Another tournament, another incredible performance by s1mple: this time, it was enough to get Na’Vi the trophy they missed out on the last time around. As the event didn’t feature either Astralis or Faze Clan, it provided a unique opportunity for the rest of the pack to pick up a prestigious and morale-boosting title and for us to gain a little more information about where they are as teams. There were many interesting storylines in the event: let’s take a look at them!

s1mple Oleksandr Kostyliev Natus Vincere Na'Vi AWP

This fantastic format should serve as an example

It’s just basic math that reduced variance makes it more likely that the eventual winners are the best of the bunch rather than the ones that happened to have a good streak. The many upsets in the recent majors are definitely due to the unseeded best-of-one Swiss system used in the group stages – they were so prevalent that only two teams kept their Legend status at ELEAGUE Boston. Either seeded draws or more than a single map are necessary if consistency is to be rewarded – and having a best-of-three for every Swiss round certainly left no excuses for the teams that failed to perform well in these finals. This, plus a large pool of broadcast talent indicated quite the respect for the competition by the organizers, and it would be great to see the FACEIT Major doing something similar later down the line.

Gambit might be beyond repair

What else is left to say about this roster? It’s got almost nothing in common with the surprise major winners at this point, the in-game leader role keeps getting tossed around like a hot potato with no discernible success, their recent results are abysmal and there’s no light on the end of the tunnel. The PGL Krakow result could have been used as springboard to firmly establish themselves as a tier 1 team but it instead led to a quick split with Zeus and kane: the fact that they went 0-3 in such a skill-testing format on friendly grounds against teams like AVANGAR, and Renegades is inexcusable – especially considering how the Kazakhstani line-up have already beaten them in the qualifiers as well. It could be time for a drastic surgery.

Hobbit Абай Хасенов Abay Khassenov Gambit Esports

Team Liquid needs more strats

There are many reasons why Liquid is one of the most interesting teams in the current scene: they play without a dedicated AWPer, have incredibly crisp aim across the whole roster and are brave enough to regularly consider international recruitment. They’ve been steadily climbing the ranks recently even with changes to their line-up, but it feels like their playstyle hits a brick wall whenever they go up against the top teams.

It doesn’t help that they also could use a little bit more consistency when it comes to beating the smaller ones as well. The potential is definitely there, but it’s clear that there’s still quite a lot of work to do if they want to reach the summit.

Fans need to raise hell over DeadFox

One of the enduring mysteries about an otherwise promising HellRaisers line-up is the continuous and baffling presence of DeadFox, an odd support AWPer who essentially always goes negative in tier 1 events (-70 K/D in Season 4, -25 this time around, his HLTV page speaks for itself). It’s a well-known maxim that many facets of team-building are invisible from the outside, and there may be chemistry- and morale-related benefits of his inclusion, but his performances on the server certainly don’t live up to the expectations. His one-and-a-half year tenure for the side has done nothing to convince that he belongs to the CS:GO elite – and that’s putting it mildly. It would be a welcome sign of ambition if a proper replacement were to be found – and it seems like a fairly easy change to move the team forward.

NRG’s performance was great, but don’t go overboard with the hype

As impressive as it is that they made it to the final hurdle, keep in mind that the bracket guaranteed the presence of an underdog in the final once Liquid was out of the picture – leading to a predictably one-sided contest in the end. The really impressive part of NRG’s run came before they got on the stage, not after – especially considering that the Swiss rounds also featured a best-of-three format. Such an offline performance was definitely overdue for the American org, but we’re yet to see whether it was more than an exception to the rule.

NRG Esports

Mouz’s Mirage needs a rework…

For a team that was widely considered to be the best on the map, mousesports’ recent results are Mirage are extremely underwhelming, to the extent that their opponents are now even willing to pick it against them. To be fair, this isn’t necessarily a by-product of a drop-off, it could merely be the blinding nature of the spotlight: trying to make one of the most popular maps into your fortress will definitely be challenging in the long run as so many teams will be gunning for you and there will be tons of demos available as well to look at. For something that was such a major element in their recent rise, it has to either be completely discarded for now or rejuvenated in some way: they’ve been found out on Mirage.

…and their mental strength could also use a top-up

Not only that, but their loss to Na’vi has brought up the many tired clichés about leadership and passion about the team. To me, it always felt like the presence of such discussion usually just indicates a lack of quality either on the participants’ or the analysts’ side when skill and technique doesn’t make it as part of the discussion – after all, just look at all the passion Brazil had on offer in their World Cup semi-final on home turf against Germany four years ago and tell me what it did for them.

Still, the discussion is not entirely pointless in this case: my enduring memory of mousesports is suNny’sfall off the rafters on Nuke in the 30th round against Faze Clan in Boston, a flap that essentially cost them the whole series. While they’ve certainly grown in stature since then, there’s still a certain feebleness to the side. It will be interesting to see how they will handle the absence of oskar at Belo Horizonte and what will n0thing be able to bring to the table: having a stand-in can certainly be an issue, but even a slight re-jig of the team’s chemistry could provide some explosive results.

A long time AGO, was the best Polish team

Will this event mark the passing of the torch domestically? It could very well be the case for Poland as AGO have finally overtaken the floundering roster and have put up an excellent performance. Just like with NRG, it should be taken with a pinch of salt (though their 3-0 run through the Swiss brackets is certainly very impressive), but considering the locked-in and expensive nature of the VP line-up, I would not be surprised if sponsors and other ambitious domestic agents would flock to them if they were able to keep up these performance levels just a little while longer.

S1mple’s supporting cast is underrated

As much criticism as Edward and Zeus got lately over their lackluster performances in the team, events like this still show how underrated they are. After all, comparing the worst results of this Na’Vi roster with SK Gaming’s recent howlers – even though both of them have a fantastic player leading the line – certainly wouldn’t flatter the Brazilians.

Na’Vi’s floor is certainly quite high considering how many complaints some of their players attract, and events like this also show that their ceiling is also more than reasonable. It’s actually fairly difficult to properly build a team around a star player, and they should be commended for the excellent job they’ve done in that regard.

The top two are still feeling fine

As entertaining as the event was, Astralis and Faze Clan are probably not quaking in their boots after the performances that were on display here. SK are still a work in progress and the squad is marred by disputes with their current org if reports are to be believed, mouz is clearly dropping off a bit, while Team Liquid and Na’Vi are still missing some consistency – despite S1mple’s continued godlike form in case of the latter side. While none of these teams are far off from posing a legitimate threat, their little deficiencies on display at StarSeries indicate that they all seem to miss that special “oomph” to go up against the juggernauts for the time being.