Thoughts

Astralis & The Danish CS Scene


Today marks the beginning of Dreamhack Masters in Malmö and looking to follow my favorite CS:GO team Astralis. There are a lot of awesome teams going, and have been happy to been able to help launch House of Esport in Copenhagen which will be doing Viewing Parties in Copenhagen for CS:GO.

A little Ironic that the first event is 30 minutes away by train, but the plan is to cover all majors stops, and other major invitational tournaments in the future.

I used to play CS 1.6 in Denmark, Holland, and Spain when I lived the life. Since then I took a massive break to focus on cosplay, my festival Genki, and a lot of community projects for the anime scene in Denmark. Lately been coming back to Esport.

How I think Astralis “Got There”

As a former manager at Copenhagen Wolves, I have had the pleasure to see and follow the guys in action and one of the things that stands out is that the talent has always been there, but what was missing was the backing to help them stand out not for the lack of commitment though. The management, coaches, and such I gotta admit were trying, but hardcore experience was missing. Sure we could get teams to events, sponsors, and coaches although that wasn’t really what was missing. Experience was.

What really got Astralis to the point they are at today? I believe that the hard work of all the players primarily putting up with the Danish scene for a few years, and specifically the work by Frederik Byskov which he did as a manager when he was with Team SoloMid. He helped stabilize and ferment a good internal structure and focused on the players which didn’t necessarily up their game, but he focused the guys. His experience in CS:GO as admin for many tournaments local and abroad helped shape the teams we see today.

Kudos to Frederik for also always sharing his pointers with whomever wants the help. A real stand up guy.

He got to show this while in TSM as the team got a good track record going, gaining consistent wins against top tier teams, and getting better the more time they received the support they needed to focus on the game. This was key. As the interest peaked, and with the eSports life they got pulled in by investors, and a strong pitch to form Astralis.

Now in Astralis they pulled in Danny ‘Zonic’ Sørensen whom is an old school CS 1.6 hero with tonnes of experience. Byskov remains as the general manager, and the roster currently has had a hard time finishing top 2, but hasn’t had problems competing with the best. I think it’s not long before we see Astralis getting top tier tournament wins, and holding that streak.

One of the major things that I like about the evolution of Astralis, is that a lot of these players whom have had potential the past few years, actually are getting their chance due to the good work behind Astralis getting sponsors, and investors interested to give them the chance to be a top tier team.

All because they finally got treated the way players have been needed to have been treated for the past decade or so from experience.

What a time to be alive.

The Danish Counter Strike Scene Today

This is going to sound a bit negative, but in large, but we took a huge step back a year ago. In the days of 1.6 the tournaments were many, and ways to show you were good and climb were present all around. There were managers/coaches whom owned teams, and everything was much simpler. A lot of event organizers got in the game, and hosted a tonne of events, lans, and leagues.

It wasn’t even two-three years ago that the Majors didn’t exist (even last year for that matter), but the major tournaments “hence majors” weren’t coordinated in a sense that gave proper scheduling, and a base line of the worlds best CS:GO players/teams a good platform to stand on.

That changed last year with a level of behind the scenes organisation that finally fermented a strong foundation for CS to stand on.

But wait… I’m supposed to be talking about the Danish Counter Strike Scene… 

Well this is the part that sucks. We haven’t moved an inch. Actually it seems we have taken a step back. All the talent is there, and the enthusiasm for the players exists, but they have no where to go with it. Absolutely nowhere. A lot of people whom couldn’t get backing, wages, and had real life problems have been leaving the scene. The great talents we have were picked up by international organisations, but Denmarks lack of retention has left us with a void of experienced organizers.

Players and Teams also seemed to be stuck with a sea of people that wanted to get involved, the problem is just, because people want to get involved doesn’t mean they have the expertise to be part of the scene. A lot of the managers, and coaches I’ve met have been absolutely inconsistent in their work, and their reasoning for fixing things is based on very limited experience.

Organisations started picking up teams, and spreading apart good talent into different pockets, but thankfully in Denmark people work together outside their gaming organisations so with good communication a lot of talent got developed and maintained to the point where we have one of the best player bases in the world today.

With the “death” of a few of the prominent eSports tournaments in Jylland where CS was a mainstay, and the MIA status of the Gaming.dk CS:Go league, CS One Night Cups, and such, we have had a bit of a vacuum in Denmark over the past year and a half. HOWEVER… Nothing. There is no However, nothing was happening. All of this can be traced to key individuals leaving for IRL job opportunities, or life changes.

By the beginning of 2016, there were about 3-5 events to participate in that were nationally based. Net Party Fyn, which didn’t have a real eSports prize pool, Copenhagen Games which has had it’s own issues growing, and League of Sharks which is so new that people don’t really adhere a sense of brand value to it yet.

Thank god for the ESL, Face It, and a few other international leagues exist where players could develop and maintain daily scrims.

What’s next?

With the numbers and interest ever growing, and with the help of the organisation behind Majors teams, and the Majors events themselves we are seeing a more interest in Denmark to cater to the biggest game around. This means more people are opting in to spending their time and resources on the scene. Sponsors, organizers, managers, and new players are joining and growing the community.

CS:GO Danmark for example has started a great League, and new LANs are springing up left and right. Competition is fierce, and it seems that in about a year we should be back to a good level of events that CS:GO teams can go play in to get better. Esport.dk has run their leagues again, League of Sharks has a major 128 team league, and things seem swell right.

The problem is a lot of the people involved is new, and a lot of the older people seem burned out, or focused on representing eSport all out by doing too much at the same time (I am one of those people *sadface). Our problem is that we are trying to fix everything all at once, and we are horrible at sharing experience. Something Frederik Byskov did for me, and something I try to do for others, but I am not really up on par with my Esports work for all the time I put into my other projects like running Genki and working with cosplay.

Now it all depends on how we organizers go on from here with their projects. Some just follow the biggest games, and a lot of the motivation for the events lies at the end of the day with what they feel is relevant.

I have a sensation that we will be seeing a lot of events pop up, and a bit more focus given to teams, and organisations needs, but first of all it seems the events are in focus. So a steady growth in talent for Denmark will be happening this year, as events get launched and it makes more sense to participate in Danish events again.

Power is launching a huge LAN party in Odense this year as well, which is good, since we needed something in the central part of Denmark, and a new game changer to the LAN scene. CS:GO Danmark has a community based on CS:GO and has opened it’s own league, and will maintain that to the death, and that is amazing. League of Sharks is expanding it’s tournaments with 128 slots for CS:GO.

With issues like this addressed, and organizers understanding the importance of talent retention at hand, that more money is being funneled into admins, managers, coaches, and this is helping the scene out a lot. Sharing experience has also become a main driving force behind Danish Esport, and with that, all we can do now is wait and see what comes next.

Leave a comment below if you want to share your thoughts of the Danish scene.