Moving into the last week of the Spring Split, we’ve got some interesting matches lined up.
On the EU side, it will be exciting to see how Obey Alliance will perform. After their upset against NRG, they’ve proven they have what it takes to stand up to Europe’s best teams. And with match-ups against Team Rival and Dignitas, we’ll know how they stack up against the best by the end of the week.
Over in North America, it’s still intensely even competition in the Spring Split. After finding their footing in week three of the split, we get to see how far EUnited has come. With matches against the teams that obliterated them in the first week of the split, Luminosity and Spacestation, EUnited has their chance at redemption.
With that, let’s go to the picks.
Team Rival vs NRG Esports
Both of these teams are around the same skill level. However after dropping a game to Obey Alliance last week, I have to give this one to Rival.
SK Gaming vs Mousesports
Mousesports are having some trouble finding their playstyle as a team. Everyone enjoyed watching their crazy picks at the beginning of the split. And while it may not have worked out for them in the short run, it’s better to be the meta definer coming up with new strategies if you aim to be a top team. In the past week, though, Mousesports have been picking fairly conventionally. And they haven’t seen any more success than when they were picking Janus Jungles and Chaac Mids. I don’t anticipate this being a good direction for the team, and I can’t see them finding their footing in the last week of the split.
EUnited vs Luminosity
While Luminosity took this match up 2-0 in the first week of the split, EUnited is stronger than they were back then. While I don’t doubt Luminosity’s skills either, I think EUnited can manage to pull a win this time.
Splyce vs Counter Logic Gaming
Counter Logic Gaming
Splyce is still having trouble finding wins in this split. And while they’re not a weak team by any means, CLG is still looking stronger right now.
Team Dignitas vs Mousesports
Again, Mousesports are having identity problems. If they can’t manage to beat SK gaming, there’s certainly no reason to change my mind in a match-up against the EU powerhouse Team Dignitas.
Team Rival vs Obey Alliance
I want to believe that Obey can take these matches. They’re definitely the team to root for if you like underdogs. But I pick with my brain, not my heart, and my brain says Team Rival.
Obey Alliance vs Team Dignitas
Again, I would love to pick Obey here. But with the information we have, Dignitas is just the stronger team.
Trifecta vs Counter Logic Gaming
CLG has been underwhelming lately. They’ve fallen from grace after looking like the strongest team in the split half way through. On the other side of the spectrum, Trifecta has been fairly impressive. Taking wins off of both EUnited and Luminosity, Trifecta has had a strong showing in the past two weeks. Because of that, I have to predict Trifecta.
EUnited vs Spacestation
This is another match-up where I want to vote for EUnited, but I just can’t. Spacestation has seated themselves on the throne of the SPL, and while EUnited certainly has a chance to take this I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Spacestation vs Trifecta
Just like with the last match, Trifecta is a strong team that has a chance. But it’s hard to deny that Spacestation is the strongest team in North America right now.
Team Rival > NRG Esports
SK Gaming > Mousesports
EUnited > Luminosity
Splyce < Counter Logic Gaming
Team Dignitas > Mousesports
Team Rival > Obey Alliance
Obey Alliance < Team Dignitas
Trifecta > Counter Logic Gaming
EUnited < Spacestation
Spacestation > Trifecta
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
Now that we’re done with rerun week, I can start actually predicting things instead of regurgitating last weeks results. Which would be more fun in a different SPL climate. But this split’s North American teams are so even that it seems practically impossible to make clear power rankings.
EUnited beat Counter Logic Gaming, Counter Logic beat Spacestation, Spacestation beat Luminosity, Luminosity beat EUnited… All of these teams are in the same tier. It’s great for watching games, but stressful for predicting them.
At least the European side is a little easier. There seem to be two distinct echelons of EU teams, with Rival, NRG and Dignitas being top teams and Obey, SK and Mousesports being lower. But if teams from the same tier face off in EU, it can be just as hard as an NA game to predict.
Oh well, you’ve gotta pick someone. Let’s get into the picks for week 5.
Team Rival VS Team Dignitas
Rival and Dignitas are both great teams, and both could easily take this. But for my money, Dignitas comes out on top. Dignitas are still the standout team of the European Pro League, even if they’ve recently lost some sets.
Obey Alliance VS Mousesports
Two of the weaker teams square off in this set. But Mousesports is too inconsistent, and their drafts can get a little too crazy. And while I like experimental drafts as much as the next guy, they don’t translate cleanly into wins.
eUnited VS Trifecta
It’s hard to vote against eUnited in these match-ups after their Week Three comeback. Last week they looked as strong as they did in the World Championship. And while I don’t doubt that Trifecta could take this, the same could be said for the team I vote against in practically any North American match-up. They’re just too even.
Spacestation VS Counter Logic Gaming
On the opposite end of the spectrum, before eUnited’s comeback CLG was looking like the best team in the world. But after taking a loss from not only eUnited, but from Luminosity, they don’t look so tough anymore. Spacestation, on the other hand, is a consistently great team.
Team Dignitas VS SK Gaming
This is the day where that short tier list I made starts coming in handy. Dignitas is in the top three, and SK is in the bottom, which makes this prediction easy.
NRG Esports VS Obey Alliance
Thursdays in the EU SPL seem to be the designated strong team versus weak team days. NRG is good, Obey isn’t. Easy FP.
NRG Esports VS SK Gaming
I like the low stress environment Thursday is creating here. I don’t have to think very hard. But there’s also not much to write about. That tier list is pretty real; so far none of the lower echelon teams have managed to take even a game off of the top three, let alone a whole match. It would be exciting to be wrong about these matches. But it also wouldn’t be responsible of me to predict SK.
Trifecta VS Splyce
This is the battle of teams I’m not quite sure what to think of yet. Splyce has a number of talented veteran players that we haven’t seen in action for a while, and I’d love to see them find their footing in this match. But for right now, they’re not great. Trifecta in the short term is a pretty lukewarm team. They never seem to look that strong or that weak. But in the short term, I have to give this one to Trifecta.
Luminosity VS Spacestation
This is the match that I’m most unsure of. Spacestation is still a consistently strong team, but Luminosity had a strong showing last week. But when in doubt, vote for Spacestation. That way at least John “BaRRaCCuDDa” Salter fans won’t get mad at me.
Luminosity VS Splyce
I’m still reluctant to give Splyce my vote, and to repeat myself Luminosity has been looking incredibly strong lately. This is probably about as easy to predict as North American matches can get. And even here, I have no doubt that Splyce could take the game. It’s really anyone’s league in North America.
Team Rival < Team Dignitas
Obey Alliance > Mousesports
EUnited > Trifecta
Spacestation > Counter Logic Gaming
Team Dignitas > SK Gaming
NRG Esports > Obey Alliance
NRG Esports > SK Gaming
Trifecta > Splyce
Luminosity < Spacestation
Luminosity > Splyce
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Top Image courtesy of Smitegame.com, SPL logo and Esports Team logos courtesy of Esports.Smitegame.com
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 Counter-Strike scene is in a state of flux like we’ve never seen before. Truly, there are about eight teams who can at any time win a tournament. The tier below the ‘top tier’ (teams that could win a big tournament) is as strong as it has ever been. Team Liquid, per HLTV, was rated as the ninth best team in the world. A fringe playoff team, who could maybe make the semis of an international tournament, with a lucky bracket draw. That was their situation before they made the finals at ESL One New York, beating the best team in the world in a best of three to get there.
However, there are some teams under-performing given their stature and talent level. I’m going to try to analyze why these teams are under-performing, one by one. My definition of ‘under-performing’ is a team that isn’t playing up to their standards or expectations. Keep in mind, some of my analytics will be related to the eye test; therefore, there will be opinions. I know, opinions in 2017, an absolute deathtrap.
Astralis is a team everyone has noticed under-performing. From IEM Oakland in 2016 until DreamHack Masters Malmo 2017, Astralis did not fail to make the semifinals once. During this span, they made six finals and won three tournaments. Falling out in the group stage is unacceptable for a team of their stature, I don’t care the format. It is not okay to lose to Team Liquid in a best of three match when best of three’s are supposedto be your bread and butter.
To theorize why Astralis are playing poorly, by their standards anyway, let’s look into the individual performances of players, as I think they still play one of the best brands of Counter-Strike in the scene today. When looking, Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander is really the only under-performer (0.99 HLTV rating in the last three months on LAN).
All that said, I’m not worried about the Danes. Their style of Counter-Strike is highly proficient, and they have some of the best players in the game. I believe they will return to their winning ways very soon.
I will admit, you can never really say what form VP are in. They can bomb out in groups of one tournament, and win the next one; however, the reason I say they are under-performing is that those peaks haven’t been there. The last time they made a finals appearance at a notable tournament was DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, six months ago. For reference, this is their second-longest finals drought, since their drought at the end of 2015 into 2016. This drought is still in full effect, and I’m not sure I see it ending soon.
Noticeably, VP doesn’t seem to have that same sort of chemistry we are used to seeing. Usually, VP looks like a ‘hive mind’ sort of team, as if they know exactly what one another will do next; I haven’t seen that VP as of late. The under-performance of Wiktor ‘TaZ’ Wojtas, Filip ‘NEO’ Kubski and Janusz ‘Snax’ Pogorzelski doesn’t help (0.91, 0.93, and 0.97 HLTV ratings over the past three months on LAN, respectively).
At the end of the day, the poles are in serious trouble right now. If they don’t put it all together and do something, the unthinkable might happen.
Let me be clear, I do rank SK as the best team in the world; they just haven’t been dominating the way we grew accustomed to since cs_summit. Following a group stage exit in SL i-League Starseries Season 3, they failed to win only one tournament until the PGL Major. From the PGL Major onward, they have yet to make a final, much less win a tournament.
Watching them play, they don’t seem to have that same discipline as the SK of 2016. They seem much looser, which I suppose has been to their benefit up to this point. In terms of individuals under-performing, there’s not much to speak of besides Epitacio ‘TACO’ de Melo not playing well (0.96 on LAN over the past three months). Although João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos is coming off his worst performance since joining SK at ESL One New York (0.89, negative 22 K/D), I personally am not concerned.
It’s likely SK will turn it around; on the off chance they don’t, my money is on G2 to take over their world number one spot.
I suppose we are in ‘the parity era’ so these under-performances are sort of warranted in a way. The nature of the game and the scene does tend to lean itself towards less dominance from teams, so you might think I am overreacting; the way I see it though, these teams have too much pedigree to not be performing.
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This year’s edition of Dreamhack Malmö has lived up to the hype so far.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas have shown up in championship-winning form. Meanwhile, the major champions on the rocks Gambit fended off FaZe Clan’s advances. Astralis moved on to the quarterfinals unscathed. However, their Brazilian counterparts SK Gaming dropped a map to Valde’s North. With the tournament moving into the arena today, this article will highlight some of the insane plays that occurred in the group stages.
William “draken” Sundin’s ridiculous 1v2 clutch
The Ninjas in Pyjamas have been in dire need of a flashy dedicated AWPer for well over a year now. The Swede is NiP’s highest rated player at the tournament so far and is the biggest factor as to why they look so strong. It’s clear to see why fans are in awe over this clip – to get the second kill with his crosshair that distance away with that little time is something we likely won’t see again for some time. The play was even huge in the context of the game. Sundin kept Gambit off of match point, allowing the Ninjas to push the game into overtime. I can’t imagine the scene if this happened in the Malmö Arena.
Richard “shox” Papillon’s pistol 1v2
This clip is a glimpse of Shox’s true form for those who haven’t been around too long. Not only is the killing blow a nice flick onto the jumping counter-terrorist, but the decision to even go for the kill makes it so much greater. The Frenchman decides to get off the bomb with three seconds left. 99 times out of 100 in that situation, the terrorist would be left standing around after giving up the round, but not Shox. Lucas’s decision to jump peek for information is one that he will certainly be regretting now.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s 1v5 clutch
By now it’s no secret that I’m a bit of a s1mple fan boy and this clip tells you why. Not only does he demonstrate his raw skill by instantly trading three of his teammate’s deaths, he shows off his game sense. He makes a quiet but swift rotation to the A bomb site and then gives Nifty no chance by getting aggressive after planting. The clutch put Natus Vincere on map point and put any chance of a Renegades come back to bed.
Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund’s double wall bang on Cache
A vintage Ninjas in Pyjamas showing wouldn’t be complete without GeT_RiGhT. The clip had me reminiscing about the 1.6 days and in particular, 1.6 GeT_RiGhT. While it’s not uncommon for players to get kills through the garage door on Cache, it was made better that he kept teammate Rez alive, meaning they didn’t lose the B bomb site. A rare time where VAC was appropriate in Twitch chat.
Despite the new FaZe Clan not making the playoffs, they did leave us with a little parting gift. It came in the second half pistol which is incredibly important for obvious reasons. While it may not be one of the best ninja defuses we’ve seen in Counter-Strike history it is nice to see one every now and again. As caster Moses said on stream, usually when a sneaky defuse happens the pros get anxious about leaving the bomb too early for a while after.
You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles. If I missed any clips let me know on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL. Feature image courtesy of HLTV. Props to MrSpotter and DiFendo for uploading the clips to YouTube.
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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.
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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PGL Major Kraków was a topsy turvy tournament, to say the least. A Gambit side led by Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko took the victory in a thrilling final map on the historic Inferno. We saw an incredible clutch from Abay ‘HObbit’ Khasenov and consistent fragging from Dauren ‘AdreN’ Kystaubayev whilst the AWPing of Vito ‘kNg’ Giuseppe and the leadership of Lucas ‘steel’ Lopes tried to keep them in the game.
The map in question, Inferno, has hosted a number of grand final deciders. Despite only being reintroduced into the map pool this year, it has remained a popular choice among top teams. It is favored as a neutral playing field because most teams know all the basic strategies but the tempo can be changed between fast and slow. Its design also allows for clutch plays whether that be as a CT from pit defending the A bomb or as a terrorist running down banana.
For these reasons, we’ve been gifted many memorable finals thanks to Inferno. This article will pick out some of the best that you may be interested in re-watching.
SL-iLeague Starseries Season 3 Finals
FaZe Clan had been on the rise since picking up Bosnian superstar Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač. They had recently formed a rivalry with the Danes of Astralis, who bested them in the final of Counter-Strikes famed ESL One Katowice.
However, there was more than just the rivalry at stake for FaZe. The team was out to prove what international teams can achieve. Not only that, Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen craved revenge against his former team while Fabien ‘kioShiMa’ Fiey wanted to prove he wasn’t ‘The Problem’. With the grand final one a piece, was there a better way to end than in overtime on Inferno?
ESL One Cologne 2014
Over three years ago now, back when it was still a major, the grand final of ESL One Cologne 2014 was decided by Inferno. The perfect stage for the still ripe El Classico between Fnatic and NiP. The aforementioned beat the Ninjas in CSGO’s first ever major championship while the legendary team was still missing one from their trophy cabinet.
Facing one of the most dominant Inferno teams in Fnatic, it seemed as if all the odds were pitched against them. After going down early, an unforgettable ace from Adam ‘friberg’ Friberg instilled confidence in the Ninjas who would go on to win their only major in CSGO.
ESL Pro League Season 3 Finals
For this match, we head over to London to witness an intense best of five final. Luminosity, now known as SK Gaming, was fresh off the back of a major win at ESL One Cologne 2016. While challengers G2 Esports had struggled with consistency. It was on the astounding duo of Richard ‘shox’ Papillon and Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom to prove French CS was still at large.
The first four maps were nail-biting with every map ending with both teams in double figures. The last map Inferno did the entire series justice. The game went into overtime boasting incredible plays from Shox and Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David. If you are a newer viewer it’s one I’d definitely recommend watching.
ESL One Katowice 2015
After looking into Cologne 2014, you’ll probably get a sense of Déjà vu here. We’re back, map three, Inferno, NiP versus Fnatic. This time Fnatic demonstrated that dominance through utterly crushing the Ninjas on their CT side. In spite of that, NiP would make the game entertaining through a second half resurgence.
This game is a great example of how to play the CT side of Inferno. NiP making great use of crossfires on the A bombsite, meanwhile, Fnatic perfected the art of banana control. If learning some new tricks is your thing, many of these can still be used in the newest iteration of the map.
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 info-csgo.ru
Damn I miss their pizza and doughnuts. [Source: backwerk.de]
Since the semifinals didn’t start until four o clock local time we slept in till our hearts were content. We left to go out for breakfast at about ten – we’d had enough of cereal bars and waffles already – and went to a place called Back Werk which for you Brits is pretty much identical to Greggs except here they have more on offer.
For the remainder of the afternoon, we went back into town to return a t-shirt Lewis bought that was too small and got Subway, which while the menu was in English is quite an awkward thing to order in a foreign country because of the number of questions you get asked.
Game of the tournament
The first semifinal was Natus Vincere vs Cloud9 which was undoubtedly the best series for us, particularly the second map on Overpass. The last five rounds or so were hectic and it felt as if the entire arena was just waiting for Cloud9 to win it. The fact that it went right down to the wire made the ending even better. I’m a sucker for the underdog story so it was thrilling to see C9 make it to the finals.
After the SK/FaZe series, we headed back to the hotel to chill out and have a few drinks. When we reached the lobby of the hotel we saw s1mple lounging in the reception area and with some newly built confidence, I decided to approach him. I’m a big fan of s1mple simply because of his outrageous playstyle and his outlandish attitude which kind of reminds me of myself sometimes. However, because of this reason I was anxious to ask as I thought he might be contentious, but surprisingly he was willing to. I would even go as far as saying that he seemed happy to but we’ll never know, after all, it is s1mple.
Not much else to say about semi-final day as we spent most of our time at the arena. I did forget to mention that I got a picture with MrTweeday which I was particularly pleased about since his old NiP frag movies were one of the reasons that I became really passionate about the esports side of CSGO and NiP as well.
Day 4 – Sunday – Grand Final
I’m not avoiding you Tweeday, the sun was just blinding.
Sunday started out much the same shower, waffles and head out. If you’re interested in another awkward lift story, this time we got cozy with the Brazilians Lucas, kNg and their coach Zakk from Immortals. We exchanged greetings whilst waiting for the lift, but the whole way down to the lobby they were joking around in Brazilian with us having no idea what they were saying. The two of us were more interested in the black and brown Yeezys Lucas had on. We felt like we were hanging since we had our Ultraboosts on. Again the grand final didn’t start till later on in the day so we had a walk around Cologne to try and get some nice pictures.
On our walk around we found the signing area, where fans can obviously meet the players and take pictures or have things signed. You’ve probably been wondering why we had never been before but we didn’t feel the need to since anything like that we could have done at our hotel. The queues were quite long, we were in the area an hour before FaZe Clan were due in and the line was already a hundred people thick. If you have the time I don’t think an hour is too long to wait, I’ve waited longer to see concerts so if having your mouse pad signed or getting a picture with your idol would make your trip I would definitely say it’s worth your time.
A short time later was the grand final. We had our nachos and our cheeseburgers and we were ready to go. The series was opened with a performance of the theme for the event Fly Away by TheFatRat on stage. It was expected but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated. A prop I have for ESL is that they put on a good show all weekend long whether it was entertaining us with fan interviews or the opening ceremony or the various booths around the venue. They certainly made it a lot more enjoyable than just watching CS on a huge screen. Regardless of whether you are a fan of electronic music you have to appreciate the lights show that was put on, mesmerizing was the only way I can describe it.
As for the actual grand final itself, it depends on entirely what you define as entertaining Counter-Strike as to whether you enjoyed it or not. SK Gaming put on a clinic and you could see some of the adaptations they’d made to catch the Americans off guard. It was a shame C9 couldn’t pick one map up for the crowd. The stadium was a beautiful sea of blue and white with a few fishes of other jerseys swimming around. At least they gave us a couple of amazing plays to cheer for, the Autimatic deagle round on Train, in particular, had me jumping out of my seat. At the end of the day, SK deserved to win and the crowd recognized that and cheered many congratulations as they picked the trophy up.
Day 5 – Monday
Time to Leave
The realization that I no longer had to plan my days around watching the best Counter-Strike on one of the most alluring stages was depressing. I actually felt as if there was a piece of my heart missing. It might only have been five days but it was some of the best five of my life. Walking around Cologne for the final time, you could tell that the event was all said and done. The streets were desolate once again, you could tell because you could actually step foot in the Subway near the Lanxess. There were next to no people walking around in mousesports or Cloud9 jerseys or people with ESL lanyards. I wanted to hear the crowd roar. Just one last time.
The trek home was tiresome. Our flight was delayed, meaning that we missed our train. It took us seven hours to get from Manchester to Hull which would usually take two hours. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world though. I discovered esports when it had just started to walk, now I’m watching it run and I believe that it’s only going to get stronger. All I ask is that you give it a chance, be part of it.
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. Credit to Affen mit Waffen’s YouTube for allowing the use of his recording of FatRat’s performance.
Esports has been a huge part of my life ever since I discovered it. Playing games competitively was an escape from the many trials and tribulations I’ve been through over the past four years. For the entirety of the game, the only outcome that mattered was the win.
My journey started with Call of Duty, which was a game I had already been playing for many years and had an ability in. Counter-Strike, however, was different. Everything was new to me. I’ve seen myself climb from the bottom of the ranks to the top. All the learning it took to reach that point fuelled my competitive drive even more.
Pivotal in that climb was the amount of time spent watching professional players and tournaments. Although, in spite of my four-year love affair I’d never been to an event, that was until ESL One Cologne 2017. I’m writing this journal to convince anyone with even a remote interest in esports why they should attend an event. There’s a lot of waffle but I hope that there are a number of points I expand on that budding fans might be wondering about, most of all I hope you enjoy the read.
Day 1 – Thursday
Where it all began
Our travel day started with an early four o’clock start. My friend Lewis and I had to catch a two-hour train to Manchester Airport and then an hour and a half flight to Cologne. We’d brought an abundance of things to pass the time but we mostly spent hours talking about how excited we were.
For Europeans thinking of attending an event the travel was fairly cheap, our return flights were around £60 which I think is a fair price. If you don’t have the money for a hotel I’ve heard good things about the likes of Airbnb so it’s possible you could find cheap places to stay.
Both Lewis and I have decent jobs, and student loan, so we decided to pay more for one of the best hotels in Cologne the Radisson Blu. As the taxi pulled into the hotel we saw three vans marked with ESL stickers which we thought was a bit weird.
Wide open in the shape of an ‘o’
Source – Radisson Blu
The taxi pulled to a halt. After getting our bags we took in our surroundings, the hotel looked like our hometown’s famed aquarium The Deep, but more importantly, THERE WAS COLDZERA HAVING A CIGARETTE. AND THERE WAS THREAT LEAVING THE HOTEL. AND THERE WAS MIXWELL AND HAZED. I tried not to stare too much. I made my way into the lobby cool, calm, collected, on the outside at least. Well, that explains all the ESL vans, I thought.
The entrance to the hotel made me feel even more out of place. It was one of those rotating ones. I might be 19 years old but I look twelve. All these businessmen and people that I looked up to probably thought, “what the heck is that kid doing here?” I didn’t stick around long enough to find out. I caught glimpses of Na’Vi and North but I kept my eyes focused on reception and managed to keep my jaw from touching the floor.
After checking in we headed straight to our room so we could get changed and come back down for a better, more discreet look. Once the elevator doors closed and we were safe, I looked at Lewis, he just stared back. His mouth wide open in the shape of an ‘o’.
I knew we were likely to see players walking around Cologne or the arena but I didn’t expect that sort of emotion to come over me. The only way I can think of describing it is that I didn’t really believe they were real until seeing them. Watching through a tiny screen for years is the only way I’d ever known these people. Being in their presence filled my body with excitement, I was finally seeing those responsible for so many moments and memories.
Rounding out the day
After unpacking we needed to head into town to buy some breakfast. The breakfast at the hotel was an extra twenty-five euro per person per day. You know, I do well for myself but not that bloody well. We ended up in Penny Supermarket which we didn’t realize until after we left was the equivalent of Nettos to us Brits. Our purchases included a fake version of the chocolate Lynx, a two-liter bottle of lemonade for forty cents, about thirty cereal bars oh and some chocolate covered waffles.
We got back to the hotel at about six o clock but ended up dropping dead from all the traveling, meaning that was it for day one.
Day 2 – Friday – Quarterfinal Day
I wanted to ask for a picture but didn’t
Being a Ninjas in Pyjamas fan myself and with Lewis rooting for Cloud9, the quarterfinal we most wanted to see was between NiP and C9. Since the first series also seemed a bit of a thriller with G2 playing Na’Vi we decided to go early so we could get good seats for the second game.
Once we’d washed, dressed and munched on a few waffles we were good to go. We got into the lift to reception. GuardiaN was in the lift. Not going to lie, I played it cool, had to brush past him to get into space and did so without my inner fanboy setting off.
The whole way down he was talking to the Na’Vi manager in what I presume was Russian. My eyes were laser-locked on the back of his head. I wanted to ask for a picture so bad but in the middle of a packed lift didn’t seem like the right place. I decided once we got out at the bottom I’d pluck up the courage, that was until some old guy blocked me with his suitcase the size of a cow. GuardiaN was now a good few meters away and I wasn’t prepared to shout. Some might say I bottled it. However, my claim to fame for the day was that I shared a lift with him so I guess that’s still something right?
Not the best photographer but a decent view of the stage.
No amount of pictures does it justice.
We got to the arena an hour before game one was due to start and the first thing that hits you is how much bigger it is in person. Looking through a 24” monitor, it’s hard to appreciate the height that esports is in right now. The main reason why I wanted to go was for the atmosphere. Being in the same place as 13,000 other people who love this game as much as you do was an amazing feeling.
I was sporting the white NiP jersey from 2014 and a few seats across from us were a couple of guys who were also out supporting the Ninjas’. For me, it felt kind of natural to start jumping up and down in my seat in support as it’s what I do at home behind the monitor. They looked across at me for reassurance to get involved with the cheering and I gave him a look that said you go for it son. By the end of game two we were fist bumping and yelling together, it’s a shame at the end we had our head in hands. At least Lewis was happy Cloud9 won but I didn’t really care about that.
That’s one point I love to stress about esports fans, in general, is that everyone I have met was friendly and willing to get involved. Traditional sports have lost their way slightly in that many fans go simply to fight or hate on the other team whereas our fans cheer for amazing plays no matter what jersey they’re wearing.
We didn’t watch the next two series as we knew they would be whitewashes and decided to head into Cologne’s city center.
The city of Cologne
You can climb to the top of the cathedral but it takes well over an hour.
For those of you considering making the trip to ESL One if it’s in Cologne next year, you’ll be pleased to know the city has enough to offer to satisfy you in-between being at the arena. There is a multitude of shops to explore ranging from Primark to Louis Vuitton. We were mostly interested in the trainer shops since both me and Lewis have a fetish for a fresh pair of sneaks. It seems Germany is big on the ‘Hypebeast’ trend at the moment with plenty of shops stocking the likes of exclusive Adidas shoes and the clothes to match. The river and cathedral are also very picturesque if you love a good photo.
The transport system in Cologne is amazing with trams, buses and taxis on hand to take you where ever you need, you could even hire a bike for something to do if you have the time. On a side note, the tap water was so nice. For those of you who have ever had the displeasure of being in Hull or England in general, the water is extremely hard, the complete opposite of the soft smooth water there. It’s not a reason to go to Germany but I couldn’t get over how nice it was.
A date with destiny
On the night, we decided to head down to the bar for a drink and maybe get the chance to meet some players. After sitting down I clocked the NiP players sat drinking cocktails a few tables away from us. I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t get a photo with them but first I needed a drink to calm my nerves. “Two JD and cokes please,” I asked the bartender, I didn’t even ask Lewis what he wanted, that was far back in my mind. The guy poured the drink in a savvy way but I noticed the drink equated to about two parts Jack Daniels, one part ice and one part coke. So it was strong. It was funny watching Lewis’s reaction since he never really drinks much, it definitely put me at ease.
Click on the photo and look at Heaton’s face, I can’t get over it.
I felt as if I was going to meet the Queen or something but quickly shook the nerves after I’d downed half my drink. I walked over, JD in hand, and asked for a photo politely as I could. Even though they weren’t busy this is supposed to be their downtime. All of GeT_RiGhT, f0rest and Heaton had no hesitation which made me feel better about disturbing them.
One thing I would say about all of the pros I spoke to was that they all try to make you feel comfortable. Especially for younger fans it must be quite daunting to go up to someone you idolize so I found it super comforting that they made the effort to speak with you rather than just stand-up, photo, done. So I would say just go for it if you see them unless it looks like an obviously bad time to ask. Anyways, I did it and I was glad because I know I would have regretted it if I didn’t.
To finalize our second day we were just going to head back up to the room and have a few drinks of our own and most likely stare at the picture for around three hours. I asked the bartender for the bill. Twenty-five euros… for two drinks. I sucked it up and paid with a smile on my face to seem like a baller but deep down I died a little inside.
The last part of the journal will be out within the coming days so keep on the lookout.
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.
Just as in traditional sports, esports have big rivalries as well. From incredible matches, rivalries are born. A few key elements to keeping our game exciting to watch are the storylines and rivalries between teams. Teams battling it out to stake their claim as the greatest of all time. Here are a few such CS:GO rivalries that transcended the rest.
NiP vs VeryGames
Quite the rivalry this was; although, due to NiP’s dominance, it took a while for VG to be able to win against them. Despite it being lopsided in terms of results, it was an incredible David vs. Goliath storyline anytime they matched up, despite that VeryGames was actually the second best team in the world. VG made a lot of roster changes just trying to best NiP; when VG finally managed to knock NiP off their throne at ESL Major Series in fall of 2013, it was one of the most memorable moments in Counter-Strike history. This was the first of the many CS:GO rivalries, and both teams helped define the meta for years to come.
Fnatic vs NiP
Fnatic vs NiP is arguably the greatest CS:GO rivalry in history. When the two Swedish teams matchup, it’s nearly always a bloodbath. The rivalry took a very interesting start when Fnatic robbed NiP of Dreamhack Winter 2013, where NiP was the heavy favorite to win. NiP, now had a chip on their shoulder and were thirsty for revenge. The next time they would meet on a grand stage was following Fnatic’s additions of Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer, and Freddy ‘KRiMZ’ Johansson, at ESL One Cologne 2014. While a much improved lineup, NiP was not afraid. NiP was hungry for a major title, after falling short twice following the loss to Virtus.Pro at EMS One Katowice 2014. NiP managed to edge Fnatic in one of the most exciting runs through a tournament bracket I have ever witnessed. A great final, which saw NiP on top, finally.
The next time these two would clash on a big stage was at MLG X Games Aspen Invitational. This match is one of, if not the most exciting and closely contested best of threes in CS:GO history. A must watch match for any new viewers, and another one of the great matches these two would produce. The last notable time that these two would meet, was in the grand final of ESL One Katowice 2015. The first two maps were absolute thrillers, but the third map was a bit of a letdown. The only real reason it was very close was that NiP mounted a monstrous comeback but fell short in the end. If it were a bit more back and forth, I think this very well could have been the best matchup between these two.
Fnatic vs LDLC/EnVyUs
This rivalry has a storyline similar to that of ‘Rocky’ as LDLC, in their first major matchup came but three rounds away from winning it on the third map. Then we had the most notorious boost in CS:GO history, that led Fnatic to come back from a 13-3 deficit. LDLC was gifted the semifinal spot; however, as Fnatic just surrendered the win to them, due to the massive controversy that had spewed from the boost. This led the LDLC core to win its first major. They would meet many more times, but the next most notable meeting was at ESL One Cologne 2015 in the grand final, following a French shuffle that saw Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schaub and Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire now on EnVy. This roster fell short of Fnatic that time; however, it would be the last time this team would lose to Fnatic during the era of their rivalry. They last notably met at Dreamhack Winter 2015, in the quarterfinals, where EnVyUs bested Fnatic with no massive controversy. This meeting would mark the end of one of the greatest CS:GO rivalries we have ever seen.
Luminosity vs Na’Vi
Two highly tactical teams meeting to create incredible games? Yes, please. This rivalry was a bit short lived; unfortunately, we never got to see the true end all on the grand final stage of MLG Colombus due to Ladislav ‘Guardian’ Kovács’s wrist injury. It still produced one of my all-time favorite best of three matches to date, in the semifinals of Katowice 2016. This match was the climax of their rivalry, where Luminosity trumped Guardian and Na’Vi. No other CS:GO rivalries had quite the same shock and awe factor as this one did, specifically pertaining to the tactical genius both squads brought, not to mention the amazing AWP matchup in GuardiaN vs Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo.
SK vs Virtus.Pro
Another one of the best CS:GO rivalries was born at ESL One Cologne 2016, a matchup that admittedly could have been better if Virtus.Pro did not make the joker pick of Nuke for the second map, but Cobble and Mirage were still thrillers. In the end, SK emerged victorious on this one, but Virtus.Pro would strike back at ESL One New York in exciting fashion. VP would win out at the ELEAGUE Major as well, but SK was a bit handicapped by stand-in Ricardo ‘fox’ Pacheco; however, that didn’t stop them from making it one of the closest 2-0 best of three matches of all time. The rivalry would come to a bit of an abrupt end after VP would best SK one last time in the grand final of Dreamhack Las Vegas. The end of this rivalry was based on Virtus.Pro’s break from the scene for a while, when they came back, they were nowhere near the level they were at before they left.
Astralis vs FaZe
The most recent matchup that I’ve had my eye on, Astralis vs FaZe could still have a few more thrilling matches to come. The grand final of IEM Katowice 2017 was an incredible first battle, and the follow-up meeting at StarLadder was not a disappointment in the slightest. They would meet a third time in the semifinals of IEM Sydney, where FaZe Clan would again take it in another great match. While the matchup has been dormant for a while, due to Astralis’ taking a break from the tournament circuit, upon the return of Astralis, I’m sure this will still be a great rivalry. This rivalry has only just begun it seems, and I cannot wait for all the incredible matches we should get between these two titans.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has created many great rivalries throughout the years; while these are not all of the great rivalries, but some of the most notable ones.
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Featured image via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2xTmtOHynk