The weekend was filled with Counter-Strike, as ESG Tours, Group A of the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier and DreamHack Montreal all took place. I’ll save DreamHack takeaways for a separate post, but here’s the Final Five from the other two events.
Oskar, the superstar
Throughout his career on HellRaisers and Mousesports, oskar has proven himself as a legitimate and consistent AWPer. At ESG, he transcended to superstar status with a staggering +96 K/D and 0.88 KPR performance. After exploding against Heroic early on, he never let up and only struggled once — against Liquid on Inferno. That small dip didn’t matter because he single handedly ended any chance of a runner-up finish by decimating Team Liquid on Nuke with a 30-6 scoreline. If oskar can do something similar at ELEAGUE this weekend, I’d throw him into the discussion as the best player in the world.
Liquid takes a step forward
Liquid has been known for acquiring top North American and European talent in an attempt to improve whenever necessary. Yet since the addition of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, Liquid has failed to reach a final and only made the semifinals of one event. In Greece, Liquid showed promise after beating SK Gaming 2-0, especially after we found out Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella was in-game leading. Liquid then took Mousesports to the brink in the finals and just couldn’t overcome oskar on Nuke to snag the win. With ESL One New York looming, Liquid has plenty from which to build and should show up with bundles of confidence.
Snax is too skilled to in-game lead
I said just last week that Virtus.pro shouldn’t even be listed in team rankings because it’s so inconsistent, and that trend has continued at ESG. Just one week after going out in last place at DreamHack Malmo, VP reach the semifinals. This performance isn’t necessarily impressive; VP beat EnVyUs and Liquid in best-of ones and lost to Mousesports in a best-of three. The largest issue for VP is the lack of firepower from Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski since winning DreamHack Las Vegas in February. I believe the drop off in his performance has affected the team much more than having someone else in-game lead would. I considered Snax the best player in the world at one point this year, making the past six months even more painful to watch.
FaZe bounces back
The most expensive team in professional Counter-Strike achieved its first real accomplishment with a 2-0 showing at ELEAGUE Group A. The sample size was small, but new additions Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács led the way against Renegades and Natus Vincere. I expect this team to consistently improve as the players familiarize themselves with their new positions, but they have dramatically high expectations. This lineup needs to be able to win events and beat teams like SK Gaming and Astralis while doing so to justify the spending. Having played in Atlanta this weekend, FaZe should be able to benefit from lighter travel and grab that extra bit of practice. I think a quarterfinal or semifinal appearance is necessary this weekend in New York.
Na’Vi needs more time
The excruciatingly slow T-side pace that Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko demands of his teams takes some getting used to, even if they’ve all done it before (sans Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev). Natus Vincere struggled a bit at ELEAGUE, losing to G2 Esports in a best-of three, but deserves far more time to adapt compared to FaZe because the team is also transitioning leadership. I still expect Na’Vi to reach the playoffs of ESL One New York on pure skill alone, but I’m more interested to see what can be built later in the year. S1mple is playing at a world class level, and that won’t disappear anytime soon. Oh yeah, don’t write off Denis “electronic” Sharipov, either. He is still an option.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE