The CS:GO shuffle has failed to disappoint — at least through a few weeks. Between Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs going to FaZe Clan, changes with mousesports and Emil “Magisk” Reif’s departure from North, there has been no shortage of drama. And there’s still more to come!
Still, it feels like an appropriate time to analyze what has happened so far. So Slingshot’s Counter-Strike contingent of Stephen Chiu and Jarek “DeKay” Lewis exchanged emails going back and forth about the teams, outlook and why NA always disappoints. They’ll be back again after the rest of the shuffle has played itself out.
Stephen Chiu: GuardiaN to FaZe: for when you think a super team isn’t quite super enough. We already had superman in NiKo and now we need wonder woman or some shit. This is wild.
Jarek Lewis: NiKo hasn’t looked like superman lately, and how wonderful is Guardian? Don’t think about 2015 god mode Guardian; think past six months Guardian. I’m not convinced this is an immediate boost for FaZe.
Stephen Chiu: Listen, NiKo had a trash event at the Major itself, but he was the primary carry for the last two events before that at ECS and ESL One Cologne. At ECS, he almost carried FaZe to beat SK. At Cologne, he was still the best player on the team. This is one of those weird things where his level is always so excellent that a slight drop off seems huge in difference. As for GuardiaN, I think he is performing above allu head-to-head in the last year. The difference is that allu has a semblance of a system. GuardiaN was in the wreck that we call Na’Vi. Though I will say GuardiaN hasn’t been practicing, in which case if I could, I’d keep allu (on the bench) just to put the fear of god into GuardiaN that he can be benched.
Jarek Lewis: I can agree with what you’ve said about NiKo. The more I look at the numbers, the more this looks like he had an off event. Unfortunately, it happened to be at the Major. Did you watch Counter Points? Moses made it pretty clear that he felt there were internal issues on FaZe. I get that same vibe; something feels off. They seem all too willing to make changes when they have been a top three team in the world for months now. I can’t fathom GuardiaN jumping from one volatile environment to another; it won’t end well. It’s impossible to know, but doesn’t this feel a bit odd?
Stephen Chiu: Yea there’s a problem, and I don’t mean kioshima. I can’t speculate on internal politics or how much power Karrigan has. I think he should still be running the team like a dictator as all of them should remember the terrible days in their old squad. When the FaZe core had no leader and almost lost to a fucked up CLG. When NiKo was on Mouz and when kioshima was under Happy. It could also be the case where they are legit trying subs. FaZe is one of the few orgs that can afford it, and on top of that, they did it earlier with the jkaem-kioshima switch. That’s probably stretching it. As a team, it could just be they identified that they are 2016 Fnatic with Karrigan, in which case the only way to sustain that style is with high individual skill. In which case the only two players that have clear upgrades on the market are allu and kioshima (guardian and seized).
Jarek Lewis: GuardiaN prefers structure. The way Karrigan runs his teams will suit GuardiaN quite well. He excelled the most within the Zeus system and Karrigan loves his T-side default, so I expect some immediate chemistry. As long as he comes out of the player break motivated, I can see FaZe retaining its top three form in Malmo. Their map pool is very similar to what GuardiaN is used to, with a bit less Cobblestone and a little more Cache. This transition should be painless for the most part.
Stephen Chiu: I think we’ve gone as far as we can about GuardiaN. I’d like to talk about smoke, specifically the smoke coming from Swedish fires of the CS:GO squad. There hasn’t been as big of a fire in Sweden since IKEA went up in flames.
Jarek Lewis: Holy fuck.
Sweden is a joke. I imagine this is the last we’ll see of the legendary Fnatic roster. It’s time to move on. They gave it another chance and it just isn’t working. I’m not even going to discuss Godsent. You know shit is all sorts of fucked up if Twist is in-game leading over Pronax. I suggest Fnatic boots two players and gets Twist and Lekr0 out of that team ASAP. It won’t be cheap, but what other options do they have? There aren’t any young Swedish prospects left. NiP stole them all.
Stephen Chiu: The IKEA on fire is the perfect metaphor as there aren’t any easy outs. Are there any good leaders left that anyone has tried? Not any I can think of. Xizt is meh. Flusha is meh. Pronax is meh. Maybe pronax’s style could work if he could get the right pieces, but all of the players he would need don’t want to play with him anymore. The only answer left is to do the pyth. And I don’t mean join and be kicked by NiP, but to join an international team and try their luck there. They need an in-game leader badly. The only other choice is for one of the players to dedicate themselves to the craft. When I look at all of the players in the Swedish scene, I can’t think of anyone that could be good at the job. But someone has to do it.
Jarek Lewis: This sounds familiar…You know, there is this one place not many people know about, called “North America.” Some say the teams there could do big things if they had more proper in-game leaders. Yet, the IGLs they do have aren’t getting the job done. It’s almost like an epidemic. I’ve seen no change compared to when this issue was first discussed in CS:GO. Many teams lack structure, proper tactics and dedicated teamwork. If you look at any top 5 ranking, just about every team has a proper in-game leader, yet no one in NA is trying to be “that guy.” I’ve seen no evidence to suggest this will end any time soon. When was the last time we heard about an impressive up-and-coming IGL? Just about never.
Stephen Chiu: Ah, yes, the Moto attitude. Though at least in NA’s case they had some Tier 2 IGLs to draw from, they just ignored them. Hell, OpTic’s academy team picked up both Imapet and FNS before OpTic did despite the former being the main squad.
As always, this ends with NA disappointing again.
Cover photo by Patrick Strack/ESL, eslgaming.com