Astralis' announced acquisition of Patrick “es3tag” Hansen in late March stunned many in the professional CS:GO scene. The move, effective July 1 when es3tag's contract with Heroic expires, appeared on the surface to mark the beginning of a new approach in CS:GO that had only been discussed theoretically: actively switching players in and out of the lineup. Astralis’ search for players didn’t end with es3tag, either, as they continued searching for more players to add to the roster. Every decision since then has led to an influx of my sources hearing conflicting reasons as to why so many changes have occurred.
Acquiring Jakob "JUGi" Hansen didn’t come as a surprise behind the scenes because rumors of Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander stepping down circled for the better part of two weeks. While most I’ve spoken with aren’t second guessing gla1ve’s motivation for stepping back, some believe it isn’t a guarantee that he returns to the lineup following his three-month hiatus. Others close to the Astralis camp maintain that there is no question he will return and allow them to pursue their seven-player roster idea later in the summer.
Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth stepping down less than two weeks after gla1ve was a surprise to everyone, including Astralis management. While I do not believe that he would ever be dishonest about why he stepped down, other knowledgable sources aren’t so sure burnout is the only reason. The same reputable sources who feel gla1ve might not return also expressed that Xyp9x could follow suit. Once again, though, sources near the Astralis camp are adamant that even though Xyp9x's break is technically open-ended, he will return before gla1ve.
A couple sources in particular mentioned the players originally pitched for time away from the game a couple months back as a group, but the idea was disallowed by the organization. That decision is what some have said prompted gla1ve and xyp9x decided to take matters into their own hands so they could get time away from the game. Choosing to sit out now while all matches in CS:GO are played online would then allow them to return to play well before travel resumes.
Over the past month, it has become clear that the truth likely lies somewhere within each extreme. Perhaps the constant grind and innovation that brought Astralis three straight Majors simply wore on two of their veterans. They could return in a few months and pick up where they left off from an impressive 2019. What if, though, there is something cooking behind the scenes that will result in these players joining another organization by the time we get to 2021? Only time will really tell what is going on behind closed doors in Denmark, but the conflicting information I've received surrounding this team is unlike anything I've encountered in some time.