DreamLeague

DreamLeague 8: The competition

The second Major of the competitive season is upon us. Since the last major, the point totals have seen some shuffling, and the game itself has been patched. While Virtus.Pro has been sitting pretty at the top, the 1500 points that are on the line could change that quickly. Of course if Virtus.Pro wins DreamLeague as well, they will further cement their spot in TI8. They’re not the only ones with their eye on the prize though, so let’s take a look at their competition.

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

 

 

 

Liquid has shown no signs of slowing down after a dominant start to the season. Currently they are the only team to have won more than one tournament this season. Liquid continue to prove that they are a team to be reckoned with, and I doubt anyone would be surprised if they were the team to take the lead in the rankings after DreamLeague.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One, Dreamleague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

 

 

Newbee is fresh off the heels of a victory at the Perfect World Masters tournament. It is clear they are not going to let their TI runner-up stigma effect their performance moving forward. Though soul-crushing at the time, they have bounced back well. During the Chinese Qualifiers for DreamLeague, they only dropped a single game. Newbee is clearly the pinnacle of Chinese DotA right now, and we can expect good games from them at DreamLeague.

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Team Secret is looking for redemption after falling just short of first place at the last Major. Fortunately for them, their second place finish at ESL One also puts them at second place on the current rankings leaderboard. Their chances at the Perfect World Masters Tournament was hamstrung by a personal emergency that left them without MidOne, but the gang is back together now and ready to give it their all.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

 

It has not been the best year for Evil Geniuses so far. As it stands, the team has only managed to secure a single third place victory this season. That being said, they pulled it together for the DreamLeague NA Qualifiers, and only dropped a single game. This could be a sign that they are trying something new, or getting more familiar with the patch. The team will definitely have to step up their game if they hope to perform on the main stage. So far though, their chances do not look the greatest.

Fnatic

ESL One, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

 

 

Fnatic is the first team on the list without a single Qualifying Point to their name. Though their 7-8th place finishes at ESL One and Dota PIT earned them some prize money, that money will not help them secure a spot at TI. That being said, Fnatic have been looking better and better over just the last two weeks. They achieved first place in both the DotA Summit SEA Qualifiers and the DreamLeague SEA Qualifiers. I don’t know what possibly could have happened to warrant this 180 turn, but Fnatic may just be a real contender in this tournament if they can hold on to this momentum.

Infamous

PGL Open, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Alonso “Kotaro Hayama” León

Position 2 – Mariano “Papita” Caneda

Position 3 – Steven “StingeR” Vargas

Position 4 – Elvis “Scofield” De la Cruz Peña

Position 5 – Christian “Accel” Cruz

 

 

 

Not much has been heard from Infamous since their disappointing finish at PGL Open Bucharest. They succeeded in taking first place at the World Cyber Arena tournament in South America last month, but since then they have only been playing in qualifiers. This tells me that my previous evaluation of them may have been true. In the confines of the small South American scene, Infamous are kings on the playground. Unfortunately this does not translate well to success on the world stage. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a team from an underrepresented DotA scene succeed. Everyone can remember how hype Ad Finem’s run through the Boston Major was last year right? It makes me sad to say that I’m unsure if Infamous is the team to bring that hype back given their poor performance recently.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

 

 

The champions of the last Major are back to prove they can do it again. However, their DreamLeague qualifier performance does not exactly inspire the utmost confidence from their fans. They were only one loss away from being tied with OG at 7-7 and forcing a tie breaker. At the same time they recently crushed the DotA Summit CIS Qualifier by beating Na’Vi 3-1 when Na’Vi is looking strong. I have no doubt Virtus.Pro will make the top 4 at DreamLeague, but they need to bring their A game if they hope to win another Major.

Na’Vi

Na'Vi, i-League, DreamLeague

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Vladislav “Crystallize” Krystanek

Position 2 – Danil “Dendi” Ishutin

Position 3 – Victor “GeneRaL” Nigrini

Position 4 – Vladimir “RodjER” Nikogosyan

Position 5 – Akbar “SoNNeikO” Butaev

 

 

I could gush about Na’Vi’s return to relevance in the DotA 2 scene for hours. This team has had a rough few years, but things finally seem to be turning around. Fellow Game Haus writer Eli Sherman already wrote a great article on the topic, which echoes many of my sentiments as well. You can find that article here.

DreamLeague Season 8 will take place in Jönköping, Sweeden from Dec 1st – Dec 3rd.


Featured image courtesy of dreamleague.dreamhack.com

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immortals

Achieving immortality: a look back on the Immortals saga

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

Are you sure you want to quit?

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

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

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

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

Progress and perfection

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

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

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

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

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

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

On the spot

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

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

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

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

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ESL One

ESL One Hamburg: the competition

After Star Ladder and PGL Open Bucharest reintroduced competitive DotA in October, it’s finally time for the first Major of the year.  Unlike Minors which only award a total of 300 Qualifying Points, DotA 2 Majors quintuple that number.  The winning team of ESL One will earn more Qualifying Points than the total point pools of both previous Minors combined.  This will be enough to earn them a comfortable lead until the next Major drops in early December.  But this is a conversation for the future.  For now, let us take a look at the teams that will be competing in the highest stakes tournament of the year so far.

INVITED TEAMS

Team Liquid

Dota 2 Power Rankings Team Liquid, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Lasse “MATUMBAMAN” Urpalainen

Position 2 – Amer “Miracle-” Al-Barqawi

Position 3 – Ivan “MinD-ContRoL” Ivanov

Position 4 – Maroun “GH” Merhej

Position 5 – Kuro “KuroKy” Salehi Takhasomi

Liquid comes into ESL One on the heels of a victory at Star Ladder. Mineski proved themselves a capable team at the tournament, but not capable enough to triumph over the champions. As it turns out, Liquid hasn’t lost their touch in this patch despite taking a break after TI7. After all, they dropped only a single game in the entire tournament. At this point, Liquid seem to be the indisputable kings of the patch, but teams still have one last chance to change that. Regardless, Liquid are doubtless the favorites to win this tournament, and they seem poised and ready to do so.

Newbee

Dota 2 Power rankings Newbee, i-league, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Xu “Moogy” Han

Position 2 – Song “Sccc” Chun

Position 3 – Damien “kpii” Chok

Position 4 – Hu “Kaka” Liangzhi

Position 5 – Zheng “Faith” Hongda

Newbee had a rough tournament at Star Ladder after being knocked out in the group stage by CompLexity and Secret. Though the team is comprised of great talent, Newbee seems to have lost their edge since TI7. Their second place finish there is doubtless what earned them their invite to ESL One, but after their showing at Star Ladder they are the team with the most to prove.

QUALIFIED TEAMS

Team Secret

secret, dota 2, international, i-League, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Marcus “Ace” Hoelgaard

Position 2 – Yeik “MidOne” Nai Zheng

Position 3 – Adrian “Fata” Trinks

Position 4 – Yazied “YapzOr” Jaradat

Position 5 – Clement “Puppey” Ivanov

Though Secret managed third place at Star Ladder, they were eliminated in the group stage of PGL Open Bucharest. Their losses in the latter were to The Immortals and Infamous, South Korean and South American teams respectively.  Perhaps one can contribute their losses there to unfamiliarity with those two region’s playstyles. Regardless, they’re going to have to adapt if they hope to earn the lion’s share of the Qualifying Points from ESL One.

Evil Geniuses

PGL Open, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Artour “Arteezy” Babaev

Position 2 – Sumail “Suma1l” Hassan

Position 3 – Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Aurora

Position 4 – Andreas “Cr1t-” Nielsen

Position 5 – Clinton “Fear” Loomis

Evil Genius showed us a mixed performance at PGL Open Bucharest. They made it to the playoffs, but proceeded to lose to LGD Gaming without taking a single game. More importantly though, EG showed us that they’re not willing to take some risks in the draft to earn a win. In their final game with VGJ.Thunder, an unorthodox offlane Bane pick coupled with a Drow Ranger strategy enabled them to dominate the laning stage.  Once the snowball started down the hill there was no stopping it. VGJ found themselves defeated after just over 20 minutes.

While EG finds wins with these “cute” strategies, they will need consistency to survive in this single elimination tournament.

Fnatic

ESL One

Roster:

Position 1 – Jacky “EternaLEnVy” Mao

Position 2 – Steve “Xcalibur” Ye

Position 3 – Khoo “Ohaiyo” Chong Xin

Position 4 – Djardel “DJ” Mampusti

Position 5 – Johan “pieliedie” Åström

Fnatic is a very different team than they were a few months ago. The departure of Mushi in February of this year lead to a volatile time for the team. After a series of additions and departures, this new roster sees EternaLEnVy taking the Captain’s help from DJ. Depending on how this succession of power occurred, this could be either a good thing or a bad thing for the team cohesion.

Say what you want about Jacky Mao, but he is an experienced player who knows his way around a game of DotA. His aggressive style could be the edge his team needs at ESL One. It could also lead to ill-advised team fights that turn into team wipes.

Keen Gaming

ESL One

Roster:

Position 1 – Jin “zhizhizhi” Zhiyi

Position 2 – Zhai “” Jingkai

Position 3 – Song “dark” Runxi

Position 4 – Jiang “佞臣” An

Position 5 – Chen “Rong” Jingwu

Keen Gaming may seem like an unknown brand, but they are originally an offshoot of the EHOME brand. This isn’t to say that the EHOME.Keen brand was especially popular or successful though. Nevertheless in September of this year the current roster of EHOME.Keen chose to part ways with the organization.

The truth is that some of the players on this team have been playing DotA 2 professionally for less than a year. Most would use that as an excuse to call their talent into question. One has to remember that they earned their spot in this major through the Chinese qualifiers. Now they just have to prove themselves on the world stage.

Virtus.Pro

Virtus Pro VP The Kiev Major, ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Roman “RAMZES666” Kuchnarev

Position 2 – Vladimir “No[o]ne” Minenko

Position 3 – Pavel “9pasha” Khvastunov

Position 4 – Ilya “Lil” Ilyuk

Position 5 – Alexei “Solo” Berezin

Virtus.pro made a surprising announcement that they would not be changing their roster after TI7. Don’t get me wrong, their team is talented, but teams that have actually won major tournaments have dropped players in the past. Their decision to maintain the same roster shows their confidence, and to be fair they had a great showing at TI7.

The key to Virtus.Pros victory at ESL One is going to be young RAMZES. Not since SumaiL have we seen such a mix of youth and execution. While he can be overly optimistic in team fights, he has a tendency to get just the right kills to turn the tide.  He is definitely one to look out for in this tournament.

SG e-sports

ESL One

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 – Guilherme “FuckinEh” Costábile

Position 2 – Adriano “4dr” Machado

Position 3 – Rodrigo “Liposa” Santos

Position 4 – Thiago “Thiolicor” Cordeiro

Position 5 – Lucas “Bardo” Bardosa

SG e-sports managed to defeat Vici Gaming 2-0 at Star Ladder before being swept by both Mineski and Liquid. It’s hard to fault SG for those losses though, since Liquid and Mineski look like the two strongest teams so far this season.  While their win’s against Vici were far from one sided, they showed solid teamwork throughout the series.  It seems like they can compete with some of the big players in the scene. Hopefully they’ve been studying their defeats leading up to the biggest tournament of the season so far.

ESL One Hamburg will run from Oct 26th – Oct 29th.


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 Ben!

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Storylines to watch at DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017

At last year’s DreamHack Masters Malmö, Swedish fans were gifted the title they had longed for. A special performance from the Ninjas in Pyjamas caused a stir in the vibrant Malmö Arena. This time around it looks to be another spectacle, thanks to the roster-mania that took place in the player break. With the tournament kicking off tomorrow, this article will discuss some of the storylines on everyone’s minds heading into DreamHack Masters Malmö.

The high profile transfers

During the off season, FaZe Clan made two huge signings in Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson. Meanwhile, overseas Cloud9 were making waves of their own pinching Will “RUSH” Wierzba and Tarik “Tarik” Celik from OpTic Gaming. The two widely supported organizations have a lot of fans brimming with excitement heading into their first big test.

Olofmeister will don a FaZe jersey for the first time this week. [Source: HLTV]

There has been much deliberation on how FaZe Clan is going to bring this superstar team together. I believe that initially, they’ll struggle more than Cloud9. It is presumed that Håvard “rain” Nygaard will be taking on the support role. That leaves Nikola “NiKo” Kovač, Olofmeister and GuardiaN. This is where the Red Militia will struggle most. Allocating resources to all three of these players will be hard, I anticipate that NiKo will play similarly to Rain in order to give Olofmeister the space he needs to settle into the new style of calling.

Another question mark is how Finn “karrigan” Andersen will make use of GuardiaN. The Dane hasn’t played with an out and out AWPer for some time, since Aleksi “allu” Jalli was a more passive AWP, while he could leave Nicolai “device” Reedtz to his own devices before that.

Cloud9 should have an easier time making adjustments. They’ve essentially swapped firepower for more firepower. Rush is going to be the biggest difference maker. With him entry-fragging it allows Jake “Stewie2K” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta to go in second and third, rather than first. This is better for C9 since the aforementioned duo can easily win lost rounds if they are left last alive.

Rush and Tarik won ELEAGUE Season 2 together. [Source: OpTic Gaming]

In spite of that, FaZe has a stronger case for getting out of groups. They are in group C with Gambit and mousesports who’ve also made changes and the ever inconsistent Ninjas in Pyjamas. Meanwhile, NA’s hope is in group A with the unchanged SK Gaming, Valde’s North and unknown entity B.O.O.T-d[S] of Singapore. The game paramount to Cloud9’s chance will be the one versus North. If they win that they should get out of groups.

How will the major finalists fare?

Even with the PGL Major still fresh in our minds the two rosters that made the final seem far removed from what they were then. Gambit lost their prestigious leader while Immortals is reportedly suffering from internal conflict. It seems both rosters are aware their major run was a fluke.

Zeus left his major winning team to return to Na’Vi. [Source: Gfinity]

Replacing Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko on Gambit is Kazakhstani Bektiyar “Fitch” Bahytov. The player’s only notable appearance was at the Major qualifier with Tengri where they lost with an abysmal 0-3 record. It will be hard to match the presence Zeus brought to the team and with the Gambit coach also leaving for Natus Vincere it’s unlikely he’ll be able to rally the troops this early on. It seems the head of the snake has been cut off with this one.

The Brazilians on Immortals have actually kept the same squad but their reported internal struggles alongside a difficult group might result in an early exit. They are placed in a group with G2 Esports, EnVyUs and Fnatic. G2 have the potential to come alive at any time while EnVy is enjoying a hot streak, winning qualifier after qualifier. Here in Malmö, I believe there’s a huge chance they qualify for their first major playoffs in some time. Unfortunately, this will leave Immortals watching from the stands.

The other big swaps

Following on from the previous storyline, Zeus left Gambit to reunite with Natus Vincere. In one of my previous articles, I discussed in depth how I believe his return will ignite Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev. DreamHack Masters will be the first chance we get to see this in action on LAN and hopefully, it lives up to the hype.

Valde stood in with the North bunch at the ECS Season 2 finals. [Source: Cybersport]

Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså replacing Emil “Magisk” Reif on North was also a huge talking point. The former is regarded as one of the hottest topics in Counter-Strike. Fellow Dane Casper “cadiaN” Møller recently likened Valde to Stewie2k citing his perfect timing and using enemy grenades against them as hallmarks of his play. Maybe he can be the consistent star Magisk never could?

The final change to discuss is Fnatic bringing on Jonas “Lekr0” Olofsson and Maikil “Golden” Selim. This move has already been reviewed by fellow Haus mate Joe Sitavanc. However, to sum up his thoughts it’s probably going to take some time before these Swedes make it back to the top.

Could the Ninjas hold the crown?

I’m sure most fans are expecting a win out of either SK Gaming or Astralis but is it possible NiP defends their title? The last time we saw this team out on LAN they won DreamHack Valencia. Admittedly, that tournament didn’t have anywhere near the caliber of teams Malmö has but it has to be a confidence boost if nothing else.

Their recent Pro League results have been lackluster but we all know how unreliable they are. I hope the Ninjas come into the tournament fully prepared and give the home crowd something to cheer about. The new coaching rule from DreamHack should benefit them massively. With Björn “THREAT” Pers being able to have more input again it should relieve some pressure off of Richard “Xizt” Landström who still has fragging potential in his own right.

NiP have become synonymous with being inconsistent from tournament to tournament. So who knows, maybe this could be one of their hot weeks. To get you in the mood for tomorrow’s action watch this video of the Malmö Arena.

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of DreamHack. Huge credit to the Ninjas in Pyjamas YouTube for the footage.

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Could have been graffiti plays from past majors

It’s an odd time for Counter-Strike fans at the moment. With the top teams agreeing to take a month off after the major there’s little professional CS to be watched. A rarity considering the esports’ usually hectic schedule. This makes it the perfect time to reminisce over some of the best major moments we’ve had. Some of the fondest will be Coldzera silencing the crowd with his jumping AWP or Olofmeister’s burning defuse, both of which have been commemorated by in-game graffiti. This article will pick out some of the best major plays that could have made their mark with graffiti.

Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski sneaky beaky like – EMS One Katowice 2014

Probably the most memorable play from Katowice 2014, Snax’s triple kill almost guaranteed Virtus Pro the first map of the final. The play not only demonstrated impeccable decision making but also nerves of steel. Snax kept his cool in the grand final in front of a packed home crowd at CSGO’s biggest event in history at the time. If anyone ever asks how to describe him as a player just show them this.

For the design of the graffiti, I would take inspiration from Stuart “TosspoT” Saw who was casting at the time. I like the idea of the repeated use of “he waited, he waited, he waited” or a picture of a CT walking around in a “Snax wonderland”.

Josh “jdm64” Marzano’s 1v5 clutch – ELEAGUE Major 2017

This clip has all the makings of a perfect AWP highlight, flashy flicks and wall bangs. Partly allowed due to a Team EnVyUs blunder, there were calls for this play to receive a commemorative graffiti from pros such as SK’s Fallen. Had Liquid gone on to win the game in overtime or the feat occurred in the playoffs it’s likely that JDM would have left his mark on Cache.

As everyone would agree, the best way to honor the play would be with JDM’s signature playing position, better known as lounging.

Adam “friberg” Friberg’s ace – ESL One Cologne 2014

The King of Banana hit Fnatic hard when he single handily destroyed his rival’s three man stack. Not only is the clip a display of marksmanship but the context of the play was important in NiP’s only major win. Fnatic had a great start on the favored side of Inferno with NiP not looking too hot. Friberg took matters into his own hands earning the Ninjas’ second terrorist round, which seemed to be the catalyst for the rest of the half.

The newest iteration of Inferno has included a small testament to Friberg by including a sign which reads “Via Adamo”. In Italian, via means road and Adamo translates to Adam meaning that the sign reads Road Adam.

Håvard “rain” Nygaard’s 1v5 clutch – Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca 2015

This clutch says everything about Rain and his monstrous aim. The play is even more memorable because at the time G2 was the first international super team with many skeptical whether the team could make it to the top. The roster proved doubters wrong by reaching the semi-finals of Cluj-Napoca only losing to eventual champions Team EnVyUs in three maps. G2 even had the chance to sweep the series 2-0 but lost on Inferno in overtime. Had the team made the final it’s likely they would have won the tournament which would have made the play even more deserving of a memorial.

An idea for the Rain graffiti could have been something to do with raining terror down on the B bomb site or a white flag with Rain on it considering the play was against the French.

Abay “HObbit” Khasenov’s quad kill 1v3 clutch – PGL Major Krakow 2017

While Krakow did gift us with a graffiti for Dosia’s grenade into pit, there is certainly an argument that Hobbit’s clutch should have received the honor instead. While the grenade was huge in context because of the way it damaged Immortals’ economy forcing them to re-buy after a single round win, Hobbit’s play also had its own merits.

The Brazilians won the second half pistol bringing the map back into close contention. Gambit looked as if they were about to lose another round before Hobbit opened up his backpack. Similarly to Friberg’s ace, this opened up the floodgates for more terrorist rounds with the play filling his team with confidence.

At the time people started nicknaming the drain area as the “Hobbit hole” which would make for an appealing graffiti.

Unfortunately, Photoshop isn’t my forte so I can’t bring any of these ideas to life. So I’ll leave that part to your imaginations.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Thanks to The Demo Vault, HLTV and the other respective uploaders for the clips. Feature image courtesy of gamesync.us

 

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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ECS the Proving Ground

The playoffs of FACEIT’s Esports Championship Series kicks off today. The tournament returns to Wembley Arena for its third season. There are eight teams in attendance, with the entire top four on show, three of them being in group A. This one has all the makings to be a tournament never to be forgotten as a number of storylines look to develop over the coming weekend. Here is a look at just a few of them.

SK needs to cement their number one spot

SK Gaming’s most recent win was at Dreamhack Summer against Fnatic. [Source: Dreamhack]

Although SK is currently ranked as the number one team and has won three out of their last four big tournaments, there are still many reservations to be had. The Brazilians took the spot from major champions Astralis despite not playing them in a best of three series on LAN this year. It’s a series that has been eagerly awaited and hopefully, ECS can oblige.

SK has had an easier ride than most after beating Gambit to win cs_summit and Fnatic, who was outside the top ten before the tournament, to win DreamHack Summer. Their only notable win was against FaZe at IEM Sydney, but have since lost to G2, so it is unknown how they will fare against that caliber of team this time. Their map pool has taken a hit with some of their best maps like Mirage and Overpass becoming some of their worst statistically.

However, map pool can mean very little if Marcelo “coldzera” David and/or Fernando “fer” Alvarenga shows up in form. The two have been running rampant when SK pick up victories, with Coldzera looking like the best player in the world again.

ECS will be the proving ground for Coldzera and company to prove that their victories weren’t a result of playing poorer opposition.

G2 could reach their monumental peak

G2 Esports have been on an upward trend for some time. They took a momentum boost after winning DreamHack Tours on home soil and used that to better their performance at the ESL Pro League Finals.

Kenny “kennyS” Schrub picked up another MVP award in Dallas boasting an ADR of eighty and overall rating of 1.20. It was an absolute pleasure to see the Frenchman in Titan form. However, the work could not be done without the immense fragging G2’s support players have been doing. Both Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro and Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt have surprised fans by topping the board in a number of games.

If the trend is to continue how it should, G2 looks poised to take one of the most talent-packed tournaments of the year and net the lion’s share of the $660,000 on offer.

Astralis and FaZe’s chance to regain dominance

The former one-two punch can regain that title if they play against each other in another final. Astralis should have an easier time getting there since they have by far an easier group. Meanwhile, FaZe will have to take down either G2 or SK to reach the playoffs.

Astralis held the number one spot for a number of months. [Source: astralis.gg]

Their last LAN appearances, barring Clash for Cash, was IEM Sydney in which FaZe defeated Astralis in a closely fought semi-final. This might be one of the issues with the two heading into ECS, in that SK and G2 are in LAN form. Although skipping tournaments might be seen as a positive in order to prepare strategically, it could be argued that it might be hard for FaZe or Astralis to match the two in raw firepower. Particularly the former, whose game relies almost entirely on that aspect.

The only way to find out is to wait and see whether 2017 is heading in a new direction or if the old kings will return to reclaim their throne.

Finally, there’s Fnatic, oh and NA

At ECS, Fnatic will be out to prove that their DreamHack Summer finish wasn’t a one-off performance. The team looked revitalized with Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson playing close to his older self, while Jesper “JW” Wecksell was also a sharpshooter.

One of the problems with the Fnatic roster is that they are still unsettled on letting JW full-time AWP with both olofmeister and even Robin “flusha” Rönnquist picking it up at times during DreamHack.

There are also three NA teams in attendance with Cloud9, Liquid and OpTic making the trip to London. However, it is unlikely any of these teams will make the playoffs due not only to their issues but the sheer weight of their opposition.

OpTic have had to turn to coach Hazed for a second time. [Source: ESL]

OpTic is the least likely as they look to coach James “hazed” Cobb to stand in for the second time whilst also being stuck in a deathly group with SK, G2 and FaZe.

There is potential for Cloud9 or Liquid to make the playoffs by beating out Fnatic in group B. The latter seems more likely with Josh “jdm64” Marzano reaching a good level in Dallas, paired with the growth of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken. On the flip-side, Cloud9 continue to make the same mistakes from tournament to tournament, so some serious work must’ve been put in to fix their problems. ECS, however, will be the place to air those changes if they have been made.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of destinationwembley.com

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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A New Scope – The AWP Nerf Years On

Over two years ago, Valve released one of the most memorable updates for seasoned players, the AWP nerf. The patch, released in early April of 2015, reduced the speed at which players could move while scoped in with the sniper. The aim was to make AWPing on the terrorist side less impactful which it definitely achieved.

By making the change, terrorists were unable to use many of the long-time opening pick spots since the slower movement speed means that they could not peek angles already scoped in. This made T side AWPing more difficult because for an AWPer to be able to use these angles, they would have to quickscope and sometimes even prefire common CT spots, in order to try and gain an advantage.

An example would be long on dust2. It is not uncommon for an AWPer with a good spawn to peek long doors in an attempt to catch a player crossing to pit. However, post nerf, terrorists would move too slowly to attain the kill without peeking before scoping in. This gives Counter-Terrorists a god like advantage since not only is it already harder for the T to kill them but the slower movement means that the CT can Molotov deep and deal a substantial amount of damage as the AWPer exits the doorway.

Although the changes impacted a lot of AWPers in a negative way, the patch has allowed certain players to come to fruition. So in this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of the most affected players and where they are now.

Troubling Times

In spite of his return to form in the latter stages of 2016. Fan favorite Kenny “KennyS” Schrub fell from grace a little when the AWP nerf hit years ago. The Frenchman’s ratings dropped from his usual highs to unusual lows from April onwards in 2015. Overall his HLTV rating dropped by 0.14 despite playing with a better line up in Team EnvyUs. He openly admitted in an interview with Aftonbladet that it took a huge toll on him emotionally, when he could feel his confidence slipping away. KennyS will undoubtedly always be a household name in Global Offensive, gifting the community with an array of highlights and montages to watch and love. It will be interesting to see if he continues his rise back to number one and maybe even surpass his 2014 form.

KennyS playing for Team EnvyUs at the Cluj-Napoca major. [Photo Dreamhack]

Similarly, to Kenny players, such Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham are world-class AWPers that have struggled with consistency ever since the nerf. Both of these players still show us glimpses of their past performances, however, have a higher tendency to go missing. This has led to the world where a lot of AWPers are no longer the star players of their teams. Back in 2014 teams would be built around the likes of KennyS and GuardiaN, however, nowadays they play second fiddle to daring impact players such as Richard “shox” Papillon and Alexander “s1mple” Kostylev. With fantastic skill, s1mple and Shox can utilize not only rifles and pistols but also AWPs just as effectively as their main AWPers.

As I just alluded to the AWP nerf didn’t necessarily make our most famous AWPers play worse. It simply closed the gap between being a good AWPer or an extraordinary AWPer. The niche skill was effectively, no longer niche. Teams would sometimes overly push double AWP setups because they would have their long time god-tier AWPer, for example, Jesper “JW” Wecksell in Fnatic, and their star player, Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, who on his day, could out AWP his counterpart. This is a situation that occurred in many teams. To name a few s1mple and GuardiaN in Natus Vincere, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong in mousesports as well as Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Marcelo “coldzera” David in SK amongst many more.

Despite being one of the world’s best GuardiaN has struggled with consistency. [Photo ESL]

Who Blossomed?

Since the patch, the AWP is seemingly more effective on the Counter-Terrorist side. This has led to the rise of defensive AWPers, for example, Aleksi “allu” Jalli. Allu is a player who anchors critical spots on the map by dominating with strong positioning. An instance would be long on Inferno which he locked down throughout his tenure on the Ninjas and carried through into FaZe. In the clip below you can see he gets the opening pick mid. Following that Allu uses the advantage to aggressively hold second mid gifting himself another kill. However, the last three kills demonstrate his positional knowledge. He uses the corner of the wall to slightly peek out eliminating much of the risk of re-peeking.

Another player who has perhaps benefited from the changes is FalleN. Known as the brain behind Brazilian beasts SK Gaming, FalleN was a star AWPer in the first iteration of Counter-Strike yet didn’t take on the role in Global Offensive. Not until the removal of Caio “zqkS” Fonseca from his roster in favor of Coldzera. As aforementioned, the changes led to the ascension of strong all-around players taking star player spots. This allowed FalleN to settle back into AWPing more easily and play as the second star who supports Coldzera. Being the second star allowed him to take on the leading role more effectively as it meant the team didn’t rely as heavily on him allowing FalleN to focus more on the other four players.

In spite of previously arguing having two great AWPers as a negative, the change cites a reason for some of the greatest teams in Counter-Strike history. Fnatic and SK, who have both had periods of total domination, were built on JW/Olofmeister and FalleN/Coldzera. The fact that the teams could switch between the two added depth to their team play and allowed an individual player to take over if needed, rather than force the AWP into a players hands if he is having an off game.

Olofmeister (Center) and JW (Far Right) were a force to be reckoned with during the Fnatic Era of CS:GO. [Photo ESL]

Conclusion

As I learned in my previous article on Lurking in CS:GO, though not quite to the same extent, AWPing is becoming less of a defined role within certain teams and more of a situational pickup. Gradual changes to the game are placing a greater emphasis on increased movement speed and the use of pistols and SMGs. Thus giving us a rise in incredibly skilled line-ups. This, Combined with the changes to the AWP some teams have up to three players capable of AWPing at the pro level.

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Next-Best Bell-Weather: Looking Back at ESL One Cologne

The 2016 ESL One Cologne Main Qualifier was the best qualifier for a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major in history. It had the best format. It had the best competition. As a tournament, it was the best gauge of competition for tier 2 and tier 3 teams we’ve ever had.ESLOne_Cologne_Tournament_QualifierNEW

I hope all major qualifiers after this one pick up the Swiss system. It provided a variety of well-paired and interesting match-ups. And overall, this structure feel more fair than even a double-elimination bracket, since a good team can get two unlucky matchups and still qualify. Just win three out of five, and you qualify, simple as that.

The Cologne qualifier was also a testament to how much CS:GO is growing beneath the elite level. One might think CS:GO’s competition is becoming deeper, but “broader” is more a accurate word. Why? Because the number of championship-caliber teams is lower now than it was a year ago, but the number of good teams is much larger. Many a desperate squad is jockeying for a chance in the limelight, and this made quality of play at Cologne much better than previous qualifiers. It was tough to say that any roster was a shoo-in to qualify; even G2 had to sweat to reach Cologne. In the end, some promising sides like Cloud9, Immortals (ex-Tempo Storm), and TyLoo were eliminated, while others like Gambit, FaZe, and mousesports qualified with strength we didn’t expect. Most importantly, no true clunker teams qualified for the major.

Since I’m a perfectionist, and this tournament was too full of juicy plotlines, I will not refrain. I will paint my thoughts, brief but earnest, on every team in attendance, focusing your eye on the must-learns and tracing with the lightest strokes the must-remembers. 

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