ELEAGUE Boston Major New Challengers Recap

 

This weekend brought about the beginning of the qualifiers for the final 16 teams of the ELEAGUE CS:GO Boston Major. Starting on Friday, 16 teams from across North America, Europe, CIS and Asian regions diverged on Atlanta to decide the final nine spots. Coming into this, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, and Cloud9 were all clear favorites to go through this round and didn’t fail to live up to that with Cloud9 and G2 going 3-0 and advancing convincingly. FaZe dropped a map in quite in upset to Vega Squadron but still advanced with a 3-1 record. Vega Squadron and Space Soldiers, two teams who despite having decent rosters have yet to truly perform at majors. Space Soldiers were making their major debut and with the talent of Xantares and Calyx it was hard to write them off as going out in this stage and unsurprisingly they showed that they came not for experience to but to win something, putting up a 3-1 record after dropping a first day map to Sprout Esports. With Cloud9 moving on easily, North American hopes lied in Team Liquid and Misfits. Team Liquid are quite an experienced and talented roster, Elige, Nitro and Jdm were all apart of the the finalists of ESL Cologne 2016, whilst new additions Twistzzz and Steel have shown quality but due to roster change rules, Steel could not play with Liquid in Atlanta. Liquid resided in the 2-2 deciders after beating Flipside and Renegades and started their ninth spot qualifier against Natus Vincere, an experienced and talented roster who dispatched of Liquid in a convincing manner and put them in a last chance qualifier against Avangar, another very talented young roster from the CIS region making their major debut. Despite making it seem like they were going home Liquid pulled it back in overtime in a thriller on Mirage, 19-16.

With a weekend full of great CS came some obvious stand out moments, but none bigger than Quantum Bellator Fire and their path to qualifying for the final stages of the major. A debuting team from the CIS region, it featured the youngest roster in the major and so many people wrote them off as being a 0-3 team. In an interview with waterfaLLZ he made it clear that “We’re not here for experience, we came here to make the major and we did that.” The team saw victories against Flash Gaming, EnVyUs, and Avangar with a 3-2 record to end the weekend. Lastly Flash Gaming… A team who was added to the major on very short notice, didn’t neccessarily surprise anyone by going 0-3, but they did surprise with the way they played. All matches for them finished close, or rather closer than expected with a 16-11 on Inferno against G2, who were down 9-6 at half going onto the T side. The other matches for Flash included two 16-13 loses against EnVyUs and QB Fire. For a team added to the major at the last minute they did about what most people expected. They could’ve pulled realistically pulled two maps off QB Fire and EnVyUs but lacked that closing firepower and composure.

People can say what they want about them, and that Tyloo (the Chinese team who had to withdraw) would’ve done much better but in all fairness would they really have? The Swiss format (which implicates best-of-1’s for the early stages of the major) almost favors these smaller teams but if you go off that principle alone then yes Tyloo would’ve done better but Flash came in and realized that they’re pretty lucky to be here and that they should simply do it for the experience. Not only was this a major debut for the organization but also the players. Many of the debuting teams had players who have at least played at a major before.

The weekend can be summed up by the dominance of the CIS region. Four CIS teams came into this weekend with the ambitions of making it five CIS teams in the final stage, the other being Gambit Gaming. Despite three of the four CIS teams ended up in the 2-2 deciders, two still emerged from it, only Avangar didn’t make it through only after losing in overtime of the very last match. This weekend showed that this could be the year of the CIS region, the deep of quality emerging is remarkable and people can only be excited for what there is to come.

The ELEAGUE Major continues this coming weekend with the New Legends Stage of the tournament being played in Atlanta, Georgia at the Turner Studios and the elimination stages being played in Boston.

For ticket information visit: https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/01005351B55240B8?dma_id=220&artistid=2258528&majorcatid=10005&minorcatid=0#efeat4211#efeat4212

You can also watch the matches live on the ELEAGUE Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/eleaguetv

You can also watch live on the TBS channel.

ESL Pro League

ESL Pro League Season 6 playoff predictions

Coming into this tournament, it looked like it was going to be a thriller, and there have been some fantastic games through the group stage. While the playoff stage is perhaps not as stacked as it could be, there are some interesting fresh matches, and I think we could get some more good games out of this tourney yet. Here’s how I personally think the rest of the tournament will shake out from here.

Quarterfinals

Fnatic vs OpTic

This is a very interesting matchup, as there really is no clear winner. Other than the final, I think this could be the match of the tournament. In terms of likely four banned maps, I’d predict for Cache, Nuke, Overpass and Train to be removed. This one is a real wildcard though, as a team could switch things up easily. I would expect seeing a combination of Mirage, Cobble and Inferno for this match. Picking a winner is really tough, but I think I have to side with the Swedes on this one.

Fnatic 2-1 OpTic

Hellraisers vs Misfits

I expect this to be a white-wash. I personally love an underdog story, such as Gambit at the major; however, I don’t see Misfits, no matter the maps, finding a way to win against a good Hellraisers team. They are just thoroughly out-manned. Then again, that’s what we’ve been saying about them all tournament. There may be some dark horse potential here, as they have played well thus far, but the chances are so incredibly slim that I don’t see it happening.

Hellraisers 2-0 Misfits

Semifinals

FaZe vs Fnatic

To begin this tournament, Fnatic upset FaZe in thriller fashion on arguably FaZe’s best map, Inferno. While that match was awesome, and Fnatic competed very well in that game, there really is no chance that Fnatic beat FaZe two out of three times. Again, maps don’t really matter here as FaZe should just overpower Fnatic on firepower alone.

FaZe 2-0 Fnatic

SK Gaming vs Hellraisers

I’m going to be very clear, SK will not lose to Hellraisers. However, I actually think in a weird way this could be a close one. SK will remove Nuke, which isn’t a good HR map anyways. HR will remove Mirage. From there, I’d expect a Cache pick by SK, followed by an Overpass pick by HR. While I expect the Overpass pick, I think it will be a huge mistake for them too. The third map will probably be Inferno, but I don’t think we will get there. I expect a close 2-0, with a potential to go to a third map; although even if it does go to three, SK should be able to lock it down.

SK 2-0 Hellraisers

Finals

SK Gaming vs FaZe Clan

I expect an insane final here. This could go down as one of the best matches in Counter-Strike history. From the gate, FaZe and SK should stick to their guns and ban Cobble and Nuke respectively. After that, things get interesting. An Inferno pick by FaZe to start is not unlikely, and SK picking Cache wouldn’t surprise me in the least. From there I would expect FaZe to pick Overpass, and SK to follow that up with Mirage, leaving map five, Train.

The first map should be a stunner, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go overtime. I’m going to say that Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo has a big game on the AWP, and Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David does coldzera things, and SK take a 1-0 lead.

Map 1: SK 16-13 FaZe

Second up we have Cache, which should be another close one. I’m saying Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač, Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard and Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer, all fantastic Cache players, turn up and FaZe win SK’s pick.

Map 2: FaZe 19-16 SK

The pivotal game three, and it should be another thriller. While I don’t think it will be as close as the first two, I still expect to see a sick performance from these two teams; however, I think SK take the series lead with this one.

Map 3: SK 16-11 FaZe

As a fan and viewer I want map five. While realistically, you would expect SK to be able to win this map, FaZe certainly will have their chances, and because I love when best of fives come down to map five, I’m taking FaZe to edge out the Brazilians in this one.

Map 4: FaZe 16-14 SK

While I think Inferno would have been the best map five, I can’t complain about Train. This should be another tight one, but I expect a terrific performance from coldzera, which should push SK over the line, to win the ESL Pro League 3-2.

Map 5: SK 16-12 FaZe

Final: SK 3-2 FaZe

MVP: Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David


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best csgo player

Who is the best CS:GO player of all time?

A topic very hotly debated in all traditional sports, from the Tom Bradys to the Michael Jordans. Whether you’re a die-hard Derek Jeter supporter, or you don’t think anything beats the classic Babe Ruth, there’s something within us that just loves the debate of who is the best. I’ve always been one to break these conversations down into categories; that is exactly what I’ve done here for Counter-Strike Global Offensive. By all means though, feel free to disagree with my picks for each category, this is of course my personal opinion.

Category 1: Winning

Obviously a very crucial thing to consider, as it is the goal of the game we play. The thing I personally enjoy most about this category is that there is really no debating, it’s all proven. There is no ‘well at this point he was better but at this point the other dude was better’ talk. It’s all cold hard facts. At least that’s how it is in traditional sports; it’s a bit different in CS, but the idea still stands.

Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist

Notable Achievements:

3x Major Champion

1x Major MVP

5x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

Actually there might be some controversy here, as you could argue Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund deserves the top spot as well; although, three time major winner flusha, for me, is the pick. Quite honestly I believe he should be a two-time major MVP as he practically won fnatic that first map on Dust II versus the Ninjas in Pyjamas, which set up the upset. When people are throwing around serious cheating allegations about you, you are either doing something very, very right, or very, very wrong. I’d like to believe the former, as the whole idea of using external assistance in CS:GO makes the game less fun to talk about.

Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David

Notable Achievements:

2x Major Champion

2x Major MVP

5x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

The only real reason I push him below flusha is because of that third major. Flusha technically has a slight advantage in amount of big event wins (eight total vs seven total). While cold is unquestionably the better player when comparing individual levels of play, even going back to flusha’s prime, he isn’t the ‘winner’ in my winning category.

Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund

Notable Achievements:

1x Major Champion

4x Big event winner ($250,000+ prize pool, excluding Valve Majors)

87-0 LAN record in first 87 maps

The key here, despite that maddening 87-0 run, is that none of the events he won at the time were anywhere near the size of today’s events. I think it is ridiculous to call him the best winner, considering he has only won one major, and he didn’t even win MVP; although, admittedly he actually was the best player at that tournament, but friberg saved NiP too many times with ridiculous clutches to not have won the MVP.

Category 2: Dominance

Extended periods of dominance by a player, cementing their legacy as one of the all time greats; one of my absolute favorite things to watch in both sports and esports. Consistency is key in Counter-Strike, and these guys are the masters.

Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund

Period of dominance: 2012 – early 2014

It’s really hard to top being the unquestioned best player in the world for two years. He not only had the stats to back up that statement, but he passed the eye test with flying colors. He was the epitome of dominance in Counter-Strike, and not to mention, excluding a period in 2017, he hasn’t been bad at all ever since. In fact he has been a top 20 HLTV player every year.

Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer

Period of dominance: late 2014 – mid 2015 and ealry 2016 – wrist injury

The thing that is the kicker for me is his incredible return to form of being the best player in 2016, after dominating one of the most competitive eras in Counter-Strike history. In terms of the eye test, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a player turn up so consistently. He wasn’t the type of player that every single map you knew he would turn up, but you know that he would dominate at least one map out of three in a series, and more often than not he would dominate two of the three.

Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub

Period of dominance: late 2014 – late 2015

I don’t think I have ever seen a player dominate the way kennyS did. He was the type of player where any round he had a scoped weapon in his hands, you were better off just turning and going the other way. The thing about it that’s utterly unreal to me is he was still very good on the other weapons. He could still play well with a rifle in his hands, and was highly proficient on the pistols. He was one of my absolute favorite players to watch, as he frequently exhibited his dominance, series after series, map after map and round after round.

Category 3: Peak form

This category is the most abstract, as it relies heavily on the eye test for judgement of play. These are the players that fill up the highlight reels and stat sheets. While they aren’t as consistent, if they happen to be on point, there really is nothing you can do to stop them.

Richard ‘shox’ Papilion

He is unquestionably the best Counter-Strike player I have ever watched. He has never really had a period of serious dominance, though he was very good in early 2016. When he is in prime form, you’ll know it. He will impose his presence on you, and there is nothing you can do to stop him, besides try desperately to avoid him.

Mike ‘shroud’ Grzesiek

The story of shroud is a sad one. He had the peak of quite literally the second best player I have ever seen; however, he never materialized into the star player his peak in the summer of 2015 would have suggested. The thing with him is he just never missed. When he was on, he literally didn’t miss, it looked like he was using aimbot.

Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač

There are a lot of players who could’ve taken this spot for me. From Patrick ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, to Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga, this spot was very much up for grabs. The reason I went with NiKo here was because of his ability to literally win maps by himself. While analysts say that about a lot of players, he actually did it. On a god-awful mousesports team, he was the only driving force. He was dangerous, no matter if he had an AWP, an AK or a Deagle in his hands.

I should say again, this is my own opinion, and really at the end of the day, none of this is hard fact. Depending on what you value, any player could be the best for you. For instance, if you value death threats, Vito ‘kNg’ Giuseppe is your guy. Memes aside, this idea is really abstract, but also really fun to debate.


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immortals

Achieving immortality: a look back on the Immortals saga

This probably wasn’t what the organization had in mind with regards to its name, but it’s pretty much guaranteed now that the major-finalist roster of Immortals will forever be etched in the annals of esport history – not as a world-beating, unstoppable team, but as the one that’s associated with some of the most unprofessional behavior since the major system kickstarted the rapid growth of the pro CS:GO scene. It’s a sign of its growing pains in more ways than one – and honestly, I’m surprised it took so long for something like this to happen.

Are you sure you want to quit?

Perhaps the most explosive news of the whole CS:GO scene as of late involved the complete combustion of the Immortals lineup at DreamHack Montreal with three members of the Brazilian outfit failing to show up in time for the finals, thereby forfeiting the first map of a best-of-three series against North. They promptly lost the match right after in the following map. The events were juicy enough that they even made it to the Daily Mail, probably alongside a dozen new causes of cancer and a few adorable pandas.

And just as if it were a cheap paperback novel, this is where the death threats began. Vito “kNg” Giuseppe didn’t take a fellow player’s tweet about the situation particularly well, and proceeded to reclaim his lost honor by… threatening to kill the colleague in question.

No, not on the servers, but in real life. Apparently, he had to be restrained in the hotel where they were both located for the event. The justified outrage soon followed, and kNg was first benched and then released from the team. Normally, this would be the end of our juicy little story, but we do have an extra twist in the tale: thanks to the way the major spots are distributed, if at least three of the qualified players join a new organization, they automatically take their Legend spot with them.

Guess who joined ranks with our little harbinger of doom? The other two alleged partygoers, of course. At least some elements of this story are predictable!

Progress and perfection

There’s always been this weird allure of “professionalism” in esports circles, the idea that increased exposure and stability would somehow automatically mean a more mature environment and playerbase. (Of course, the literal definition of the word “pro” is already fulfilled once you’re playing your chosen game for a living, but people generally use it to refer to something more, be it behavior or gameplay quality.)

Thing is, we’re living alongside what I like to call the 0th generation of pro players: young people who haven’t grown up with esports as a viable and reliable career path, they sort of stumbled upon it and created the opportunities on their own.

There are no Williams brothers yet, who conquered women’s tennis basically on the orders of their father: the people in the highest echelons of CS:GO are players who have been playing the game for fun as kids. While this can add some sort of charm to the proceedings, it’s nonetheless important to note that whatever we think of “professionalism” is likely going to be more present in players who were purposefully nurtured to become the best of the best as opposed to those who liked playing a game so much that they turned their hobby into a career.

Can you imagine any other well-paying job where communication is so key and almost everything is organized in English where basic grammar is sometimes beyond the employee’s capabilities and so-called journalists are ramming their tweets into Google Translate to figure out what they really were trying to say? Just because we have six-figure prize pools flying around, that doesn’t mean we’re past the Wild West-period of esports.

It’s a good sign that players throwing around death threats are swiftly removed, but unfortunately we can’t treat this as a total aberration. Especially considering how a very specific group of people actually consider the presence of “bad boys” a positive in the scene: usually casters and commentators who would like to spice things up. Of course, their desire for a unique voice is understandable in a scene where a team can completely migrate from one organization to the next without any change apart from their branding (just imagine if something similar happened in football), but actively hoping for disruptive elements is simply self-defeating, no matter how good copy they would make.

Also, the perceived oversanitization of the esports scene – oh please, you haven’t seen anything yet – is due to most of its participants’ lack of social and interviewing skills. While this usually amounts to awkward silence and boring discussions, tweeting out threats and generally behaving like a twelve year-old is due to the same root cause and should likewise not be celebrated by any responsible member of the community.

On the spot

Putting all the drama aside, the real consequential element of the Immortals controversy is undoubtedly the fate of the coveted major spot. As things stand, the top 8 teams from the previous major are automatically invited to the next one as “Legends”, provided they keep the majority – at least three players – of the lineup. The issues are obvious: if some of the players want to leave or force a better contract, they can essentially hold the organization hostage.

There isn’t really a good solution here: do we prefer orgs hosting players hostage, or vice versa? The implementation of the current system is quite telling as it seems to imply that the organizations seem to be more expendable in the eyes of Valve. If we look at the checkered pasts of the VP or SK rosters, you could actually make a persuasive argument for that.

As things stand, Immortals will be refreshing their roster with Caio “zqkS” Fonseca (recently of Ghost), the trialist Lucas “destiny” Bullo and their summer signing in the form of João “horvy” Horvath who has been held back by visa-related issues until just recently. Is this going to make up for the brothers – Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles and Henrique “HEN1” Teles – requesting to leave? Will the organization get the million dollar bounty they are reportedly asking for them and the major sport? How will they cope without Boltz and Steel? We will have to see.

One thing is for sure: no organization will back a player that may or may not have spent the night before a final partying, then proceeds to show up late to the event and then follows all this up with death threats. No number of in-game frags can make up for even the possibility of a real one.

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fifth ninja

S1mple and the curse of the fifth ninja

At Global Offensive’s beginning, every conversation began and ended with the Ninjas in Pyjamas. The legendary lineup encompassed; the world’s best player by leaps and bounds, Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund; second best player, Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, dominant entry fragger Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg, in-game leader Richard ‘Xizt’ Landström, and role player Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson. When Fifflaren decided to retire, the Ninjas went with a strategy of keeping a core four, and just finding a new fifth every year or so, until just recently when friberg was removed from the team. As of late, people have been using this same argument that the curse of the fifth ninja suggested, against the young prodigy Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev.

Natus Vincere

People seem to forget, there was a reason that Na’Vi felt they needed a change. Following a highly mediocre start to 2016. The two finals appearances in MLG Columbus and Dreamhack Malmo were impressive; although, their routes to the finals were rather unimpeded. Overall, for an organization with championship aspirations, the year had been unsuccessful. They needed to bring in another superstar to pair with Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács, as Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev, is a player that tends to shrink as the lights get brighter.

S1mple, after stomping Na’Vi in the quarterfinals of ESL One Cologne 2016, was recruited to the CIS powerhouse. After going out in last place at SL i-League Invitational, they scraped together a win at ESL One New York, off of the back of a fantastic performance from s1mple. A long line of disappointing performances ensued, and the general public seemed to agree that it was the fault of s1mple, despite his stellar play. While this was happening, it just reminded me of the NiP curse of the fifth ninja.

 

Thankfully, the story didn’t have the same ending as NiP’s, as they bought in on s1mple as their franchise centerpiece; they added more firepower and leadership around him. The current Na’Vi roster heavily intrigues me. I cannot wait to see them in action as, on paper, their players should fit fantastically well together. They still have one of the best role players money can buy, the criminally underrated Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev. A leader like Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko only comes around once in a lifetime. Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov is a very good playmaking lurker and flamie when hot can click his opponents face off before he even sees flamie’s shoulder.

 


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iBUYPOWER Masters 2017: The favourites

iBUYPOWER Masters 2017 starts today, with Cloud9, Liquid, Renegades, OpTic, Misfits, Luminosity, CLG and NRG in attendance. Only half of these teams have a chance at taking the title though. Let’s take a look at those teams.

Cloud9

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Cloud9 just came off a steaming hot victory at Dreamhack Denver, and even though the only team on their level attending was mousesports, they looked great. Aside from maybe Renegades, they look to be in the best form out of every team. Taking the wins (on LAN) that they should and not getting upset too much.

Placed in a group with Renegades, NRG and Luminosity, they are clear favourites to take the first seed in the group. And, unless an upset in Group B occurs allowing Liquid to face Cloud9, Cloud9 should have an easy path to the finals. The final will be a challenge regardless of whether it’s Renegades or Liquid; but Cloud9 should be the team to take the tournament.

Renegades

Out of the three victories that Liquid, Renegades and Cloud9 managed to get, Renegades achieved the best one. They got a victory at the Starladder i-League Invitational #2 over Virtus.Pro. Not only was it a victory, it was a domination. With a 2-0 over Virtus.Pro in the final, plus a Bo3 victory over HellRaisers, Renegades had a very impressive victory finally getting over their issue of choking away leads.

Renegades should end in the second seed for Group A underneath Cloud9, but there is always the chance for an upset sending them into the playoffs as the first seed. Although they’re not the easy favourites to win the tournament, they could definitely take the trophy at the end of everything.

Team Liquid

iBUYPOWER Masters

Photo by: hltv.org

Liquid have been looking weird since coming off of their double-final run after New York. Being unable to win a series at either ELEAGUE or EPICENTER, they went into the Americas minor with a couple question marks. They lost a Bo3 to Misfits but were able to come back and ended up taking the tournament.

In a group with OpTic, Misfits and CLG, it’s a possibility that Liquid could be upset or even eliminated in the group stage. With all that considered, Liquid should still make it out as the first seed, but it’s not guaranteed. Though, assuming the entire group stage is Bo1s, making it to the playoffs should ensure them at least making the final or taking the trophy.

OpTic Gaming

Being the only one out of the teams I’ve mentioned to not take a tournament in the recent future, they’re still one of the favourites just due to pure firepower. They have looked quite good online as well, although it doesn’t mean too much. They’re currently second in EPL although they’re only seventh in ECS. They did however qualify for IEM Oakland over Renegades.

Losing Bo3s against EnVyUs and Space Soldiers at the European minor means they’re probably unlikely to win against any of the three teams above in a Bo3 on LAN. But of course, since it is CS:GO, it is very possible for them to do anything. And, considering their firepower, they can definitely win matches with just pure aim.


Featured image via iBUYPOWER.

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Na`Vi

Na’Vi sign electronic

When Natus Vincere picked up Counter-Strike prodigy Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, they were supposed to be the best team in the world. After narrowly winning out in ESL One New York, the team was fairly underwhelming. Na’Vi reacquired Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko and they were primed to be a top five team. This prophecy never came to fruition either; the public seems to be blaming s1mple, considering that Na’Vi, a franchise that was experiencing a lot of deep tournament runs prior to picking up s1mple, are now making group stage exits regularly. The real problem with Na’Vi has been Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev, as he has not brought the star power he did in 2016. S1mple needed another true star player to dominate with him, and now he has it.

Will electronic fit in?

One key problem I’ve noticed within Na’Vi has been how s1mple and flamie play. They are both very volatile, aggressive players. Well, flamie is supposed to be, but it looks like he is lacking confidence, as he is playing more passively. Either way, that should change with Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov on the team. Electronic plays his best Counter-Strike as a passive player and rotator. His style of play reminds me a lot of former Na’Vi member Denis ‘seized’ Kostin, whom electronic is replacing. He is the perfect secondary star to pair with s1mple, as electronic is the type of player who can find ways to win clutch rounds.

Na’Vi now has the ideal team built around s1mple, with electronic, Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev, Zeus and flamie. S1mple can now play almost the style of Counter-Strike Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell was able to play in 2015; being able to make plays at will, knowing if he dies it isn’t detrimental to the round. This team reminds me of the Team Liquid that made it to the finals of Cologne. With flamie drawing comparisons to Nick ‘nitr0′ Cannella, Zeus being similar to Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, Edward looking like Josh ‘jdm64’ Marzano and electronic playing up to Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski’s level. That last comparison is pretty loose though. My point is that they’re secondary playmakers for their respective teams.

In an ideal world, I would cut s1mple loose, and let him do whatever he wants to, basically, as long as he communicates it. He has played his most dominant Counter-Strike when cut loose (see MLG Columbus, ESL One Cologne 2016). While we don’t live in that ideal world, I foresee a lot more playmaking from s1 in the future.

Implications

In terms of rankings, I would personally slot Na`Vi back into my personal top 10, looking something like this.

  1. FaZe Clan
  2. SK Gaming
  3. G2 esports
  4. Astralis
  5. North
  6. Cloud9
  7. mousesports (edgy, right?)
  8. Na’Vi
  9. Liquid
  10. Virtus Pro

The Virtus Pro ranking is probably a bit questionable, but the potential is there as seen in previous classics. I stand fully behind the rest of the rankings though. Realistically, this team should be better than mouz, C9 and North on paper. However, I’m not falling back into the Na’Vi trap too quickly. I think it’s fair to put them at eighth in the world, just considering the firepower. Also, none of Na’Vi’s new big three are even 21 yet, and oozing with potential. I love their upside, and I would predict within the next three to five months that they creep into the top five in the world.


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Virtus.Pro finally bring back their plow

Virtus.Pro have been plagued with issues over the course of the last year. They went from being in the final of a major and winning Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas to making six group stage exits, only making it out twice. Meeting EPICENTER was a whole different story. It’s almost like we saw the old VP who showed dominance over the best in the world. Let’s take a look at their tournament run.

Group Stage

vs SK Gaming

VP left the starting line at a slow jog. They showed almost nothing of what they did later in the tournament, being short work for SK. Honestly though, this was more a win for SK than a loss for VP. They performed at the same level in this match as they have the last months, nothing new here.

vs Gambit Gaming

Virtus.Pro

Photo by: hltv.org

Although this match could have gone either way from the get-go, Gambit were still favoured to win. From what we saw in the first map, VP looked like the clear favourites, but throughout the rest of the series they had troubles closing out. The second map went to Gambit but had trouble themselves closing out as the economy for both teams were in the dump. Cache, the deciding map, also had the same story going along for it. Neither team really impressed but eventually VP came out on top. While this wasn’t necessarily the best win for VP, it is still a win against a top eight team. Not the most common things that they have seen.

vs FaZe Clan

The number one team in the world was about to make short work of the Polish team and make their way to the semifinals… right? Well, the first map definitely said so. 16-2 in favour of FaZe, but VP shook it off and came back. Stronger than we’ve seen since they were in Las Vegas. While the second map wasn’t exactly a comfortable win, it wasn’t hard either. VP won Cobblestone 16-11 with Inferno being the deciding map. Surely FaZe wouldn’t lose on their best map. I’m not too sure about what I should be sure about anymore, after VP took the map eliminating FaZe and sending themselves into the semifinals.

Playoffs

vs G2 Esports

Virtus.Pro

Photo by: hltv.org

G2 had an impressive tournament all things considered, dismantling both Astralis and especially North in the group stage. Compared to FaZe or Gambit at the event, G2 looked fantastic and were clear favourites to win the series against Virtus.Pro. But is anything allowed to make sense anymore? Throughout the entire series G2 struggled to stay alive. Almost losing the second map in the process which would have given VP a quick 2-0 victory. G2 showed some individual brilliance in the series, but other than that there were no more pros to pick out of the team. Losing rounds they had advantages in or a round they should win in the first place. The same can also be said about VP. Both teams made plenty of mistakes, but VP were fortunate to make the least.

vs SK Gaming

A classic match between the Polish and Brazilians, and what a match it was too. Dubbed as one of the best grand finals to date, both teams fought their hearts out. VP started out with the map lead but were immediately traded by SK taking Inferno. Train was probably a kick in the face for VP. Starting out with a 12-3 lead on the CT side, SK Gaming brought it back into Overtime and took the map 19-16. VP then took Cache, not letting the previous map affect them, and after that came the magic. A grand map to end a grand series. Cobblestone. One of the greatest maps for either team happened to be a decider, and what better than taking it to double overtime? Unfortunately for VP they weren’t able to manage a round on the second overtime, but they showed brilliance that a fluke-run would never be able to show. This is Virtus.Pro coming back telling everybody to watch out, they’re here to win. Even if they weren’t able to lift the trophy.


Featured image via hltv.org.

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roster

The three best roster moves of 2017

2017 saw plenty of roster changes, from a global shuffle to swapping out players mid season. Some good and some bad, but today I’m going to single out the best. More specifically my top three roster changes of 2017.

#3: SK Gaming pick up João “felps” Vasconcellos

roster

Photo by: hltv.org

At first when SK Gaming picked up felps, they didn’t look so hot. Aside from Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas, they went out in groups of IEM Katowice and Starladder Season 3. Fortunately for them, starting at cs_summit, they made a comeback. From that point on, they went on to win IEM Sydney, Dreamhack Open Summer, ECS Season 3 finals and ESL One Cologne. Obviously this roster started having issues after the major, being unable to make it past the first rounds of playoffs or even losing out sooner.

Felps added a new dynamic to the team, changing SK from a mostly passive team aside from Fernando “fer” Alvarenga. It seemed that felps just held down the W key while playing, and it encouraged everyone else to do it as well.

With the success that this roster had throughout their time with felps, this makes the team one of the most successful teams of 2017.

#2: FaZe Clan pick up Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer

Although this roster has only been together since August, they saw massive success. Winning the biggest event aside from the majors in ELEAGUE and another one of the biggest at ESL One New York. Though they found themselves out in the group stages of Dreamhack Masters Malmö and EPICENTER, their success in such a short time is almost unmatched. And, somehow picking up these two seemed to activate Håvard “rain” Nygaard even more, turning him from beast to god.

Adding olofmeister and GuardiaN gave these two a new beginning. They both fell from being the best at what they did in 2015 to being 2nd-3rd best on their respective teams after both of them suffered injuries between IEM Katowice 2016 and MLG Columbus. Fortunately, since joining FaZe they have started looking like their old selves. GuardiaN becoming unstoppable with the AWP and olofmeister ripping off the heads of their enemies.

The success in such a short amount of time and winning two of some of the best events this year easily puts them towards the top of the leaderboards. Becoming the number one team in the world and possibly starting their own era, FaZe are the most skilled lineup in CS:GO history after this roster change.

#1: FaZe Clan pick up Nikola “NiKo” Kovač

roster

Photo by: Helena K

FaZe picking up NiKo is no doubt the best roster move of 2017. Possibly one of the best in CS:GO, rivaling Marcelo “coldzera” David’s birth onto the scene in 2015 and Dennis “dennis” Edman’s joining of fnatic in 2015. Picking up NiKo, FaZe saw immediate success. Making it to the finals of IEM Katowice, Starladder Season 3, IEM Sydney and ECS Season 3 Finals. Winning Starladder during their journey, NiKo found himself his first MVP medal and a new home. Not to mention the wins at ELEAGUE and ESL One New York as well.

NiKo instantly became the best player on FaZe and propelled this team to the top. This was definitely an upgrade from Philip “aizy” Aistrup who massively under-performed since he joined the team in 2015.

Picking up NiKo and then much later on olofmeister and GuardiaN, FaZe arguably became the best team of 2017. Between SK and FaZe, it’s a battle and we’ll see by the end of the year after BLAST Pro Series, IEM Oakland, ECS and EPL Finals are finished who ended the best.


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NiP

NiP: The fall of giants

Ninjas in Pyjamas were once a legendary team and name in CS:GO. Unfortunately for them they are far from being legends, literally. They have failed to qualify for the last three majors, the last two being in the minor qualifiers. What went wrong?

Lack of proper leadership in-game

Richard “Xizt” Landström has never been the best IGL in the world, and pretty far from it in most people’s eyes. For years his approach to the game hasn’t changed. The only times that NiP has looked their best is either when everyone is hitting their shots or when their coach Björn “THREAT” Pers takes the IGL role. Both of these instances are very rare nowadays, especially the latter.

NiP

Photo by: hltv.org

Map vetoes have also been a very famous issue for this team. Xizt is known to pretty much pick and ban in the opponents’ favor. The most well known example of this issue is whenever NiP plays Cache. Aside from ESL One Cologne, NiP fail to win a map on Cache in almost every important matchup. FlipSid3 at Cologne 2016, Vega Squadron at the ELEAGUE Atlanta Main Qualifier and now PRiDE in the qualifiers for the EU Minor.

Not only is there these two issues, but from an outside point of view, Xizt doesn’t seem like the leader type. He doesn’t hype the team up as much as he should. While yes, you do have practically all your other teammates doing that aside from Fredrik “REZ” Sterner, not doing it yourself while being the IGL of the team isn’t a good sign.

A dying star and no compensation

Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund is seen as one of the greatest, if not the greatest player of CS:GO. But ever since a shift in the lurker meta, GTR, Spencer “Hiko” Martin and Vincent “Happy” Cervoni aren’t as important. GTR managed in 2016, but towards the end and into 2017 he dropped off into an abyss. Being one of the main reasons that NiP could even close out rounds due to his clutches, NiP lost the ability to win the rounds late.

Losing GTR in-game happened to be a huge blunder for the team, with only Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg consistently performing. It’s very hit or miss if William “draken” Sundin shows up on the server as well, and he’s also a huge part of any wins that this team will get. Xizt is also very inconsistent due to the IGL role. When taken away during the time that THREAT was calling, he was able to perform well without the pressure of shot-calling. REZ has also been mediocre since joining the squad, and it doesn’t look like much is changing.

There are very obvious flaws in this team, and unfortunately for NiP, fixing them is the hard part. Replacing a player isn’t always easy, especially when Sweden lacks any insane talent worth picking up that’s not already on fnatic or GODSENT.

Featured image via hltv.org.

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