Stuchiu’s “Buy or Sell” after ELEAGUE Season 2

This is a new feature I will occasionally write. Think of it as a power rank with a twist. I point out three teams whose stock you should buy and three you should sell. The idea is simple: The “buy” is teams that still have more potential to go whereas teams on the sell list are ones I think have capped about their potential with their current lineup. To make it interesting, I’ve considered only top 20 teams and took only LAN results into consideration.

Buy

Astralis

Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth

Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz

Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen

Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye

Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander

Recent Results:

IEM Oakland: Top 4

ELEAGUE Season 2: Second

This is the obvious choice. After recruiting gla1ve as in-game leader, the system has changed. He is a lot more structured and controlling compared to Astralis’ previous in-game leader. Much more importantly, they are listening to him. This has coincided with the rise of play from their stars in dupreeh and Kjaerbye. Xyp9x and gla1ve have also contributed, and there are certain rounds and games where Xyp9x looks to be in peak form. Dev1ce is still a consistent impact-killing star of the team.

This has led Astralis to their two biggest results in recent times at IEM Oakland and ELEAGUE. The Oakland run was only OK, as they won their group and showed promise in a narrow 2-0 loss to SK. The potential from those lost games showed at ELEAGUE in beating SK to get out of the group stage, beating Ninjas in Pyjamas 2-1 in the quarters and beating SK 2-0 in the semifinals. Most impressive was ending SK’s 17 game winning streak on Train. They were set to win the grand finals against OpTic after winning the first map decisively before losing the final two maps.

The only worrying thing is that dev1ce went missing in the series against SK at Oakland and in the final map of ELEAGUE. Not enough to make me think that will happen again, but something worth noting. Given Astralis’ current trend, this team should be a consistent championship contender team and should finish deep in tournaments.

Dignitas

Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen

Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke

Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel

René “cajunb” Borg

Emil “Magisk” Reif

Recent Results:

EPICENTER: first

ESL Pro League: Eliminated in groups

DreamHack Winter: Eliminated in groups

ELEAGUE Season 2: Top 8

That’s right, I’m doubling down on Dignitas. I think they have all the requisite players, tactics, leadership, map pool and consistency to be a definitive top three team in the world. This goes somewhat against their recent results with an early exit at DreamHack and a 2-1 quarterfinal loss to SK at ELEAGUE. Despite all of these recent losses, none of them was a blowout. ESL Pro League was an incredibly hard group and DreamHack Winter was both an underperformance from Dignitas and an overperformance by their opponents. The ELEAGUE loss was extremely close, and if Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo didn’t make a critical double entry in round 28, I think that’s a Dignitas victory.

Also this team is relatively new to the top level of CS:GO and because of that has over-scheduled, which has hampered practice time. Couple that with Magisk having to still go through school and you see there is still room for the team to grow. I think if you give MSL time to study and practice with the team along with Magisk being able to graduate and then focus on Counter-Strike, that should be enough to get this team rolling as a consistent championship contender.

FaZe Clan

Håvard “rain” Nygaard

Philip “aizy” Aistrup

Fabien “k1oshima” Fiey

Aleksi “allu” Jalli

Finn “Karrigan” Andersen

Recent Results:

IBuyPower Masters: Top 4

IEM Oakland: Top 4

ELEAGUE Season 2: Top 4

The last team to pick was difficult as it could have been either FaZe or OpTic. In the end, I went with FaZe because I think OpTic already achieved its potential. OpTic won ELEAGUE Season 2, which was one of the most stacked tournaments of 2016. While their path wasn’t the hardest possible (playing Fnatic with a stand-in and Mouz stand out), they’ve already proven to be a team that can make a miracle run. It’s hard to know if they can consistently pull out this form over and over again.

The reason I chose FaZe is consistency. FaZe keeps churning out top four finishes. Not that all of their events were of the same caliber, but they seem to do better at each event they attend. In addition, they earned these results while swapping players from Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad to k1oshima, traveling from event to event and having almost no practice with Karrigan. He already got them their best result of the year two days after joining the squad by eliminating Immortals and Cloud 9 from ELEAGUE. Their most impressive feat was defeating Virtus.pro 2-1 in the ELEAGUE quarterfinals. Give this team actual time to practice when they’re not traveling or playing in tournaments and I think they could go a level higher.

Sell

Photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

Photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

Cloud 9

Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert

Michael “shroud” Grzesiek

Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham

Jake “Stewie2k” Yip

Timothy “autimatic” Ta

Recent Results:

DreamHack Winter: Eliminated in groups

IEM Oakland: Eliminated in groups

IBuyPower Masters: Second

ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals: First

ELEAGUE Season 2: Eliminated in groups

I think Cloud 9 is arguably still the best North American team and one of the best teams in the world. They are a darkhorse championship contender and a team that has a chance to win any tournament if in form. So why did I put them on the sell list? Because I don’t see a place where this team can improve on this roster.

The way this team functions is Stewie2k and autimatic are the stars. Stewie is integral to calling the team and having the team playing around what he wants to do. Autimatic has a natural chemistry and his consistent fragging, positioning and decision making have elevated him to be the star player of the team despite being in a supportive role. N0thing is the third star who has been consistent about giving good impact in key rounds and maps that take the team over the edge in their victories.

The problem is Skadoodle and shroud. They have been left behind by the new team identity, and neither quite fit. Shroud has been relegated to a supportive role but hasn’t contributed in a strong way the way someone like Xyp9x or RUBINO does for their teams. Skadoodle is playing badly in the team. The problem is we don’t know if that’s because his form is down or if his entire playing style is antithetical to Stewie2k’s leadership as Skadoodle’s former in-game leaders had to give Skadoodle very specific instructions for him to shine. In the current system he seems lost.

A potential answer lies in Stewie2k. As the leader, it will be up to him to have to find a way to positively integrate both Skadoodle and shroud in such a way that it activates them. The problem is he has to do it so that the current system isn’t hampered. As I can’t count on this happening, I feel that this roster has maxed out its potential and either need to switch players or get a coach to try to take them to the next step.

G2

Cédric “RpK” Guipouy

Richard “shox” Papillon

Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux

Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom

Alexandre “boddy” Pianaro

Recent Results

IEM Oakland: 5-6th

Northern Arena Montreal: Second

ELEAGUE Season 2: Eliminated in groups

EPICENTER: 5-6th

This team is similar to Cloud 9. It’s based around the two star players, shox and ScreaM, going hard for them to win series. The problem is unlike Cloud 9, there is no third person to back them up. RpK and boddy used to fill that role, but they haven’t been at that level. SmithZz was a decent support player back when this team was capable of winning championships, but he has since fallen off as well.

Meanwhile, shox is no longer in god mode like he was during G2’s run at ECS Season 1 and ESL Pro League Season 3. This is still a fun team to watch everything is working well, but we’ve seen this roster’s best and now they are slowly declining. Still dangerous enough to upset any team in a best-of-three, but not a team you expect to have a chance to win a tournament.

mousesports

Chris “ChrisJ” de Jong

Nikola “NiKo” Kovač

Denis “denis” Howell

Timo “Spiidi” Richter

Christian “lowel” Antoran

Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný

Recent Results:

IEM Oakland: Eliminated in groups

ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals: Top 4

ELEAGUE Season 2: Top 8

It’s been about two months since the roster swapped in lowel for oskar. Since then, this team has been to three LAN events and has yet to win a best-of-three against a top 10 team. This team can pull best-of-one victories and did so against Immortals and Cloud 9 at ELEAGUE and won their group at ESL Pro League 3-1. IEM Oakland was horrendous as they went 0-5.

These are middling results and the time has been short, but as far as I can tell the team is focused around NiKo, ChrisJ and lowel. On paper that seems fine as ChrisJ’s level rose up in the past few months and lowel has shown a good level of skill. But for whatever reason, this has come at the cost of NiKo’s god-level play from earlier in the year. During that time they were still getting similar results, but against much stronger teams. Without NiKo going back to a best player in the world sort of level, I don’t know how this team gets out of this rut. The leadership isn’t there; the skills are okay, but not enough to get a best-of-three win. This team seems destined to stay as best-of-one upset team.

Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE

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