With their victory at the FACEIT Major 2018 in London, Astralis have cemented themselves their own era. Since adding Emil “Magisk” Reif, they have been cutting through the competition like a hot knife through butter. Since he’s joined, Astralis have clicked and they are leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else. Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander has masterminded this squad to allow them to become the number one team in the world by a large margin.
After a brief career in Counter-Strike: Source, gla1ve stepped into Global Offensive as a young rifler with a lot to prove. After featuring for teams like Copenhagen Wolves and Heroic, gla1ve replaced Finn “karrigan” Andersen on the starting lineup of Astralis. Astralis had suffered from lacklustre results and turned to their former stand-in to be their new leader on 24th August 2016. After a momentous Major win at ELEAGUE Atlanta, the team stagnated so Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye decided to shockingly leave for North, a move which surprised both Astralis and the fans of the scene. The team’s addition of Magisk turned out to be the perfect move. Since adding him, Astralis have destroyed whatever has been laid in front of them. After DreamHack Masters Marseille, which they won in emphatic fashion, Astralis have never failed to reach the top 4 of any LAN they’ve attended. A huge reason for their newfound success is gla1ve.
Under Astralis’ current roster, gla1ve has activated superstar form. He is the first top-tier IGL to have such amazing statistics, such as an average 1.17 rating on LAN in the past 6 months. Usually, IGLs tend to have lower numbers because they have to focus on helping the team and managing the team; but gla1ve does not conform to that stereotype, especially in the current iteration of the Astralis roster.
However, there’s more that matters than individual performance and gla1ve has shown he has brains as well as brawn. His main two standout characteristics are his preparation and his innovation. In most post-match interviews, Astralis highlight their preparation as a huge reason as to why they won. The man in charge of what maps Astralis prepare, how much Astralis prepares, what Astralis change… Is gla1ve. Every time Astralis out-positions, out-rotates, or obliterate a team; it’s thanks to gla1ve. He meticulously analyses every team that they come to face, individually, as if he is a man possessed. Every slight flaw in Astralis’ game, which are negligible, gla1ve spots it and irons it out. Astralis have improved considerably, and they’re still undoubtedly the best by a large margin.
When it comes to his innovation, look at how Astralis have revolutionised the way Counter-Strike is played. They turned the use of the HE grenade on its head. Formerly, teams used to use grenades to flush people out of positions and prevent opponents from peeking into unwanted angles. However, what Astralis do is they group up as a team and throw two to three grenades in one spot where an enemy is almost guaranteed to be and gain a free kill; often at the start of rounds. For gla1ve to be able to implement such a radical idea in his explosive strategies proves his immense skill as a leader, and it was the huge reason for Astralis’ initial success.
As time went on and teams began to counter Astralis’ game, you wouldn’t be wrong to think that Astralis could have keeled over and become a top-tier team-as that is a downgrade for them-but gla1ve has found more ways to keep Astralis leaps ahead of the other teams. The teamplay that has trademarked this Astralis lineup is second to none. It is extremely rare for a teammate to die without a trade, even if that trade comes at a different location on the map. They are always together; postplants, executes, defaults, you name it. Astralis always ensure that no man is left alone, and this sets them apart because they have redefined the “lurker” role by pairing up lurkers so trades can happen, and simultaneously ensuring that all players are involved in the attack when an execute happens.
Not only have they pushed their teamplay to the next level, but the organisation that Astralis employs on both their CT and T-sides is mind-blowing. Usually, too much organisation leads to issues because anti-stratting becomes easier for the opposing IGL, but gla1ve ensures this doesn’t happen. He does this by constantly tweaking small, seemingly negligent aspects of their game which has a monumental effect because while almost all of the quality from their previous game plan exists, little tweaks mean it improves and stays in full working order. For example, on LAN, Astralis possess a 19-0 record on Nuke under this roster. gla1ve’s deep understanding and genius at the map has meant it is an achievement to get double digits against Astralis. The world’s second best team, Natus Vincere, fell to Astralis 16-6 on the map in the Final of the FACEIT Major. That’s a crushing defeat, and it clearly displays the strength of Astralis’ iron grip on the Counter-Strike scene.
Overall, gla1ve is the best IGL ever to grace any iteration of Counter-Strike. His dedication, quality and high output on the server cement his position as one of the all-time legends of the game. It’s thanks to him that this Astralis roster will forever be remembered in history, and they are not done yet. I’m very excited to see what gla1ve and his team have up their sleeves because I sense that the Major was only the beginning of Astralis and gla1ve’s journey of glory.