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Today the esports world was rocked by one of the biggest transfers in Counter-Strike history.
After a five year tenure with Danish team Astralis, Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz has joined Ninjas in Pyjamas to replace Tim “nawwk” Jonasson — who has been placed on the transfer list. Once considered to be the best AWPer in the world, dev1ce was one of the original members of Astralis following their creation in 2016. Flashes of brilliance, impeccable ability and technical masterclass; dev1ce lives up to the expectation.
— Ninjas in Pyjamas (@NIP) April 23, 2021
The 25-year-old is one of the most decorated CS:GO players of all time. He won four Major trophies, countless minor championships and he has solidified his place in history. As such, his career became synonymous with winning. Yet, Astralis have not won a tournament this year. A second-place finish at the BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020 in January was the best placement Astralis have had in 2021.
Dev1ce wants to win. Now, he’s got another shot.
A new Ninja
There aren’t many transfers in recent CS:GO history that can match this scale. Examples include G2’s acquisition of former FaZe Clan rifler Nikola “NiKo” Kovač last November, Marcelo “coldzera” David’s move to FaZe Clan in September of 2019, or perhaps even the signing of Alex “ALEX” McMeekin to Cloud9 last September.
None are quite like this.
Dev1ce is one of the few players in CS:GO history that has won four Major trophies. Excluding the core of Astralis, Swedish organization Fnatic have won three Major titles with Jesper “JW” Wecksell and Robin “Flusha” Rönnquist at the helm.
Despite recent results, NiP are one of the most prestigious and historic organizations in CS:GO. The most prolific moment for the organization was in 2012 when NiP won 87 maps in a row, with the streak coming to an end in April of 2013.
But Ninjas in Pyjamas have struggled recently. The only time NiP had won a Major was in August of 2014 at ESL One Cologne. The last LAN event that NiP won in recent history was the European Minor for the FACEIT Major in 2018. Although the COVID-19 pandemic had segregated online events, NiP has not had much luck on the server.
Perhaps the addition of dev1ce is the plot twist in the CS:GO storyline that NiP has been patiently waiting for.
Prospectively, the CS:GO landscape is vastly different, however. Young blood and rising talents have overtaken the legends of the game. Gambit, considered to be one of the best teams in the world, have produced superstar Dmitry “sh1ro” Sokolov, while Heroic have brought the next generation of Danish players.
NiP, however, have their fair share of talent. While Fredrik “REZ” Sterner, Hampus “hampus” Poser and Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora have been on NiP for a substantial amount of time, Erik “ztr” Gustafsson, who joined the organization in January of 2021, is the youngest of the team.
Dev1ce is not just a Major winner, however. He is a legend. He is a staple in the CS:GO landscape. An immovable object. If there’s one player that the rest of NiP can look up to and work with, it’s him.
The fault in our stars
Astralis, much like dev1ce, have been given labels across their CS:GO tenure: “legendary,” “perfection,” “era-defining.” While early CS:GO was dominated by the Swedes, modern CS:GO has been dominated by the Danes.
The level of influence dev1ce had in Astralis cannot be understated. Dubbed as the third best player in the world for four years by HLTV.org, he has always been the centerpiece for Astralis’ success. To have one of the best AWPers in CS:GO history move to another team is a damning loss.
In December of 2018, arguably one of Astralis’ most dominant years, the Danish side won the $1,000,000 Intel Grand Slam Season 1 prize, the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals and BLAST Pro Series: Lisbon 2018; not to mention, the first place finishes at five other LAN events, including IEM Chicago in November.
Perhaps the downfall of Astralis wasn’t the fault of the players but the system.
Astralis’s CS:GO side is the flagship team for the Astralis Group. It is considered to be the organization’s most prized asset. Last year, however, the players were exhausted, having competed at several events during the latter half of 2019. The players wanted a break, yet they were forced into a rigid playing schedule by the organization, according to a report by Richard Lewis.
But, the Astralis group had contractual obligations to compete in the ESL Pro Series and BLAST circuit. Otherwise, the organization would have to forfeit crucial revenue share. A holiday for some of the best players in the world was not on the cards.
Paired with a supposed 30 percent pay cut — according to the report — and a packed schedule, Astralis players were on thin ice. In mid 2020, citing burnout as the main issue, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander stepped down from the roster. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth shortly followed suit.
Astralis had begun to crumble, yet dev1ce was the rock. However, the pandemic has not been kind to Astralis in recent months. The team has failed to win a single tournament in 2021, with offline events considered a distant memory.
The pandemic has forced Astralis to make changes and suffer defeats to teams that they would’ve dismantled in a previous inception. But to replace dev1ce, one of the best players in the world, is the biggest challenge.
The move is set to place sidelined Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen in dev1ce’s spot. At the time of publication, Astralis has lost its dedicated AWPer and star player. Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen likely will man the sniper while Bubzkji will fill the void of firepower. Whether this inception of Astralis can live up to its retrospective counterpart remains to be seen.
NiP have stumbled on a serendipitous encounter; one that may yield much needed yet unexpected improvements to a team that was once on top of the Counter-Strike food chain.
The former glory is ripe for the taking.