Usually, it’s the teams that dominate the conversation around big CS:GO esports events but IEM Katowice offers a wide variety of personal storylines that are also worth paying attention to. With so many stand-ins, bad boys, new kids on the block and old faces looking for redemption, it’s time to drill down to the individual level to find the most interesting men in, if not the world, but definitely Katowice.
The Danish AWPer is pulling off by far the best Ninja cosplay ever seen on the NIP squad: try as we might, he is nowhere to be found! Whether he will show up in the grand final to decapitate someone with a katana on the grand stage in dramatic fashion remains to be seen, but the rumor train about a potential Astralis reunion has left the station long ago in last December, and the longer his mental health-related break goes, the faster it will go on the track, especially because this NiP project is going nowhere fast.
It’s been quite a while since we’ve last seen the clutch minister shine. Of all the problems Astralis need to deal with currently, the significant downturn in form of one of the two remaining members of the all-conquering quintet is surely on top of the list. Reports suggested that Xyp is playing for his spot in Katowice, and that he might be removed from the roster without a strong showing.
Despite all the struggles, he still posted strong numbers at the select few LAN events we got to see last year, and his performances during the play-in stage here were quite promising. Perhaps it would be best to cut the cord regardless of how deep a run they get: ultimately, role clashes with blameF suggest that it’s time to continue the generational change.
Isn’t it odd that no one picked up Mr. Savage during the player break? Well, this might be about to change now. Estonian wonderkid ropz will remain in quarantine until at least the 19th of February, meaning his Aussie replacement gets another chance or two to put himself in the shop window for international adventures. Clearly, he’s still way too good for Oceania, or what remains of the scene down under after the tough periods of the pandemic.
Monsieur Papillon’s move to a North American org was one of the most tantalizing transfer moves of the off-season from a storyline perspective. As longtime CS:GO viewers will remember, the myriad dysfunctional French rosters were shuffled more often than a deck of cards at a low-stakes poker table, and many of the collapses were due to shox’s repeated insistence on taking over the IGL mantle.
A player with raw skill and a mindset in clutches few could match across the years, taking on the extra burden of overarching strategies never really worked out. His stint on Vitality was notable for precisely the lack of insistence for a palace coup, even when the going got tough. Could he truly slot into this messy and sorry new-look Liquid where the IGL question was never really settled for good? Watch this space.
Turns out CS:GO matches are more fun to watch when we’ve got someone to hate. For many fans, Heroic turned out to be the perfect foil over the last year: exciting overperformances followed by a cheating scandal featuring HUNDEN’s myriad U-turn, a shadow which still hangs over the team. Meanwhile, cadiaN’s alpha male shtick keeps falling woefully short when the going gets tough: remember how they were the only team that could beat Na’Vi in his mind? That was last November. They haven’t beaten them since December 17. 2019. Love him or hate him, he will always grab the attention.
“Hungarian esports” has long been an oxymoron, even on a regional level. While Ukraine has s1mple and Slovakia has GuardiaN, the best we’ve got in the CS:GO era was DeadFox and his despicable positions. You have to go back to the days of KODIAK to find even the smallest sampling of relevant talent – until the emergence of torzsi, that is, who so far seems perfectly at home at the tier 1.5 level.
Emerging from a nation with questionable esports-related practices, his story has similarities with Richárd Rapport: a top ten chess player in the world, clawing his way into the elite without coaches, seconds or strong sponsorship backing. Poland might provide the breakout event for this Hungarian.
The man who supposedly left G2 because he didn’t want to be an IGL no more was pulled right back in just as he thought he was out. Or, again, supposedly this was the only way he could find a spot on a top team. Regardless of how he ended up at OG to replace Aleksib, it’s been a more exciting development than anyone could have predicted. Just how far this puggy style can go remains to be seen, but even a European FURIA would be an awesome addition to an already stacked continental scene. Should we call it redemption? It’s not like the Serb was a sinner, after all…
Photo credit: HLTV / theMAKKU