The offseason is over: Takeaways from Northern Arena

The Counter-Strike offseason has officially ended. After a few weeks, the tournament circuit has started back up again. With so many shuffles and shifts during the offseason, it was unclear as to how strong the teams were in relation with each other. The first LAN tournaments to kick off the season were Powerlan and Northern Arena. Powerlan was just a local Danish LAN and Northern Arena fielded a majority of North American teams as well as Heroic and Rogue.

At the top of the pack are Immortals and Cloud 9. Immortals added in Wilton “zews” Prado as their leader. There was some doubt, as he was the previous coach of SK, but he did well for himself both in skill and in calls. The good thing for Immortals is that the system is running well with João “felps” Vasconcellos being the aggressive playmaker, Ricardo “boltz” Prass being the passive consistent star and Henrique “HEN1” Teles being the impact fragger. The team is rounded out by Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles and zews filling out whatever roles are left.

Cloud 9 remains near the top of the NA pack and proved it was ahead of the rest, even with the removal of former leader Alec “Slemmy” White. The big gain for C9 is Timothy “autimatic” Ta. He has slotted in perfectly, and Jake “Stewie2k” Yip’s leadership is working out well. The only question is how well it can work in the long term as teams adapt to his style. Their real test happens next week at StarLadder. The competitive field will be much more difficult there, so it will be a much better test to see how this roster will stand against the better teams.

The next tier of teams was Heroic and EchoFox. Both are in the same boat. Both teams have made multiple roster changes throughout the year and have steadily improved. Right now, both are on an upward trend but still lack the necessary firepower to break into a higher level unless a player on the team steps up.

The surprise winners were CLG. The expectations going into the event were low, but CLG surpassed them. Everything on the CLG roster is new. James “hazed” Cobb is a new leader. Kenneth “koosta” Suen quit AWPing to be a rifler. Steve “reltuC” Cutler stopped rifling to be an AWPer. Ethan “nahtE” Arnold and Yassine “Subroza”‘ Taoufik are new players to the pro scene. So you couldn’t expect much out of them. In the end, they did better than anticipated, especially nahtE and Subroza, as both didn’t have any LAN jitters their first event.

On a more negative note, NRG did worse than expected, being upset by CLG. This team has remained in the second tier of NA teams for the entire year. Its highest peak was getting an upset win over EnVyUs at Counterpit, which happened with a completely different lineup. Come December, if nothing improves, there should be more changes.

The rest were are still undecided as they were either completely new rosters or standins. The only problematic team to look out for is OpTic, which had multiple roster shuffles leading up to this event. It started with bringing Tarik “tarik” Celik in and kicking Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz out. Then kicking Damian “daps” Steele out to bring stanislaw back in. Then tarik couldn’t go so they had to bring daps back in again. With a middling result here, I have no clue as to what move is next.

As for the others:

TSM: barely had any time to practice with their new player Skyler “Relyks” Weaver and were in the hardest group.

compLexity/Splyce: Both teams had standins. Splyce bombed out, while Complexity did better than anyone expected. In the end, it didn’t foreshadow anything about either of their futures.

Rogue/Winterfox/Selfless: All three teams have new rosters. It was a bad result for Rogue and Winterfox and an okay result for Selfless, but it doesn’t say much about their future.

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