Astralis have announced the signing of Patrick "es3tag" Hansen from FunPlus Phoenix, who is set to become the sixth member of Astralis' CS:GO roster at the start of July 2020.
Rumours of this move have been floating around for some time and while it was uncertain whether the deal will go through, Astralis confirmed earlier this Sunday, that they have acquired the 24-year old Danish CS:GO pro, who will join their roster for an unspecified amount in July.
The announcement of the new arrival surfaced on Astralis' official Twitter page and on the Danish esports organisation's official website earlier on Sunday, March 22. In their announcement, Astralis explained that the signing of es3tag will help them cope with "periods of tight schedules and high tournament stress," by improving the working conditions for their players and allow them to take breaks for physical and mental recovery when the time will call for that.
Nikolaj Nyholm, CEO of Astralis further explained that extending their CS:GO roster had been on their minds since late 2017 when Nicolai "device" Reedtz had to take medical leave, which forced Astralis to field stand-in players at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen and ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals, where they finished second and ninth-10th respectively.
While fielding a six-man CS:GO roster might seem a bit unorthodox, it has been a burning topic of discussion in the CS:GO community, as a permanent six-man roster is widely regarded as unprecedented, especially at the highest tier of CS:GO. One other team which opted to field a larger roster is also AGO, who just recently signed Oskar "oskarish" Stenborowski as their seventh member, in a bid to field two players in each position.
"Our work with Astralis and all our teams is focused around performance and health. It’s our responsibility as an organization to secure optimal conditions for our employees on all levels, and especially our players, who on a constant basis experience the highest pressure to perform. Increasing the roster size to six players is something we have worked on for a long time with relevant stakeholders in Counter-Strike," said Kasper Hvidt, Astralis' Director of Sports.
"This approach is no different than in traditional sports, but it’s new to Counter-Strike, and a change like this will take time to optimize for full advantage. The players, coach and our performance team have been involved in this decision and everybody agrees it is the way to go."
Es3tag began his CS:GO career in late 2014 when he participated at MLG Aspen Invitational - EU Qualifier 1 with under Űber n00bz. He later played for some lesser teams including KappaKappa, Wrecking Gaming, Epiphany Bolt, Orbit Esport, Alpha Gaming, Escape Gaming and in September 2016 joined Tricked Esports. Es3tag remained with Tricked for nearly one year, before he got acquired by Heroic, who signed the promising Danish pro in June 2017.
Since joining Heroic, the 24-year-old pro pocketed numerous notable results, especially towards the end of 2019, when he claimed a runner-up finish at DreamHack Open Rotterdam 2019, gold at DreamHack Open Atlanta 2019 and top-four placement at EPICENTER 2019. During his time with Heroic, es3tag has averaged 1.07 LAN rating, 54.2% map win rate and has claimed a 1+ rating on 60.7% maps he played.
Astralis' signing of es3tag, however, did not end without complications, as it could break down the deal between Heroic and FunPlus Phoenix, who were just recently announced to have signed Heroic’s CS:GO roster in a bid to expand into another esports title. Although it was said that the deal between Heroic and FunPlus Phoenix was completed, new rumours surfaced earlier this week, claiming that FunPlus Phoenix could step away from the agreement if es3tag leaves the team, meaning his departure could put the said deal in jeopardy.
The announced signing also caused a response from Heroic's CEO Erik Askered, who stated that his organisation is making legal preparations after he claimed that Astralis acted in bad faith and affected the sale of the team to FunPlus Phoenix. Mr. Nyholm, however, responded by stating that Astralis' actions were not taken to the detriment of FunPlus Phoenix or Heroic, bot of whom were allegedly notified about es3tag signing with Astralis.
How will the dispute end is anyone's guess, however, as it stands now, es3tag is set to become the sixth member of Astralis' CS:GO roster starting on July 1, 2020.
Astralis CS:GO roster from July 1:
Nicolai "device" Reedtz
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth
Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen
Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander
Emil "Magisk" Reif
Patrick "es3tag" Hansen
Danny "zonic" Sørensen - coach