Team Spirit Dominates Astralis on Dust2
Team Spirit have pulled off a near-unprecedented finish against Astralis in the Group A Finals at IEM Katowice. After losing their own map pick, Spirit secured a narrow victory on map two before dominating Astralis on Dust2 in a historic 16-1 fashion. The last time Astralis lost a map that badly was over two years ago.
Spirit came into IEM Katowice as underdogs. They barely qualified for the event, taking the final spot via ESL’s World Rankings. Ever since they got here, however, the 16th ranked squad globally has shown what they’re made of.
Spirit’s results to this point feature wins over Cloud9, BIG, G2 Esports, and Heroic while only dropping one map. Many expected their win streak to come to an end against the 2nd highest-rated team in the world, Astralis. A ticket to the semifinals was on the line, so the Danes would surely be giving it everything they had.
Map one went according to plan. Spirit managed to put together a competitive first half on their pick of Inferno. Unfortunately, Astralis showed them up on the T side. In-game leader Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander top fragged the server as he led the Danes to a clean 16-11 win.
Determined to stay in contention, Spirit got their heads into the game on Train. Their newest member Abdul “degster” Gasanov had an amazing performance with the AWP. On the CT side, he put up a 20-6 K-D ratio with 126.9 ADR, good for a 2.07 HLTV rating. Even when he didn’t have the big green. Degster found other ways to win Spirit rounds.
Spirit won the second pistol round as well, pushing them to a 14-5 lead. Astralis did their best to come back on the CT sided map by winning seven rounds in a row, but the deficit was just too large. Two fast executes by Spirit was enough to gift them the equalizer 16-13.
Wiping the Floor with Astralis
It all came down to Dust2. While Astralis did hold an impressive 73.3 percent win rate in the map in the past three months, Spirit’s was even higher at 80 percent. Their confidence going into the decider was noticeable from the beginning.
Spirit started their CT campaign by pinching Astralis’s A site pistol round and denying a bomb plant. Astralis’ first gun round was then shut down by a forward Mid/Catwalk crossfire out of Spirit before degster cleaned up a desperation Tunnel push.
Astralis would earn their first and only bomb plant on the map in round six, but it was in a hopeless 1v3 situation. Even with the extra money and full loss bonus, Astralis could not find a way to win any rounds. Their plan of A Long control was foiled time and time again by magixx and Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov. When Spirit did decide to cede the A site, rotations were always quick due to information pushes into Mid and Tunnels. Later in the half, Astralis tried to swap things up by playing heavily to the B side. It went about as well as expected.
After a few more strong rounds for Spirit, the curtains closed on the first half 15-0. Nikolay “mir” Bityukov and chopper combined for a 36-8 K-D with a total of 246.4 ADR, each breaking the 2.00 rating mark.
Team Spirit’s success in shutting down Astralis came down to two major factors. First, they knew exactly what Astralis was planning at every turn. They clearly did their homework on what to expect out of the Danish offense and moved players around accordingly. When asked about the Dust2 decider in the post-game interview, magixx stated “we got all three maps we wanted to pick.” Even when Spirit lacked information in-game, they would play to get some and would always be rewarded.
Second, every player was absolutely on point. Spirit won the first blood war 11-4 in that half. While they did have more money and therefore full buys, Astralis still had eight chances at gun rounds. When Astralis did find that rare opening pick, Spirit was always there to even up the score. Three players had 100 percent KAST’s (rounds where a player had a kill, assist, survived, or was traded) with the lowest being an 86.7 percent. What this means is that Astralis only got three kills for free in the entire half.
Spirit had a chance to make history by being the first team ever to 16-0 Astralis. All they needed was to win the second pistol round. With their pride on the line, Astralis narrowly avoided getting 1v3’ed by degster on the A site retake to put themselves on the board.
Almost poetically, Spirit would force up in the next round and turn a 2v3 situation into a sixteenth round just like that. Although it wasn’t the clean sheet, a 16-1 still tied the record for the most dominant map against Astralis ever played.
With this win, Spirit’s undefeated run at IEM Katowice continues. They have already locked in a top-four finish which comes with a minimum $80,000 prize, 1100 ESL Pro Tour points and 1000 BLAST Premier points. They won’t be satisfied yet, however. Spirit will play in the semifinals on February 27th for a Grand Finals appearance. While Team Spirit was not a name many expected to be a contender for the Katowice title, it’s time they got the attention they deserve.