Astralis might’ve lost the battle to Optic in Atlanta, but through this loss have finally started to turn the tide in the more ambiguous and important Nordic war. Whilst this second place finish at ELEAGUE netted them $140,000, its monetary value can be dwarfed by the effect it has had on helping return Denmark as the premiere country out of the Nordic states, and also by destroying a prerogative created on the inception of CS:GO as a game.
The Swedes have for the longest time been the dominating force in CS:GO. From Ninjas in Pyjamas reign in early 2012 – late 2013, then the first iteration of the Fnatic line-up in 2014 – 2015, followed by the second in early late 2015-2016. At almost every corner the scene has turned, whether it be Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson, Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansson, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg, or Robin “flusha” Rönnquist: the Counter-Strike world has been almost entirely subservient to the will of the men hailing from Sweden.
The countries vibrant LAN scene and deep pool of veteran talent is backed up by pedigree and large financial backing, any roster move made by these top Swedish teams has for the most part worked out. When NiP switched out Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson for Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, then eventually Aleksi “allu” Jalli, they enjoyed in the short-term, back-to-back grand final appearances at the Dreamhack Winter 2014, and ESL One Katowice 2015 Majors.
When Fnatic bought in KrimZ and Olofmeister in 2014 they created the most dominant dynasty in the history of CS:GO, winning two majors in consecutive fashion and boasting a hegemonic control over the scene. Then, when they bought in Dennis “dennis” Edman – much to the disdain of the community – to switch out for Markus “pronax” Wallsten, Fnatic won six large international LANs in a row. Even the most current iteration of the NiP roster won IEM Oakland immediately after bringing pyth back into the team.
The Swedish shuffle prerogative is clear when you look at these results. Through this surface-level historical analysis, it seems that their scene is too enamoured with talent that roster changes in the short-term can do no wrong. Admittedly, over time these honeymoon periods of hot-form cool off, as any NiP fan in 2015 would tell you with a fervent ferocity. In saying that, the trend is clear, the few changes the Swedish scene have been subject too has brought about some of the most dominant results the CS:GO world knows today.
The will of the Swedish teams has made even the most valiant efforts of their Nordic counterparts from Finland, Norway and most notably Denmark. Even when the Danish core of Team SoloMid could consistently take maps and series off Fnatic in 2015, and where even given the title of ‘Fnatic Kryptonite’, they could never truly overcome themselves when it mattered most on LAN to beat the Swedes in the global rankings.
The Nordic war has always been a one-sided affair… at least it was, before 2016.
However, with the rise of Dignitas, and more recently of Astralis, the war has seen a sudden swing of momentum to the men from Denmark. Dignitas hold the reigns over the Swedes for the first time ever following their win at EPICENTRE.
Following the GODSENT/Fnatic swap of earlier this year, and the Krimz/Lekr0 swap back shortly after, both teams are a rotten husk of their former selves. Either side would struggle to scrape into the top fifteen teams in the world let alone the top ten, and only the corrosive manifestations of their storied resume keep them in conversations for making it out of the group stage of LAN events.
This cataclysmic downfall of some of the greatest names in Counter-Strike history, has lead in-part to the meteoric rise of first Dignitas, who peaked as high as a top three team in the world, and more recently in Astralis who are yet to peak and seem to only have just hit their stride.
This catastrophic Swedish roster swap runs in complete contrast to the swap of gla1ve/Karrigan and magiskboy/tenzki from the Danes. Both of the Danish swaps seemed to be the perfect fit to their respective puzzles that have allowed the sides to both – for at least a single tournament – reach at least close to the skill ceiling of their rosters, something that hasn’t happened in the Danish scene for years. Although NiP is making a valiant vanguard effort to thwart the Danes through their win at IEM Oakland and top four at the ESL Pro League Finals, how long this will last is not as concrete as one use to think.
Whether it be in the form of MSL’s expansive map pool of semi-strict system or Gla1ve’s more lock-down tactical approach that incorporates the functionality of his stars, the Danes have all the momentum in the Nordic War.