Online CS always comes with an asterisk, even when we have no LAN events to cheer about. Still, there has to be a tipping point where BIG’s continuous wins and deep runs would warrant an undisputed number one designation. Maybe a thousand event wins in a row would suffice?
Another tournament, another win for tabseN and co., a comfortable run through a bracket in an event with mostly lesser opposition. It’s a testament to their growth spurt that they no longer feel like a good fit for a DreamHack Open event, and if you look through their scalps over the course of the last few months of online play, it’s easy to understand why that is the case.
As of the time of writing, BIG has an 85.7% winrate over the course of the last three months and three big event wins in a row. Looking at their most-played maps, they have a 16-2 record on Dust 2, 10-2 on Nuke and 12-5 on Mirage, with a positive winrate on the rest of the three maps they play. BIG split the difference with Vitality in their two encounters in the online era at cs_summit 6 but had the last laugh with their grand final win – it was the same story against G2, climbing back from a default map deficit in the most important match of DreamHack Masters Spring 2020. Their win over Na’Vi in March during the ESL Pro League Season 11 group stages was one of the first big upsets of the online era. It was around the same time they scored their first win over fnatic, with another one during the cs_summit 6 playoffs. Their recent record against FaZe is the stuff of legends, and their two recent games against Complexity were also wins.
With that, we’ve already reached the end of HLTV’s top ten, at least as far as European teams are concerned. All right, all right. But apart from winning three of the biggest events in a row, a positive record against all the high-ranked regional teams and playing some pretty good Counter-Strike, what have the Berliners ever done for us?
You can see the futility of the discussion. It’s only logical to assume that there would be a point where online events go on long enough where they become the norm – just imagine if BIG won 1000 such tournaments in a row with no LANs in sight – and we’d have to concede that no matter what other ideal sort of CS may be out there one day, it is the pinnacle of what we’ve got right now, and consistently strong performances over a long period of time should be treated seriously. Realistically, it’s quite unlikely that we’ll see LAN events this calendar year, and there’s little to no chance of Brazil safely hosting a CS:GO Major in November. The longer this twilight zone stretches, the more credit BIG deserve with progressively fewer asterisks.
Then again, maybe the online era – no matter its length or relevance – will always be treated as an afterthought by some, regardless of the circumstances. Let us turn our thoughts to the eventual return of LAN play then, and I think you’ll find that BIG are well-suited to a return to the big time.
Offline events are often considered more prestigious because of the added discomfort piled onto the experience. You can’t play on your preferred setup in the comfy chair you’re used to, with your favorite food on the side and maybe just a few hours after you woke up. Let’s consider the fact that a decent chuck of this BIG roster already has LAN experience, even if XANTARES is perhaps not as effective so far under that kind of a setup as fans would like him to be.
Also, this team seems just fine where the mental strength is concerned. Their eight-round comeback against OG on Inferno in the decider game was the sign of the sort of mental resilience which should serve them well in the offline events as well. Similarly, the way they ruthlessly closed out both maps of the grand final against Heroic is exactly the sort of characteristic you’re used to seeing from a top team. Encouragingly, it’s not just the tabseN show either: it was XANTARES and srysoN topping HLTV’s rating charts for this tournament with blameF sandwiched between the two of them, and if you look back at their two previous big event wins before the player break, it was XANTARES in 8th and tabseN in 5th respectively as their top performers. It would simply be incorrect to assume that this is just the case of a few players fragging out of their mind.
Perhaps the most interesting question is how the gob b effect will transfer to the LAN environment now that he’s in a coaching role. Transitioning him from a spot inside the playing squad to one just right behind them was a definite upgrade from a firepower perspective, though it remains to be seen how impactful he will be in his new role as the head of CS:GO for BIG. The smallest of samples we’ve got so far for LAN events? Two wins: DreamHack Open Leipzig 2020 and the FLASHPOINT Season 1 LAN qualifier. You know about the rest. As for their coach, tow b has been a part of the setup since last August, joining around the time gob b opted to hang up his mice. All in all, it seems like a stable and well-oiled setup, much more so than some of their potential rivals who you’d assume to have a leg up on LAN. At this point, BIG simply has to be considered the favorites for the European portion of ESL One Cologne.
All in all, don’t count BIG out when the LAN circuit returns. History shows that tactics-based innovations have a longer staying power than anything that relies on raw firepower. Even the old Fnatic lineups owed a lot to pronax’s meta-defining moves like the now-standard Inferno mid take. There was also that Astralis stuff you may have heard of. Compare and contrast their legacy with Liquid’s. In the meantime, maybe give a bit more credit to their online accomplishments than you would otherwise be inclined?
Photo credit: HLTV