It's been roughly two months since all the top teams in Denmark changed their rosters. Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye joined North in favor of staying on Astralis. Additionally, North added up and coming AWPer Daniel “Mertz” Mertz to the roster. To replace Kjaerbye, Astralis recruited Emil “Magisk” Reif from OpTic Gaming. In turn, OpTic recruited the former North duo of Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke and Rene “cajunb” Borg, and the former North Academy player, Nicklas “gade” Gade. Finally, Heroic added Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel to replace Patrick “es3tag” Hansen. Unfortunately for Heroic, a personal issue has prevented Jakob “JuGi” Hansen from playing, and es3tag has returned to the lineup as a stand-in.
While it’s perhaps too early to judge some of these rosters, the initial reaction after the first couple of months has to be that of disappointment. We can give Heroic a pass since they haven’t been able to play much with their full lineup. But the same can’t be said for the rest of these teams.
It has to be said that Astralis aren’t looking bad by any means. Their first couple of showings on LAN were nothing to be ashamed of. And even though it’s not always the best indicator, they’ve looked great in online play. The duo of Nicolai “Device” Reedtz and Peter “Dupreeh” Rasmussen look like they are on form, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth is still one of the best support players in the game, and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander is still one of the best leaders in the game. Yet, there are still question marks surrounding the team. Even before their roster change, Astralis still had all the previously mentioned factors going for them. While you can give them a pass for the latter part of the year when Device went down with an illness, they still haven’t lifted a trophy for over a year. The last event Astralis won was IEM Katowice back in March 2017. Recruiting Magisk to the team has allowed Astralis to move Dupreeh back into the entry-fragging role, but as an individual he doesn’t look like an upgrade over their former player Kjaerbye. Magisk has shown that he can be a star at the top level, but it doesn’t look like he is coming back to the incredible level of play he showed in 2016. Instead of making an upgrade to the team, it looks like Astralis has done an even trade and will stay at the same level as they did in 2017. Recruiting k0nfig to the team could’ve been the ambitious move to take Astralis back to #1 spot in the world. Instead, they’ve ended up with a team that can win a few events, but isn't going to dominate.
Instead of ending up on Astralis, k0nfig has taken his talents to North America. While breaking the record for most kills in a professional game is notable, a player like k0nfig should compete for trophies. His team has failed to qualify for both IEM Sydney and DreamHack Marseille, and it doesn’t look like we will see them play on LAN until the ESL Pro League Finals. You have to give OpTic a lot of credit for recruiting a player like k0nfig, but for his own career, the move was always questionable. Even when a player like Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev couldn’t get into the top teams in his own region, he ended up on one of the best teams in North America. With k0nfig, his team hasn’t even been able to qualify for a LAN.
The most underwhelming team to come out of the Danish shuffle is North. The team has attended 3 LAN events since their roster change, and the results have all been disappointing. North finished 5-6th at cs_summit, losing in an upset to fellow Danish team, Heroic. You could let them get away with that result, as the team hadn’t been together for a long time, but they didn’t follow up by blowing everyone out of the water. Instead, they went out in the group stage at IEM Katowice, losing to FaZe and NiP. The biggest disappointment came at Copenhagen Games, an event that North were big favorites to win. Their biggest competition on paper was Heroic, who were playing with a stand-in, and the Russian upset team Quantum Bellator Fire. Instead, they were defeated in the semifinals by The Imperial, and had another disappointing showing. After their recent performances, their roster changes are looking very questionable. Getting rid of their star player k0nfig might’ve improved the morale in the team, but when it comes to getting frags in the server, it's gone in the other direction. Recruiting an up-and-coming AWPer in the form of Mertz has been an improvement over cajunb, who wasn’t suited to be a fulltime AWPer to begin with. But it could’ve been beneficial to keep cajunb on the team as a rifler, over a player like Philip “aizy” Aistrup who has struggled even more than usual as of late. If the bad performances from North continue at Bets.net Masters, another roster change could be on the horizon. The question for North becomes if it’s worth getting rid of one of the 3 original members of the team, as they would give up their New Challengers spot at the FACEIT London Major.
Ultimately, none of the teams made a move that will lead to Danish dominance at the top of CS:GO. The Danish scene is still a solid contender for being the strongest overall, but there doesn’t seem to be a team that has put the correct pieces together to set an example for the rest of the Counter Strike world. Denmark should always have a team contending for best in the world. Instead, one of the biggest stars in the country is stuck in North America, with his former team in shambles.
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