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Luci Kelemen
Written By: Luci Kelemen

Writes about way too many things. Has way too many opinions. Wants to tell all the interesting stories in the world.

June 14th, 2021

The wily Swede finally announced the roster of his long-rumored squad, with an org ready to back the project after months of waiting on the sidelines. It promises to be an exciting one with great potential in the current volatile state of professional CS.

The free agent market in CS:GO was a mouthwatering prospect for those among us who still believe that the top tier players of 2019 and 2020 still have a lot to offer. However, a combination of the online era, the complicated finances of CS esports in general plus the emergence of a lot of exciting young talent made it so that many potential projects never even saw the light of day (think of the ex-MIBR squad for example).

Though the veterancy aspect and the ability to master poise under fire in a LAN environment still can’t really be tested in the current climate, this squad promises to be an exciting mix of old and young talent which could very well make an impact once it finally becomes a reality. Let’s look at the players one by one to figure out what they bring to the table!

The wily veteran: flusha

After stepping down from fnatic’s active roster three months ago, flusha is finally ready to helm his own project as the in-game leader like he wanted to. His old comrades showed little reason since for him to second-guess this decision. Though it seemed like he may have been looking to call it curtains after his Cloud9 tenure after a family tragedy, his surprise return to his old team turned out to be much more effective than anyone expected at the time.

Turns out flusha’s capacity for insane 200IQ plays remained intact all along, and it will be really interesting to see how he can make use of his reads while in command of an entire squad, graduating from Xyp9x’s role to gla1ve’s.

It can’t be denied that flusha’s individual HLTV rating fell below the 1.0 mark in the latter part of 2020, even if the rolling average is still barely above it at 1.01. Still, one has to wonder how relevant these stats are in this case as flusha clearly has a different system in mind than Golden, with whom he actually had a decently effective stint on Cloud9 as well.

The young gun: sergej

Just how bad the atmosphere must have got in ENCE for sergej to opt for the rigors of a real army rather than to keep playing with his teammates? We may never know the specifics, but his quick return in what should be partially familiar surroundings is a great sight to see. A strong foundation with a growth potential few can match in the scene, he is the sort of signing Mousesports only wish they could pull off.

Arguably sergej was the biggest victim of ENCE’s reorganization, with one of CS’ brightest young talents seeing his rating dip below the 1.0 mark as well. However, it would be quite a leap of faith to argue that this is a genuine loss of talent rather than the fruits of a horrible system, and if that is the case, the stats of the next player on the list should be taken with a pinch of salt as well.

The grey eminence: suNny

That’s right, though the post-Aleksib iteration of the ENCE roster was a garbage fire, the existing understanding between the two Finns should benefit this brand new squad. No doubt they wouldn’t have joined forces here had the rumored personal issues over there also manifested between them, so that should not be a concern for fans. Of course, suNny was among the original core of this project alongside autimatic who opted for pastures VALORANTer instead, which should also suggest a good understanding and copious amounts of practice time with his soon-to-be in-game-leader if nothing else.

Once again, the 1.01 rolling average rating isn’t exactly impressive, especially once you factor in that suNny also hasn’t exactly set the world alight on FPX in the last few months. Still, the fact that he isn’t expected to be the explicit firepower increase anymore like he was in ENCE should serve him well when it comes to calibrating expectations.

The X(-plosive) factor: EspiranTo

The firepower was always there, but the real question is whether he can be relied on from an interpersonal perspective. Previous rosters featuring the talented Lithuanian have spontaneously combusted, with reports suggesting he had quite a lot to do with these collapses before.

Though he can no doubt deal the requisite damage in the servers, there’s real risk he may do just the same to his own team’s chemistry outside of it, and that is going to be a real determinant of whether he’ll be a long-term part of this project, and quite possibly even whether it can get off the ground in the first place. EspiranTo’s ratings were nothing to write home about in the online era, making this perhaps the riskiest pickup of the bunch.

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The AWPer on trial: Calyx

Specifically highlighted as a trialist on this squad, Calyx was one of the core members of the vintage Space Soldiers squad which was always good for an upset but his extended stay in purgatory with Envy means that it’s been quite a long time since he faced top teams on the servers in an official capacity – but for what it’s worth, he was their best-performing player in their inaugural match in Flashpoint 3’s open qualifier, even if against vastly inferior opposition.

Based on that game, it seems like he’s the one on main AWPing duties rather than EspiranTo or sergej like some speculated. It remains to be seen whether he can play himself into the squad for good, but being involved with the RMR event should be a good sign.

The alternatives…?

It’s worth noting that flusha specifically mentioned in his announcement tweet that “not everything is set in stone” with regards to the. With an average age of 23.2 years– a figure no doubt stretched by flusha and sergej – this team offers a healthy mix of youth and experience should they go forward with the aforementioned five. Who else could fit the bill though from the burgeoning free agent market?

Here are some ideas…

  • woxic – if you want a different Turkish AWPer, there’s a pretty obvious choice to consider, especially after three months in the free agency wilderness.
  • Thomas – surely a very similar story to Calyx, though he was likely already considered due to his very similar profile…?
  • olofmeister – beyond the obvious nostalgic appeal, it was quite clear that he could still perform at his final event with FaZe, but motivational and financial concerns would likely be huge hurdles for this one.

International squads seem to come and go quickly in CS, and this is the latest of exciting experiments which need to start out with no chance for a proper bootcamp. We’ll have to bide our time a little longer until we get to see just how potent this new roster is, but the names involved certainly mean that they start their conquest a leg above the rest, already commanding our attention even at this early juncture.

Photo credit: HLTV