Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s Greatest Dynasties

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive first released August 21st, 2012, and since then the competitive scene has went from strength to strength. The game followed on from the already popular Counter-Strike series and the newest release sparked even more interest than its predecessors.

Despite a few controversies along the way, the esports scene for CS:GO has boomed, with ELEAGUE’s season 1 and 2 having a combined prize pool of over $2.5m.

With such prizes out there, it is no surprise to see many teams competing and training hard to slug it out over these massive cash rewards, not to mention the sponsorships and contracts that come into play in modern day Counter-Strike.

Some teams, however, have went above and beyond the competition experiencing an extended period of time at the top. Many of these teams went months in domination, others went a lot longer with long unbeaten streaks still lauded over rival teams to this day.

The following list will break down just some of the teams who dominated Counter-Strike for a period of time following the game’s release:

[This list is in no particular order]

5. Fnatic – November 2013-June 2014

photo by AftonBladet.se


Fnatic were the first team to ever win a major in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, something that places them in the history books. This lineup consisted of JW, Flusha, Schneider, Pronax and Devilwalk, and they put their stamp on the scene by beating the odds and coming from nowhere to placing second at MSI Beat IT.

This was just the beginning as the team continued to place high in tournaments consistently before the lineup burned out in the summer of 2014 after failing to progress from the DreamHack Summer groups.

4. Virtus Pro – October 2013-February 2017

Virtus Pro are a team that traditionally blow hot and cold, the terms Virtus Plow and Virtus Throw go hand in hand depending on how the team performs. It is, however, undeniable that they have been one of the most consistent long term teams the game has seen.

The team has featured the charismatic lineup of TaZ, NEO, Pasha, Byali and Snax, and have been a thorn in the side for nearly every team attempting to establish a tier one dominance since October 2013. With one Major win and seven international titles, they are without a doubt one of Counter-Strike’s most successful dynasties.

photo by GINX eSports TV

Virtus Pro are one of the teams that have been able to forge a legacy that will out last this iteration of the game as their longevity at the top remains admirable to even the biggest rivals of the Poles.

 

3. Ninjas in Pyjamas – August 2012-November 2014

Ninjas in Pyjamas are another team that will forever hold a legacy within Counter-Strike. Their run to the fabled 87:0 winning streak is still talked about to this day, a feat that will likely never be replicated.

The line up is still largely the core of modern day NiP, featuring GeT_RighT, F0rest, Friberg, Xizt and Fifflaren. That team has amassed one Major win amongst 18 international tournament wins. This coupled with the fact that they reached the last eight in 31 of their 32 tournaments in this time frame cements them as one of Counter-Strike’s best teams ever.

photo by Liquipedia

Their success can be attributed to the clear nature of each of their roles, every player knew what they had to do and executed it with lethal precision for over two years. It seemed as though no team could touch them before Fifflaren’s retirement, which NiP could not recover from, replacing their fifth member consistently over the years until Friberg left in June 2017. Only time will tell if this will help NiP get back to where they once were.

2. LDLC/EnVyUs – September 2014-July 2015

photo by Liquipedia

Shox, KioShiMa, NBK, Happy and SmithZz came together in September 2014 to create a team that worked wonders. They emerged in the shadow of a deflating Fnatic team whose era was coming to a close. They won one Major and six international titles in a run enviable to many teams today.

One of the main reasons for this team’s success was the expressive nature players were allowed. Rather than focusing on a highly tactical game, they focused on allowing players’ decision making and individual skill to find the openings in games.

One of the cruxes of many teams throughout competitive Counters-Strike has been the sacrifice of skill in lieu of an IGL’s tactical ability. This was a notion that this team grabbed by the scruff of the neck and disobeyed, Happy was arguably the team’s best player despite being their IGL, which allowed for the team’s firepower to exceed that of other teams. This run is typified by the run of 17 top four finishes from 19 tournaments, which is to this day unchallenged.

1. SK Gaming – August 2016-Present

This is a team that needs no introduction even to the most casual Counter-Strike fan. SK are the hot topic within professional CS:GO at the moment; there doesn’t seem to be a tournament that goes by that SK don’t make the finals. Since August 2016 they have made seven finals, winning four of them. A recent poor showing in the ESL Pro-League is the only blip on the scorecard for the Brazilians, which has seen them pick up almost $1m in prize money in 10 months.

Coldzera in particular has gained a lot of attention, gaining a majority of tournament MVP’s for 2017 so far. This has lead to claims that he could be one of Counter-Strike’s greatest players ever. With this level of success it’s hard to debate the legitimacy of these claims.

Fallen, Coldzera, Fer, Taco and Felps have all been writing history over the past year and will likely place themselves high in the history books of Counter-Strike. Only time will tell how long this period of success will go on for, but they will have at least secured a dynasty to be fondly remembered.

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Feature image courtesy of Game Skinny

Three takeaways from the HCS Summer League thus far

The third week of the HCS Summer League has ended, and the top three picture is starting to become clearer. These are three observations of the Summer Season before we enter the final week of competition.

 

Semantics Really Matter, Apparently

Fans who had tuned into the second day of Pro League week three play were met with an extended delay early-on. The match countdown timer had ended and instead replaced by a “We’ll be back” graphic. The series was set to feature teams Luminosity Gaming and OpTic Gaming, and likely would have drawn in a larger crowd. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins of Luminosity is a popular streamer on Twitch, and OpTic is the undisputed best team in Halo 5. Fans were eager to see how the new addition to Luminosity, Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes, would perform in his second Pro League outing.

When the casters finally returned, some-30 minutes later, they explained to the audience that Luminosity would be forfeiting the match. The reason for the forfeit being that Luminosity had only requested a substitute player for one match, not two. The team is using the term “substitute” for RyaNoob, as he has yet to officially sign with Luminosity.

Ninja clarified his intentions on Twitter, which seem perfectly logical.

It’s disappointing, but surprising to see a match with the potential to bring in viewers be dealt with in such a way. OpTic probably would have won the series anyways, but that is beside the point. ESL have seen their fair share of criticism from the Halo community. Situations like this certainly do not help.

 

EnVyUs Should Avoid Game 5 Like the Plague

Team EnVyUs could be having a drastically different season right now. Currently at 2-3, EnVy is in a tough spot. They find themselves among two other capable teams in the throes of uncertain Pro League placement. It’s no question that EnVy is a better team than Evil Geniuses or Luminosity. But to an outsider, they may just seem like another average team taking up a middling spot in the top eight.

So just what happened, exactly?

In week one of Pro League play, EnVy squared off against OpTic gaming. EnVy had just embarrassed OG at HCS Atlanta, and was riding high. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, the series looked all but over for OpTic. Except it wasn’t.

OpTic caught fire, and stunned EnVy with three back-to-back wins, taking the series. EnVy had every opportunity to close the series, but couldn’t. The loss put EnVy in a hole early, and set the tone for OpTic to win four more consecutive Pro League series.

EnVy’s face-off against Splyce in week three painted a similar picture, just without the demoralizing reverse-sweep. The series went back-and-forth, with neither team claiming too much momentum. The two squads eventually arrived at game five, where Splyce would narrowly emerge victorious.

If EnVy were able to take each series, they’d be at a comfortable 4-1, and likely tied for the top spot. A placement that provides a much clearer demonstration of their true ability. Although this isn’t the case, there’s no reason why it can’t be. EnVy plays both Ronin Esports and Str8 Rippin next week, who are the 7th and 8th seeded teams. Two wins against these vulnerable squads may elevate EnVy into the top three.

 

The OpTic vs. Splyce Showdown is Going to Be Epic

OpTic Gaming is a team that needs no introduction. They’re the back-to-back World Champs and the most dominant force in Halo 5. The roster monopolizes the “Top 5 Players” discussion, and they belong to one of the biggest orgs in esports.

Bubu dubu of Splyce. Image by FantasyHCS.

 

Splyce, on the other hand, is a different story. After having their Pro League spot essentially stolen, Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller and crew made a grueling trek through the amateur Halo scene, wiping the floor with nearly every AM team as they went. Splyce went on to place top six at the Halo World Championship and secured their place in the big leagues.

Splyce only got better with the acquisition of power slayer Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, who helped them secure a top four finish at HCS Daytona. Since qualifying for the Summer Pro League, they have all but demolished the competition. Both a hyper-aggressive playstyle and slaying prowess have carried Splyce to five straight victories in the Pro League.

When these two teams meet up next week, it will surely be the most exciting Pro League series thus far. While it’s nearly impossible to predict an outcome for the series, Halo fans can be assured that it will be far from boring.

 

Featured Image by TeamBeyond.net

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Week 3: Day 1 HCS Pro League Predictions

Next Wednesday, Week 3 of the HCS Pro League Summer Season kicks off. After a short Week 2, and additional break period, the best Halo teams in the world will continue to battle for first place. This week features several new matchups, and Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan’s debut on Ronin Esports.

The outcomes of Week 3 may have larger ramifications than just a number added to a Win/Loss record. With the roster transfer period now open, teams in the lower half of the top 8 may use this week to determine necessary roster changes. This article will provide insight into each Day 1 matchup of Pro League Week 3, and predict the outcomes of each match.

 

Ronin Esports vs. Luminosity Gaming

RE: Tyler “Spartan” Ganza, Cory “Str8 Sick” Sloss, Ayden “Suspector” Hill, Visal “eL TowN” Mohanan

LG: Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, Cameron “Victory X” Thorlakson, Joe “TriPPeY” Taylor, Tommy “Saiyan” Wilson

After a slow start to the season, Luminosity Gaming showed some muscle in their week 2 matchup against Team Liquid. Luminosity were convincingly defeated in game 1, but rallied back with three straight wins, handing Liquid their second loss of the season. Leading the pack was Saiyan, who posted an impressive 1.39 K/D with 61% accuracy. LG were able to rally behind Saiyan’s slaying power to secure a much-needed victory.

eL TowN of Ronin Esports. Image by Halo Esports wikis.

Week 3 is make-or-break for Luminosity. A win against an adjusting Ronin Esports roster will boost them to 2-2 and put them in a contending spot for top 4. With a matchup against OpTic Gaming looming, the last thing LG wants is to go completely winless in week 3.

Ronin Esports have also experienced their fair share of troubles this season. A 1-2 start prompted the release of Carlos “Cratos” Ayala, who has now been replaced by eL TowN. Although the team has struggled with slaying, the reunification of HWC 2016 runners-up Suspector and eL TowN may bring more cohesion to the team. In week 3, Ronin Esports will look to rebound from their week 2 steamrolling by OpTic and Splyce, while working out some kinks.

Key Matchup: Despite the league-high 6.50 Stronghold Captures Per Game by Victory X, Luminosity Gaming is 1-3 in Strongholds games. Ronin, however, is still winless in Strongholds matchups. Look for Luminosity Gaming to capitalize on Victory’s objective prowess to secure a win on the gametype.

Prediction: Luminosity Gaming 3 – 1 Ronin Esports

 

Splyce vs. Str8 Rippin

SPY: Jesse “bubu dubu” Moeller, Jonathan “Renegade” Willette, Anthony “Shotzzy” Cuevas-Castro, Ryan “Shooter” Sondhi

Str8: Richie “Heinz” Heinz, Aaron “Ace” Elam, Bradley “aPG” Laws, Dan “Danoxide” Terlizzi

Splyce has been firing on all cylinders this season. They currently sit 3-0, and are tied for first place with OpTic Gaming. They are decimating the competition, and it is especially evident in their stats. Shotzzy, Renegade, and bubu dubu are all in the top 5 for Pro League K/D, and Shooter has the fourth-highest KDA in the league. The team also has players in the top 5 for Flag Captures, Flag Defends, and Stronghold Captures.

The slaying powerhouse is currently undefeated in both Slayer and Capture the Flag gametypes, but has a 2-2 record for Strongholds matches. This week, Splyce will look to tighten up their objective strategy, and come out unscathed against a winless Str8 Rippin squad.

On the opposite end of the spectrum sits Str8 Rippin. The team is desperately seeking their first Pro League victory, and will have to claim that victory from one of the hardest-slaying rosters in the league. This bodes poorly for Str8 and veteran aPG, who has the second-highest Deaths Per Game at 16. It is unlikely that Str8 will win this matchup, which may leave some scratching their heads at what Str8’s next move will be. If a roster change is on the horizon, Str8 will have to catch fire to have any hope of a top 4 finish.

Key Matchup: Splyce has yet to lose a Slayer game, and Str8 hasn’t won a single Slayer game. Str8 must go all-out in an attempt to catch Splyce off-guard in slayers, or this series is as good as over.

Prediction: Splyce 3 – 0 Str8 Rippin

 

EnVyUs vs. Team Liquid

nV: Eric “Snip3down” Wrona, Justin “Pistola” Deese, Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, Cuyler “Huke” Garland

TL: Kevin “Eco” Smith, Timothy “Rayne” Tinkler, Braedon “StelluR” Boettcher, Zane “SubZero” Hearon

Pistola of Team EnVyUs. Image by FantasyHCS

Despite a close series loss to OpTic Gaming in week 1, EnVy has performed well in the Pro League. The HCS Daytona Champions currently hold a 2-1 record, and will look to fight their way toward the top 2 this week. In their way stands Team Liquid, looking to rebound from a loss to Luminosity in week 2. These teams are no strangers, as they’ve met several times in tournament play. This familiarity, however, plays to the advantage of Team EnVyUs.

In their most recent matchup, Liquid were handed a 4-0 sweep in the Losers Bracket finals at HCS Daytona. To have a chance at defeating EnVy, Liquid must learn to stay alive when it counts. Both Rayne and SubZero are near the top of Deaths Per Game, which may explain Liquid’s winless Capture the Flag streak.

To win this series, Liquid must out-manage EnVy for power weapon control. Any player on EnVy has the potential to go off when handed a power weapon. If left unchecked, EnVy will meticulously pick off opposing players, and snowball their way to a victory.

Key Matchup: Pistola currently leads the league in Flag Captures Per Game at 1.25. He will be facing-off against Rayne, who leads the league in both Flag Returns Per Game, and Flag Defense Per Game. If Liquid can shut down Pistola’s flag attempts, they greatly increase their chance of victory.

Prediction: EnVyUs 3 – 1 Team Liquid

 

OpTic Gaming vs. Evil Geniuses

OG: T.j. “Lethul” Campbell, Matt “Royal2” Fiorante, Paul “SnakeBite” Duarte, Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom

EG: Justin “Roy” Brown, Jason “Lunchbox” Brown, Josbe “Tapping Buttons” Valadez, Michael “Falcated” Garcia

Closing out Day 1 of Pro League Week 3 is a matchup between OpTic Gaming and Evil Geniuses. While OpTic hopes to remain undefeated going into their match with Splyce, EG will try to offset two straight Pro League losses. To achieve this feat the Roybox twins have their work cut out for them. Like Splyce, OpTic leads the league in key statistics. The top three spots for Kills Per Game, and Assists Per Game belong to OpTic, as do top stats for Damage Per Game, K/D, Stronghold Defense, and Flag Captures.

These stats paint a grim picture for the objective-oriented Evil Geniuses squad. Although they are 5-0 in Strongholds gametypes, EG has yet to win a slayer game. Tapping Buttons is the only EG player with a positive K/D, as the rest of the roster falls just short. EG must be able to exchange blows with OpTic in slayer matchups to have any chance at ending the night with a victory.

OpTic, meanwhile, just need to play their game to emerge on top of this series. Slayers SnakeBite and Royal2 are unmatched when it comes to controlling the pace of play. If OG can rely on the duo to relentlessly lead the attack and disorient EG, they will have no difficulty reaching 4-0.

Key Matchup: Falcated has been putting up impressive objective stats in the Pro League thus far. He is in the top 5 for Flag Returns, Flag Captures, Stronghold Captures, and Stronghold Defense. If EG can build their strategy around supporting Falcated, they have a chance at defeating OpTic.

Prediction: OpTic Gaming 3 – 1 Evil Geniuses

What is your most anticipated matchup of week 3? Do you agree with the predictions? Let us know in the comments!

Featured image by ESL 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Garrett! Get in touch with Garrett personally to talk more HCS and see more articles by following him on Twitter @gbSTATUS!

What Splyce is doing for European Call of Duty

It was fitting that at the first ever LAN league for Call of Duty history was made. For the first time ever, a European team won a premier international tournament.

The champions, Splyce, consist of long-time veterans Dylan “MadCat” Daly and Jordan “Jurd” Crowley alongside two young stars in Ben “Bance” Bance and Trei “Zer0” Morris. The core of the team has been knocking on the door for a while. They finished second at the Call of Duty World Championship last year and have had notable matches against the likes of OpTic and Rise Nation. Splyce’s slow but sure rise has done wonders for European Call of Duty, and several factors have contributed to their success.

LIKEABILITY

As aforementioned, the squad contains MadCat and Jurd, who have been at the top of EU CoD for some time. These players have generated many followers over the years – something that has been crucial to Splyce’s popularity.

Their fellow teammates in Bance and Zer0 have added firepower and the ability to make game-changing plays. Players with such ability always draw in fans and with the stable support of such consistent veterans can only help. Bance really took off at the 2016 World Championship and was the catalyst for their losers’ bracket run. His impressive performance led to an influx in popularity.

The combination of both older and newer players makes the team enjoyable for all fans.

Bance was a Tour de Force at last year’s World Championship. [Source: MLG]

Even outside of Call of Duty, Splyce as an organization has a growing following. They field a League of Legends team that made it to the finals of the EU LCS in 2016 as well as pro teams in Halo and Gears of War.

Part of the organization’s popularity comes from the fact that they love a project. For example, picking up a European CoD team as opposed to an American one. They also did this in GoW and LoL, fielding a Mexican line-up and an all Danish LCS roster for some time, respectively.

Having such a popular European team not only makes more casual EU CoD fans want to tune in but also the Americans to see if they can take down the NA giants.

WORLD LEAGUE

Another reason for the growth of European CoD was the introduction of the World League. Back in Black Ops 3, the circuit brought in by Activision allowed fans to watch their favorite game being played on a regular schedule every week.

The various 2K series are a nightmare for fans to watch, even the ones for Europeans. But seeing strong teams such as Millennium, Splyce and Team Infused play in a competitive environment every week steadily increased European viewership. However, Splyce was one of few teams who were able to translate those performances to the international stage. They achieved top placings numerous times, at tournaments like ESWC 2016 and of course the World Championship, further increasing fans’ desire to see them play.

BRINGING IT HOME

If Splyce can continue their run of good results and exciting games it may bring international tournaments back to Europe. One of my most memorable events was Gfinity 3. Being from the UK, it was a pleasure to see the Copperbox Arena being filled with Call of Duty fans, even though I couldn’t attend.

The Copperbox Arena, London back in Call of Duty: Ghosts. [Source: Eurogamer]

It’s nice to see Activision pumping money into the circuit here, however, it would attract many more fans if we could have the international teams flying out to compete. If Splyce and other European teams such as Epsilon and Elevate keep contesting NA teams, there might be more events available over here in Europe.

Perhaps if a European were to win the World Championship, the tournament could be brought over to Europe the following year. It would be refreshing to see a change of location and there are many smaller venues in the UK that could be filled with Call of Duty fans. Only time will tell. Maybe if Splyce makes another run to the finals we could see it happen. At this point, it’s not unlikely.

The next big LAN is MLG Anaheim on June 16th-18th, where it will be interesting to see if Splyce can reach newer heights. With eUnited and OpTic dropping out early in Stage One playoffs, many critics will say that Splyce had it easy. It will be on the Brits to prove them wrong and continue to fly the European flag.


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2017 NALCS Summer Power Rankings

The North American LCS Summer Split is just days away. There were a few roster changes in the offseason but not too many. It seemed like most teams wanted to try to keep a core of the roster to build off of – similar to what we saw from Splyce last split in the EULCS. Most teams don’t want to have to do a full roster overhaul in between spring and summer.

It’ll be interesting to see how the standings begin to unfold as we begin the Summer Split. Will CLG stumble out of the gates like we’ve grown accustomed to? Will TSM bounce back from their MSI performance? Can Cloud9 reclaim the throne? Without further ado here are our 2017 NALCS Summer power rankings:

10. Echo Fox

Photo via Riot Esports

Echo Fox is deciding to shake up their strategy heading into summer with C9’s owner Jack announcing on Twitter that they decided to only scrim their sister team to start out the split, saying this is a “bold strategy” for the young team. While something like this could work on a more talented team like Cloud9 or TSM, Echo Fox hasn’t proven to have the talent to not need to scrim LCS teams. Their quality of practice could potentially dip from this, but it could also allow for more strategy development as well. Echo Fox can develop their own meta and have a some surprise factor facing off teams on stage.

Echo Fox will need to rely heavily on their mid/jungle duo of Henrik “Froggen” Hansen and Matt “Akaadian” Higginbotham once again. Akaadian stormed onto the scene with some great carry performances in his rookie split, but fell off towards the later half once teams began to figure him out. At ADC Yuri “Keith” Jew still garners the starting position for now, but they did add challenger series veteran Brandon “Mash” Phan in the offseason to compete with him. Keith struggled last split and took much of the criticism for Echo Fox doing poorly last split.

9.Team Liquid

To many people’s surprise, Team Liquid stuck it out and brought back the same exact roster from last split, pre-Doublelift. Team Liquid fans can only hope that mid laner Greyson “Goldenglue” Gilmer’s bootcamp to Korea has given him Faker-like ability to finally perform well on the LCS stage. This will most likely be his last chance to prove he belongs in the LCS, so it will be do-or-die for his career.

Jungler Kim “Reignover” Ui-jin struggled in his first split without Huni. The carry jungle meta really wasn’t his style and consequently struggled. With the meta shifting back to tank junglers, we could see an emergence of his former all-star self.

Team Liquid is looking to rely heavily on Cain being added as a strategic coach. They seemed to really like how he did near the end of the split so it will be his chance to prove himself as a coach. Talent wise, Team Liquid isn’t in a bad spot.

8. EnVyus

Photo via Riot Esports

EnVyUs returns with basically the same roster besides subbing out mid laner Noh “Ninja” Geon-woo for upcoming EU mid laner Yasin “Nisqy” Dincer. Nisqy can hopefully be an upgrade over Ninja as he was one of the weaker members of the roster last split. Nisqy comes from EU after helping Fnatic Academy qualify through the Challenger series.

Star jungler Nam “lira” Tae-yoo developed into one of the best junglers in North America and had some phenomenal performances last split.

If Nisqy can gel with the team well, EnVyUs could definitely surprise a lot of people. They also brought on Kim “Violet” Dong Hwan, a former pro starcraft player to coach. While he doesn’t necessarily have a LoL background, it will be interesting to see how he handles the language barrier among the players. Lira and Seraph will need to step up their English if nV will have any chance to compete this split.

 7. Immortals

Immortals swapped junglers in the offseason with CLG in an interesting move due to Joshua “Dardoch” Hartnett’s toxic attitude. Jake “Xmithie” Puchero brings a much supportive style to the jungle. It will be a complete 180 in terms of jungle styles. Dardoch was often hard carrying Immortals in their victories, while also being tasked with doing much of the shot calling. Having a decisive voice on a team is vital in pro play and Immortals will definitely miss it.

Most people will consider this move a downgrade, but it could also work better chemistry wise. It’s no doubt Dardoch is one of the best up and coming players of the NALCS, but team chemistry wise he needs the right players around him. Maybe having a more supportive jungler in Xmithie will allow Immortals laners to shine more.

6.Dignitas

Dignitas was expected to be strong contenders after adding the star top/jungle duo of Lee “Chaser” Sang-hyun and Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho for Spring Split. That was not the case as Dignitas struggled heavily at the start of spring. Their early game wasn’t bad, but they struggled to make plays in the mid to late game. This was most likely due to the language barrier between the imports.

Once new head coach David “Cop” Roberson was introduced to the team during the middle of the split the team begun to find success. During the off season they also added LCS veteran Brandon “Saintvicious” DiMarco to their coaching staff. Some other additions include the addition of support Terry “Big” Chuong and jungler Lee “Shrimp” Byeong-hoon. Big is starting the first week of LCS so we’ll need to see if their mid-late game shot calling has improved. They definitely have the talent to compete, but their macro shot calling has been lacking.

5. Flyquest

Photo via Riot Esports

Flyquest returns a former player of the team in Jason “Wildturtle” Tran at ADC. Stylistically, Wildturtle fits this team perfectly. He’s known to be extremely aggressive often at the sacrifice of his life at times. Mid laner Hai “Hai” Lam often will call for very aggressive calls where every member must commit and Wildturtle can do that just fine.

Flyquest stormed onto the scene last split contending for top 2-3 for the first half of the split before teams began to figure them out. They were fan favorites for playing off meta picks such as Mordekaiser bot, Shaco jungle, and Maokai support. Jungler Galen “Moon” Holgate had a breakout split for Flyquest after being underwhelming on any other team he was on before. The effect of having a strong shot caller in Hai really allowed him to show his true potential in the jungle.

Flyquest looks to build off a decent first split finishing fourth place in the spring.

4. Counter Logic Gaming

CLG upgraded individually in terms of talent with the jungle swap of Dardoch and Xmithie. Dardoch brings a high ceiling with the potential to be one of the best junglers in the world. The knock on him is his poor attitude and team chemistry that he’s shown from his time on Immortals and Team Liquid. It’s a high risk, high reward move for this organization but can pay off huge.

This is the best roster Dardoch will have ever been equipped with. Veteran Zaqueri “Aphromoo” Black is a strong voice and leader on the team that should be able to keep Dardoch in check if things get heated. CLG has experience dealing with high ego players so having a player like Dardoch shouldn’t be anything new. Although if things don’t start off well, one could see things snowballing out of control very quickly. If things mesh well though, CLG could be strong contenders for the NALCS crown in summer.

3. Phoenix1

Phoenix1 returns the same lineup from last split. Led by their Korean carries of Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook and MVP ADC  No “Arrow” Dong-hyeon they were able to place third last split. The disparity between them and the top two was pretty big it seemed as they got swept 3-0 by Cloud9 in the semifinals.

If they want to contend for the title they’ll need to see some consistency in the jungle from Rami “Inori” Charagh. Inori took a few weeks off after having issues with some players on the roster. When Inori returned he did look much improved. Most of his issues seem to stem from him tilting on stage. If he can manage his tilt well, this team can definitely look to contend with the top teams. New support, Shady, also gets his chance at playing an entire split. He was an unknown addition towards the end of last spring and had a decent showing in their third place match against Flyquest.

2. Cloud9

Photo via Riot Esports

Cloud9 was one move away from dethroning TSM last summer in one of the best finals series we’ve seen in awhile. They were huge favorites to win spring in the preseason with TSM’s Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng sitting out. Cloud9 went undefeated for the first half of the split, but once teams began to improve, Cloud9 struggled to adapt. The team was a bit slow to make early game plays and relied heavily on team fighting in the mid game to snowball leads.

Jungler Juan “Contractz” Garcia will look to build off a solid ‘Rookie of the Split’ and become even better this split. He started off really well looking like one of the best junglers. He slowly began to stagnate making some of the rookie mistakes we expected. With a split under his belt, he should know what to expect heading into summer. Cloud9 will also bring back the duo top laners of Impact and Ray. It will be interesting to see if they utilize the same way they did last split, Ray on carries and Impact on tanks. More teams should catch onto this and adjust their pick/bans accordingly.

Under coach of the split, Reaper, Cloud9 will look to contend for the title once again and earn another trip back to Worlds.

1. Team SoloMid

TSM will come in as Summer Split favorites with the return of star ADC Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng. Doublelift won’t be coming in completely cold, as he had the chance to play with Team Liquid near the end of spring. If TSM can begin where they left off when Doublelift was on the roster, they can dominate the LCS once again. They have stated that they want to utilize the six man roster with another ADC. It will be interesting to see who they bring on as a sub.

Domestically, TSM is a dominant team that has shown the ability to not show fear to play at a high level. They struggle to translate this same high level of play to the international stage where they have shown to be scared to pull the trigger on fights. Hopefully with Doublelift returning, he brings another decisive voice in the shot calling that will allow them to make more aggressive plays.

Jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen had a poor showing at MSI. He was simply out classed by every other jungler there aside from maybe Trick. He’ll need to turn things around if TSM wants to continue their reign on North America.


Catch the start of LCS June 2nd!

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Cover Photo by Riot Games

The Evolution of CS:GO’s Metagame

As the years have gone on, the way we play CS:GO has changed drastically. Different changes to guns, along with an ever-changing map pool, has caused teams to adapt. Here are the major turning points within the fluid metagame.

The Hard Lurk

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

The style first brought to fame by the Ninjas in Pyjamas includes having a lurker on one side of the map as the rest of the team pushes the opposite bombsite. Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, with his famous backstabs, won the Ninjas many a Terrorist round. Another key detail is that in the early part of his CS:GO career, GeT_RiGhT had a 50% win rate in 1v2 scenarios, an absolutely bonkers figure that helped the Ninjas soar to 87-0 on LAN.

The success of the Ninjas early on led other teams to adapt this style. Vincent “Happy” Cervoni Schopenhauer’s EnVyUs was one such team. However, Happy was not able to achieve the level of perfection GeT_RiGhT had at playing the lurker role. This caused a lot of scenarios in which his timing was off, leading to lost rounds. No top level teams in the current era of Counter-Strike play with this style, but for the first few years, it was highly effective.

Molotovs

via https://www.HLTV.org

It took a long time before people adapted to the new grenade after CS:GO’s release, but as teams started to realize all the different uses on both sides, the Molotov quickly caught fire. The Molotov is now widely considered to be an extremely important grenade.

In terms of its early adopters, surprisingly the NA scene saw some of the first; Kory “SEMPHIS” Friesen was one specific praiser of the Molotov very early on. North American Counter-Strike is most famous for loading up with aimers and ignoring tactics, but made a big breakthrough with the Molotov. However, the top European teams were the first to get the most out of it. The Molotov has forever changed the metagame on the offensive side, and will most likely be used throughout all of CS:GO unless Valve should decide to weaken its effect.

Force-Buy

via http://www.counterstrikeblog.com

The second round force-buy happens in almost every single professional match you watch in the current state of the game. The Frenchmen, more specifically Titan and LDLC, were the early adopters of this idea. With such little risk, and a high potential reward, the CZ-75 buys effectively broke the CS:GO metagame. Team LDLC and Fnatic, who were most known for these CZ and armor buys in 2014, dominated all other teams. No round was safe when facing against these two star-studded teams. The rise of guns such as the Tec-9, Five Seven, and P250 have filled the void left by the nerfed CZ; in the current era with all of these insanely talented teams, it has become almost uncommon to see a second round won by the team who won the pistol.

Submachine Guns

via https://wesg.starladder.com

On the 31st of March 2015, CS:GO received an update that changed the anti-eco metagame forever. The submachine guns became relevant, and teams such as EnVyUs started abusing the guns right away.

Submachine guns are perfect for anti-eco scenarios, with good damage output, fire rate, movement speed, and accuracy. The SMGs used early on were mostly the Mac-10 and MP9, although, the recent discovery of the UMP-45’s power has led to the metagame breaking yet again. The gun was shown to be so good, teams like SK, would use the UMP on gun rounds. Teams such as Ninjas in Pyjamas pushed for an MP7 revolution in 2015, but this never came to life, due to the high cost of the weapon.

Tactics trump Skill

via http://luminosity.gg

In SK Gaming’s era, we finally saw a team with a tactical system dominate for an extended period of time. SK won two majors, in a weakened era albeit, but back to back majors is no joke. Following the SK Gaming era, and flying past the uncertainty era to what is now referred to as the parity era, the Danish powerhouse who have found a way to dominate, Astralis, also has a proper tactical system. Skill based teams like Fnatic dominated for two years, the tactical teams now have their chance to dominate.


 

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Ones to Watch – CWL Stage 1 Playoffs

The playoffs of Call of Duty’s first ever LAN league are upon us. With only eight teams remaining every matchup has the potential to be a thriller. While some games may be more clear-cut than others, in this article, I’m going to be looking at my players to watch for each match if the underdogs are going to emerge victoriously.

James “Clayster” Eubanks

Call of Duty’s longest standing rivalry goes head to head again in the first match between OpTic and FaZe. It’s a shame this game isn’t deeper in the bracket, making the action that much more intense. While it’s no secret that OpTic Gaming is the world number one right now, Clayster could be the catalyst for a FaZe win.

This FaZe roster has been competing together since Advanced Warfare. [Source: Gfinity]

Although the chances of beating such an incredibly dominant team are slim, if anyone is going to reignite the FaZe of old it has to be their captain. Clayster has won all types of championships ranging from Gold Medals to World Championships. A player like that only stays down for so long. We’ve seen him dust himself off after being dropped from Complexity in favor of now OpTic player Damon “Karma” Barlow, and later being kicked from OpTic themselves. There’s no reason why he can’t do it now.

There is no doubt that FaZe is a talented squad which they have demonstrated in the past; they are just missing that level of coordinated teamwork that OpTic and eUnited have. If Clayster can open up the series well, it could give the rest of the team the confidence they need to win. In OpTic’s YouTube series Vision, Karma stated that FaZe was the easiest matchup they could have gotten. It’s up to Clayster and the rest of FaZe to prove them wrong.

Josiah “Slacked” Berry

The match between Team EnVyUs and Luminosity is somewhat murky. Probably the least predictable of the lot, EnVy looked seemingly stronger in the group stage. However, they played worse opposition in Cloud9 and Mindfreaks. I believe that LG will take this series, but if they are to beat consistent players like Apathy and JKap, then it will be through youngster Slacked.

Slacked showed his potential playing for UNiTE Gaming back in Black Ops 2. Since then he has had a number of top finishes under Most Wanted, Elevate, and Rise Nation.
Since joining the organization Luminosity Gaming, the team has been unable to replicate the results from the previous year. They have flown just under the radar finishing 5th – 6th, 4th and 7th – 8th at the premiere events in Infinite Warfare.

Slacked won two tournaments under Rise Nation [Source: CWL]

However, LG made waves in group stages of the Global Pro League after claiming the second seed and taking a series off of eUnited. Their much-improved Search and Destroy was a reason for their boost in success.

Slacked had the highest KD ratio across all members of his team topping the board in that very game type, whilst competing for the top spot with the likes of Octane and Saints in Hardpoint and Uplink. If that slaying continues into the playoffs, it’s likely they will best rocky reigning World Champions Team EnVyUs.

Jordon “General” General

Since bursting onto the scene in Advanced Warfare, General has been hailed for his deadly Assault Rifle play. If his team Enigma 6 is to overcome giant-killers eUnited, then he will have to be at his best to beat his counterpart Alec “Arcitys” Sanderson.

General created the organization Enigma6. [Source: Dexerto]

Enigma6’s best game type in the group stage was Uplink in which they only lost once to OpTic Gaming. It’s no surprise that General led the fragging in that game type, controlling large portions of the map with his assault rifle.

At CWL Las Vegas, E6 took down OpTic Gaming in the group stage showing that when the pressure is off they can perform. In this quarter-final, they will have to defeat a team of similar caliber with much more on the line if they are to earn that place in the semi-finals.

Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler

NAMELESS proved to be a big threat in the group stages. [Source: CWL]

By now everyone is aware of the shocking feat Evil Geniuses achieved in the group stage. NAMELESS’ KBAR wreaked havoc in the latter half of group blue. However, their opponents, Europe’s final hope, Splyce has seen much more consistent results than their group stage opposition. If Evil Geniuses are to continue the Cinderella story NAMELESS will have to carry his form from the groups over into the playoffs.

Similarly to the other leaders in Clayster and General if NAMELESS can lead the team from the top of the scoreboard it will likely spur the rest of his team on to reach their heights.

An interesting note about EG is that they are a team capable of performing under pressure. This can be seen from how they qualified for the GPL in the first place and from how they bounced back in the group stages.

Splyce will be a formidable opponent with most people pegging them to take the victory. An intriguing stat on the Europeans is that they won 83% of their games despite being out slain in the majority of them. This shows that NAMELESS will need more than just raw skill to take them down, but I’m sure such a storied veteran is up to the task.

 

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Space Soldiers’ Journey to ESL One Cologne

The Space Soldiers squad, hailing from Turkey, qualified for one of Counter-Strike’s most notorious tournaments by defeating Swedish side GODSENT in the closed qualifiers.

Space Soldiers sought redemption after faltering at the European minor, losing out on a spot at the PGL major. Despite that loss, they’ve been on a strong run of form. The team flew out to Lisbon to compete in the 4Gamers CS:GO Masters in which they took first place by defeating a number of Portuguese opposition. A confidence boost, no doubt, for the string of qualifiers that laid ahead.

European Minor

Unfortunately for the Turkish squad, they opened up their Major campaign with a close loss to Tricked and then a dominating defeat at the hands of Team Kinguin. Following those losses would be wins over North Academy and NiP. Although both sides had their flaws, Space Soldiers dictated the play leading to both victories. However, they would fall short to Dignitas in the next round, losing 16-2 on one of their worst maps, Inferno. Had the team not gotten off on the wrong foot, it’s likely we would have seen them pressing on to the main qualifier.

Cologne Qualifier

The ESL One Cologne qualifier was a chance at redemption for Space Soldiers. They easily defeated their first opponents, Bulgaria’s Outlaws, with score lines of 16-3 and 16-7 on Train and Cobblestone, respectively.

Their next series would be against Team EnVyUs, who as we know are a line up with potential thanks to the likes of Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Alexandre “xms” Forté. However, a strong team performance would earn Space Soldiers another 2-0 victory with Buğra “Calyx” Arkın performing in both games.

Engin “MAJ3R” Kupeli led the way in fragging against GODSENT. [Source: Liquipedia]

To secure their place at the infamous ESL One Cologne, Space Soldiers would have to defeat GODSENT, one of the many struggling Swedish teams. GODSENT got off to a bad start in the veto phase by allowing Space Soldiers to get their favorite map, Cobblestone, first. The Turkish were relentless in securing the victory (16-5).

In the second map, Space Soldiers would jump out to a commanding 14-4 lead before GODSENT started to build up an economy on the Counter-Terrorist side. However, in the twenty-fifth round, the Swedes would throw their chance away by losing to a TEC-9 force buy. Space Soldiers would win the map 16-10 and the prized tickets to ESL One Cologne.

It would be hard to pick a standout player for the qualifier. The entire team stepped up when needed, even stand in Engin “ngiN” Ko, however, Engin “MAJ3R” Kupeli led the way in terms of kills and damage across both maps in the final.

The Big Chance

Aside from their attendance at WESG in China, ESL One Cologne will be the first premiere LAN event for the Space Soldiers. The team has risen in popularity due to the incredibly skilled Can “XANTARES” Dörtkardeş and Buğra “Calyx” Arkın. Their journey to the top has been eagerly awaited and I’m sure many will be wanting them to upset the best of the best as they descend on the Lanxess Arena, Cologne in July.


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Global Pro League Stage One Playoffs Breakdown and Predictions

After four weeks of intense competition at the MLG Arena in Columbus, only half of the regular season teams remain. EnVy, Splyce, Evil Geniuses, FaZe, eUnited, Luminosity, OpTic, and Enigma6 will battle next weekend for their share of a $500,000 prize pool. Yesterday MLG held a live bracket draw to fill out the first round matches of the S1 Playoffs.

This is without a doubt the most stacked bracket we have seen in a tournament thus far in Infinite Warfare. While the top half of the bracket seems to be more stacked than the bottom, there are plenty of chances for upsets.

Stage One Playoff Bracket

OpTic v FaZe

At the very top of the bracket, OpTic and FaZe will meet in the first round. This matchup has always been a classic in Call of Duty esports. At both CWL Paris and Dallas this year, OpTic was able to defeat FaZe with relative ease.

While OpTic went 6-0 in their group in the GPL, FaZe struggled after a strong Friday. They would end up finishing 3-3, mounting an incredible comeback against Rise Nation to secure their spot in the S1 Playoffs.

Prediction: OpTic 3-1

OG and FaZe’s GPL stats

EnVy v Luminosity

Moving down the bracket, the next first round match will be between EnVy and Luminosity. EnVy, the reigning CoD World Champions, has yet to rebound to their dominant form last seen in Black Ops 3. They were able to top their group in Week One, going 5-1 overall, however that was against a shaky Cloud9 and Mindfreak.

Luminosity is another team that many are touting as having not reached their true potential. During their week at the GPL, Luminosity showed their improvement in SnD, a game mode that has haunted them throughout IW. Most notably they were able to defeat eUnited in their last match of the group to clench their Playoff birth.

Prediction: Luminosity 3-2

LG and EnVy’s GPL stats

eUnited v Enigma6

On the other side of the bracket we have eUnited going up against Enigma6. This matchup appears to be the most lopsided game of all the first round matchups.

After an impressive win at CWL Atlanta and a hard fought second place finish at CWL Dallas, both against OpTic, eUnited has become regarded as the second best team in the world. eUnited went 5-1 in their group, only losing 3-2 against Luminosity in their last match.

Enigma6 made waves early in IW at CWL Vegas, but have yet to repeat that success. During their week at the GPL, they went 4-2 overall in series. Both losses came from OpTic, 3-1 and 3-0.

Prediction: eUnited 3-0

eUnited and E6’s GPL stats

Evil Geniuses v Splyce

The last first round matchup will be between Evil Geniuses and the only European team to make it to S1 Playoffs, Splyce. 

EG caused a huge upset during their week at the GPL, finishing in first after a 0-2 start to the weekend.

Splyce would finish second in their group, losing the first place seed to EnVy by one map win. While some may still doubt Europe’s chances against the top-tier NA teams, Splyce have proven they’re no pushovers.

Prediction: Splyce 3-1

EG and Splyce’s GPL stats


Jack Waters is an avid Call of Duty Esports fan and wants to hear from YOU! Comment below. 

Images: MLG.tv

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Team EnVyUs claims victory at HCS Daytona after a thrilling Grand Finals

A Rivalry for the Ages

It’s been explicitly stated time and time again: EnVyUs is made to take down OpTic Gaming. But after failing to replicate the success they had at the HCS Fall 2016 Finals, many wondered if OpTic had become unbeatable. Following an embarrassing performance in the Grand Finals at the Halo World Championship, Team EnVyUs sought to regroup for HCS Daytona. The focus for this event: Beat OpTic Gaming, and demolish anyone else who dared to step in their way.

Of the three times the two teams met last weekend, Envy conquered OpTic twice, both times when it mattered most.

Image by HaloWaypoint

The first clash between OpTic and Envy occurred in the Winner’s Bracket Finals. Despite a close series against Team Liquid, the Green Wall appeared dominant. EnVyUs had just closed out a reverse-sweep against Ryan “RyaNoob” Gettes’ white-hot Oxygen Supremacy squad.

As fate would have it, the World Champions and HWC Runners-up crossed paths once more. This time, with a spot in the Grand Finals on the line.

The series did not go as expected for EnVyUs, as OpTic rallied to a 4-2 series victory. Although guaranteed a top 3 finish, EnVy was not satisfied. While OpTic waited comfortably in the Grand Finals, Envy met Team Liquid in the Loser’s Bracket Finals. EnVy’s resiliency prevailed, as they dominated Liquid with a 4-0 sweep. The win catapulted Envy into the Grand Finals, granting a second chance at taking down OpTic Gaming.

 

A Grueling Grand Finals

The first series of the Grand Finals started off strongly in EnvVy’s favor, putting up dominant performances on Empire Strongholds and Truth CTF to take a 3-0 lead. The threat of a bracket reset must have created a sense of urgency with OpTic gaming, as they retaliated with three straight wins to tie the series.

In Game 7, Regret Slayer, the teams exchanged blows for most of the game. Through superior map control, EnVy was able to create some distance late in the game. After trapping OpTic in their base, Envy edged out a win 50-47, and forced a bracket reset.

Image by TeamBeyond.net

The second series of the Grand Finals began much like the first, with Team EnVyUs jumping out to a 3-1 lead. Facing their first tournament loss since the Fall 2016 Pro League finals, OpTic stormed back with consecutive wins on Plaza Slayer and Rig Strongholds. With the series tied 3-3, a deciding game 7 would determine which team takes home a majority of the $75,000 prize, and the title of best Halo team.

The early stage of Game 7 Truth Slayer favored OpTic, as they established map control to lead by a few kills. With the help of Justin “Pistola” Deese and Cuyler “Huke” Garland, EnVyUs reclaimed control of the game through the midway point.

OpTic gaming was not finished, however, and took the lead through 35 kills with the help of some sneaky support plays by Bradley “Frosty” Bergstrom. As a response, EnVy slowed down the pace of the game, closing the kill gap into the final moments of play. Following an epic triple kill by Austin “Mikwen” McCleary, EnVyUs again took the lead. Mikwen’s triple allowed Eric “Snip3down” Wrona to grab the Active Camo, who then closed the game with a triple of his own, winning the tournament.

Conclusion

Both teams put on a thrilling show throughout the grueling 14-game Grand Finals. In the end, the will of Team EnVyUs to win proved strongest, as they defeated OpTic Gaming. While the victory may not be total redemption for the Halo World Championship, it serves as a reminder that OpTic Gaming is human after all. Although incredibly dominant, the Green Wall is not free from some cracks in their foundation. At HCS Daytona, Team EnVyUs exposed these faults and had the skill to capitalize.

Will EnVyUs hold on to the crown? Let us know in the comments!


Featured image by HaloWaypoint

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