Bubzkji reflects on Astralis stint: “Things didn’t pan out the way I wanted or imagined”

Astralis

Lucas ‘Bubzkji’ Andersen sat down with Dexerto to discuss his departure from Astralis and his future plans in the CS:GO scene.

Perhaps nothing better sums up Bubzkji’s experience at Astralis than a 12-character tweet posted on April 9, 2021.

“#freebubzkji”, read the tweet from Nikolaj Nyholm, Astralis’ founder and chairman of the board, in the aftermath of the team’s quarter-final exit from ESL Pro League Season 13 after a defeat against FURIA.

Bubzkji watched that match from the sidelines – a recurring theme during his 18-month tenure with Astralis, which will come to a close on January 31. He has reached an agreement with the organization to terminate his contract early and explore free agency, though it’s unclear – as the tournament season begins and most rosters are locked – when exactly he will take to the servers again.

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Bubzkji joined Astralis at a time when he was one of the hottest commodities in the CS:GO scene, but he leaves the team a very different man, with his stock at a low point.

How did it all go so wrong?

Reaching the top

Bubzkji was unveiled by Astralis on July 31, 2020, in a transfer from MAD Lions for an undisclosed fee. It seemed like a natural move for the then 22-year-old, who had enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence in the previous 12 months while playing for Tricked and MAD Lions.

For most Danish CS:GO players, representing Astralis is the ultimate goal. The Danish organization set a new standard of excellence with its four-time Major-winning lineup, and fostered a large and devoted fanbase in Denmark.

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Astralis CSGO BubzkjiAstralis
Bubzkji joined Astralis from MAD Lions in July 2020.

When he got the call from Astralis, Bubzkji knew that the offer could turn out to be a poisoned chalice. The Danish team were in the middle of the worst crisis in their history, with Lukas ’gla1ve⁠’ Rossander and Andreas ‘⁠Xyp9x⁠’ Højsleth both away on leave after showing symptoms of burnout. Results were underwhelming, and there was no telling when – or if – the Astralis of old would come back.

Still, he seized the opportunity with both hands.

“I was contacted by multiple teams back then, but I went with my gut feeling and joined Astralis,” he told Dexerto. “I was in talks with [head coach] zonic and [director of sports] Kasper Hvidt before joining.

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“I felt that I had the level so I took the chance, even though I knew there was a chance that I could get benched when gla1ve and Xyp9x returned.”

Soon it became clear that Bubzkji would not be set up to succeed at Astralis. An aggressive lurker and entry-fragger by nature, he was put in more supportive roles and had to adapt on the fly, all the while coming to terms with the pressure that came with playing for Astralis. What’s more, the team was at the time led by Emil ‘Magisk’ Reif, who was grappling with in-game leader responsibilities in gla1ve’s absence. Bubzkji’s numbers plummeted.

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After featuring in all of Astralis’ matches in ESL One Cologne 2020, Bubzkji saw his position come under threat when gla1ve returned from leave. All it took was one defeat — a 0-2 loss to Complexity — for Bubzkji to be pushed to the fringe. He was reduced to a bit-part role for the rest of the year, featuring only on Nuke in place of Xyp9x, who reclaimed a regular starting role following Patrick ‘⁠es3tag⁠’ Hansen’s transfer to Cloud9.

Back then, he was able to have some fun at his own expense, taking a light-hearted view of his situation.

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Dream shattered

Bubzkji became a regular feature on Astralis again following the shock transfer of Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz to NIP in April 2021. His numbers slightly improved, especially on LAN, where he played an important role in the team’s semi-final appearance at IEM Cologne and the fourth-place finish at IEM Fall — sealing Astralis’ spot at PGL Major Stockholm.

And then came the bombshell: Bubzkji would not start at the Major, snubbed in favor of gla1ve, who was returning from paternity leave. Astralis explained that, while their decision “can seem a bit unfair”, they picked the lineup they believed to have “the best chance to go all the way”.

No longer in the mood for a self-deprecating joke, Bubzkji admitted that he was devastated” at being denied the chance to play his first Major after playing a part in the team’s qualifying campaign.

“Honestly speaking, I’ve felt very demotivated after missing out on the Major and being benched once again,” he said. “Things had not been great for a long time, but then we finally had this big success moment and things were moving in the right direction individually.

“I believe I had the level to compete for Astralis, but not in the system or in the role that I was given. I felt I showed glimpses of ‘greatness’ in some events, but it was never really consistent. After dev1ce left, we actually did decently at IEM Cologne, and when gla1ve/dupreeh went for the AWP, there was a lot more space for me to do what I was good at.

“But it wasn’t sustainable for them to AWP, so Astralis brought Lucky into the team. And then we had the issue again with dupreeh, gla1ve, and myself. We were basically competing for the same positions on the CT sides.

“When gla1ve was off, my performance again increased at IEM Fall, since there was a better role situation for my playstyle. But gla1ve is one of the best IGLs in the world, and he knew we collided a lot on the CT sides. [Also], he had to return at some point.”

Bubzkji watched from home as Astralis crashed out of the Major in 12th-14th place, barely making it past the New Challengers Stage. Despite being announced as part of Astralis’ post-Major lineup — reinforced by the additions of Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer and Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wienecke —, he was nowhere to be seen as the new team arrived at the office for the first practice.

He would not feature for Astralis again.

Bubzkji’s treatment during his time with Astralis only supports the theory that he was never truly wanted by the team’s core players in the first place and that he was more of a management signing – as supported by Nyholm’s tweet. As a rookie player, he had to take whatever the team gave him – which meant playing roles that weren’t suited to him and never really being given the chance to shine.

I think sometimes the players and Astralis had a different view on how roster changes should be made,” he noted.

As he reflected on his Astralis stint, Bubzkji admitted that things “didn’t pan out the way I wanted or imagined.” Still, he insisted that he holds no regrets about joining Astralis and that there were positives about his time there. “I learned more at Astralis than I had in the previous years of my career. I really enjoyed being a part of something bigger and learning a lot of stuff about myself. I definitely improved aspects outside of my game.

Counter-Strike future

With most doors closed to him at this stage as teams finalize preparations for the new season, Bubzkji says he is in no rush to return to action. He has turned down a number of offers in recent months as he continues to wait for the right opportunity to emerge.

“I know what it takes to play at the highest level, and I didn’t want to sign with a team just for the sake of playing for a salary,” he explained. “When I’m not motivated, it doesn’t make sense.

“When you sign a deal, you owe it to the organization and the players to do everything in your power to succeed. I have never played for the money, so I wasn’t tempted to sign anything. My career is purely based on wanting to achieve results, personally and team-wise.”

Bubzkji has joined Danish national broadcaster TV2 as a commentator, expanding on a relationship that began at PGL Major Stockholm. The experience, he noted, while brief, left him “hooked”.

“I asked TV2 if they were interested in working with me for 2022, and fortunately they were,” he explained. “Many will probably be shocked that I’d rather work as an analyst than play, but right now this feels more right for me.

“I don’t want to give the impression that I’m retiring or that I’m never returning to CS competitively. But for the next period of time, I’ll be doing something else. And yes, I’m fully aware of the consequences of going out of form, and of becoming less relevant over time. I’ll still be around the high level. FACEIT, FPL, random qualifiers…

“But if I were to return soon, I wouldn’t have an issue with going to a lower-tier team again, I’ve done that before. My whole career has been underdog stories, where you build something out of nothing. The most important thing for me is that there’s a good chemistry role-wise between the type of players you have.”

Everyone loves a good what-if story, and the way Bubzkji’s time with Astralis panned out does make one wonder about where he would be if hadn’t gone with his gut feeling. Would he, like his former MAD Lions teammate Rasmus ‘sjuush’ Beck, be playing for Heroic, one of the world’s best teams? Or would he, like Fredrik ‘roeJ’ Jørgensen, another ex-teammate of his, have attended the Major with one of Denmark’s up-and-coming teams?

Bubzkji playing for MAD LionsDreamHack
Will Bubzkji be able to show again the form that saw him shine for MAD Lions?

But it’s still way too early to say that Bubzkji’s career will be defined by what he did, or rather didn’t do, at Astralis. His is not yet a story of potential unfulfilled, though he will need to be very careful when choosing his next project. That’s why he is taking things slowly and biding his time instead of jumping at the first opportunity simply to chase an easy paycheck.

When his sabbatical ends, he’ll be ready to right the past two years. For when all is said and done, he’ll want the record to show that Astralis were simply the wrong team at the wrong time for him.