The Danes put down their headsets and look-up. A fourth trophy with their Magisk-backed roster, and a third grand final win over Team Liquid. They couldn’t establish the elusive victory over their primary competitors in Na`Vi due to a Liquid upset in the semi final, but in the scheme of both their tournament, and overall run thus far, that seems almost dismissable.
Astralis didn’t just beat Liquid for a third time in a row, they dominated Liquid for a third time in a row. It was as if the questions over their number one status following the series loss to Na`Vi in Cologne gave them something to prove. Astralis look at their best on the front foot, and Liquid couldn’t establish a wall of individual stardom to stop them from putting it down. It was a Danish clinic in ELEAGUE Premier and in a way that serves as a perfect allegory for their summer run altogether.
This last dominating run of Astralis, at least, before the player break ends, was done in a justifiably ‘Astralis’ sort-of way. An assertive 14:1 Inferno CT-side led to an easy map one victory, followed up by a cruisy Nuke win to bring them to a 15-0 LAN record on the map.
They might not have been able to end their run thus-far on a more satisfyingly dominate 2:0 over Na`Vi, but their resume can’t be reporached. You can only beat those put in front of you.
Out of most teams though, it’s fitting that Liquid have served the perennial bridesmaids to the Astralis dynasty, themselves sharing many traits as their Nordic kings. Liquid is, as their multiple grand final appearances would suggest, a very good team. They turn to the church of structure and tactics, rejecting the blasphemy of a relaxed individualised T-side spouted by the likes ChrisJ, dennis and tarik. They have star rifling presence across the board, allowing for a unified, cohesive presence on both sides of the map. Where they lack is in the mental, often collapsing in the face of a steadfast CT-side or being pressured-out by a swarming offense. Much like the historical woes of the Danes.
Liquid’s style mightn’t be as similar as some might make out to though, at least, not so alike to warrant the ‘budget Astralis’ moniquer. They lack a parallel AWPer, consciousness about utility, map pool, and depth in late game scenarios, for starters. However, they do both lean into structuring mid-rounds and tactics enough to contextualise the effortlessness of Astralis’s play.
As Liquid can be out-paced and duelled, Astralis can punish and withhold. Where Liquid struggle to solve the puzzle of a mid-round defence, Astralis flow with ease. Their shared philosophies underpinning the win conditions into a round allow for a compare and contrasting game which leaves Astralis sparkling with praise.
Everything you can do, I can do better. Or however you say that in Danish.
This is especially profound when you consider the relative consistency Liquid can beat incredibly talented, but less cohesive sides; Fnatic, GODSENT, and MIBR have all been swiftly dealt with in Bo3 series multiple times over. The crowning jewel of their run obviously being the 2:0 win over Na`Vi leading up to the grand final at ELEAGUE shows just how good a team the North Americans are in-spite of their shortcomings. They play the more structured style well enough to consistently beat teams out of the top five with ease. Their dedication to preparation and refinement of in-game plans makes them one of the best NA teams of all-time.
One round was all Liquid were able to string together on T-side against Astralis’s Inferno, which is also, unfortunately, their best map.
Liquid’s victory then subsequent defeat over Na`Vi, then Astralis serves to only further romanticise the dominance of the Danes this Summer.
We saw more sides to device’s AWPing, at times playing even more positionally than we’ve seen in the past, while gla1ve has proved to be a world-class ‘glue’ player. The nuances to each part of the Astralis system seems to become more complex and pronounced with each rally cry post-upset performance.
Astralis, while beating Liquid for a third time for a trophy proved themselves no less a team as a result. The full stop to their run this far at ELEAGUE is one that will likely be just space for a breath in a continuing chapter of dominance rather than the end of the story. And while they mightn’t have ended in the most idyllic way, their ELEAGUE win is symbolic enough to allow for appropriate romanticisation.
The Summer sun has shone bright on the Astralis empire.