Astralis after winning the ELEAGUE Major 2017 at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia via Astralis.
The ELEAGUE Major 2017 seemed to be missing something. People scattered across social media were surprised by the quality of the matches but felt like the event was missing the gravitas and pageantry of a true Major. But then Astralis and Virtus.pro put on one of the best shows a CS:GO major in recent memory.
In a week filled with great showdowns, including yesterday's semifinal between Virtus.pro and SK Gaming that went 19-17 and 16-14 and looked like it might easily have turned out differently, the grand finals did not disappoint. After both teams had secured a win in the best-of-three series, a 13-7 scoreline in the final match seemed to spell the end for a resurgent Denmark side. Instead, Astralis managed to take every round except one until the result was flipped at 16-14 and Astralis became champions for the first time of a CS:GO major.
The nearly unbroken nine round swing began with a tense dance around A on Train with the bomb already planted. Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth played the rabbit to Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski's Elmer Fudd. Pressed for time as the bomb counted down, the usually lethal Snax was forced to open himself up in pursuit of Xyp9x who punished the Polish pro for rounding one too many corners.
From there, it wasn't slick one-on-ones or clutch shootouts that helped Astralis mount their comeback so much as good play calling and a stranglehold on Virtus.pro's in-game economy. Every time the grand final veterans invested in a push to halt their opponents' progress, the Danish side was there to punish them with more advantageous positioning and backup.
Eventually tied-up at 14-14, Astralis captain Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander mounted a gutsy, all-out offensive on bombsite A. While two from the Virtus.pro side rushed back from bombsite B, gla1ve and company dispatched the rest of their opponents in a lopsided five on three encounter that left the Ukrainian team appearing dazed and confused. By the subsequent round and the match point that followed, Astralis was moving like a well oiled machine as if they'd been destined to take the tournament since day one.
The quality of the grand finals weren't lost on fans either, with Twitch's Cristian Tamas announcing the platform had broken its record for concurrent viewership at just north of 1,000,000 people during the lifting of the trophy on stage by Astralis.
— Cristian Tamas (@Trancez0r) January 29, 2017
Many had Astralis as potential favourites to win the ELEAGUE Major heading into it with the team coming hot off a win at the Esports Championship Series Season 2 and a second place finish at the ELEAGUE Season 2 Finals. But after reaching such a deficit during the third match, even ELEAGUE thought it was over, with the organiser's social media account first tweeting out that Virtus.pro had won by mistake.
With its victory in Atlanta, Astralis not only forced ELEAGUE to delete its first tweet, but also broke a curse of sorts that had prohibited the team from every advancing past the semifinals of a CS:GO major. The addition of gla1ve, who joined the team last fall, was no small part of what allowed that to happen. But the trust his team clearly had in him, even when making risky or unconventional plays, helped too.
You can watch the entire match here.