G2 finally broke through with its new roster and won a LAN at DreamHack Tours over the weekend. Meanwhile in Australia, SK Gaming won consecutive events for the first time in a year by following up its win at the CS Summit and taking the IEM Sydney championship.
But as always, there’s much more that happens beyond who lifts the trophies. Here are some of the major observations from Tours and Sydney and how they impact the Counter-Strike scene going forward.
Disaster for North and Na’Vi
Two different super teams crumbled under the limelight this week. North entered IEM Sydney with all circumstances pointing toward a deep tournament run and delivered squat in response. Beyond an inconsequential victory against Vici Gaming, North once again displayed mediocrity with a roster that should never be associated with the word. In the end, North was eliminated by Chiefs, who were virtual unknowns outside of Australia. This was the third time they have been upset at a tournament by a “lesser” opponent. It’s safe to say the hype train has been derailed and flung off the cliff. There is still a semblance of hope, as North’s problems are identifiable. North struggles heavily on their CT side and has pressing issues getting its stars all firing at the same time. If those can be solved, North might still be a threat.
Natus Vincere, on the other hand, looked completely lost and demoralized at DreamHack Tours. Na’Vi began the tournament on the right foot with an effortless win over Misfits. It turned out to be the lone bright spot of the event. A promising matchup against mousesports turned into a route as the Germans walloped Na’Vi on Mirage, sending them into a best-of-three decider against Misfits. After a quick win on Cobblestone, Na’Vi fell apart on Train and Mirage. Listless and out of sync, Na’Vi was picked apart by an on-fire Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan and the two French pickups. Former coach Sergey “starix” Ischuk put it best:
Okey @natusvincere who is next ?
— Sergey starix Ischuk (@starixCS) May 7, 2017
G2 and HellRaisers Show Their Mettle
Both G2 and HellRaisers bounced back at Tours after underwhelming performances at DreamHack Austin. HellRaisers cruised through the group stage by beating EnVyUs and Tricked, then enduring a slightly tough series against Misfits in the semifinals. G2 was upset early by Tricked but won the rematch to get out of the group. G2 beat mouz to get to the finals, where it smothered HellRaisers 2-0. This win indicates good progress for the team, but they faced less impressive competition here than at Austin.
Renegades Continue to Fall
Renegades’ acquisition of Nemanja “nexa” Isaković is an intelligent gamble on the surface. In the current ecosystem of CS:GO, acquiring contracted players can cost exorbitant amounts of money without any guarantee of results. Obviously, Renegades lacks such liquidity and couldn’t bolster its roster with known players. Instead, Renegades placed its bets on a promising Serbian youngster. Nexa was recruited by Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunović to be the new talent and leader of the team, hopefully maturing into a more solid addition as time progressed.
As smart as the decision seems in retrospect, it was still a gamble. Nexa won’t pay off as a long-term investment if Renegades can’t win anything. The team crashed out of IEM Sydney looking like ghosts of their ESL Pro League selves. It’s safe to say this team is on the last legs of its life. If they can’t make something happen in a few months, I think it’s time for the Australian players to go the way of Rick “Rickeh” Mulholland and find new functioning teams.
FaZe/Astralis Round 3
The semifinal matchup of IEM Sydney was FaZe Clan and Astralis’ third meeting on LAN in recent memory after consecutive finals at IEM Katowice and StarLadder Kiev. What made this meeting extra special was FaZe’s choice to play Cobblestone against Astralis in the group stage. Astralis destroyed them 16-7 with FaZe only getting one T-side round. Yet Finn “Karrigan” Andersen said he hid special strategies during the match. Astralis’ Lukas “Gla1ve” Rossander called it bullshit and haughtily chose Cobble against FaZe.
Apparently Karrigan wasn’t trying to rewrite history. In the rematch, FaZe won Cobble 16-13, winning 12 rounds on T-side. The rivalry between the two Danish masterminds continues.
SK moves to the Front of the Pack
It seems that SK has finally solved its identity question. After watching Sydney, I consider the combination of Marcelo “Coldzera” David, Fernando “Fer” Alvarenga and Joao “felps” Vasconcellos the strongest and most consistent fragging trio in the world. They are now the fourth team in the era of super teams to win a championship after Astralis, Virtus.Pro and FaZe. You can read more about that in Monday’s article.
Misfits and Mouz had strong debuts at their first LANs. Both teams upset Na’Vi in groups, though the caveat of Na’Vi utterly failing on its most preferred maps distorts things. There are some signs of promise from the Misfits squad in its new French players, and Sean Gares showed he isn’t washed up when it comes to anti-stratting. Additionally, ShahZam had a really good tournament.
As for mouz, Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný has proven himself to be the AWP superstar of the team and was the best player on his team at Tours. Robin “ropz” Kool wasn’t the world conqueror the hype claimed he would be, but he didn’t look phased on the main stage either. It’s a good start for the squad as Mouz beat established teams in Na’Vi and Heroic to advance out of group stages before losing 2-1 to G2 in the semifinals.
Cover photo by Jussi Jaaskelainen/DreamHack, illustration by Slingshot