Fnatic add Lekr0 and Golden: A few cons

The Fnatic roster of Freddy “KRiMZ” Johansson, Jesper “JW” Wecksell and Robin “flusha” Rönnquist announced their new pickups this week. Filling in the two spots are Maikil “Golden” Selim and Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson. Looking at the roster, you can tell exactly why they picked up who they did. They wanted a proper in-game-leader and young players. The duo of flusha and JW also played with Lekr0 when they were with GODSENT. Here we will discuss some cons of this roster move.

For more information about shufflemania, check out my articles on FaZe Clan, mousesports and Cloud9.

1. Inexperienced players

fnatic

Photo by: hltv.org

Golden has never played in an event with multiple tier one teams. He’s never had to call against players of the caliber that he will face while on Fnatic. While Fnatic may have found one of the few up and coming IGLs of the Swedish scene, it is very hard to predict that he will do well. Coming from Fnatic Academy, he led the team to a peak of #20 on HLTV.org. They didn’t get there due to the tactics, they got there because of the firepower coming from the young talent. While he is one of the best players to pick up to give them structure, much like Alec “Slemmy” White’s time on Cloud9, his inexperience on the top level will show.

As for Lekr0, aside from a few Dreamhacks and the Major in Atlanta earlier this year, he hasn’t had much experience at the top level. He’s definitely shown to be a huge player for GODSENT, winning rounds essentially on his own. Unfortunately, he’s just not used to playing at a high level consistently. Fnatic is attending Dreamhack Masters Malmö in just less than week, and then the ELEAGUE Premier 2017 just two weeks later. Time will tell how they do on the big stage against some of the top players in the world.

2. Overall less firepower

 

fnatic

Photo by: hltv.org

Together, both Golden and Lekr0 are steps down in terms of skill compared to Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Dennis “Dennis” Edman. While Golden can potentially make it up with his calling, Lekr0 will need to become a god to live up to what either player has done for the team. Known for his deagle, maybe he can replace the pistol god Dennis. For now though, the two have huge shoes to fill. Not to mention flusha who may come into form as he no longer has the pressure of calling.

Another issue is that in the past, KRiMZ has proven to have issues without olofmeister to play around on sites. His short stint with GODSENT was by far the worst of his career, and that can be attributed mainly to not playing with olofmeister. Afterall, they are known as the most legendary duo of CS:GO. Hopefully he can prove us wrong, but history shows that it can become a problem.

3. Fleeting motivation

fnatic

Photo by: hltv.org

It’s easy to tell that the trio left over are tired of not winning. They were on the most legendary lineup in CS:GO, winning two majors in a row. Then, after one roster change, won tournaments left to right. Anyone would miss that. Not winning anything for well over a year can take a toll on their motivation, and can negatively affect the newcomers. Of course, it could definitely be said that their motivation is most likely going to get a boost having two new and young players alongside them.

The only reason that a lack of motivation would be an issue is that the players wouldn’t take the game 100% seriously. Especially with two new players coming in, one being an IGL. He’s not going to want three players he probably looks up to not listening to what he has to say. Of course, the players are probably a lot more mature than to do anything similar to this, but it could become an issue. Whether it be right away or weeks even months in the future. Hopefully it never becomes an issue and the team can find some sort of success with this new roster, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Featured image via hltv.org

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RUSH and tarik to Cloud9, a jaw dropping roster change

Cloud9 opened eyes and dropped jaws Tuesday morning after announcing the additions of Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Tarik “tarik” Celik. This move is one of the most surprising of all the shuffles, and also one of the best. This lineup cements itself as one of the most, if not the most, skilled lineups of NA CS history.

For more information about shufflemania, check out my articles on FaZe Clan and mousesports.

A much higher team-wide skill ceiling

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

In the past Cloud9 has had players on the roster who were much less skilled than the rest. Not only that, Cloud9 has always had the problem of having a player or two not “show up”. While we haven’t yet seen how this roster can change the past issues, it’s almost obvious that it should be fixed. Not only that, but the constant confusion about who is playing what role is now gone. Everyone has their own place, and aside from everyone contributing to the IGL role, everyone knows what to do.

Having, in my opinion, the top three North American players on one team also contributes to the massive jump toward the skill ceiling. As well as having the best AWPer in NA, it helps a lot in the overall skill. Adding tarik into the mix adds a player who rarely has a bad event. Unfortunately in the case of tarik, he does sometimes have a moment where he does something that loses the round. If this can be fixed, there are almost no flaws in this lineup aside from no proper leadership.

Prebuilt chemistry

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

Looking at the players of Cloud9, it’s obvious to see the chemistry already built up among players. The most obvious case is Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and tarik, as they PUG together and joke around a lot. Another example, though less known, is between RUSH and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, who both played together at CEVO Season 6 Finals on eLevate, leading to some familiarity.

The mix of players also looks to be quite a good mix on paper. Whether it be in game or out of the game, the players all seem to fit together like a puzzle. Of course it is possible for the players to not get along, but we will just have to wait and see.

Good choice in replacements

 

Cloud9

Photo by: hltv.org

While it’s sad to see the original Cloud9 roster gone, you can’t deny that the replacements are well made and make sense. Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek is now able to do what he loves full time and Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert is able to pursue something else in esports, whether it be playing or being an analyst or caster at events. Unfortunately for the case of n0thing, his benching was a team decision opposed to Shroud’s benching where he stepped down himself.

Role wise, the replacements make sense. Having a 100% dedicated entry in RUSH fixes the problem with n0thing not wanting to entry every now and then. On the other hand with tarik, he is a consistent player. And, despite the peanut-brain meme, as a player he makes smart decisions with the rare occasion of messing up a round for the team. This was an issue with n0thing as well, but opposed to tarik he did it more on a consistent basis.

Overall this move seems to be a win for the organization and players. Having a more skilled roster, players who might fit better together, and having roles make sense for once, there’s few flaws in the move. We’ll just have to wait and see how the roster all together will perform on the 22nd with the kick off of ESL Pro League Season 6.


Featured image via hltv.org

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suNny and STYKO to mousesports is a risk vs reward move

Mousesports has been a team with a lot of roster changes in the last year. First putting Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný back into the roster and then picking up rising star Robin “ropz” Kool, they’ve been doing everything right since losing Nikola “NiKo” Kovač after the ELEAGUE Major in January. Hopefully this next move will be the best one yet. Mousesports has now picked up suNny and STYKO.

Miikka “suNny” Kemppi

When suNny was picked up by ENCE Esports in the first quarter of 2016, he had a nice platform to build himself as a player. Under the leadership of Aleksi “allu” Jalli, suNny emerged as a rising star in the tier two European scene. Consistently outperforming his opponents and showing that he can perform on a semi-high level of CS, people knew that he would get his chance on a higher skilled team one day. Unfortunately, it took almost a year for him to find a home on a new team.

mousesports

Photo by: hltv.org

After quite a bit of turmoil on ENCE after losing allu, he left the team and joined PENTA Sports a month later. While PENTA may not be the highest tier team, it gave suNny a chance to build a new team with Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend. Picking up fellow Finn Jesse “zehN” Linjala, consistent players Kevin “HS” Tarn and Paweł “innocent” Mocek, this team was brand new and was built from scratch. This gave suNny a team that he could build himself further on, and he showed that he can be a star even at a high level.

Along with HS, suNny consistently performed well to earn the team a spot at the PGL Major in Krakow, qualifying off of the back of wins against OpTic, Liquid, and Vega Squadron. At the major, suNny achieved HLTV ratings above 1.05 in each of the matches he played. With the closing of the major, suNny had the fifth highest rating of the event. Mousesports couldn’t pick a better player.

Martin “STYKO” Styk

STYKO has been stuck on the tier two scene for years. HELLRAISERS has been his best chance to step into the tier one scene. They’ve had hot streaks but it’s been very inconsistent. STYKO himself has also been quite inconsistent, at least in 2017. Joining mousesports creates a huge question mark. How will he perform?

mousesports

Photo by: hltv.org

Looking at STYKO’s performances since joining HELLRAISERS is a huge contrast to how he performs now. He was quite consistent, getting ratings above 1.10. But, coming into the latter half of 2016 and so far throughout 2017, he’s been underperforming. HELLRAISERS as a whole, aside from Starladder Season 3 and Dreamhack Tours, has been underperforming as well.

Mousesports is taking a gamble picking up STYKO, and in place of Denis, he’s not much of an upgrade. Unless of course, he’s taking the IGL role. This would not only free up Chris “chrisJ” de Jong and allow him to focus on his game, but it would most certainly take a toll on STYKO’s performance.

Is the move worth it?

In my opinion, I do think the move is worth it. Bringing in suNny and STYKO in place of Christian “loWel” Antoran and Denis is a firepower upgrade in suNny alone. But, as I said above, unless STYKO becomes the IGL for mousesports, he is not much of an upgrade. Mousesports are taking a risk or reward move with these two. And while the reward could be huge, the risk could be even bigger.


Featured image via mousesports.com.

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A FaZe roster with GuardiaN and olofmeister sounds spicy, but…

Amongst the rumors and speculations of roster shuffles post-major, FaZe is likely to make changes. To fix unknown problems, FaZe feel they need the services of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. This could cause more problems than it might fix, at least on paper.

I’ll look through some reasons as to why they might want to change, and some reasoning behind it.

Bad performance at the PGL Major

It came as a surprise to many that FaZe went out 0-3 in the swiss stage losing to BIG, mousesports, and FlipSid3. A loss to mousesports isn’t far fetched, but the gap in skill alone between themselves and the other two should be enough to win them a match easily. Whether it be NiKo’s curse in majors or the massive under-performance of Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey, FaZe underperformed as a whole.

FaZe

Photo by: hltv.org

Now, to say that FaZe should make changes after a bad major isn’t necessarily the right thing. Out of the last 6 tournaments they have made the finals 4 times. Going out Top 4 at Cologne and last at the major. The positives heavily outweigh the negatives in that equation. One bad tournament shouldn’t end a team, unless everybody was ready to explode at each other.

All-in-all, FaZe shouldn’t change rosters with the reasoning being a bad major. Not every Tier 1 team is going to consistently be winning every match or making Top 4 every tournament.

In 2017, the only team who has made Top 4 every tournament is Astralis, not even SK Gaming. SK didn’t change after Katowice or Starladder. FaZe could very well win Malmö in a month, but maybe we’ll never know with this roster.

Conflicting personalities

FaZe

Photo by: hltv.org

One reason may never be seen publicly, conflicting personalities. Liking everyone on your team is hard, and nobody should be expected to do so. One thing that can back this up is the fact that Nikola “NiKo” Kovač has shown to be quite an angry player when he was on mousesports.

The problem with this is that FaZe would be out of their minds to replace NiKo, so they’d have to find someone to replace kioShiMa or Aleksi “allu” Jalli. 

Some of the players might not be much of a fan of how Finn “Karrigan” Anderson leads the team. This may actually be one of the more plausible reasons. Karrigan was replaced on Astralis due to the players not trusting him anymore.

If a player or the team don’t trust the IGL, there’s a huge issue.

Consistency or under-performance

Allu isn’t known for his consistency, hence the meme between GOD allu and BOT allu. One game he’s a BOT, another he’s a GOD. For an AWPer, this is an issue. For such an important position you want someone who is reliable.

GuardiaN is similarly not consistent, much like allu. He’ll show up one game but be completely out of it the next. A good thing with FaZe is that everyone can AWP, so you can always switch out the gun. But, unless Karrigan uses it, it’s a waste of the stars.

FaZe

Photo by: hltv.org

 

KioShiMa had a rather disappointing major performance. Having a 0.61 HLTV rating, he performed the worst on the team throughout three maps. The problem with this is that kioShiMa is one of the most consistent players on the team aside from this tournament.

He may not get 30 kills every map, but he does stick around the middle of the pack and is a huge clutch player. Of course, his direct replacement being olofmeister would upgrade essentially the same traits. But, who knows if olof will perform well in FaZe? He’s no longer one of the best players in the world. You can’t rely on him keeping his form between teams like NiKo did.

Conclusion: FaZe shouldn’t change

Taking everything in to account, and especially looking at the 3rd reason, there’s no pros to picking up GuardiaN and olofmeister. They’re essentially the same players from other countries and different names. The move makes no sense. And, unless there are some serious personality conflicts, there is no real reason to change.

Featured image via ESL Gaming.

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ESL One Cologne: The tournament for the Americas

ESL One Cologne throughout the years has seen a couple different American teams playing on the stages. Whether it be the stage at Gamescon in 2014 or the stage in the LANXESS Arena. Not only that, but the last two years have only seen American teams in the Grand Finals. An interesting statistic to say the least. Here, we’ll go through the teams who played on the main stages of Cologne. Explaining how they got there, and how far they went.

SK Gaming/Luminosity

2015 was the first year the Brazilian scene met the main stage of ESL One Cologne. Barely making the playoffs over FlipSid3 in 2015, Marcelo “coldzera” David found himself in his first international tournament. And oh boy, did he surprise everyone with how skilled he was.

2016 saw the Brazilians dominate under the the Luminosity banner, before moving over to SK for ESL One Cologne. Finding themselves in the group of death, SK scored wins over G2 and FaZe, moving to the quarters against FlipSid3. For a second year in a row, SK beat FlipSid3 in Cologne. Making their way to the Semis against Virtus.Pro, SK Gaming found themselves struggling to close the match, but ultimately doing so in one of the best matches of Major history. Meeting Liquid in the final, it wasn’t too surprising to see SK dominate the North American side and take their second major title.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

So far in 2017, we’ve seen SK at their worst and at their best, and we’re only seven months in. Coming into Cologne, SK had won two tournaments beforehand. They were by far the favourites for the event. Struggling slightly in the swiss stage, SK made it out 3-2 and met OpTic in the quarters. On paper, a one sided match up but OpTic showed themselves to be strong and took Mirage, but ultimately lost the series. SK moved on to beat FaZe, arguably their rival, and dominated the European team. Going into the grand finals, it may have been a surprise to find Cloud9 there. SK didn’t let the surprise get to them though. SK controlled the entire match and took the match 3-0 and won Cologne for a second year in a row.

Cloud9

Cloud9’s first experience with Cologne was 2014, where they played their first tournament with Mike “shroud” Grzesiek. A situation very similar to Luminosity’s first tournament with coldzera at Cologne. In the group stage, Cloud9 won against Titan, and had their famous comeback against Dignitas on Mirage. Making the quarterfinals, Cloud9 met Ninjas in Pyjamas, a fan favourite. Though, Cloud9 were favoured in the match, they ended up losing due to a very important kill by Adam “friberg” Friberg. Without this one kill, Cloud9 could have definitely made the finals of ESL One Cologne 2014, but talking about what if’s is a bad thing.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

Leading up to Cologne 2015, Cloud9 looked like a Top 4 team, favoured to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, Cloud9 left the tournament in the group stage due to yet another clutch play at 13-13 in a round Cloud9 should have won.

Unfortunately, Cloud9 for the first time were unable to qualify for a major, being ESL One Cologne 2016. In 2017 though, Cloud9 were directly invited as PGL took reigns for the second major of 2017 over ESL. Here, we saw Cloud9 struggle at the beginning but claw their way back to make the playoffs. In the first round of the playoffs Cloud9 met NiP, a rematch of 2014. But, this time Cloud9 took the win and advanced to face Na’Vi in the semifinals. Na’Vi, on arguably their two best maps, lost 2-0 to Cloud9 who went on to play the grand finals against SK Gaming. Unfortunately for Cloud9, SK Gaming were looking for revenge for EPL Season 4, and SK won Cologne over Cloud9.

Team Liquid

Team Liquid first met ESL One Cologne in 2016 as they were directly invited by making the playoffs of MLG Columbus. Using Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev as a stand-in for the event, it wasn’t far fetched to say that Liquid would make the playoffs. They did just that by beating mousesports 2-1 to advance to the playoffs to face Na’Vi in the quarters. After beating Na’Vi, Team Liquid made it to the semifinals to face one of the favourites for the tournament. Liquid decided they didn’t like that title for fnatic, so they took the series 2-0. This put them as the first North American team in the finals of a major. Unfortunately for them, they met SK Gaming and lost 2-0 convincingly against the Brazilians.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

2017 saw Liquid qualifying for the tournament online. Watching the swiss stage of the tournament though, you would have thought they were invited. Going 3-0 in the group stage facing Na’Vi, Immortals and OpTic Gaming, Team Liquid showed the world that the major qualifier was not who they truly were and made their way to the LANXESS Arena. Sadly, Liquid met FaZe in the quarters and were dismantled easily by the European team.

OpTic Gaming

ESL One Cologne 2016 was the first time any player on OpTic made a major. With their inexperience on the major level, OpTic lost to both NiP and FlipSid3 in the group stage, going 0-2 and dropping out of the tournament.

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: hltv.org

2017 was a different story for OpTic, who showed up to Cologne with zero eyes on them, and as little pressure as possible. At this point, every player on OpTic has played at the top level. Even though they went 0-3 at the major qualifier just a week before, OpTic showed up to Cologne on fire, taking down North, Space Soldiers and most notably FaZe. Only losing to Liquid in the swiss stage. Going into the playoffs they were matched against SK Gaming. Being the most one sided matches of the playoffs on paper, OpTic showed up with a little bit of fight in them. OpTic took the first map in the series off of SK pretty convincingly. But alas, SK Gaming are far more experienced in these situations and left OpTic in the dust in the next two maps.

ESL One Cologne 2017

 

ESL One Cologne

Photo by: Helena K @ ESL Gaming

 

This year, Cologne showed that the Americas, not just South America, has a place on the big stage. Admittedly, Astralis weren’t present at the tournament, but it isn’t too far fetched to say that they could have taken a playoff spot over Na’Vi or NiP rather than the North American teams.

Throughout the years though, Cologne has shown to be a nice tournament for the Americas, having an American team on stage every year. Not only just one, but half the spots were taken by the Americans this year. That shows some heavy improvement from the region, and maybe some extra confidence in the city of Cologne.

Featured image via ESL Gaming

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NiP sign REZ to replace friberg

It has finally happened. NiP held the longest standing 4-man core in CS:GO history, but it stands no more. The core consisted of Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund, Patrick ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, Richard ‘Xizt’ Landstrom, and Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg since the beginning of CS:GO. Friberg has been harshly criticized for over two years now, despite NiP having success.

The New Kid

via HLTV.org

REZ has looked like an up and coming young star and does have clear upside. On the defense, he seems to rely on aggression and catching his opponents off guard. His style mirrors the playstyle of Jake ‘Stewie2k’ Yip when he was first brought up. NiP would be extremely lucky if this player even worked out half as well. REZ plays a relentlessly aggressive, entry-fragger style when on the offense. This makes him a good fit for this NiP team, all things considered. It will be interesting to see if he can round out his game at the top level.

His skill is undeniable, and he has looked good against the lower level of competition; although, it is very rare a player can pull off what Tomáš ‘oskar’ Šťastný did, and make the jump from tier two to tier one almost seamlessly. At the end of the day, the org is taking a risk, they needed to bring in a young talent. While they could’ve maybe taken someone like Fredrik ‘freddieb’ Buö, who looks a bit more ready for top level Counter-Strike, this is not a bad signing by any means.

The Future of friberg

via HLTV.org

friberg’s future as a professional player is quite dim, he could likely get onto Epsilon and win a couple of tier two LAN’s. Other than that, there isn’t much hope for the fabled ‘King of Banana’. It is likely he will retire here, and most likely live out his days working in the esports industry. His most immediate options include working for the NiP organization, doing analyst desks, casting professional matches, or coaching younger, smaller teams. He could even follow in the footsteps of former teammate Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson and getting a job at Twitch. While it is sad to see such a long time pro leave, perhaps this is best for him moving forward.

Potential of NiP

I don’t think this iteration of the Ninjas will do anything special. In my opinion, more changes need to be made if NiP wants to be competing for titles again; however, this is a step in the right direction. There will most likely be some improvement from the abysmal showing they’ve been putting on for the past six months. I predict this iteration of NiP to hover around 10th-15th in the world rankings.

via https://www.gfinity.net

In terms of what they can do to really spice this roster up, there are limited options. I would say you move GeT_RiGhT to call the shots and replace Xizt with the long time up and coming freddieb. This guy has flown under the radar for so long, despite playing a supportive style and being very skilled. If you make a move like that, now you’re cooking with gas NiP. It takes a great amount of luck when dealing with unproven talent, but it’s the Ninja’s best hope.

As I said before, this move won’t instantly turn the Ninjas into world #1 spot contenders again, but it shows at least a little bit of drive on their part, to want to win again. It shows the public exactly what they wanted, rather, needed to see, that NiP still care. While they may not be 100% driven to be the best in the world, at least they are putting forth an effort to become relevant again.

It is sad to see NiP, a team that has produced so many incredibly exciting games, and won so many tournaments, lose a long time member like friberg. However, in the end, being a professional isn’t about friendship, it is about winning. NiP are showing they are ready to get back to that.


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Featured image via http://wallup.net

dev1ce: The LeBron James of Counter-Strike

Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz is one of the all-time best players to play the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Ever since his emergence out of the ashes of the failed Counter-Strike: Source, he has been pure fire. The Danish superstar’s career draws quite a few parallels to LeBron James’ career in the NBA.

Consistency

via http://theurbantwist.com

Dev1ce is the CS:GO poster child for consistency. The last time he has had below a 1.00 HLTV rating for an event was at Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals; an event that took place in 2015. He has only dropped below a 1.00 rating for an event four times since joining Team SoloMid, and none of those four times came in his tenure with Astralis. One of the most consistent players in the world draws parallels to LeBron James’ consistency in the NBA. LeBron has been selected to the All-NBA team 13 times in his 15 season career and did not play significantly worse when he was not selected. Lebron James throughout his career has a monstrous 28.0 point-per-game average.

They just keep coming, both of these guys don’t even seem to be slowing down in the recent times, despite their age in their respective games. Dev1ce is 21, which in CS:GO years, is old to still be a superstar, especially considering his dominance has stretched four years now. LeBron is 32, yet doesn’t look a day over 25. Both of these guys seem to just be getting started.

Raw Talent

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

LeBron James and dev1ce are both insanely talented in what they do, and are oozing with raw skill. In the primes of their careers, these two could do anything that could be wanted of them in their respective game. Dev1ce did literally anything you wanted from him with a rifle in his hand, from opening rounds, to closing them. He could play with the AWP pretty well; he was a great pistol player too. Truly a fantastically rounded player, and a perfect superstar candidate. James could do anything with the ball in his hands from taking jumpers, to driving, to even passing. This guy wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with the rebounding either. Perhaps an underrated part of James’ game was his impeccable defense. Not only was his on-ball defense sound, but he had a knack for creating turnovers.

LeBron doesn’t still have the outside jumper as a major part of his arsenal, but is still incredible at driving to the basket. A very similar feat, deVVe has lost the entry-fragging explosive side to him, but excels at playing a consistent, AWP style of play. They both create great space for their teammates, with enemy teams game-planning around making things tough for these two superstars.

The ‘Choking’ issue

via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IalExPzWrkU

Both of these players have been criticized for not having that killer instinct. While LeBron has gotten less heat for it, he still struggles in the most high-pressure situations it seems. Both of them show flashes of brilliance in these situations, making you think they are over it. Then they make a mistake, or disappear for a bit. Both players have looked much better in these situations as of late but still aren’t up to their usual standard of domination in these scenarios. While they draw attention from the opponent just by showing up, they lack the ability to make their foe crack. They lack the killer instinct.

 

Featured image via https://www.hltv.org

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Five Things We Learned From The ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals

With the ESL Pro League Season 5 Finals ending on Sunday, we saw G2 Esports take the title. This achievement is the first $250k+ tournament win for the team, and a huge one at that.

But with the tournament ending, we learned plenty of things about teams and the tournament itself. Here are five things that we learned over the course of the last week:

ESL have finally stepped up their game

Photo by: Helena K @ esportphoto.com

ESL have been under a lot of criticism lately, and fairly so. The company calling themselves industry leaders, have only led the company into a pile of mud. With that being said, with their last two tournaments, they’ve started digging themselves out of the pile.

With the conclusion of the tournament came a lot of players saying that the tournament happened to be the best by ESL. From a viewer’s perspective, the tournament wasn’t the greatest. With a couple hiccups here and there along with the organizer moving to YouTube, they weren’t at the top for production. But from the perspective of the players, the tournament was well hosted, and having the best intentions for the players is always a great thing to see.

North’s problems lie beyond inconsistent players

While you can say that making the finals of EPL is a step forward for the team, aside from newfound confidence in the team, they haven’t made much of a step forward.

Starting from the ELEAGUE Major in January, North have struggled in playoffs. Making quarterfinals, or semifinals in some cases, and bombing out. As a Bo3 team, they’re not the best. While they can be considered some of the best on maps such as Overpass or Nuke, one of which happens to be a permanent ban for many teams, they’re generally weaker than most teams on the rest of the map pool.

Tactically it seems that most teams are able to read into what Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen is planning for a match. Being called one of the best in-game leaders at one point, ended up being his downfall. Teams learned what he was doing pretty quickly, an issue that Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and his team faced when reaching their prime at the same time as the former Dignitas lineup did.

Photo by: hltv.org

While yes, you can say that inconsistency in their roster and having a heavily underperforming Philip “aizy” Aistrup is a huge issue, it doesn’t paint the full picture. The team seems to have issues outside and deep inside of the game that isn’t shown by statistics. Cockiness, shown by a trash talking Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, seems to be a huge issue in the team. Having your star player being overconfident doesn’t help anyone, especially not the team.

Another issue, highlighted here by Richard “shox” Papillon, is their behaviour in practice which shows that the team is only practicing to their strengths rather than to strengthen their weaknesses.

Timothy “autimatic” Ta as the IGL was not the solution

Since their win at EPL Season 4 finals, Cloud9 have been plagued with issues. Stemming from a very readable Stewie and two players in huge downfalls from what they once were. Cloud9 are only a shadow of themselves from last October. Fielding the same lineup, seemingly the same map pool, and the same style. Much like NiP, Cloud9 seem unwilling to change anything. Although changing IGLs from Stewie to autimatic was interesting, in the end they changed back.

Cloud9 don’t have the firepower they had back during their win at EPL. They had four reliable fraggers and a Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham finding his groove. Since then, Skadoodle and Mike “shroud” Grzesiek have been in slumps of their own. One, unfortunately, worse than the other. Skadoodle has found some sort of consistency although it’s consistent at a lower level than what we expect from him. On the other side, shroud, unfortunately, is unable to find an impact on an international level, and with the problems spreading to domestic competition.

Cloud9’s problems lie with the players and possibly management of the team. From the outside perspective, it’s quite obvious that it’s time to change the players. From an inside point of view, it could be very much different.

G2 are the superteam we expected

With the resurrection of a godlike Kenny “KennyS” Schrub, a returning Nathan “NBK” Schmitt, and a rising Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro, G2 are finally the team they were expected to be. Going from 1-8 in the regular season to winning the finals, the rise in the team’s performance was well documented.

Photo by: Helena K @ esportphoto.com

Being put into the toughest group and possibly the hardest route in the playoffs, G2 still came out on top. Even while suffering bad losses against Cloud9 and Immortals, they were able to keep the confidence high and persevere. An impressive feat we don’t see from a lot of teams.

MR3 tiebreakers are not the way to go and need to go

In Group A we saw a tiebreaker between SK, EnVyUs, and fnatic battling for the second and third spot. Unfortunately, there were issues that were immediately visible from the start.

EnVyUs took the three-way tie-breaker 2-0, getting the second seed. Of course, it’s not an easy thing to do, but seeing a team such as nV come out on top over the likes of fnatic and SK raised eyebrows, but not in a good way. It showed a massive flaw in the system. Only needing to win at least four rounds to make the playoffs is a problem.

Photo by: Helena K @ esportphoto.com

Teams like SK Gaming aren’t teams that rely on brute force like fnatic and nV. They are a team that needs time to set up, and going against teams like the two against them doesn’t allow for them to do that. Pushes from Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom were very frequent on nV’s CT Side and allowed a very broken CT side to allow nV to take the tiebreaker.

You can make the argument that the teams know that this would happen if the matches leading up to it go the wrong way. With that being said, the fact that a situation like this is allowed to happen in the way that it does is very unfair for teams involved. Especially fnatic, who had an overall decent group stage.

 

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A step in the right direction: Esports to be a medal event at 2022 Asian Games

Esports at 2022 Asian Games

Image courtesy of gamenationsa.com

In a recent announcement, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) have began a partnership with Alisports, the sports arm of Chinese online retail giant Alibaba. The partnership will see esports be featured as a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, before becoming an official medal sport at the 2022 Asian Games. The Asian Games is the world’s second largest multi-sport event after the Olympics. This represents a major development in the expansion of esports and may eventually see esports featured at the Olympics.

In a statement OCA president Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah said “The OCA has always been committed to the inheritance, development, and improvement of Asian sports,” He went on to say “We look forward to the forward-thinking concepts of sports by Alisports, who will be helping us with their strength and experience in esports.”

The 2018 and 2022 Asian Games will be the testing ground for esports inclusion in major sporting events. Further to this, esports will also be introduced at this year’s Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG). Several games will be featured including, Fifa 17.

The future is here, the future is esports?

Audi partners with esports team Astralis

Image courtesy of wwg.com

This announcement is the latest in a long line of advancements for esports in the wider world of sports. With games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive(CS:GO), League of Legends and Dota 2 attracting hundreds of thousands of viewers, it is no surprise that major companies are starting to invest in esports. Recently it was announced that German car manufacturer Audi will be sponsoring high flying CS:GO team Astralis. This was a big step for the CS:GO scene and has furthered back the opinion that it is time for esports to be considered on a similar level to traditional sports. In recent months, there has also been an uptake of professional sports teams picking up various different esports teams. For example, the Philadelphia 76ers acquired long standing Team Dignitas. Whilst Dignitas continue to operate under Dignitas branding, it still evidences a major shift in the opinion of esports.

In a major move for the validity of esports, the University of Utah have also announced that it will begin awarding scholarships to players who make the school’s varsity esports team. It is said that this will be the first scholarship program for competitive gaming for a school in one of the NCAA’s five major conferences. AJ Dimick, the school’s director of operations of esports, told the Associated Press “Esports is growing exponentially in the world and it is, too, on the college scene.” He went on to say “Part of our motivation for doing this is we wanted to help other Power 5 schools and other bigger schools, kind of, see themselves doing it. We hope that us jumping over and getting into this will encourage some of those schools to follow suit. And we think they will.”

The Next steps

As esports becomes more and more excepted by mainstream sports, it may be time to refer to each competitive game in its own merit. Whilst it makes sense when explaining it to people and when grouping together the genre. Things may become difficult as more and more esports appear in general sporting events. For example, back in 2014 Call of Duty(COD) made its first appearance at the X Games. Whilst this was important for the esports genre, it was also important for Call of Duty as a whole. It may be that esports because a category of sports event, in the same way you can have track and field events.

Optic Gaming Esports organisation

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Esports has a long way to go to catch-up with traditional sports, not only externally but also internally. Let’s take a look at fan bases. In terms of traditional sports people generally align themselves with a local team which they will then follow. Often in the esports scene, fans will support a player rather than a team. This is something that needs to be changed as esports grows. One good example of this would be Optic Gaming, who have created a team that people have allegiances to.

Esports is still developing and it take time until it reaches the same level of validity as general sports. One thing that can be guaranteed is that esports is coming and mainstream media will need to be ready for it.

 

 

 

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Tournament Preview: Cs_Summit

From April 20th – 23rd, Cs_Summit is being hosted by Beyond the Summit.

The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament is set up as a quarter-final knockout stage with a loser’s bracket. Essentially it’s an eight-team double elimination tournament with best-of-three matches. The quarterfinal matchups are as follows:

  • SK Gaming vs. Team EnVyUs
  • Gambit E-Sports vs. GODSENT
  • OpTic Gaming Vs Cloud9
  • Ninjas in Pyjamas vs Team Liquid

Some of the strongest teams in the world will duke it out to see who walks away victorious. Here’s a look at some of the teams and match-ups.

Teams to Watch:

GODSENT

GODSENT

Courtesy of BeyondtheSummit.tv

GODSENT may not be the strongest roster coming into the tournament, but I think the legendary ex-Fnatic in-game Leader Markus “pronax” Wallsten has some tricks up his sleeve. After the Fnatic roster swap fiascos ended, pronax saw himself leading his team of riflers into the fray. Hopefully the Swedish international can make a strong appearance at Cs_Summit, and GODSENT can take home some prize money.

Many people may turn their heads at this pick, but I think GODSENT has what it takes to seriously win this tournament. They are playing Gambit in the first round and they are no pushover. It will be a tough fought game against the Russian side, but GODSENT could have what it takes.

Cloud9

Cloud 9

Courtesy of media.wwg.com

Cloud9 are among the stronger teams in North America, so it is no surprise I’m picking them to be one of the favorites. Unfortunately, Cloud9 will be short their world class AWPer Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. However, their stand in is one of the best the game has ever seen. Braxton “swag” Pierce, having previously been banned for match-fixing, has served his time away from professional play as an analyst, now making a return. Recently, he has returned as a stand in for Cloud9, and will hopefully be able to show that he’s still got it in this tournament.

SK Gaming

SK_Gaming

Courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

SK has had a less than stellar season. They are struggling to find the dominant form they showed at MLG Columbus. After taking a sudden exit in the playoff stages to FaZe at Starladder, SK Gaming has really been missing out on deep tournament play. Cs_Summit might be the turn around they need.

They are facing off against Team EnVyUs in the first round and it will not be easy for Gabriel “fallen” Toledo’s team to take a victory. With the strong players that EnVyUs have, we will see if fallen has made the correct adjustments before gametime.

OpTic Gaming

Courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

OpTic Gaming has a mix-mash of good aimers and good shot callers that somehow became one of the best teams in the world in under a year. One of OpTic’s key players, Tarik “Tarik” Celik, fled the barebones CLG squad in hopes of a better future with OpTic and it has paid off for him.

However, Tarik and OpTic have been struggling to find their strong form in 2017. OpTic seems to be making a little bit of comeback, showing life at the IBuyPower Invitational just last weekend where they took home second place. I think that OpTic has turned a corner with their play, but they will be tested in their matchup against Cloud9.

Featured Matchup: Optic vs Cloud 9

OpTic and Cloud9 are two of the best teams in North America and this matchup has always been fiery. Cloud9 seems to have them on most CT sided maps, controlling the long areas with Skadoodle’s AWP. However, it will be very interesting to see how Cloud9 adapts to their new five man lineup.

OpTic has always displayed resilience in their match-ups, being able to persevere in the longer mental battles. They stand a good chance against C9 and this matchup, in particular, seems to be the most balanced and the one to watch. If you can only catch one series from these playoff stages, I would highly recommend this match up.


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