance as both teams traded a number of rounds at the start of the match before the Brazilians settled into their role as terrorists and hen1 nailed a quad-kill in round ten to kickstart their lead.

After half time, Immortals took the pistol round to lead 10-6 but dupreeh whipped out his desert eagle to take two kills and the all-important anti-eco which was instrumental in our comeback.

A power-struggle in the final rounds cast a doubt on our victory but gla1ve was able to prevent a B-site retake and ensure we had a chance to win in overtime.

We won the first two rounds in overtime as terrorists and xyp9x grabbed the penultimate round with a triple kill in mid before Kjaerbye closed the match out on the A site as CT.

de_mirage vs TyLoo (16-9)

Having already secured our place in the playoffs, the boys were able to play freely in their final match against TyLoo, who had impressed in our last meeting at StarSeries.

Despite taking four kills in the first round as CT’s, glave was unable to finish the remaining opponent off and the Chinese took a surprising 3-1 lead.

We were able to pile the pressure back on in the fourth round and built on that to get a head 5-3, until the Chinese team was able to sneak onto the B site twice to even the scores out at 5-5.

Having worked out their tactics, Markus ‘Kjaerbye‘ Kjærbye proved to be a valuable asset for the boys as he helped the team take the next five rounds and secure a 10-5 lead before the half time break.

The switch did not work out well for us initially, as we lost the pistol round and the two following anti-ecos, but encouraging play from the in game leader meant that the boys were able to string a few rounds in a row and secure the match point at 15-8.

In an attempt to see the game out, we rushed out onto A site only to be trapped in apartments and shut down by somebody’s team and denied the round.

Despite the setback we kept pushing and secured the victory in the following round, winning 16-9, topping the group and grabbing the all-important semifinal spot ahead of Immortals.

Semifinal vs SK Gaming: de_train (14-16), de_mirage (12-16)

Considering our previous success on Train, many fans called for a battle against the world champions on their favourite map and they got exactly that. SK picked the map as their first choice, while we opted for Mirage and we very nearly caused an upset.

At first SK, urged on from an amazing showing by Taco, showed their dominance as terrorists winning the first five rounds on Train before Kjaerbye and device took two kills each to lock down B site and creating the impetus for an eight round winning streak.

During those eight rounds, gla1ve led from the front taking a quad kill, while Xyp9x tore strips out of the Brazilian attack in the second half, taking a well-deserved triple kill and extending our lead to 12-7.

The team’s anti-ecos on the T-side set our economy in stone and we added two extra rounds to our tally until FalleN ripped our attack apart in the 24th round with a forcebuy, to let his team back into the game.

This crucial round crippled our economy and meant that SK Gaming got back in gear with a full economy – an advantage the Brazilians never let go off. SK Gaming ended up taking Train 16-14 to extend their win streak on Train.

Moving onto our map, the boys were obviously gutted but determined to set the record straight. True to their merciless reputation, SK Gaming did not allow us to catch our breath however.

We lost the first four rounds as terrorists before Xyp9x and gla1ve worked together to clutch the fifth round and encourage Astralis to take the next three rounds. Changing tactics, SK then started to push mid as CT’s catching us off guard and unable to get onto the front foot, leading to a 11-4 deficit at half time.

The team worked well as CT’s and were able to clinically defend sites allowing Xyp9x and Kjaerbye to sweep up the kills in our comeback. At 12-13 it felt like the game would possibly tip over in our favor, but SK were able to flank and cause havoc on A site, clinching the round to 12-14 and ultimately taking the map 12-16.

What’s next? 

Although the boys missed out on the Grand Final, they have a chance to play the IEM champions Ninjas in Pyjamas in a best of three quarterfinal at ELEAGUE on Wednesday, November 30.

The team’s vast improvement has not gone unnoticed and for the first time in months, the boys broke back into HLTV’s top ten teams in the world, climbing six places to reach #9 in the table, just above Team Liquid.

Image courtesy of ESL