DEVICE - The Return of The Prodigal Son

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Modified  10 Nov, 11:22
Reading time  ~18  mins

In the midst of luminaries like Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, Kenny “kennyS Schrub, Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Jesper “JW” Wecksell, it has been Nicolai “device” Reedtz who made his mark over the years as the most eminent sniper.

Read more: From 2-0 to 2-3 in CS:GO Majors

While being a GOAT in CS:GO can be subjective, with 4x Major trophies, 2x Major MVPs and 8 Top 20 HLTV mentions he can objectively be deemed as the most decorated AWPer in the game. But what seems to be a buoyant career from afar has been plagued by physical and mental health battles.

After a long hiatus from professional Counter-Strike, the Danish virtuoso is all set to reunite with his former team Astralis. The heroics he has achieved in 5 years while flaunting the red-black jersey has been etched into the minds of his countless fans. To celebrate his homecoming, let’s turn the pages of history to the point where his journey began with Astralis.

The Birth of Astralis

The narrative sets pace in early 2016, when the TSM roster who had been playing under the name “?” decided to form an org for themselves — despite having offers from other teams. Along with the new colors to the jersey came another change, the team sought to assign device as the full time AWPer. While the 21 year old was no stranger to the $4750 sniper, there is a stark contrast between a hybrid and the primary AWPer.

The first two events of the year kicked off rather slowly for device as he only averaged 1.00 rating in SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals and DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig 2016. Back to the grindstone, he spent a lot of time off the server to analyze other tier-1 AWPers. As a way of keeping notes on how to react to certain situations, he created a Google Doc for himself. Since AWPers need to be unpredictable, he tailored his playstyle accordingly by looking at his own heat maps.

It did not take long for the seeds he sowed to reap results, as EVP mentions began to come his way. The first one was in GEC Finals where he tallied up to 1.28 rating and then in ESL Barcelona where he got 1.23. Astralis placed 3rd and second in those events respectively.

Headed into their first major, Astralis got off to a flying start as they toppled Gambit, CLG and Fnatic to reach the semi-finals. But disaster struck against NaVi as they came crumbling down on the second map after losing inferno by a hair’s breadth. device, who had been phenomenal up until the semi-finals with his 1.41 rating, could only muster up a 0.52 on the final map.

This choking tendency in crucial matches had been haunting him since the outset and it was something he wanted to do away with. “Obviously the MLG Major was probably the toughest for me, since I thought I had skewed away from all of the 'choke' reputation and so on, but I had a really tough semi and that tore me down for a day or two. Eventually I just accepted that it will always be a part of who I am, and how I will be remembered as well.”

The disappointing showings in MLG was just the tip of the iceberg. Ironically, while the team was bombing out of the group stage, device kept putting up 1.25+ HLTV rating. For instance in the second Major of the year, IEM Cologne 2016, Astralis couldn’t even make it out of groups yet device was the second best player of the tournament. The slump continued even after the major and by October’s end the team had dipped to #15 in world rankings. Unsatisfied with mediocre results, the team sought to change leadership and Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander was asked to replace Finn “karrigan” Anderson.

The advent of gla1ve to the roster meant a completely new system for the team. For an AWPer this transition hits the hardest and naturally device scuffled with the change. He expressed his early struggles in an interview with HLTV; “The adaption to a new IGL was the toughest part for me, since I liked the way karrigan did his leading. He was very impulsive and had very good reads whereas we now rely more on playing directly as we do in practice in our official games. I think that gives us more stability even though I can see the positives in both ways.”

As the end approached its culmination, Astralis won the ECS Season 2 Finals and device topped the charts in the MVP race with his 1.41 rating. Additionally, after the win, Astralis shot up to number one spot for the first time in the world. device’s 1.19 rating and 1.34 impact rating made him the third best player of the year. But more importantly, the year marked the onset of a bigger story-one that would change the face of Danish Counter-Strike in the years to come.

Blood Sweat and Tears

The turbulence in 2016 seemed to follow Astralis into 2017. They kicked off the year in the grandest fashion by claiming the first major trophy at ELEAGUE Major 2017. With his heroic 1.49 rating, device led his team to the finals of the tournament, where they defeated Virtus.pro. In the last two maps against VP however, his choking tendency persisted as his blazes were nowhere to be found. Only able to manage a 0.89 rating, he watched Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye step up to aid the wailing Astralis from the bottom of the scoreboard. Kjaerbye also snatched the MVP award after his 1.38 rating in the final, making him the youngest player to achieve the feat.

A couple events later at IEM Katowice, Astralis clinched their second title of the year. It was even better that they defeated FaZe 3-1 in the final’s BO5, as together with SK, they posed a significant threat to Astralis' throne. The narrative of Device doing most of the heavy lifting up until the finals where he would eventually go missing prevailed once again.

Just like the major, another MVP eluded him and he had to settle for an EVP. This didn’t hinder his stellar form as he continued to put up compelling numbers. Worryingly, his contributions did not translate into title victories as the season progressed. On the other hand, SK found their way back to winning ways after they secured titles at both IEM Sydney 2017 and ECS Season 3 finals. With FaZe also finding deep runs in these big tournaments, Astralis were pushed down to third place in world rankings.

As Marcello “coldzera” David pointed out after winning IEM Sydney, Astralis were going into a downward spiral. “I think that Astralis are now going down. It's normal, when you're competing, playing and winning a lot of tournaments, it happened with us, fnatic and now Astralis.” With the major dead ahead, it was decided by Astralis that they would skip IEM Cologne in order to improve and defend their Major title this year.

The mid of July saw PGL Krakow Major play out. Astralis put their best foot forward by vanquishing the likes of Immortals. Fnatic, and G2 to get a chance to settle the score against their nemesis SK in the quarter-finals. This time around, device stood in the way of the Brazilian super team and their third Major with his 1.62 rating and Astralis managed to oust SK from the major. Since FaZe couldn’t even make it out of the group stage, the stage was set for Astralis to claim their second major in a row.

However, they were stunned by a fiery Gambit in the semi finals as the Danes had no answer for their staggering fast plays. The disappointment was immeasurable for device as their semi-final curse in the Majors prevailed. “We knew that we weren’t close to winning yet, but I think in some way it’s hard to mentally reset after beating the best team in the world. Going from being the underdogs to being the clear favourites, we didn’t bring our A-game against Gambit, and they punished that”

Post player break Astralis recorded a 5th-8th finish at Dreamhack Masters Malmo, followed by a second place finish to FaZe at ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017, 5th-6th finish at ESL One New York 2017, 4th place finish at EPICENTRE. A flying start to the year crumbled to an even bitter end as Astralis exited IEM Oakland in third last place while device was handed his only negative rating of the year.

Things went from bad to worse as device had to watch the remaining three events from the sidelines being diagnosed with hiatal hernia. While the year had its fair share of troughs towards its latter phase, it proved to be a flourishing one comprehensively for device as an AWPer. He built onto the playstyle he developed in 2016 and found a stability in gla1ve’s reliable calling. His consistency saw new heights and he claimed the fifth place in HLTV’s top 20 players of 2017. But now his battle was off the server as his health issues began to pose a threat to his burgeoning career.

To The Stars

The time away from Counter-Strike was daunting for device. Being left on the sidelines and watch his teammates play was extremely difficult for him. To him, being a part of the team means to be a part of the ups and downs. Fortunately for him, device returned in time to participate in the ELEAGUE Boston Major. With high hopes of reclaiming the #1 spot device believed that they had a very good chance at the major.

However what came as a shocker to everyone was that the start AWPer won’t be dawning the big green for the tournament. Instead, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen will be picking up the AWPing duties as device will go back to his lurking role.

The thought process behind the switch was later described by gla1ve, “When we played with a stand-in and dupreeh was the AWP it felt good. We had role issues with dupreeh and kjaerbye and that is why we did the change, because dupreeh wanted the same role as kjaerbye, and he couldn't have it as kjaerbye also wanted it. So device said that dupreeh can have the AWP and that he can take his role instead. It was a bad decision, but it happens”

Things didnt go as well as planned as Astralis bombed out of the major with a 1-3 scoreline (0.91 rating) and consequently, device was imminently put back to the AWPer role. Another change Astralis saw themself go through after the major MVP Kjaerbye left to rejoin his teammates in North and Emil “Magisk” Reif was augmented to the roster. The roster change that came down as a shocker at the time was about to go down as the best roster change of all time.

Back in the driver’s seat, device handled business as he started putting up numbers once again. Being a new roster, the team naturally took its time to get back to its winning ways, but once they did, they didnt stop. The mold was finally broken at ECS Season 5 Europe where the Danes secured the first place courtesy of an empowering 1.33 rating by the man of the hour.

The Danes didn’t stop there. After having tasted the blood, they ended at the top of the charts IEM Sydney 2018 Europe Closed Qualifier, Dreamhack Masters Marseille, ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals, ECS Season 5 Finals, ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018.

Astralis set foot in the Faceit Major 2018 as heavy favorites. The event ushered in well for the Danes as they overcame Natus Vincere and Vega Squadron before they fell at the hands of Team Liquid in BO1s. However, the overtime loss had little effect on them as they toppled mibr in the next BO1 without losing a single round. From there on, even the likes of Team Liquid, FaZe and NaVi couldn’t take a single map off of them as they were crowned Major Champions for the second time. Device narrowly managed to claim the MVP with a 1.26 rating over a 1.25 rating of Magisk and a 1.24 of dupreeh.

Considering the start of the year afflicted by sickness and early exits at big events, getting his first MVP award was worth its weight in gold for the 23 year old, “I'm really honored to get this award. It's like one of the career goals that has just been achieved, I'm just mind-blown in some way, I feel like. I'm playing at my best and I thought it was going to be such a rough year with all of the absences due to sickness and so on, and it turned out to be the best year of my life.”

Astralis became untouchable after major. Their domination heightened to an unthinkable extent as winning events became a norm. Except BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen 2018 where they had to settle for the third place, they had #1 next to their names at BLAST Pro Series Istanbul 2018, ESL Pro League Season 8 Europe, ECS Season 6 Europe, IEM Chicago 2018, ECS Season 6 Finals, ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals, and BLAST Pro Series Lisbon 2018.

Device’s success in 2018 was beyond belief as he collected 7 MVPs and 6 EVPs, breaking the record of most MVPs in an year. His 1.23 rating that year was abundant to make him the second best player of the year. Device was slowly carving his name as the best player to dawn the AWP. 

Battle To Be The Best

Astralis started the next year from where they left off. After narrowly losing the first place to Team Liquid at the inaugural iBUYPOWER Masters 2019, Astralis met eyes with the Katowice 2019 Major. It was smooth sailing for Astralis as neither team except Renegades managed to even take them to the third map. In the grand final they met ENCE and it ended in a one sided fashion with the Danes adding a third star to their jersey.

Despite losing the MVP of the tournament to his teammate Magisk, device recorded a grotesque 1.32 rating throughout the event making it his best performance till date in Majors. As the year progressed, Astralis continued to soar to new heights as they were cited first at ECS Season 7 Europe, BLAST Pro Series São Paulo 2019, ESL Pro League Season 9 Europe and second in BLAST Pro Series Madrid.

Astralis showed their first signs of struggle right before going into the player break. In ECS Season 7 Finals, they were first dominated by NRG and then their nemesis Team Liquid before getting eliminated. Their woes continued in ESL Pro League Season 9 as they were bested by Furia twice : first in a BO1 and then in a BO3, reducing them to 5-6th in the tournament. For the first time after a dominant year of being ranked number one, Astralis were on longer the best team in the world.

However, after the player break they came in full force for the Starladder Major Berlin 2019. Identical to Katowice, Astralis didn’t drop a single map except an Overtime loss to CR4ZY. Even Avangar couldn’t provide much resistance to the Danish force as the grand final ended with a 16-6, 16-5 scoreline in favor of the Danes. The victory became especially reminiscent for device. Not only did he claim his most convincing MVP on his birthday, but he also realized his dream of winning two majors in the single year.

Astralis also became the only team to win three majors in a row. Post-match, he attributed the win to the undying support of the Organization which allowed the roster to skip some events in order to focus on the major ones. After the Berlin Major, the fireworks weren’t as loud as compared to 2018, yet it was far from quiet.

Astralis claimed three more titles, including IEM Beijing 2019, ECS Season 8 Finals, and BLAST Pro Series Global Finals 2019. With three MVP awards, 7 EVP awards, 1.22 rating, and 1.29 impact rating, device was once again ranked the third best player of the year.

The Extra Mile

The Danes had a dawdling start to 2020. Two losses to Complexity led them to an early exit from BLAST Premier Spring Series 2020. In IEM Katowice 2020, they were bested by Natus Vincere who'd started to spread their wings. Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, Counter-Strike had to turn to Online events. What followed was a string of temporary changes within the roster.

Burn out meant gla1ve stepped down from the roster. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth was the next to follow in his footsteps as he also took a break from professional Counter-Strike. The roster went through countless overhauls as players like es3tag, Snappi, Jugi, Bubzki were named the new recruits and Magisk picked up the reins.

Apart from topping the charts in ESL One: Road to Rio, Astralis couldn’t manage anything noteworthy. That changed when gla1ve returned for ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe. Even though Magisk was still calling the shots, the Danes managed to claim their second title of the year.

After two more mediocre results, Astralis saw the return of its clutch minister- Xyp9x. With the old lineup back in action, Astralis were primed on ending the year on a high note. They secured first place at Dreamhack Masters Winter 2020 Europe, IEM Global Challenge 2020, and second place at BLAST Premier Fall Finals 2020. It was device who did all the heavy liftings in those victories scoring a 1.34 and 1.26 rating respectively.

The year’s end saw Astralis reinstating themselves as the best team once again. Amidst a pandemic-struck scene and a plethora of stand-ins, device managed to hold his own, claiming 3 MVPs and 6 EVPs and was seated as the third best player for the fourth time in his mellowing career.

A New Chapter

As all good things must come to an end, device’s historic voyage with Astralis came to an end in 2021. The news broke out like a bolt from the blue when NiP completed device’s signing in April. He played for 7 months under the Ninjas’ banner before health conditions once again started to loom over his career. Just before the IEM Winter’s playoff, NIP announced that device was set to miss the remaining games of the event.

What was supposed to be a couple of matches turned out to be a longer break away from the game as both NiP and device maintained their silence on his return. It was Jaxon who first reported that NiP had agreed upon the transfer of device to Astralis.

If the probable happens and Astralis bench their current AWPer Asger “farlig” Jensen, Astralis will be :

  • Benjamin "blameF" Bremer
  • Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
  • Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander (IGL)
  • Mikkel "MistR" Thomsen
  • Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz

Upd 10:00 CEST, 27th of October 2022: dev1ce is back to Astralis' roster.

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