From July 6th-18th, after a year and a half away, the CS:GO hosted its first official LAN event with IEM Cologne. After so many tournaments away from the studio, the pinnacle event format returned with 24 teams, including Astralis and G2, from around the world competing in undoubtedly one of the most gripping and competitive tournaments, ESL Pro League Season 14.
Things have shifted back online following the player break at ESL Pro League Season 14, and the results have already been interesting to watch unfold, with Astralis and G2’s stunning failures to make it out of the group stage.
Bringing the pedigree
Both these orgs dominated the storylines and viewership numbers during their group stages, and bring with them a level of pedigree unmatched by any side they came up against; Astralis are four-time Major winners and the most decorated org in CS history, and G2 are currently ranked 3rd in the HLTV world rankings and have finished the last two LAN events as runner’s up.
To see both of them dumped out with just two series wins between them is therefore a shocking sight. The big question the community is now asking is: ‘how’?
IEM Cologne felt like the event the CS:GO world badly needed, energizing the scene in the environment every budding pro dreams of playing on. And after a year and a half of having to play on an online format, there was a palpable feeling of teams digging deeper in every series, desperate to stay alive for as long as possible.
And for the established orgs like Astralis and G2, a slight drop in motivation perhaps should have been expected for the first tournament back after tasting the LAN environment again. However, even in the online era, even the smallest, most subconscious of drops in concentration can result in a flurry of rounds snowballing away from even the most prestigious of orgs.
For G2 especially, that LAN hangover seemed to be hitting the team hard at Pro League. Unlike other teams in their group such as OG or Complexity, G2 weren’t boot camping together for the event, which only seemed to add to the snowballing effect and saw map and map swept away from the team.
A 0-5 record seems scarcely believable for an org with the talent and success as G2, but simply watching a handful of rounds during their EPL Season 14 campaign will show anyone just how isolated, demoralized, and lost the team looked.
Breaks and preparation
Preparation and morale heading into any sporting competition can both play crucial roles in determining how an athlete or team performs, often setting the tone for the campaign ahead. For Astralis heading into EPL Season 14, their pre-tournament preparations consisted of dealing with speculation over both head coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen and clutch master Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, two of the org’s most experienced and successful components over the years.
Throughout the tournament, zonic was present coaching the team, however, it was announced that Xyp9x, despite being an ever-present at IEM Cologne where Astralis did well to secure a 3rd-4th finish, would be absent during Pro League to be replaced by Philip “Lucky” Ewald. The rotation was just the latest chapter in a long run of structural issues with Astralis throughout the online era and highlighted the cracks the Danes had attempted to paint over during their run together at Cologne.