2019: A year of progress and new ambitions

By Kasper Hvidt, Director of Sports, Astralis Group

At Astralis Group we have a clear ambition to be the best in the world at what we do. We want to create results by maintaining a great environment for our teams and give them the tools they need to have healthy and skilled players across the board. 

I, and everyone else in the organization, work towards strengthening this aspect every single day. This has resulted in Astralis being the most dominant Counter-Strike team for the past two years. It’s our ambition that the same strategy will make Origen the best League of Legends team and Future FC the best FIFA team.

Origen

Our approach for creating a strong, healthy, and winning foundation is different from what you see in esports in general. Origen began the year with a story and an unbending goal to do things our way. 

Four of the teams in the European LEC league were new while six of the teams already had established rosters from the year prior. Origen started with nothing but our name was already well known and we quickly found a mix of skilled, experienced, and young talents who wanted to be a part of our project. 

A great boot camp gave the team a strong sense of comradery and already in the first season split we finished 2nd best in Europe after a semi-final win over Fnatic in Rotterdam as the most prominent highlight.

Unfortunately, we came to a halt over the summer. We were trying to do too many things at once and suddenly we were cornered and the pressure from the thought of not making the play-offs became too much for the team. We weren’t prepared well enough as an organization. We ended the summer with a brave attempt at qualifying for Worlds but lost our last battle and the last chance at making it. An otherwise magical beginning to the season ended on a bitter note. 

The Spring Split was an amazing beginning and we showed off the strong, result-producing foundation. The summer was a big wake-up call and reminded us that these things take time and we need to focus more on introducing the players to a new world for them. A world where we start out by focusing on our own development instead of spending our energy looking at the other teams.

We’ve seen first-hand how our model and approach works and creates results by doing things our way. But we need to maintain a firm grip on the approach part. We’ve made changes within the organization to be even closer to the players which means that we can start 2020 even stronger - both in-game, but most importantly, outside the game. 

Our ambition is to create a healthy and strong culture of winners and become the best in the world. We will never compromise with this and we’ll spend the first year securing an even stronger baseline for our foundation.

Future FC

The structure of FIFA is a bit different than the other games we work with. The fact that the players are alone in their games and live in different corners of the world means something for the way we work with them, both individually and as a group. 

We don’t look at things like age, gender or other things when we’re scouting for players. We exclusively look at capability, attitude, and personality. We’ve signed three very different players in Future FC and with Fatih Üstün we already have one of the best players in the world. He’s going to continue evolving and contribute to the team alongside our 17-year-old Israeli talent Roee Feldman and Brazilian Stephanie “Teca” Luana.

We’ve only had the team since October but Faith has already proved himself by finishing top 4 in the World Cup. Roee has been doing great work and is consistently improving. Same with Teca who is working on her weekend leagues, slow but steady. They have to adapt to working with a big organization like ours where the performance training takes up a lot of their time, but where they also become part of a media universe with a lot more attention than what they’re used to.

I’m incredibly excited to see how far we can go with Future FC in 2020. We’re going to be spending a lot of resources in the new year building a foundation, and we’ll give the players a more stable level and lift them individually.

Astralis

Astralis is a different kind of beast in the international esports scene and the history of performance culture across all competition activities. The team’s results over time and their reaction to adversity are, to me, the proof that we can make extremely talented players even better both individually and as a team by creating a foundation where we optimize the physical, technical, and mental conditions. 

People might get tired of hearing about this, especially in esports, but analytical work and training aside, a professional, mentally- and physically healthy balance, restitution, focus on diet, and a balance between performance and private life prove more than many might think.

We hit the ground running in 2019 winning our third Major, but both the players and coach felt like they were running low mentally and physically. This led to us prioritizing restitution, improvement and family life over the excessive traveling. This resulted in us taking a small hit on the world rankings and cost us a few titles but the decision was the right one.

We got to work on mental fortitude, got a surplus of physical energy and the hunger and determination came back. This meant that by the time Fall came, we started breaking records again winning our fourth Major and third in a row. Something no other team has done before and the period that followed was equally impressive.

In 2019, Astralis made 12 semi-finals and 9 grand finales winning 6 titles total. In three years, Astralis has won 19 titles total and after merely a week in the 4th spot on the world rankings, we were back on the top of the rankings. 

The ambition remains the same. Keep building. Improve the details, work with all the things we can improve outside the game and maintain a balance between achievement, a healthy lifestyle, and making sure the players are in top shape.

General

With Astralis, we’ve proved that our model works. I get the impression that a lot of other esports organizations are studying us and it’s a big win for the entire industry that we continue to improve and focus on the things happening outside the game.

I also get the feeling that we are ahead of most in the industry and it’s a fact that we in 2020 will keep investing time and resources into becoming a stronger organization around the teams. We’ll utilize this to make all of our teams and players perform on a top-level and bring us to the top across all the games we compete in.

It’s been an exciting, educational, and uplifting 2019. 2020 will be another step on the path to becoming a stronger Astralis Group in all games, for all players, and for all teams.