The ELEAGUE Premier had all the makings of one of the best events of the entire year in Counter Strike, with a stacked line-up of top teams all having something to prove.
However, despite the level of competition, Danish juggernaut Astralis claimed first place, producing one of the most dominant performances of the year.
Astralis entered as the favourites, given their continued excellence from tournament to tournament and with their consistency and depth of talent still unparalleled in Counter Strike.
The question of whether or not Astralis would find a path to victory was more about the improvement and intrigue in other teams, in particular the likes of Natus Vincere and FaZe Clan.
Natus Vincere were coming off three straight LAN titles, with the entire team finally appearing to be on the same page. Meanwhile, in the FaZe Clan camp, the return of olofmeister was heralded as the start of their resurrection, with a chance to rekindle the magic they showed when this line-up was initially created, although they did still have solid success with stand-ins.
Cloud9 provide a scare
The first series within Group A appeared to be fairly simple for Astralis as they took on the new-look Cloud9, a team featuring STYKO and Golden but looking incredibly weak on firepower.
However, the first map was too close for comfort for Astralis as Cloud9 gave them all they could handle on Inferno. Astralis were able to dash Cloud9’s hopes in overtime with a 19-15 scoreline before completing victory on Overpass, 16-9.
Liquid no match
Next up for Astralis were Team Liquid, with Astralis appearing more comfortable in this match-up given how often they have played against them. Astralis dispatched Liquid on both Nuke (16-12) and Mirage (16-7) to move into a semi-final with mousesports.
mousesports were a bid of an oddity entering this event, with the hope that the recent addition of Snax would see improvement from the roster as a whole.
Yet once again Astralis just appeared to be the more confident and more efficient squad, with another pair of wins on Nuke (16-11) and Mirage (16-10) seeing them claim the series 2-0 and a set up a rematch with Team Liquid in the final.
Liquid stun Na’Vi
News broke before Liquid’s semi-final with Natus Vincere that their player TACO had unfortunately learned of his father’s passing, with the team rallying behind him in their upset 2-0 victory later in the day.
This all of a sudden brought a sense of inspiration and drive for Team Liquid, something they had been lacking with vocal coach Zews not attending this event.
The first map of the final quickly dashed any hype surrounding Team Liquid as Astralis put on an absolute clinic on Liquid’s map pick of Inferno. It didn’t take long for Astralis to post a 16-5 win.
While many dismissed any hope Liquid had of making the final competitive, they were able to show some fight on Nuke before they eventually fell 16-12, as Astralis claimed the trophy.
Best in the world
Astralis still remain the most dominant force in Counter Strike, with their incredible consistency being at the heart of their prolonged success.
gla1ve improving as an in-game leader, who cannot only provide brilliant strategy but also contribute in terms of kills, has fixed any possible weakness Astralis appeared to possess.
The concern for Astralis is primarily around the solid play that olofmeister showed in his return to FaZe, with it looking likely FaZe will stick around in the top three as consistent title contenders.
However, Astralis remain essentially the only top team able to play any map, giving another strength to an already-absurd wealth of riches.