CEVO 9 - Battle in the Midfield
The great thing about the current state of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is that the game still has tournaments like CEVO. The teams attending this tournament include: Virtus.Pro, Tempo Storm, Dignitas, SK Gaming, HellRaisers, OpTic Gaming, Selfless and Splyce. These misfits and scrapers aren’t the top tier world beating teams that typical win tournaments, far from it. But without many of the best teams like Astralis, Na’Vi or Luminosity Gaming in attendance, this tournament give us the opportunity to surmise how the second tier stacks up against one another
The tournament favorite is Virtus.pro. Wiktor ‘TaZ’ Wojtas and Filip ‘NEO’ Kubski are the longest tenured duo in Counter-Strike having played together since at least 2004. As a five-man squad, the greater Virtus.pro have stuck together since January 25, 2014, barely having longer tenure than the NiP lineup with Fliflarren that lasted from 2012-08-10 to 2014-11-03. While some are quick to point towards this Polish side’s terrible online performances, perhaps most notably their 3-17 scoreline in ESL ESEA Proleague, at LANs they’ve been able to find some success. They are no longer one of the best teams in the world; but they can go even against teams around their skill level and play close series against the elite teams.
At their past five LANs, (DreamHack (DH) Leipzig, Intel Extreme Masters World Championship (IEM WC), Counter Pit League Season 2 - Finals, Major League Gaming (MLG) Major, DH Malmo) they’ve lost to six teams: mouz, Dignitas, Astralis, Na`Vi, LG, NiP. Of those matches, the mouz loss was a single best-of-one; and the Dignitas loss was a very close best-of-three, with a close 1-2 score (16-11 Cache, 7-16 Mirage, 20-22 Cobblestone). Amongst equal or worse competition, they’ve traded games with Tempo Storm and beaten G2, FaZe, Team EnVyUs, E-Frag and Immunity.
From their LAN record, their best maps seem to be Train, Cache and Overpass. Their best records are on Train and Cache, with a 3-3 and 3-1 score on LAN respectively. While they have a losing LAN record on Overpass (1-3), they played close against both Na`Vi and Luminosity Gaming, two of the best teams in the world. As there is lesser competition at CEVO, Virtus.pro should be able to close out against the teams in attendance. Their okay map is Mirage, going 2-1 against teams of comparable skill at LANs. Finally, their bad maps are Dust 2, which they don’t play a lot of, and Cobblestone. Most notably they have dropped games to both Dignitas and Tempo Storm on Cobblestone.
Still, Virtus.Pro have a deeper map pool than the rest of the competition. They also have a lot of additional factors going for them. They are a team with veteran experience, they have shown more consistency than the other teams here and their map pool will be hard to deal with for other teams (three good maps, one okay map, two bad maps). With this strengths in mind, the real question is if other teams can step their game above what Virtus.Pro have to offer.
One such team is Dignitas. On their best days they can beat NiP and Astralis. On their worst, they’re losing to Cloud 9, Renegades and E-Frag. But where Virtus.pro bring a fairly deep map pool, Dignitas barely brings a puddle. The Danish side only has two good map: Cobblestone, at which they are the best on in this tournament, boasting a 7-3 score in 2016, and Mirage, which they are 4-3 on. They bring a losing record on every other map. And while that is a concern for the team, the greater concern for them may ironically be that most of the teams here are weaker than them. This will be a proving ground to see if Dignitas can finally win matches when they are the favorite.
Another team that wants to prove themselves at CEVO is Tempo Storm. Tempo Storm is widely regarded as the the second best Brazilian team in CS:GO and one of the best teams that currently compete in the North America region. Despite this success, they’ve been snubbed invite spots to leagues such as ECS and E-League, with lesser teams, such as TSM and complexity, attending in their stead. As anyone knows, the best revenge is massive success. So Tempo Storm will be going into this LAN hungry. While Henrique ‘Hen1’ Teles brings amazing highlight shots as the star of the team, Tempo Storm’s identity is still very much based around team play and tactics.
As a team on LAN, it’s still too early to say if Tempo Storm is inconsistent or not. They’ve been to three, so far: MLG Major Qualifications, IEM WC and DH Malmo. Out of those tournaments, IEM WC was their big finish, where they lost in the quarterfinals to Na`Vi, 1-2. At the same time they lost to Flipside at the MLG Major Quals and nV at DH Malmo (though nV had resurgent form that tournament). So it’s harder to pin them down compared to VP or Dignitas. Their best map seems to be Cobblestone, with wins against VP, nV and Na`Vi. With this in mind, a match between them and Dignitas could be explosive.
*No other map score charts were made for other teams as they have all changed rosters recently.
The self-anointed rivals of Tempo Storm are Selfless Gaming, another team, albeit one with a fresher lineup, snubbed an invite to both ECS and E-league. Early in their career, they made some noise with Kenneth ‘koosta’ Suen at the MLG American Qualifier. But when koosta was bought out by Team Liquid, many expected the team to fall off. Instead they brought in Mitch ‘mitch’ Semago and have continued to find great online results in the North American region. The system that has made all of this possible is Ryu. He is the coach and in-game leader for the team. Ryu has implemented both a great tactical approach to the team, as well as a team culture that has convinced the players to work for the whole, rather than their stats on HLTV. This will be the mitch lineups greatly awaited LAN debut.
The next three teams attending CEVO are in similar situations to Selfless’s. Among them are the two NA teams: Splyce and Optic. These two teams are harder to characterize than a the others attending CEVO. Shaking up their lineup, Optic recently kicked their primary AWPer Shahzeeb ‘ShahZam’ Khan from the roster. At the same time Splyce had a miracle run to get to the Major. But it was also a run that probably couldn’t have been possible without MongolZ running into visa issue. Beyond that, they haven’t accomplished anything on LAN. Even their qualifier for this tournament was weird: while they beat Noble eSports and complexity, both Cloud9 and TSM forfeited the other matches.
The seventh team attending this tournament is HellRaisers. HellRaisers is a really interesting team, as they almost beat Team Liquid, who would go on to make a convincing semifinals run at Colombus, in the MLG Major Qualifiers. There standout player at the qualifier was Tomas ‘oskar’ Stastny. Since that tournament, they went on to win CopenHagen Games against E-Frag.net and have also brought in Vlаdуslаv ‘bondik’ Nеchуроrchuk. Bondik was one of the better players on his old Flipside team and, while Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin played the role of the star, the Ukrainian rifler remained consistent in his fragging. His addition will only bring the team more fragging power. The Oskar and bond1k combination makes HellRaisers an interesting team. Fifflaren describes this Commonwealth of Independent States squad as super annoying to play against, dreading they way they slowly spread across the map, looking for aim duels.
The final team is SK Gaming. They were brought in after Na`Vi declined the invite to take some time off. They showed a little bit of promise in various online leagues, but crumbled at every LAN they’ve been to in 2016. At DH Leipzig they got matched against two of the best teams in the world in Na`Vi and LG and lost both matches. At MLG Major, they collapsed and lost to Vexed and CLG. One of the SK Gaming players had an outburst on twitter later saying that they were all a bunch of onliners who played completely different on LAN. This failure to do anything on LAN continued as they were eliminated in the round-of-eight by Space Soldiers at CopenHagen games. As they are a lesser team, they need to make the most of this experience and prove to themselves they can play on LAN.
The best teams at this tournament are VP, Dignitas, Hellraisers and Tempo Storm. These are the four teams that should be aiming for a top four spot or, in VP’s case, trying to outright win the tournament. The major players to watch out for are Janusz ‘Snax’ Pogorzelski from VP, Hen1 from TempoStorm, oskar from HellRaisers and Markus ‘Kjaerbye’ Kjaerbye from Dignitas. The general level of the tournament should be good as there are some exciting possible matchups with VP always being an exciting team and the possibility of seeing players like Hen1, oskar and Kjaerbye make star plays.