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Counter-Strike: All eyes on Astralis, MIBR as 2019 begins

The Astralis Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team celebrates after defeating MIBR to win the FACEIT Esports Championship Series Season 6 finals at Esports Stadium Arlington on Nov. 25 in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Brazilian Counter-Strike: Global Offensive fans are not the only ones that are eager to see the reunion of the nation's best players at MIBR. The in-game leader of the top CS:GO team in the world, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, is also expecting great results coming from the five players.

"I have no doubt that our good friends from MIBR will come up very strong," Astralis' captain told ESPN Esports Brazil. "They had some communication problems in the past, but this is over now; look at their new lineup."

In gla1ve's opinion, the signings of Epitácio "Taco" Filho, João "felps" Vasconcellos and Wilton "zews" Prado will put the Brazilians back on track. The Danish player's bet is that the team will be back competing with Astralis for major trophies.

"They will be a top team in 2019, and I really hope that they are successful," he said. "We want to play against them and win, but there's so much respect between the teams and the players that even though we play against each other on stage, I like to watch MIBR playing, and they're great friends."

Winning routine

Astralis had a memorable 2018. The Danish team won 11 international titles and took the first Intel Grand Slam as well, adding an extra $1 million to their pockets.

"We had an incredible year, but it was also very difficult," gla1ve said. "We worked hard to achieve all this, and the competition is extremely tough."

According to the player, preparing themselves in the game is not enough. To get to a dominance level never achieved before, Astralis have also prepared themselves in other ways.

"We introduced a new model that includes physical training, a healthy diet, psychological preparation and, in general, a life as the life of any other sports professional," he said. "This surely doesn't take away our passion from the game, and it has given us new tools on how to enhance our performance."

Other teams looking to Astralis for inspiration by watching demos and analyzing strategies aren't doing enough, gla1ve said. The routine out of the game that Astralis developed is also important, and not only for professional players.

"I think that everyone should look at what we were able to achieve with the help from RFRSH," gla1ve said. "It doesn't matter if you play CS, another game or if you simply want to be better at what you do. ... Live a healthy life by eating and drinking correctly, maintaining yourself in good shape, achieving mental balance and remembering to give your body and brain a good dose of fresh air.

"These are things that will make you better at what you do, regardless of what that is. It is something that I hope all kids learn as well. If you want to be the best, it is not only about the game, but about being healthy, ready, fresh-minded, and taking some time to do other stuff outside of the game."

A promising year

All the titles earned by Astralis last season have made them a target in 2019. After leaving all their opponents in the dust last year, the team is preparing to face the heavy competition that awaits it at the next tournaments.

"It will be a fantastic Counter-Strike year," gla1ve said. "2019 can be one of the most exciting years until now because we want to keep improving, but there are so many good teams, and they all have improved.

"We know that they look at us for inspiration, as we did with other teams in the past. This doesn't mean we can stop working, and we have to get better if we want to win more trophies.

"We really want to win every game we play, the same way that MIBR, NiP, Liquid, FaZe, Na'Vi and every team in the world wants. We really respect these guys, and I think we will see the highest level of CS this year."

Dine on the Danes

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Omen by HP mOMENt of the Week: Astralis gets Grand Slam

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team finished up a historic achievement in the CS:GO scene with yet another tournament victory.

Some teams already expressed the desire to knock Astralis off of their throne -- and MIBR is one of them. Among several teams that changed their lineup, the Brazilians have made clear that their goal is to "dine on the Danes."

According to gla1ve, tweets and jokes like this only show how "hungry and determined" Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and the rest of his opponents are.

"That's what I'm talking about," gla1ve said. "They are so hungry and determined to be the best. FalleN says that because we are the current leaders of the ranking and the team to be beaten."

The Danish player said he sees the Brazilian squad as Astralis' main opponent for the new season.

"I really believe that they will be one of the top teams of 2019, and they will make us work hard," he said. "[Astralis vs. MIBR] will probably be the biggest rivalry on the stages in 2019.

"I hope we can play against them at the Blast Pro Series in Sao Paulo. I love the Brazilian fans even though they are tough and against us. It is a commitment that I really respect and admire."

That tournament begins Tuesday, and MIBR is the only team confirmed to be attending the event. Five others will be announced before the invitational begins.

When questioned about Astralis' presence -- the team is owned by RFRSH Entertainment, which is also in charge of the Blast Pro Series -- gla1ve said that it has yet to be confirmed.

"I still don't know if we are going to play. I hope we do, mostly because of the Brazilian audience," he said. "The last event we played in Portugal was extremely insane and had a great audience, but everyone says that the Brazilians are even louder.

"If we play at Blast São Paulo, the match against MIBR is going to be very intense. Let's see. I want to play in Brazil at some time; I love its fans."

Eyes on Katowice

To start 2019 the same way as 2018 ended, winning, Astralis already have their eyes on IEM Katowice, the first major of 2019, which runs from Feb. 13 to March 3 in Poland. The team is also competing in the iBUYPOWER Masters IV this weekend in Los Angeles.

Despite that early tournament commitment and potentially playing in São Paulo, the Danish team is determined to win the most important title of the start of the season.

"Winning two consecutive majors would be amazing," gla1ve said. "It is a dream, but it will probably be the most difficult championship we will play this year, or one of them. Everyone will be chasing us, and we are all by ourselves.

"It will be hard because several teams are getting better and looking good, and they all know how we played in 2018. If we want to have a chance of winning, we need to improve and get our game to the next level."