Counter Strike: Global Offensive

Top 20 players of 2020: Magisk (11)

Counter-Strike has been a part of Magisk’s life since a young age. He got in touch with the game at 8 years old after watching his cousins and their friends play it together, and, according to him, many were surprised at how well he played despite his age. But a Counter-Strike career was the furthest thing on his mind, and he spent the next several years casually playing the game and learning the ropes, until 2015, when he began making waves in the Danish scene in League of Sharks and QPAD King of Nordic alongside players like Niels-Christian “⁠NaToSaphiX⁠” Sillassen, Valdemar “⁠valde⁠” Bjørn Vangså and Rasmus “⁠SandeN⁠” Sanden.

Magisk — who at the time played under the nickname ‘Magiskb0Y’ — briefly represented MTW and Epiphany Bolt, but it was his performances in ESEA pugs that caught the eye of Finn “⁠karrigan⁠” Andersen and Michael “⁠Friis⁠” Jørgensen and that landed him a spot on SK in October 2015 as the team searched for a replacement for Kristian “⁠k0nfig⁠” Wienecke. He initially played for SK as a stand-in, becoming a full-fledged member two months later after helping them to a third-placed finish at Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals — his first LAN event —, where they managed to beat ?, who would soon become Astralis.

Magisk at DreamHack Open Leipzig, one of his first LANs

Magisk had a rough start to 2016 as he tried to adapt to a new reality, but he improved as the year went on and erased all doubts about him with a stunning streak of performances in ELEAGUE Season 1 before his team were disqualified due to losing the backing of the German organisation, which had signed the Brazilians from Luminosity. Magisk was soon back on his feet as he was signed by Dignitas, and he continued to push his credentials as a solid LAN player with a 1.23 average rating in the remainder of the year, helping the team to win the EPICENTER title and landing the 14 spot in the 2016 HLTV Top 20.

He picked up where he left off and put in amazing performances in the first two months of 2017 for North, who had acquired the roster from Dignitas at the start of the year, but then he went through a slump in form and was benched by the team in the summer. Just a few weeks later, he was back in action, joining the new OpTic squad alongside players like Aleksi “⁠allu⁠” Jalli and Adam “⁠friberg⁠” Friberg, but the project didn’t last long: the team, who split their time between Europe and North America, managed a few respectable playoff runs, but their inability to make it past the Europe Minor hung like a weight around their necks all the time and saw the players go their separate ways at the end of the year. While reflecting on this frustrating period of his career, Magisk highlighted how he matured as a person and improved as a player after learning how to deal with slumps and getting out of his comfort zone.

Magisk was the image of disappointment as he watched ELEAGUE Major from home, but little did he know that the events in Boston would see him get the opportunity of a lifetime. As Markus “⁠Kjaerbye⁠” Kjærbye shockingly stepped down from Astralis after a 1-3 run in the New Legends Stage and signed with North, Magisk was offered the chance to return to the top of the mountain, and he grabbed it with both hands, helping to forge one of the most dominant lineups, not just in the Counter-Strike franchise, but also in esports history.

Magisk used the lessons from North and OpTic to improve as a player and person

Magisk impressed everyone with his incredible consistency as Astralis won ten of the 16 LAN events that they attended in 2018 with him, including the FACEIT Major, and also scooped the $1 million Intel Grand Slam (IGS) prize. The MVP medal at the BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, the final event of the year, was the icing on top of the cake for Magisk, who was named the seventh-best player of 2018.

Magisk began 2019 in stunning form as he scooped the MVP award in Astralis’ title-winning campaign at the IEM Katowice Major and was among the EVPs at iBUYPOWER Masters and BLAST Pro Series São Paulo. He remained in great shape even as Astralis faded away during Liquid‘s memorable run, and was instrumental to the team’s success during the second half of the season, ending the year at No.5 in the HLTV Top 20.

Astralis looked somewhat rusty in their opening tournament of 2020 as they finished bottom of their group at the BLAST Premier Spring Series, in London, following losses to Complexity and Natus Vincere. But they immediately bounced back at IEM Katowice, where they coasted through their group after beating Cloud9, Vitality and fnatic in dominant fashion. The trip to Poland ended on a sour note, however, as they were outclassed by eventual winners NAVI in a quick two-map series.

Astralis were picked apart by NAVI in Katowice

Despite the blowout (16-5 thrashings on both maps), Magisk still finished the tournament with respectable numbers. He was featured in the stats leaderboards in five categories, including rating (1.21, 9% higher than the team’s average), ADR (85.1) and percentage of support rounds (24.0%). He also boasted a 1.24 Impact Rating, a year-high for him, and four maps with ratings higher than 1.30.

“I think we played some really good CS at IEM Katowice. In the end, there was a lot behind the scenes, such as the beginning of Covid-19 and suddenly having to play without a crowd. It felt like we just lost that ‘fire’ when we were playing on the stage without any fans… But to be honest, NAVI were playing insanely well that match and they destroyed us, not only because we had a bad day, but also because they were the better team that day.

“We had a really good team talk afterwards, and everyone was obviously disappointed with the result and the way we had lost. But we had to move on and focus on the positives and how we could improve in the game.”

Astralis returned to action in ESL Pro League Season 11, in which they played 27 maps in their run to third place. The Danes came through two gruelling group stages before losing to mousesports in the playoff decider match, with Magisk earning a place among the EVPs despite posting a 1.13 average rating (the second-lowest in the team) due to his performances in the most important matches as he was the squad’s best player after the first stage (1.21 rating).

Magisk completed his streak of EVP awards in ESL One: Road to Rio, in which Astralis picked up their first title of the year after beating G2 on two separate occasions and FaZe in the playoffs. The 22-year-old ranked second in the team for tournament rating (1.15), but he was outshined by his teammates in the playoff stages, in which his 1.17 rating was the lowest in the squad, and was just fifth in the race for the MVP award.

Magisk took over as IGL after gla1ve requested some time off

The crammed tournament schedule proved too much for the team to handle, forcing Lukas “⁠gla1ve⁠” Rossander, who had been complaining of symptoms of stress and burnout for a long time, to take a medical leave. The Danish organisation had already revealed its intention to build an expanded roster when they reached an agreement with Patrick “⁠es3tag⁠” Hansen, but with the Heroic player still tied to the organisation until July 1, Jakob “⁠JUGi⁠” Hansen was signed to fill the vacant slot in the starting lineup.

“The worst memory of the team was no doubt the moment we realized that gla1ve had got to the point where he needed to take a break from the team and focus on himself, and rightly so. Not only did we lose him, but soon afterwards we also realised that there was a chance Xyp9x needed a break as well. So seeing them in those conditions and how much it affected them, that was by far my worst memory of 2020.”

With Magisk taking over the captaincy, Astralis made it through the DreamHack Masters Spring group stage, beating G2, North and Heroic, but then things took a turn for the worse as Andreas “⁠Xyp9x⁠” Højsleth followed in gla1ve also requested a break from competition due to medical reasons. The team quickly picked up Marco “⁠Snappi⁠” Pfeiffer but crashed out in the first round of the playoffs against NiP.

Magisk, who had finished the DreamHack tournament with some respectable numbers (1.16 rating, 82.4 ADR, 1.20 Impact and a year-high 1.44 CT rating), maintained a solid level in ESL One Cologne, Astralis’ first tournament with es3tag and Lucas “⁠Bubzkji⁠” Andersen. The Danish team beat fnatic and Vitality en route to the quarter-finals, only to fall short against NiP once again. Magisk was joint-second in the team for tournament rating (1.16), even finishing the match against the French side at the top of the scoreboard.

“I still had my individual level since it was my first time taking over this role, so I still had a bit too much focus on myself and I was not prioritising the team enough, which also made me look better individually. As I got more time in the role, I got to see the game from a different perspective and realised that the captain needs to make space for the players, showing leadership going into bombsites when people are hesitating, etc. The captain goes in first when things are looking rough, and that’s the way it should be. Being the in-game leader is harder than I thought, not only in the game, but also outside of it. There is so much responsibility, so many decisions and stuff behind the scenes that you have to use a lot more energy than when you are just a ‘normal’ player. Huge respect to gla1ve and everyone else for being in this role for such a long time.

“It [the uncertainty] kind of felt a bit rough in some periods, having to change players all the time, without even having time to put them properly into our routines/systems, without having time to practice either. It was a lot of calling on the fly since we didn’t have much time to practice and get good as a team. I tried using the same playbook that we had before gla1ve took a break, so that at least Peter [dupreeh], Nicolai [device] and I could focus on playing well individually and not have to think about new tactics or other things.”

gla1ve returned to the fold for ESL Pro League Season 12, a month-long tournament that saw Astralis play 32 maps en route to the title. Magisk once again made the EVP list after posting a 1.10 tournament rating and playing an important role in the best-of-five final against Natus Vincere (1.11 rating and 80.7 ADR).

As the IGL role started to weigh on Magisk, his numbers took a hit

But his form dipped in the following two tournaments as Astralis placed third in DreamHack Open Fall — es3tag‘s last tournament before signing with Cloud9 — and just 5th-8th in IEM Beijing-Haidian. Magisk, who was still calling the shots despite gla1ve‘s return, had his lowest impact of the year in the Regional Major Ranking tournament (0.91) and put in just a 1.04 rating. He was in the red in several categories in the IEM tournament, including rating (0.95, 14% below the team’s average), KDD (-18), ADR (64.4) and Kills per Round (0.57).

“There’s no doubt that the in-game leader role can be used in different ways. You can either use it to set yourself up with kills, which some in-game leaders at the top do, or you can do it like I did, where I focused on setting up my players. This does make you a bit more inconsistent as a player, because sometimes you end up in a lot of difficult positions as a player. So yes, it was tough taking up the in-game leader role, especially individually, but I would do it again any day of the week to help the team keep winning. In the end, that is all that matters.”

As the season entered its final few weeks, gla1ve took up in-game leader duties once again, and Magisk‘s numbers began to trend upward. He was the team’s second-best performer in the next two tournaments, DreamHack Masters Winter and BLAST Fall Finals, making the EVP list on both occasions. He was third in the race for the MVP medal in the DreamHack tournament, posting a 1.11 rating as Astralis recovered from an opening match defeat and won five matches in a row en route to the title. In the BLAST competition, in which Astralis finished second, he was once again in the discussion for the MVP award with some standout numbers (1.16 rating, 1.17 Impact, 81.1 ADR and 0.74 Kills per Round).

After that rough period, Magisk was among the EVPs in DH Masters Winter and the BLAST Finals

Astralis managed to end the whirlwind year on a high as they added the IEM Global Challenge title to their collection after beating Complexity, Vitality, Natus Vincere and Liquid. Magisk picked up the pace in the playoffs and still earned a Valuable Player mention for his efforts in the latter stages of the tournament, but he looked a far cry from his form in the previous two events (0.98 rating, 67.4 ADR and 0.99 Impact).

“I had a great tournament in DreamHack Masters Winter, with some great individual plays. However, I agree that my level in the IEM Global Challenge was not where I wanted it to be, but I had spent several months as the team’s in-game leader, and suddenly you start looking at the game in a different way.

“I sacrificed myself a lot more than I had before my time as an in-game leader. Sometimes, I die for the team when people move too slowly or don’t trade fast enough, I sometimes go in and die because we need those trades. And that is something I need to get used to again. I’m not talking about baiting my teammates for stats, but in some situations you have to bait your teammates because it’s actually the best thing for the entire team. An example of that is if someone has low HP, I need him to first so that I can get the trade with full HP. If I go first and die, the opponent will most likely get an easy double kill instead. In the end, I believe that I need to work on my individual level and get back to my consistent level, like in 2018 and 2019.

“Winning the IEM Global Challenge was my best memory of the year. After having both gla1ve and Xyp9x back on the team, we had a little bit of struggle getting back into our groove. Not only on the server, but we also had to make sure they had time to start up slowly so they didn’t come back into complete chaos. We kept working hard as a team, and giving gla1ve time to get back to the routines and feeling comfortable on the server once again made it possible to give him more responsibilities in the team, including giving the IGL role back to him. From there it all felt like the good old Astralis, and we also played some great CS at the end of the year, reaching three finals in a row and winning two of them. So despite the odds, we still managed to be the best team of the year, and that is something we can be really proud of as a team.”

Why was Magisk the 11th best player of 2020?

At first glance, it looks like Magisk‘s numbers don’t stand out much as he only placed highly in a few “supportive” categories. He ranked 13th for assists per round (0.15), ninth for utility damage per round (6.9) and tenth for support damage per round (22.3), while he had the lowest — albeit still above average — Kills per Round in the top 20 (0.69).

However, it is worth noting that Astralis almost exclusively played the most competitive events of 2020, attending all eight tournaments we dubbed Elite and another three Big Events that also had most of the top teams. He finished eight of those 11 tournaments with ratings equal to or higher than 1.10, six of which as an EVP. He also didn’t have a single tournament that can without a doubt be deemed an overall bad event despite falling under the 1.00 rating mark a couple of times. Adding to this, he had a solid 72.2% KAST and rarely had a bad map, finishing 85% of his maps with a rating of at least 0.85.

Magisk is eager to get back to his 2018 and 2019 level

Looking specifically at the Elite events, he had the 13th-highest rating (1.11) from a significant 116-map sample size and he was among the EVPs four times (only four players had more awards from these events), which is what ultimately pushed him to the 11th spot.

But in order to break into the top 10, he would have needed to be more impactful in several aspects, considering that his peaks weren’t impressive enough to be in serious MVP contention in any tournament. Moreover, he would have required better performances in big matches (he still posted a solid 1.08 average rating in Big Event playoffs), and he was the player who had the fewest 1.30+ ratings among the top 20 (top 30 even), in just 21% of his maps.

“Despite having all odds against us in 2020, we still managed to win quite a lot of tournaments, and that is something we are really proud of. We worked hard as a team, with different lineups and many awesome players who did their very best to help us in an almost hopeless situation.

“I believe that the most important lesson for me is that no matter how bad things look, we can always come back with hard work and consistency around us. And that everyone has to look at themselves, find routines and be more serious about their health so we don’t end up in a similar situation.”

“My goals for 2021 are to go back to my old consistency and show that I still can maintain a high level of individual performance. It’s no lie that 2020 was a bit rough on me as an individual, but obviously, that also comes from me taking over the IGL role for a long period. But the team’s performance is always the priority for me.”

Bold prediction

Magisk is the second player in this HLTV Top 20 to predict a bright future for Danish youngster Thomas “⁠TMB⁠” Bundsbæk. The 18-year-old ended 2019 with a 1.29 rating in AGF‘s semi-final run in DreamHack Open November and has been tipped for bigger things in recent weeks, including a potential move to ENCE.

Denmark Thomas “⁠TMB⁠” Bundsbæk

”From what I’ve heard, TMB is a good teammate and also has the personality to become a great player in the future.”

Stay tuned to our Top 20 players of 2020 ranking and take a look at the Introduction article to learn more about how the players were selected. This year’s ranking is supported by:

Xtrfy – Built on experience
GG.BET – Online betting and odds on sport and esports

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