allu

Where could allu end up?

This is an opinion piece that reflects the views of the author and not The Game Haus as a whole. 

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that a lot of crazy roster moves have been going on following the Valve sponsored ‘Major’; this sort of thing happens after basically every major. One big move that really shocked me was the removal of Aleksi ‘allu’ Jalli from FaZe Clan. His replacement, Ladislav ‘Guardian’ Kovács, plays an almost entirely different style, not to mention is much less effective without an AWP in his hands. When you take into account the aggressive buying style of FaZe, this move to me seems like a complete loss for FaZe; my colleague Joe Sitavanc seems to think this is more of a sidegrade than a downgrade. Either way, this isn’t an article about FaZe, this is about allu and where his esports career will lead him post-FaZe.

What teams would want allu?

It’s hard to know exactly what teams would per-say want him; however, we do know that PENTA just lost their star Finnish player Miikka ‘suNny’ Kemppi, and could use a new star Finnish player. I would assume he would have a spot on any North American roster, besides perhaps Cloud9 as they seem content with their current roster, and also have made it clear they don’t want players from outside North America. He’d be the perfect kind of player for an international team like mousesports; although they seem happy with the roster they have put together. An interesting team for him to end up on would be Renegades, though that’s highly unlikely. Another potential roster he could find his way on is Dignitas in place of Ricardo ‘fox’ Pacheco. If they really aspire to be a serious contender, fox has got to go in my opinion. 

What’s his best move?

PENTA wouldn’t be an awful place to put him, but someone of his skill level would be as good as wasted on the roster, as we saw with suNny. There just isn’t enough incentive for him to work with PENTA. Renegades would be interesting, but we have seen how the organization has failed in the past, and not to mention this team will not be a contender anytime soon, even with allu. Dignitas is realistic, could legitimately happen, and would make the team much scarier and potentially even a contender should you replace Jesper ‘TENZKI’ Plougmann or Jorgen ‘cromen’ Robertsen, maybe with someone like Emil ‘Magisk’ Reif. Though, RUBINO could be problematic should history repeat itself. NA or Dignitas are allu’s two best options, but personally, I think NA is better for him.

It makes sense for someone like allu, as NA has lacked a great AWP player since Óscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas was doing it full time, and allu has been on English speaking teams for basically three years now. If you negate that period where he decided a Finnish super team was a good idea, he’s been on English speaking teams since 2014. He also has a quieter voice and leaves room for the huge NA egos to thrive. Personally, I think the perfect fit for him would be to plug him right into Josh ‘jdm64’ Marzano’s spot in Team Liquid. This move makes sense because of Peter ‘stanislaw’ Jarguz’ style on the terrorist side. It is more effective without an AWP. Allu has the flexibility that jdm just doesn’t; not to mention, allu is better with the AWP than jdm in my opinion. This move would make Liquid an instant title contender.

Post-FaZe Life

It’s likely allu will not find a better situation than what he found in FaZe, and I’m not just talking financially. The team was one of the favorites to win any tournament they entered and were really looking up. Maybe we’ll look back at this move and say it was the best thing for both FaZe and allu’s career in the long run. Maybe Guardian will completely work out and allu will find success with Liquid, or some other team. For right now we don’t know what the future holds, but we do know this was ‘just a phase’ for allu and he’s going to have to move forward.


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The great global shuffle: Where’s NA?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know about the insane roster moves lately including teams such as FaZe, fnatic, mousesports, Na’Vi, Gambit, and many more. It’s a surprise to not see any North American teams on that list. Today, I’ll go through some teams that should make some changes and explore some possibilities for players they could pick up.

Cloud9

shuffle

Photo by: hltv.org

The big dog of the North American scene, rarely not holding the title of the best, is currently uninvolved with the shuffles. While they may be looking for a new organization, they aren’t looking to change their roster. As far as we know of course. Cloud9 may have had recent international success, making the semis of ECS Season 3 finals and a 2nd place at ESL One Cologne. But, don’t let that distract you from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead Cloud9 has done this before. Making the finals of, or even winning, a tournament and being content with their roster for six months.

Mike “shroud” Grzesiek has underperformed to a huge extent for the last year, aside from ESL One Cologne. One tournament has been enough to stop C9 from making a change, but it’s about time that they make one. Even replacing Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert would be a welcome, although saddening, change. Both players are inconsistent, and there are a few players that would definitely be good replacements in place of these two.

Skyler “Relyks” Weaver: A consistent player who seems to be able to play in almost every situation thrown at him. He can AWP, he can clutch, and he can entry. He’s versatile and it seems like that’s a role that needs to be filled if Shroud or n0thing need their shoes filled.

Adam “Friberg” Adam: An entry combo of Friberg and Jake “Stewie2k” Yip sounds awesome. Two people who are absolutely dedicated to running out and doing their job, what more would you want? This would also solve the issues of n0thing not wanting to take an entry frag role.

Derek “Desi” Branchen: Another consistent player, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be much of a choice for the top teams due to toxicity issues. Cloud9 could use a player like Desi, especially if n0thing were to go as he’s an improved copy and paste of the player.

OpTic Gaming

You can say that OpTic was technically involved with the roster shuffles, having Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas almost being snatched up by mousesports, along with James “hazed” Cobb being removed from the roster. Though, the move with hazed was well known to happen beforehand. Unfortunately for OpTic, they’ve been stuck in this situation since January. Trying a player and dropping him, rinse and repeat. Not to mention the issue with mixwell not even wanting to AWP and being very open about that. This roster has many problems and they’ve made it seem impossible to fix them. Fortunately, there are a couple of free agents out there that OpTic could very well take advantage of.

shuffle

Photo by: hltv.org

Aleksi “allu” Jalli: A great AWPer, not the best, but definitely not the worst. He also happens to be a good rifler along with his AWP. That could fix the issue with mixwell, allowing him to be the most comfortable.

Adam “Friberg” Friberg: He seems like the biggest possibility as they’ve already seemed to contact him. Much like Cloud9, a Friberg and Will “RUSH” Wierzba entry combo sounds awesome.

Michael “Uber” Stapells: A decent player. He hasn’t completely proved himself as a player but on a team like OpTic could prove to be a great platform for the player to build himself on. He has potential, and while that’s not the best justification, I feel it’s worth a try for OpTic.

Renegades

shuffle

Photo by: hltv.org

The honorary NA team. Renegades have recently showed that they’re willing to play with international talent. First trying out Simon “atter” Atterstam, and then picking up Noah “Nifty” Francis and Nemenja “nexa” Isaković. With recent underwhelming performances and a rumored removal of nexa, trying out some of the new free agents around doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Especially with what Renegades needs the most: consistency. Obviously, this team doesn’t really need to change much. If their core roster begins to become more consistent, this team could be great. Unfortunately, they’ve been waiting too long for that to happen and it seems change is the only way to go right now.

Adam “Friberg” Friberg: Again? Well, if you look at Renegades in terms of roles, they don’t have a proper second in. Or even first at some times. Friberg would instantly fix that, making it his mission to get out there and do damage at the least.

Michael “Uber” Stapells: Formerly Uber stood in for Renegades in a time where they didn’t have a proper fifth. Performing at a decent level in his time with Renegades. Added with some built up chemistry, Uber seems like one of the best, if not the best, options for Renegades.

Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi: Once upon a time pyth actually played in North America, so this isn’t as far fetched as the other international players. Not only that, pyth can play the positions that Renegades seems to be needing.

The Rest

For the other teams, it doesn’t seem like it’s much of an option to change their rosters. Other than NRG removing Peter “ptr” Gurney and him replacing Desi on compLexity, nothing much has even happened in the first place. Liquid seems even more content with their roster than Cloud9 ever has with theirs. CLG just doesn’t have many options for any roster moves. Misfits are in a weird place with their roster and it’s hard to say that they should make a change. It’s hard to say whether or not any NA team will take advantage of any of the free agents out there, but hopefully in the end they do.


Featured image via ESL Gaming.

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suNny and STYKO to mousesports is a risk vs reward move

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

Miikka “suNny” Kemppi

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

mousesports

Photo by: hltv.org

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

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

Martin “STYKO” Styk

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

mousesports

Photo by: hltv.org

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

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

Is the move worth it?

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


Featured image via mousesports.com.

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ESL One Cologne 2017 predictions

One of the biggest upcoming tournaments other than the PGL major is ESL One Cologne 2017. While it is sad that Cologne is not a major this year, as it holds legendary status within Global Offensive, that doesn’t mean this tournament won’t be incredible. Astralis have chosen to opt out of Cologne, leaving the pool of teams slightly weakened; however, this tournament will decide a lot in terms of world rankings still. Today I’ll be giving some predictions as to roughly how the tournament will play out. To keep from getting too deep and convoluted, I’ll keep it simple by just giving predictions for Round 1 of the group stage, who I think will make the playoffs and who I think will win the tournament.

Mousesports vs Fnatic

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

This is an interesting matchup, one that I think will produce a great game. In terms of what map we’ll most likely see, it’s a bit unclear, as both teams make some odd choices in terms of pick/ban. Mouz will permaban Overpass, as they always do. Fnatic will probably remove Cobble, as they have taken to banning it a lot recently. Mousesports will then remove Mirage, as they aren’t huge fans of it and Fnatic are great on the map. Fnatic will rebuttal with a Cache ban; although there is a scenario in which Fnatic let Cache through and ban Nuke instead. If Fnatic does end up banning Cache, Mousesports will most likely ban Nuke themselves. For the final ban, whether it be Cache or Train leftover with Inferno, I predict Fnatic will let Inferno through. This matchup will likely be close, barring any throwback performance from Fnatic where they just stomp Mouz. Mousesports 13-16 Fnatic.

FaZe vs Heroic

This one is much less interesting, as FaZe will likely stomp Heroic on whatever map they end up on. FaZe will remove Cobble, no questions asked. Heroic will likely remove Cache. From there FaZe ban Mirage, due to Heroic’s decent history on the map; Heroic ban Train. The final ban rotation is completely up to what FaZe want, as they could beat Heroic on Overpass, Nuke or Inferno. My best bet would be FaZe ban Nuke, as the Heroic squad has been respectable on the map in the past, and Heroic ban Overpass, as FaZe is on a tear on the map recently. Whatever map it ends up being, I’m certain FaZe will win this. FaZe 16-6 Heroic.

Immortals vs Virtus.Pro

via http://www.gosugamers.net/

I’m just going to leave this matchup as a ‘quite literally anything can happen’ kind of matchup. This matchup could bring anything to the table in terms of map pool. Immortals will certainly remove Nuke and Virtus.Pro will remove Cache. From there, anything could happen due to Virtus.Pro famously being poor in the early stages of tournaments, even those that they win. I’ll take Immortals winning this one. Immortals 16-10 Virtus.Pro

SK vs SpaceSoldiers

Similar to the FaZe vs Heroic matchup, it doesn’t matter what map this ends on, the Soldiers will find it hard to even find rounds in this matchup. The pick ban will have SK removing Nuke followed by SS banning Inferno. SK will remove Cache, as it is the Soldiers’ favorite map at the moment. SS will remove Train here most likely, followed by a removal of Overpass. Whatever SK chooses to ban before the removal of Overpass, will decide the map. I’ll predict the Brazilians remove Mirage leaving us with a matchup on Cobblestone. SK 16-3 SpaceSoldiers

NiP vs Cloud9 

via http://mashable.com

This one is almost as difficult to predict as the IMT vs VP matchup. Based on history, NiP will almost always remove Overpass and Mirage, and we know Cloud9 doesn’t play Nuke and don’t like to play Inferno if they don’t have to. Of the three maps remaining, it’s most likely we see Cobblestone, as I don’t think the Ninjas will want to play Train, and C9 have sort of driven away from Cache in the past. NiP will likely be held back by the freshness of their roster, and all the NiP magic seems to have been exhausted. NiP 7-16 Cloud9

G2 vs TyLoo

Another lopsided one, G2 will take this one every day of the week. G2 will ban Mirage, followed by Inferno. TyLoo will remove Nuke and Train. G2 from here have the pick of the litter, and the map this ends up on could really be anything. The only map that TyLoo even has an outside chance on is Cache, and even that is a huge stretch. No matter which of the three it ends up being, Cache, Cobble, or Overpass, G2 will have this one in hand. G2 16-3 TyLoo

Liquid vs Na’Vi

via http://wiki.teamliquid.net

By far the best matchup of Round 1, this one could really go either way. Liquid will likely ban Overpass, followed by a signature Na’Vi ban of Cache. Na’Vi will then ban Nuke, and be forced to remove Cobble, as Liquid will remove Mirage and likely Train due to the beating Na’Vi gave them on the maps at pro league. An interesting matchup on Inferno, as neither team is very good on the map at all, but I’ll take Liquid to win this one in very narrow fashion. Liquid 19-16 Na’Vi

North vs OpTiC

I predict to see the same exact pick ban we saw at Pro League, as I don’t see why either team would change their strategy. North ban Train, Cache and Inferno; whereas, OpTiC remove Overpass, Cobble and Nuke. There is definitely a chance OpTiC ban out Mirage instead of Cobble, leaving us on Cobble or Inferno; although, this seems a bit unlikely to me. North is always super solid in group stages, so they should have this one in hand. North 16-8 OpTiC

Playoff Predictions

The eight teams that I think will get through are SK, G2, FaZe, North, Liquid, Cloud9, Immortals and Fnatic. This one is definitely not said and done though, as basically every team in this tournament besides TyLoo has a scenario where they end up making the playoffs. The winner of the tournament will likely be SK, but G2 will have their chances, and if Virtus.Plow shows up, who knows what could happen.

ESL One Cologne 2017, despite not having Astralis and not being a CS ‘Major’, should make some great Counter-Strike, and will be great fun to watch.

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Featured image via HLTV.org

Dreamhack Summer 2017 Preview

Dreamhack returns for their first event back in Jönköping, Sweden this weekend. With several top teams and even a newcomer to the top tier, Dreamhack Summer 2017 is going to be a platform for teams to prove themselves.

 

Group A

SK Gaming

SK Gaming coming into Dreamhack Summer are the favourites to take the title in Sweden. Recent wins at cs_summit and IEM Sydney can back this up, as well as a semifinal finish at the ESL Pro League finals last weekend.

Photo by: hltv.org

Since adding João “felps” Vasconcellos in February, SK Gaming have had a resurgence in performance. While they had two disappointing finishes at IEM Katowice and Starladder i-League Season 3 in Kiev, the team has made three finals and one semifinal. Along with this journey, a slumping Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo has been able to rise up once again and become one of the top AWPers and IGLs in the world.

With Fernando “fer” Alvarenga looking at his best recently, SK Gaming are looking to take the title in Jönköping this weekend.

mousesports

Looking their best in a very long time, mousesports could be considered one of the favourites for the event. Having star level performances from Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný and a constantly improving Robin “ropz” Kool, mouz look to be taking the title or at least a top 2 finish.

When Nikola “NiKo” Kovač left the team in February, a lot of people thought that the team would be in the dumps. After adding in oskar in the place of NiKo, mouz looked impressive. Stealing the third seed in the EU division of ESL Pro League, and then one semifinal place at DH Tours, topping that off with a quarterfinal finish at the EPL Finals in Dallas; mouz have left people with mouths wide open.

A new and improved mousesports might be the recipe for success, and could possibly lead Chris “chrisJ” de Jong and his boys to the trophy this weekend.

Immortals

Photo by: hltv.org

After two events with their new pickup, Vito “kNg” Giuseppe, Immortals look sort of lost in game. With no clear or proper leadership, and the need for constant double AWP setups, Immortals might leave Sweden with a bucket full of disappointment.

Recently, Immortals with their new lineup have attended two LAN tournaments. Getting an upset win against G2 and a win against Cloud9 at the EPL Finals, they left without a chance at playoffs. A week later they went over to the Americas Minor and ended in 2nd place, losing out to a very confident Cloud9 in the Grand Finals. You can definitely make the argument that Immortals need more time, and I personally agree that they do need more time. But in terms of form, mousesports and SK Gaming are a mile above the Immortals.

Immortals are looking to come into Dreamhack Summer to prove themselves, and to prove kNg as a player. If the team come in their top form they can easily make playoffs, and unless they do, it will be a struggle.

Singularity

Coming in as the Danish underdogs, Singularity are going into this event looking to prove themselves and show the world what they got. In a group with two out of four of the toughest teams at the event, Singularity have a long road ahead of them coming into the group stage.

Battling their way through the European qualifier, Singularity faced the rising Team123, as well as the Polish Pride Gaming. Holstering their star Allan “AnJ” Jensen, Singularity essentially out-skilled most of their opponents throughout the qualifier.

With very little experience at a high level, Singularity will have plenty of issues coming into this event. With more experience, this team could make their way to the top of tier 2, and this event could be the boost they need.

 

Group B

Gambit

The Kazakhstani powerhouse have been the best team coming out of the CIS region in 2017. With the leadership of Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko and firepower of Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev and Abay “HObbit” Khasenov, Gambit have soared in the rankings coming into the second half of the year.

Photo by: gambit.gg

With a win at DH Austin and a second place finish at cs_summit, Gambit have shown that they are able to go far in tournaments. Something which they struggled with at the beginning of the year. With that as well, their recent form coming into the event is probably enough to get them to second place or even a win at Dreamhack Summer.

In the group stage, Gambit should have no problems. They’ve shown they’re well above Cloud9 and CLG in terms of skill, although they did lose to CLG at Starladder. Fnatic may be the only team to give them problems, and even then they’re a favourite in that matchup.

Fnatic

With the home field advantage, Fnatic are looking to come in swinging when they show up on stage. After narrowly going out in groups at EPL Dallas, fnatic are going to come back and they’ll surely be ready to attack.

With a legendary lineup, arguably the best in all of CS:GO, Fnatic reformed after the ELEAGUE Major. Since then, they’ve had some pretty disappointing results. Only making playoffs at one out of four of the $250k+ tournaments they attended. While Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer has made a comeback in his performance, Fnatic as a whole have been a let down. Many looked to them as possible contenders for the number one spot, but they seem to be barely breaking in to the top 10.

With all that being said, Fnatic are in their own country. They’ll have the crowd and confidence on their side. While they should make playoffs, it’s hard to say if they could go any further.

Cloud9

Cloud9 have been the face of disappointment since their win at the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals in October of last year. They’ve failed to make it out of groups at any big tournament, as well as failing to qualify for the ELEAGUE Major.

Carrying the same lineup, Cloud9 have refused to make any much needed changes. Mike “shroud” Grzesiek has been under-performing immensely since the EPL Finals. With a recently rising Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, Cloud9 have failed to do anything significant other than winning the Americas Minor this past weekend. While many still say that Cloud9 are the best team in North America, they’re still very far from any meaningful ranking worldwide.

Although coming off steaming hot from their performance at the minor, Cloud9 have very little to show for what they can do at Dreamhack Summer. There is a small chance that Cloud9 could make it to the playoffs, but it’s a very slim one.

Counter Logic Gaming

CLG have been steadily rising since bringing back Pujan “FNS” Mehta into their lineup. With much needed leadership, the team was able to make their mark on the international scene and make their name something to talk positive about again.

Photo by: hltv.org

Bringing in Ricky “Rickeh” Mulholland brought in some much needed firepower. With Rickeh being one of the most consistent players on the team, Kenneth “Koosta” Suen slowly rose up as the team’s star player, finally living up to his potential as a top tier AWPer. While not having much experience aside from Starladder, he showed at the tournament why he can be considered one of the best AWPers in NA, if not the best.

CLG have nothing to lose and everything to win coming into Dreamhack Summer. If the right cards are played, we could definitely see CLG in the playoffs.

Featured image by: Dreamhack

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Who will win Dreamhack Tours?

Despite SK’s win at IEM Sydney stealing the headlines, this weekend Dreamhack hosted one of their many open events in Tours, France. The tournament has provided some of the most entertaining Counter-Strike we’ve seen in some time. Na’Vi embarrassed themselves, Robin “ropz” Kool made his LAN debut, while Misfits have given North America some hope. There were eight teams in attendance with only four now remaining. Although we might have lost some big names, today’s semi-finals will be a real treat.

HellRaisers vs Misfits

Misfits caused one of the biggest upsets we’ve seen by defeating Na’Vi in a best of three in their decider game. The North American team lost the opener in a crushing defeat on Cobblestone before reverse sweeping their opposition in dominating fashion. The win largely came through primary AWPer Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, who outplayed his Na’Vi counterpart Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács all series long. ShahZaM averaged more than a kill a round and was responsible for multiple clutch plays.

HellRaisers advanced straight to the semi-finals after two best of one wins in the group stage. The first was a crushing victory over home team EnVyUs. Their second game was against Danish squad Tricked, who they narrowly beat 16-13 on Train. HellRaisers’ two Slovakian players Patrik “Zero” Žúdel and Martin “STYKO” Styk were the defining players closing out rounds with an array of multi kills across both maps.

This semi-final is hard to predict for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is unknown whether ShahZaM will turn up in the same way for today’s games. The AWPer has shown flickers of this potential in the past although, it has never stuck, leading him to lose his spot on both Cloud9 and OpTic Gaming. In spite of that, Misfits’ usual star player Hunter “SicK” Mims was absent for the majority of the series, meaning he can bring firepower if he can find his footing.

However, HellRaisers will be a more formidable opponent than Na’Vi since they have a more structured style. Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow stated that he has been working hard with his former In-Game Leader, now the HellRaisers coach, to further develop a tactical approach. Both Zero and STYKO have been consistently on point these past months, so it’s likely to continue into the semi-final. The key player for the CIS team will be their own AWPer Bence “DeadFox” Böröcz, who has been on the decline for some time now. If ShahZaM turns up in-form he will have a hard task trying to do what GuardiaN couldn’t.

In my opinion, HellRaisers will win the series, most likely in three maps. I think their tactical presence will feel completely different to Misfits’ previous game. The Americans will at least win one map if their players step up again, it’s also not completely out of reach that they take the series themselves. HellRaisers are the logical pick because they have consistently shown they are capable of beating the lower opposition.

G2 Esports vs mousesports

Hometown heroes G2 Esports easily has the most hyped roster we’ve seen in CSGO, however, they are yet to live up to that potential. A win at this event will put some of the critics on the backburner for a short time.

G2 stumbled early by losing 16-7 to Tricked on Inferno, one of their better maps, forcing them to play against fellow countrymen in Team EnVyUs. In that series, they were always in front thanks to Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro, who finished the series +20 in kills.

Following the victory, G2 were to play Tricked again in a best of three. This time, all of the team performed to the level it should with Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt topping the board. It was refreshing to see the likes of Bodyy and NBK dishing out the damage and is a promising sign for G2’s title hopes since then they would only need one of their stars firing on all cylinders to win against just about anyone.

G2’s support player Bodyy contributed highly against Team EnVyUs. [Source: Dreamhack]

G2’s opponents are international team mousesports, who recently picked up Faceit Pro League star Ropz. They advanced straight to the semi-final after two wins over Heroic and the faltering Natus Vincere. It’s hard to gauge how strong the roster really is after these wins since both opponents underperformed at the event. One thing that is clear however is that there is more to come from this lineup and particularly from Ropz himself. However, even though mousesports has some dangerous players, G2 simply has too much individual firepower. That, combined with mousesports lack of time with Ropz, means I find it extremely unlikely that they drop the series.

Highly sought after, Ropz rose through the ranks by playing FPL. [Source: HLTV]

Grand Final

The safe and logical pick for the winner of Dreamhack Tours is, of course, G2 Esports. The Frenchmen have shown a willingness to improve from game to game and their individual prowess should be in full effect by the time the grand final comes around. HellRaisers have a small chance to take a map if they build some momentum following a pistol round win, but otherwise, I see G2 and the sixth man – the crowd – overwhelming the CIS team with raw skill.


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Kiev Major Group Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage Preview

The first Major of the 2017 season is upon us and it looks as though it will be amazing. The Kiev Major will take place from April 24th – April 30th. The event will be split into Group Stages followed by a single-elimination main event bracket. Let’s take a look at the Kiev Major Group Stage.

The Kiev Major Prize Pool

The prize pool of the tournament is $3,000,000 USD.

Place $ USD Percent Team
1st $1,000,000  33.33% TBD
2nd $500,000  16.67% TBD
3rd-4th $250,000  8.33% TBD
TBD
place 5 to 16
5th-8th $125,000  4.17% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
9th-16th $62,500  2.08% TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD
TBD

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017

Kiev Major Group Stage Format

For the first time at a Dota 2 event, Kiev will use the Swiss-system format. A format commonly seen at CS:GO events, it will be interesting to see if it creates better seeding heading into the main event.

  • 16 teams are placed in a single group where they play in a Swiss-system format.
    • Four rounds of matches.
    • All matches are played in a Bo3.
    • Opponents will always have the same Win/Loss record.
    • Teams will never play an opponent twice.
  • Round 1
    • Initial eight matches are seeded.
  • Round 2
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Winners of Round 1 (“high”)
      • Losers of Round 1 (“low”)
    • Teams will be drawn an opponent from their group.
  • Round 3
    • Divided into three groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-0 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-1 (“mid”)
      • Lastly, teams with a record of 0-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not played yet from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the lowest seed for the playoffs.
  • Round 4
    • Divided into two groups:
      • Teams with a record of 2-1 (“high”)
      • Teams with a record of 1-2 (“low”)
    • All teams will be drawn an opponent they have not yet played from their group.
    • Winners of the high group are the 2nd highest seed for the playoffs.
    • Losers of the low group are the 2nd lowest seed for the playoffs.

Courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2/Kiev_Major/2017/Group_Stage

The Kiev Major Group Stage – Round 1 Thoughts and Predictions

The Kiev Major Group Stage Round 1 Matches

Image courtesy of https://twitter.com/wykrhm

Team Secret v VG.J

In the first game of the first round, Team Secret will face off against VG.J. Both of these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack somewhere. VG.J on paper are the stronger squad. However, outside of the second place at StarLadder, they have yet to live up to the hype.

Both Team Secret and VG.J have a point to prove at Kiev, this will be one of the closest series of the group stages. When the dust settles, I think Team Secret will take the series 2-1. Mainly because VG.J have been inconsistent in recent times. This is also Team Secret’s return to the Major’s after missing out on a place in Boston. Team Secret will be the sharper team heading into round one and should take a close series.

Team Secret Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Invictus Gaming (IG) v Mousesports

No series on the road to a Major trophy is easy. However, Mousesports will be feeling unlucky with their round one match-up. Going up against one of the favorites and DAC winner, IG will be a huge challenge for the Greeks. This series will be the first that the former Ad Finem roster has played since the second place finish at the Boston Major. Since then they have changed orgs, failed to attend a single LAN and we have had a series of game changing patches. On the other hand, IG comes into this event in the form of a lifetime. A strong showing at DAC, which would eventually see them take home the crown, has catapulted them into a spot as favorites. IG and Mousesports are at opposite ends of the spectrum and IG should sweep the Greeks 2-0.

IG Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Team Random v IG.Vitality

In the only all domestic match-up, Team Random will take on IG.V. This series looks to be another close match-up with both teams experiencing mixed form. Team Random, formerly Team Wings, are searching to recover the form they had leading up to TI6. IG.V are looking to establish themselves as a top team. Team Random have the stronger set of players but seem to out mind game themselves in most games. Team Random showed flashes of genius during DAC, but normally it was too little too late. IG.V, on the other hand, showed promise during DAC finishing in fourth place. At DAC IG.V started slowly and for this reason I am backing Team Random to take the series 2-1.

Team Randon Team Wings Kiev Major Group Stages

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

OG v SG esports

Favorites for the event OG take on newcomers SG in their first group stage game. For SG this series will be the hardest best of three they have most likely ever played. The current OG team are the most consistent team heading into the event. Since November, the lowest placing they have had is 3rd – 4th. Not bad for a team that everyone always rules out. SG will have to pull out a miracle to take the series from OG, think TNC at TI6. OG will come into the series full of confidence and will take it 2-0.

OG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Liquid v Thunderbirds

This series is my one to watch heading into the first round. Two teams who have championship pedigree but are currently having some issues. Liquid are more up and down than a yo-yo. They place first at StarLadder and then finish 9th – 12th at DAC. Liquid are another team that on paper should be challenging for every title. However, for whatever reason, they are struggling to convert talent into ability in-game. Thunderbirds, formerly DC, have struggled since winning ESL One Genting in January. The team has been struggling in-game and out of it. With the team now leaving DC, it is possible that they will make a return to winning ways. Similarly to Secret v VG.J, both these teams will likely finish in the middle of the pack. This is a difficult series to call, but I have Liquid edging it 2-1.

Liquid Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Faceless v Virtus Pro (VP)

Kiev will be the first LAN that VP have attended since January. Starting off with a series against Faceless will be a tough test for VP. Faceless come into the event the same as always, dominant in SEA, disappointing internationally. VP come into Kiev with strong domestic form in the last few months. This is series will set the tone for both teams heading further into the event. Will VP choke again, will it be same old Faceless? Faceless are on the cusp of a strong performance. However, VP are the team in form at the moment and I have them taking the series 2-1.

VP Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Digital Chaos (DC) v Newbee

In their first series as DC, the former Team Onyx squad will face off against Newbee. Newbee are one of the more consistent teams heading into the event with a first, second and third place finish in the three events they have attended in 2017. On the other hand, this will be DC’s first LAN event as a team. The nerves will be high for the new squad, especially with the controversy surrounding their move to the DC banner. Newbee are looking to go into the later rounds of the tournament and a strong performance in round one will set the tone. I have Newbee taking the series 2-0

Newbee Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Evil Geniuses (EG) v TNC Pro Team

EG v TNC on paper should be a relatively easy matchup for the North American powerhouse. However, if one thing is certain in Dota it’s that EG always start slow. EG come into the event with questions hanging over the roster. The performance at DAC raised more questions on whether the roster is strong enough to be consistently at the top. On paper EG has one of the strongest rosters in the world, they just can’t seem to click consistently.

TNC come into Kiev in the same spot they always are, underdogs. TNC have had an up and down 2017, which has included winning WESG. Furthermore, TNC have been hit and miss domestically, which is concerning considering the lack of tier one times in SEA. I have EG taking the series but it will be a close 2-1.

EG Kiev Major Group Stage

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Kiev Major Group Stage – Final Thoughts

Every event since Boston has been building up to the Kiev Major. The first Major of 2017 will be hotly contested with at least five teams strong favorites to take the event. Near the top should be the likes of OG, IG, VP and EG. Teams like Secret, Liquid and Thunderbirds have questions to answer moving into the build up to TI7. At the other end, SG esports are looking to capture the hearts of fans as TNC and Ad Finem have done before them.

The new group stage format will provide more consistent seeding heading into the single-elimination main event. Teams that start slow will have the chance to repair things and get a decent seed for bracket play.

For more in-depth coverage of each region check out my Regional Roulette series:

South East Asia

The Americas

Europe and CIS

China

What are your thoughts on the round one matchups? Let me know in the comments below.

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The Kiev Major Regional Roulette – Europe and CIS

Welcome to day three of the Kiev Major regional roulette. Today it’s time to look at arguably the strongest region heading into the event, Europe and CIS

Europe and CIS – The Teams

When Valve announced the direct invites to Kiev, there were some fans who were unhappy. The inclusion of Mousesports, then Ad Finem, raised a few questions. Valve also announced that Europe and CIS regions would each be having their own qualifier. In total there will be four European and one CIS team attending Kiev. Let’s take a look at who is aiming to win it all:

OG – Direct Invite

OG DAC Group

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Notail

Position 2 (Mid) – Ana

Position 3 (Offlane) – s4

Position 4 (Support) – JerAx

Position 5 (Support) – Fly

Heading into Kiev, OG should be one of the favorites. They have won 75% of the majors since they were introduced in 2015. OG are a team synonymous with consistency when it comes to the majors. They come into the event in good form with only a few slip-ups in recent events.

The newest iteration of OG is arguably the best. Yes, they lack the flair of some previous players, but the current roster is more than that. The current OG is more a sum of its parts rather than the strength of the individuals. OG look to take a game over and rarely let go of that control.

On the flipside, one of the main concerns in recent times is closing out tournaments. Let’s take a look at DAC for example. OG dominated the event, all the way until the Grand-Finals. They would face IG in a rematch of the winners final, which OG won 2-1. IG made OG look confused, it was a complete domination. IG would take the series 3-0 and OG would leave the event wondering what if?

OG are a strong team who should bounce back from the disappointment of DAC. They are surely favorites to take the event and could net you a pretty penny in your compendium predictions.

Mousesports (Formerly Ad Finem) – Direct Invite

Mousesports Dota 2 Kiev Major Europe and CIS

Image courtesy of Teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Madara

Position 2 (Mid) – ThuG

Position 3 (Offlane) – SkyLark

Position 4 (Support) – Maybe Next Time

Position 5 (Support) – SsaSpartan

Shortly after the announcement that the then Ad Finem roster would be receiving a direct invite to Kiev, the team parted ways with the organization. It was then announced that Mousesports would be returning to Dota 2 and picking up the roster.

Heading into Kiev, the Greeks are an unknown quantity, to say the least. Having only played in three qualification events since the second place finish at Boston, there is not much information on the squad. It has obviously been a difficult time for the roster, and Kiev may be just what the team needs to bounce back.

The Greeks are famed for a “can’t stop won’t stop” playstyle. They look to roll over their opposition, focusing more on team fights rather than out farming their opposition. However, since the high points in Boston, the meta has changed. The name of the game seems to be farming and using superior resources to win. It will be interesting to see how Mousesports can cope with this change and what effect it will have on them throughout the event.

Mousesports captured the hearts and minds of fans at Boston. They will be looking to do this again at Kiev.

Team Liquid – Direct Invite

Team Liquid DAC

Image courtesy of teamliquid.net

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MATUMBAMAN

Position 2 (Mid) – Miracle-

Position 3 (Offlane) – MinD_ContRoL

Position 4 (Support) – GH

Position 5 (Support) – KuroKy

Heading into DAC, many people had Liquid finishing in the top three. Instead, Liquid finished 8th – 12th, being knocked out in a best of one against Faceless. This came as a shock seeing as Liquid had won StarLadder a few weeks earlier. With this in mind, Liquid head into the event with a lot of questions hanging over the squad. Was StarLadder a one off? Is Liquid choking again?

On paper, this Liquid roster is a top five team in the world, without a doubt. However, in-game they seem to be on separate pages. As a fan, it always makes me worried when players swap around positions depending on the hero. This happened a few times at DAC with Miracle and GH swapping roles when Naga Siren was picked up. If you think back, this happened before Liquid made roster changes when Matumbaman and Kuro would swap roles when Drow Ranger was picked up.

Liquid comes into Kiev looking to capture the elusive major crown. They have the tools to win it all, whether they will is a separate discussion. Liquid is known for sticking with a roster, but time is running out for Liquid to prove they are one of the best teams in the world.

Team Secret – European Qualifier

Secret StarLadder

Image courtesy of teamsecret.gg

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – MP

Position 2 (Mid) – MidOne

Position 3 (Offlane) – Khezu

Position 4 (Support) – Puppey

Position 5 (Support) – pieliedie

Secret are a roster chasing their own shadow. The days of Secret being a tier one team seem to be behind them. They are now on the periphery, a strong performance at Kiev may well shoot them back to the top tier.

Secret have attended two LAN events this year and have placed a mediocre 5th – 6th at both. They had decent performances at both events but seemed a step behind the top teams. Heading into the event, Secret have been out of the spotlight for a couple months. The controversy with former players seems to be behind them. The stage seems set for Secret to place well at the event. It’s time for in-game actions to take precedent over the controversies of former rosters.

Virtus Pro (VP) – CIS Qualifier

Image courtesy of http://wiki.teamliquid.net/dota2

Roster:

Position 1 (Carry) – Ramzes666

Position 2 (Mid) – No[o]ne

Position 3 (Offlane) – 9Pashaebashu

Position 4 (Support) – Lil

Position 5 (Support) – Solo

Kiev will be the first LAN event that VP has attended since January. They were on the end of some unfortunate connection issues which would rule them out of DAC. Even with a lack of LAN games, they still come into Kiev as a potential favorite.

VP are always a favorite, but have yet to convert that into an event win. They came into Boston as a favorite, and failed. They came into ESL One Genting as a favorite, and failed. Do you see the theme? With this in mind, they are likely still a favorite.

They have a strong playstyle, which is a combination of typical CIS “can’t stop won’t stop” and the typical Chinese control. In many ways, VP are the best of both worlds. Their roster is filled with talent, although none of them are world-beaters alone, they are as a squad. VP are going into the event with strong performances in the CIS region, how much this counts for remains to be seen.

Will the VP boys fail again? Only time will tell.

Europe and CIS – Summary

Europe and CIS come into the event with three teams capable of winning. With a winner likely to come from this region of China, the pressure is on to perform. As always, all eyes will be on the Europe and CIS teams, meaning anything short of victory will be considered by many as a failure.

OG have the power to secure their fourth major and set themselves up for a strong 2017. Mousesports are trying to find the form of Boston. Liquid is trying not to choke. Secret are chasing the form of previous iterations, without much success, and VP are trying to not fail once more.

The title may well be held in Kiev, but it will not be easy for the Europe and CIS teams to win their home major.

Where do you think the European and CIS teams will place when it’s all said and done? Let me know in the comments below.

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FaZe Clan and Their Newest Pickup: NiKo

 

FaZe Clan at a recent tournament, Courtesy of Gamurs.com

FaZe Before NiKo

FaZe Clan is historically known as one of the oldest esports organizations out there. They were originally one of the first clans to emerge from the Call of Duty competitive scene back in 2010. FaZe Clan expanded into CS:GO when they picked up the remainder of the G2 squad back in early 2016. Ever since, FaZe have been trying to break into European competition in a meaningful way.

Most of 2016, FaZe found themselves at the mercy of teams like Virtus Pro and Astralis. The only noteworthy achievement was their 3rd-4th place finish at IEM Oakland. Even then they found themselves falling to NIP (Ninjas in Pajamas).

FaZe began looking for a change, with their hopes continually being crushed tournament after tournament with poor finishes. Last month, FaZe Clan decided to depart ways with Philip “aizy” Aistrup, and shortly after announced their pickup of Nikola “NiKo” Kovač from Mousesports. NiKo said he would be switching from Mousesports after Dreamhack Las Vegas. Sadly, NiKo’s time at Mousesports was filled with woes of bad teammates.

It was not so much that Mousesports was a bad team, but more so that NiKo had incredible ability and he was being held back by a weaker team. NiKo especially impressed during ESEA season 18, showing off his impressive skills at the young age of 17. He seemingly single-handedly carried Mousesports to a top four position.

NiKo back on Mousesports, courtesy of wiki.teamliquid.net

FaZe After NiKo

NiKo has been praised by many as being one of the most skilled CS players in all of Europe. The young Bosnian was named #11 on HLTV’s top CS:GO players in the world in 2016. With any luck, FaZe could successfully integrate this powerhouse into their squad and put themselves into more serious contention.

Whenever roster changes happen, it’s always interesting to see the changes in squad play. Introducing a new player into the team dynamics will always take time for teams to adjust to. NiKo is no exception. He is an incredibly strong rifler, and the players on FaZe were very aware of it after having played against him for years.

With NiKo finally on the squad, FaZe find themselves in the early stages of their transition. NiKo seems to be taking it great. His demeanor has noticeably improved, and he actually looks happy compared to when he was on Mousesports. The pressure on him before was huge, with Mousesports relying very heavily on the crucial frags Niko brought. He showed off at IEM Katowice, helping to bring FaZe to the Grand Finals in his first appearance with them. Unfortunately, they lost to Astralis 3-1 in the best of five series.

NiKo on FaZe clan at IEM katowice, courtesy of HLTV.org

NiKo’s performance was strong in the Grand Final, showing he is still capable of playing with the best. Hopefully this is a sign of the future potential FaZe have with him. They haven’t won a tournament yet, but there are still plenty of opportunities for NiKo to prove himself in this new lineup.

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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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