And so the blameF era ends with a series of ever-more embarrassing whimpers as Astralis got banged out from yet another Major qualifier in embarrassing fashion. Despite rumblings about a Danish superteam, the red star arguably never looked dimmer. Benjamin non-Button will now be looking for a new adventure, and one has to wonder: can anyone make this team more than the sum of its parts?

Another Major miss

What a trash fire. With four players hailing from last year’s HLTV top 20, some of the biggest names of Danish CS will miss out on the first-ever CS2 Major and the first-ever such event to be held in their nation. Hot off the heels of trash-ties showings at Katowice and the BLAST Premier Spring Groups, it’s an unmitigated disaster, and one that couldn’t have happened to a nicer org.

There are many moments worth highlighting of Astralis’ disappointing RMR run, but for my money, it’s the 2-0 loss to ENCE in the fifth round that stands out the most. The team brought nothing new to the table on Ancient after a spectacular pasting in Katowice by the same opposition and deservedly went out in the end after a straightforward loss to seized’s 9Pandas in the first round of the decider bracket.

It's clear that changes needed to be made.

The blame falls on blameF

Even more tenured in-game leaders would struggle to maintain their position after a horrendous showing like this, and blameF has not put anything on the table as a caller to justify sticking around after wasting a literal multimillion-euro investment on the part of Astralis’ management.

Much has been made about the negative records under his watch: the only Complexity core to miss out on Major qualifications was the one with him leading the charge, neither stavn nor jabbi missed out on any of the showpiece events since their first appearance in 2021 until they joined him (and it is also dev1ce’s first time missing out as well), and perhaps the most damning, he never made it to the Legends stage of any Major despite some notable individual accolades.

In terms of leadership deficiencies, Staehr doing the exit interview says all there is to be said, and if there is one silver lining in terms of future career prospects, it’s perhaps the fact that he is explicitly looking for a non-IGL role going forward.

Before we look at where this leaves Astralis, let’s discuss the man who left Astralis.

Re-evaluating gla1ve (for stupid people like myself)

In our ever-expanding series on my takes that have aged like milk (perhaps I should look into trademarking that?), I was extremely skeptical about gla1ve’s post-Astralis endeavors. It reeked of FalleN-like dancing in a series of poorer and poorer teams, and the massive disruption of the previous ENCE squad and the last-minute pickup of the 9INE core promised nothing good for anyone involved.

How wrong we all were. Most of the commentariat also expected little of the tiny chunk of Poland grafted onto a Danish-Finnish operation, but the team has gone from strength to strength and survived what must have been a pretty serious series of anti-stratting efforts after their Katowice run to secure a mighty impressive qualification for the first CS2 Major, making him the only player of the legendary four-time Major-winning side to participate at the upcoming event.

So, looking back, how does Astralis’ post-quad-Major blues reflect on gla1ve and his efforts? I think it was the worst of both worlds. Motivation issues and a focus on parenthood must have played a part, and it’s clear that at least some of the personnel weren’t buying into his vision. Not finding a way to reactivate dev1ce still feels like something he has to be given a black mark for. Sometimes, moving on can be reinvigorating, and it will be fascinating to see whether this mishmash happenstance of a roster has a future after the Major.

So how do you fix this mess in Astralis?

Just to reiterate, all this couldn’t have happened to a nicer org. Taking a massive PR backlash and paying the so-called “asshole tax” for two players from their domestic rivals, they are nowhere closer to title contention than they previously were. Worse still, the entire roster configuration is now in a tailspin, with little room for adjustment after making these marquee signings.

The megabucks boys are clearly not going anywhere, and Tom Cruise with the big green is also going to stick around. You could pin the blame on Staehr, but even if you were that stupid (and we’ve seen so many times that a fine little fifth gets kicked for the sins of the other four), is there really the budget to bring in someone with a higher profile? A new IGL will have to be drafted to begin with, which will be a big enough expense as-is.

It’s a move that needs to be made, but I wonder if they are just boned by stavn, like Swisher’s girlfriend. Your main riflers on the team are known for backstabbing their IGL and undermining their authority while also failing to prove that they can put up numbers in CS2 matches outside of cadiaN’s system. How do you find a leader who is able to lead this squad out of the mess?

Maybe wait a few months, see if Team Liquid implode, and bring in their former master. I would pay to watch that. Not two million euros, but still.

Photo credit: Helena-Kristiansson, ESL FACEIT Group