Credit: StarLadder Igor Bezborodov

ELEAGUE Major Atlanta 2017: The beginning of an Era

In this series we look back at all the previous 16 Majors in CS:GO. Today we have reached ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017.

We are only 2 days away from kick-off at the PGL Antwerp Major in Belgium. To ease the waiting time, we have created a countdown series, where we dive into the history of all of the 16 Majors.

ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017

Date: Jan 22nd – Jan 29th 2017

Number of teams: 16

Prize Pool: $1,000,000

Winner: Astralis (Kjaerbye, Xyp9x, dupreeh, gla1ve, device)

MVP: Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye

Map pool: Cache, Cobblestone, Dust2, Mirage, Nuke, Overpass, Train.

ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 was the tenth CS:GO Major tournament in the history of the game and was held from January 22 – January 29, 2017 in the G-FUEL ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta USA. Like the two previous Majors, this one also featured a total prize pool of $1,000,000 with 16 teams competing for the lions share.

The ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta was arguably one of the best tournaments for Astralis. The Danish powerhouse managed to beat everyone who had stopped them in the past during Major playoffs. In the quarter-finals they took down NAVI to advance to the semi-finals where they came out on top against fnatic and secured a spot in the Grand final. The Grand final was played against the Polish squad from Virtus.pro who had only lost one map in the tournament, and the match turned out to be a really dramatic one.

More than 1.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the ELEAGUE Major 2017 Grand final from Atlanta, setting a new record for CS:GO audiences as the Danes defeated the legendary squad from Virtus.pro to make CS:GO history. This is how it all went down.

Astralis’ first Major title

Placed 4th on the world rankings at the time and going into the Major as favorites as their form was at the highest level since 2014, the Danes from Astralis had the pressure on them going into the ELEAGUE Major 2017. With the help form their newly acquired sports psychologist, their stars in Kjaerbye and device hitting new levels, a new tactical approach from gla1ve, and the clutch-king of Xyp9x also reaching new levels of winning 1vsX situations, Astralis were able to go all the way to the grand final, where they would take upon the Polish squad from Virtus.pro, who were looking for their second Major championship and first significant victory in some time.

The action of the Grand final started on VP’s pick of Nuke, where the Polish squad was able to end the first half with a 9-6 advantage, thanks in part to the efforts of Snax who stepped up huge and held off the retake of B site in a 1v3 situation. Astralis gained momentum in the second half after they won the pistol round, but ultimately fell as pashaBiceps and company went on to close the map 12-16.

Virtus.pro secured an almost unwinnable 2v3 in the first pistol round on Overpass, defusing the bomb in the last possible moment. However, Astralis replied with a forcebuy victory thanks to dupreeh’s quad kill that helped the Danes take the early lead on their map pick. The Polish squad struggled to deal with Astralis’ slow, execute based tactics, which resulted in the Danes finishing their T side with a 9-6 lead. After some back-and-forth action in the second half, Virtus.pro caught up, taking the lead for the first time in the map with a 14-13 scoreline, and were on the brink of closing it out. But Astralis’ Kjaerbye stepped up huge and won a 1v1 situation against Snax to keep his team in the game and allow them to close out Overpass 16-14 to force the third map, Train.

On the decider of Train, Virtus.pro started off strong and quickly strung together seven consecutive rounds in a row, capitalizing on Astralis’ low economy. After that, Astralis managed to save an AWP and avoid being reset, starting to mount their comeback.

Virtus.pro switched to the defense with a 9-6 advantage, and even extended their lead to hit twelve rounds on the scoreboard before the Danes climbed their way back into the game. Astralis fought their heart out and lowered their deficit to only one round, but things started to look very tough for Astralis when VP secured the following round (12-14). However, the Danes didn’t get affected by looking at the scoreboard and despite Astralis’ anti-eco mishap in the ensuing round, gla1ve and company recovered and closed out the final map 16-14 to get the job done.

The Major Grand final delivered a five-hour long battle full of quality.

From Major MVP to early retirement

The previous Major, before the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 made the Danes reconsider their leadership structure. And most importantly, they were positively surprised by their substitute from Cologne, Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander who helped out the team. Astralis ended up replacing Finn “karrigan” Andersen, who went on to join FaZe Clain and signed gla1ve instead.

This was the final push the Danish squad needed to become a world-class team in CS:GO and win their first Major together. Their success continued on, but the Danes weren’t able to win the second Major of the year.

It was obvious that it was due to Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye not fitting in. After being crowned as the Major MVP, the pressure got to him and he didn’t feel comfortable in the team anymore. At the beginning of 2018, Kjaerbye left Astralis on short notice and joined their rivals from North.

Kjaerbye was never able to climb back to the very pinnacle of Counter-Strike after leaving Astralis, while his former teammates went on an era-defining run.

“I think winning the Major at 18 and being crowned MVP was hard for me to deal with, to be honest. It was what I woke up for and played for every day, it was my biggest motivation, and it came out of nowhere, suddenly winning it, and not only that but also being one of the best players and playing a good grand final. I think I didn’t have the mental fortitude, when looking back now. And I didn’t reach out to my team in Astralis back then, it is a bit of a taboo you could say, talking about motivation issues. I feel like I was playing just as much, the team practice was the same, but my mental desire, my hunger wasn’t the same as before the Major because CS-wise, that was all I dreamt of. I don’t think anyone thinks about being a legend one day, that is something that comes with the titles and other people’s perception of you.

My biggest issue was motivating myself when I was on the top. That is what I’m trying to learn off of because the downside of it, only getting worse from there, was really hard for me to turn around. It took me even years, to be honest. I thought my move to North would give me the motivation back, and in many ways, it did, but we also didn’t have the skill to get up there where I initially thought we would get easily, to the very top. So that is just the hard truth, you live and you learn. I think the biggest lesson for me is learning who I am and what I want to become, that makes me satisfied, just trying to be the best version of myself. That is all you can do.” Kjaerbye told HLTV in an interview.

The Dane announced his retirement at the age of 23 on June 30th, 2021, bringing to a close his 7 years as a top player.

Tournament results:

1. Astralis - $500,000
2. Virtus.pro - $150,000
3-4. SK Gaming - $70,000
3-4. fnatic - $70,000
5-8. NAVI - $35,000
5-8. Gambit - $35,000
5-8. FaZe - $35,000
5-8. North - $35,000
9-11. Liquid - $8,750
9-11. GODSENT - $8,750
9-11. Envy - $8,750
12-14. MOUZ - $8,750
12-14. G2 - $8,750
12-14. OpTic - $8,750
15-16. HellRaisers - $8,750
15-16. FlipSid3 - $8,750

Highest rated players at ELEAGUE Major 2017

1. Egor “flamie” Vasilyev (NAVI) – 1.36 Rating


2. Dauren ”AdreN” Kystaubayev (Gambit) – 1.34 Rating


3. Jonathan ”EliGE” Jablonowski (Liquid) – 1.30 Rating


4. Nicolai “device” Reedtz (Astralis) – 1.29 Rating


5. Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski (Virtus.pro) – 1.28 Rating


6. Marcelo “coldzera” David (SK Gaming) – 1.28 Rating


7. Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson (GODSENT) – 1.26 Rating


8. Emil “Magisk” Reif (North) – 1.24 Rating


9. Kenny “kennyS” Schrub (Envy) – 1.22 Rating


10. Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye (Astralis) – 1.21 Rating

Astralis secured their first Major, but the story of the Danes is far from over yet. Stay tuned for our upcoming articles of this series to find out how Astralis cemented themselves as the best team in the world.

Tomorrow we take a look at the PGL Major Kraków 2017.

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