SK Gaming fills their roster
It seem obvious now that Gabriel “FalleN’ Toledo and company were not only looking for fire power but looking to add a flashy awp player to the mix with the addition of Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. Last week we talked about the possibility of SK Gaming picking up Oleksendr “s1mple” Kostyliev and his current teammate Egor “flamie” Valsilyev. At the time this was more of a rumor than anything. As time went on it was realized that the deal to sign both players was closer than most anticipated. Finally, the deal fell through.
This makes a lot of sense as English is the only language that all of these players share. What makes this difficult to work around is that English is all of the players involved second language. Making basic communication a hurdle that the team would need to overcome. This would be no small hurdle as SK is known for their team play. Their ability to peak angles together with perfect timing on their CT(Counter Terrorist) side to get early information and picks was essential.
The core of SK, led by FalleN’s tactically driven mind, are very good with timing flashes over walls or throwing smokes at just the right moment to push into a bombsite. Every smoke, flash, molotov, and timed peak require planning, practice, and communication to pull off. All of this is made exponentially more difficult when you consider that there are several maps that need to be accounted and planned for.
While all of these players understand English and how to play the game at a high level it can be common for someone in a high pressure situation to revert back to their first language when making a split second call. Especially when said call has been made in SK’s preferred language hundreds of times in several different tournaments.
Another reason this deal may not have worked with s1mple was because of the distance. In January of 2016 he joined Team Liquid and quickly took them from an above average NA team to the best NA team. Playing a pivotal role in the teams run to placing 3/4 at the MLG Major Championship in Columbus, OH in April of that same year. Shortly thereafter on April the 21st, he announced he was returning to a European team due to being away from family and friends. He said this was a strain on him and the team. If his feelings are still consistent then this could be a reason for him not joining SK.
Stewie2k will change how SK plays
While the s1mple chapter of SK’s player search is officially over with the official signing of Stewie2k last night, another chapter begins with one of the most flashy players in the world. The discussion around the Stewie2k joining SK has been surprising to most. Considering Cloud9’s huge upset potential against every team in the world. They had become increasingly consistent with placings against top tier teams under Tarik’s IGL(in-game leading). Winning the Eleague Major in late January. This news being made even more surprising by the fact that Stewie2k had great performances against both SK and Faze. Forcing both teams to go to a stacked A site.
As someone who watches a lot of SK gaming and Stewie2k play I was a bit stumped on what exactly they were looking for in a player. After much analysis on how both of them play I have found an answer. The current rumor is that Ricardo “boltz” Prass will remain on SK for the near future. This is a good move as he is a system player. He relies on the players around him to draw attention away from him while relying on position rather than skill to get frags and be effective. This works well in the SK system but having two players do this can be costly. Enter Epitacio “TACO” de Melo,. TACO has played in FalleN’s system very well for a long time on T(terrorist) side but with him being such a passive player on ct sides it was costing SK rounds.
TACO is one of the best when it comes to letting terrorist get deep into a bombsite before engaging. This means playing a position that isn’t normally checked or playing close to the bombsite itself letting players come to him. This style of defense can do one of two things.
First there is a chance that TACO can go unoticed and peak when he hears the bomb plant. Killing one or two players then the bomb carrier. Which, given most situations, wins the round. Second, This can have a very negative effect as well on a defense late in a round. With this style being most effective late in the round it is imperative that he at least gets one frag to make it easier for his retaking teammates.
If TACO peaks and a T player is expecting him and he dies on site, more than likely the bomb is being planted. Because he lets teams onto the site willingly they have taken minimal damage and have complete control of the site. All while giving his teammates minimal time to rotate and help him because he has given up so much control. I think teams began predicting this against SK and abusing the fact that they could sneak onto a site and if they could simple trade him one for one then they would have the site with minimal lose of utility.
Ultimately why I think TACO was removed from SK was lack of information. What I mean by this is mid round information that can be gathered by pushing out of a site or playing a position where he can hold in front of the site. TACO rarely pushes out of a site to get kills or information. The gain of a kill or this information given to FalleN is worth the loss of life. If a player can push and get one or two frags plus information of where another one or two players are with a chance of seeing where the bomb is can be extremely useful to every one on the team. I think FalleN is looking for another player like Fer that can handle an awp.
Sending Fer into a group of unsuspecting T’s with Stewie2k in tow toting an awp for support would wreak havoc on opposing terrorist and gain an insane amount of information to boot. This would make FalleN’s job a lot easier in conducting his other two teammates around around the map. With a tag team of these two notoriously aggressive players roaming around the map together it will change the way teams play against them.
Teams may play slower, trying to counter their pushes. This in turn may lead to a time crunch later in the round forcing mistakes with the potential of not even being involved with the play. Even more dangerous is the fact they will likely be split up and play different sites. FalleN will also likely give each of them permission to move freely throughout a round. With the potential of either or both of them pushing early in rounds it will spread teams across the map before executes and force other teams to have a weaker default setup.
Having Stewie2k on SK also gives FalleN the ability to hand off the awping duties and play different positions himself. FalleN is known for being an amazing awper and can sometimes play very forward positions with the weapon. Although risky, he has been very successful with this in the past trusting the cover of his teammates. One thing I suspect will come from this change is Stewie2k will become the forward awper and let Fallen hang back for cover. This will take a lot of pressure off of FalleN as the awp is a high intensity weapon that requires a lot of focus and attention. With the IGL being able to play back with a rifle he can check his mini map more often and let him process where the opposing team may come from.
Even more helpful to the SK cause is that Stewie2k has in-game leading experience. I doubt FalleN ever gives up his rolse as IGL but it helps that Stewie2k understands this role and knows how important certain information is to an IGL and he can play accordingly. This can lead to better decisions all around for SK. Whether SK chooses to him an awp or simply turn him loose with Fer, SK just og t alot more exciting to watch.
The Game Haus esports