American Sniper: The Story of Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham
Considered by many one of the top North American players, Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham is also one of the newest pros to the Counter Strike scene. Formerly a professional Alliance of Valiant Arms player and only a casual CS player, he made the switch in 2012 and joined Curse.NA, the side that would become iBuyPower. His run with said team was stopped abruptly after the ban of all his teammates due to matchfixing, leaving him teamless for a season, in which he attempted to form a new team with Spencer “Hiko” Martin, who was in his same situation, and create a superteam made of some of the best players NA had left. This, however, did not end well, and Skadoodle ended up being picked up by Cloud 9 in one of the biggest signings in the history of the game.
Although he had played other games competitively, such as Battlefield 2 and Call of Duty, Skadoodle’s first high level successes were found in Alliance of Valiant Arms, where with his team he would win tournaments both online and on LAN at a domestic level and achieved some good placings at international LANs as well, in countries where the game’s scene was more thriving, such as South Korea. But with the competitive scene dying out in the West, Skadoodle made the switch to the growing CSGO and found his home in the Curse.NA lineup.
This team was never one that would make any big moves internationally, but was a force to be reckoned with domestically, taking 3rd place at ESEA Lan Season 14. Skadoodle, however, started making waves in the American scene with his amazing displays of AWPing, playing a consistent high level Counter Strike and holding his own even against Europeans. The lineup was later dropped by the organization and picked up by Denial, but took not much later the name of iBuyPower, and started resembling more the one that would later have a heated rivalry with Complexity. His team eventually made American CSGO history after taking out Titan in two Best of 3’s after coming from the lower bracket to take 1st place in ESEA Season 15, with Skadoodle playing averagely in the first series and then exploding in the second, achieving the highest rating in the server with 1.19 . iBuyPower later picked up Joshua “steel” Nissan and Braxton “swag” Pierce, and fought for the place of best American team against Complexity, which later became Cloud 9, in an era where no other team in their continent could be considered to be even close to their level.
That is why the smashing defeat online by Netcode Guides made some cry accusations of matchfixing. The team, however, just came from a defeat in groups at the latest major, and was likely to be jet lagged and demotivated, which could have led to such a result. Nevertheless, the lineup performed amazingly at the FaceIT finals in Milan, taking fnatic, without a doubt the best team in the world at the time, to Map 4 in the Grand Finals. Skadoodle, however, was heavily criticized for his lack of communications with his team: in the last round of his tournament, he did not relay to his teammates a possible B Site push from the Swedes, leading up to their defeat and to many people talking about the silent style of play that Latham was categorized by, a very detracting one in a game like CSGO.
iBuyPower later underwent roster changes, and after another defeat in the group stages at Dreamhack Winter 2014, settled down with one of the best lineups NA CS would ever see, adding Spencer “Hiko” Martin to their roster of Skadoodle, Swag, Sam “DaZeD” Marine and Keven “AZK” Lariviere. This team would, however, also be one of the biggest what-ifs that Counter Strike would ever see: the matchfixing accusations were confirmed in early 2015, and the entire team, besides Skadoodle and Hiko, were banned from all Valve sponsored competitions indefinitely, and many leagues followed them in doing so. Martin and Latham then decided to start looking for other American players to start a superteam to compete with in the following season. Such a team would have been formed by them and three Team Liquid players, those being Eric “adreN” Hoag, Nick “nitr0” Cannella and Jacob “Fugly” Medina. The three, however, did not want to leave their organizations, and the conflicts ended up in no team being created.
With the superteam project not ending up as Martin and Latham hoped, the duo stopped being a “package deal”, and each started looking for a team in the last weeks before the beginning of the new ESEA season, the first to be partnered with ESL. In the same period, two top North American teams were looking for an AWPer: the first one was Counter Logic Gaming, which had dropped Peter “ptr” Gurney after internal disputes regarding the possibility of Skadoodle himself being added to their lineup. The other was Cloud 9, which saw Shahzeb “ShahZam” Khan be released together with core member Kory “semphis” Friesen in an almost desperate move for the team to innovate themselves after their out-at-groups placings at the last two majors. With a signing bonus rumored to be in the realm of $20,000, Latham was signed to the latter, and completed the new lineup with returning Ryan “fREAKAZOiD” Abadir.
Skadoodle showed his will to win was undefeated: his AWPing was as crisp as ever in the online matches Cloud 9 played and he was a major reason why they went onto dominating the regular season of ESEA with a 19-3 record. The team then attended GFinity Spring Masters II, but could still not manage to beat the top European teams. While continuing to be nigh-unbeatable in domestic competition, Skadoodle’s team still went out at the group stages at the recent GFinity Summer Masters I, but with Latham showcasing an incredible level of play and arguably being the MVP of the only map Cloud 9 won, against the team that would go onto winning the event, EnVyUs.
Finally came the LAN finals for the first season of the ESEA ESL Professional League, Latham’s first major international LAN in a while. Throughout the tournament, the POV streams highlighted that Skadoodle improved greatly on his communication, being much more vocal than before in game. The sniper met the expectations, starting off with a best of 1 victory on EnVyUs. Followed a best of 1 loss against Virtus.Pro, and next came another best of 3, against EnVyUs once more. Two maps were all it took for Cloud 9 to defeat them, with Skadoodle showcasing his signature skilled AWPing: it was the first time he had made it out of groups at a big international event for the first time in many months. Then came a best of 3 against CLG, which was another 2-0 sweep. Finally, the AWPer had to test his skill against fnatic, the best team in the world, in the finals. The series was lost 3-1, but Latham showed once again that he was worthy of such a placing, with a mostly consistent good level of play and many impact plays: his team and him were simply was not good enough to take down the Swedish powerhouse, but placed second in a very stacked tournament, feat impossible to even fathom just a month prior, showing the world that they are returning to the top level of competition.
Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham is always one of the first to be named when talking about the best North American players, and with good reason. He is without a doubt the best AWPer to grace NA CSGO, known for his great flicks and for his unpredictable playstyle categorized by a mostly passive demeanor that doesn’t hold back from unexpected explosive, aggressive plays. After joining Cloud 9 he is part of the best American side on the scene, and with this new lineup, international successes don’t seem a far fetched dream.
Image Credits: HLTV.org, The Daily Dot, GosuGamers