With multiple tournaments played across two continents this past weekend, the big question coming out of it was simple: Who put in work and who struggled to show up?
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The biggest name in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive finally got back into championship form with a big result Assembly in Helsinki, Finland. Ninjas in Pyjamas swept Titan in the final to take the tournament after falling just shy in their two prior events.
The performance was especially important for Mikail “Maikelele” Bill, who posted some big numbers and had a great overall tournament. The Swedish sniper came under fire for an inconsistent performance at the X Games Invitational after having caught fire during DreamHack Winter. His return to form should put to bed any concerns held by fans of the team.
Getting back atop the podium after having fallen as far as the squad had during the fall of 2014 is a big step for Ninjas in Pyjamas, who will next be looking for similar results at major tournaments.
It speaks to how far Fnatic haven fallen in a relatively short amount of time that not everyone considered the team a sure bet at Clutch Con. Any squad considered to be potentially the world’s best should have been thought an unassailable favorite considering the field of competition, but Fnatic has experienced such controversy and upheavel in recent months that a major upset seemed very much in play.
There were a few bumps in the road for Fnatic, who played close games with both Counter Logic Gaming and Kabum, but ultimately the team was able to capture first-place in the tournament without much of a struggle.
It’s not a result that will change anyone’s thoughts about the team, but it’s a reassuring one for their fans that this group of players still has what it takes to play like the world’s best.
Finishing as runners-up to Fnatic at Clutch Con is a very decent result for a Cloud9 squad that had been reeling in recent months. A disappointing performance at the most recent ESEA global final highlighted a slump in play that saw many fans questioning whether the team was still among the very best that North America had to offer.
A win over Ninjas in Pyjamas at the X Games Invitational showed that Cloud9 still had some fight yet left in it, but that victory was followed by a devastating defeat at the hands of Team SoloMid, then still playing under the Dignitas umbrella.
With such opponents as Counter Logic Gaming and Team Liquid on the rise, Cloud9 seemed threatened to even make the podium. But the team was able to take care of business, going unbeaten until losing to Fnatic in the tournament final. That sort of consistency has been missing for Cloud9 for some time, and they’ll need to recapture it if they plan to see the podium at events bigger than Clutch Con.
The biggest surprise at Assembly was undoubtedly Virtus Pro failing to emerge from the group stage. Long hailed as being among the very best teams in the world, the Polish power endured a shocking upset to Germany’s Penta Sports before losing another game to Hell Raisers that sealed their fate.
Virtus Pro had been among the favorites to win the event, so to exit before the playoffs had commenced can only be seen as a massive disappointment for the team. Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski had an especially difficult time in the team’s two losses, not even managing a double digit number of frags against Penta.
The real failing of Mousesports is that their winless performance at Assembly wasn’t even a surprise. The team has made a recent habit of bottoming out of big tournaments in which they take part, and the recent restructuring of the roster hasn’t made much of a difference.
Competition was stiff, but that doesn’t excuse the poor effort the team managed to put forward. In their losses to Ninjas in Pyjamas and Titan, Mousesports collected a total of only 12 rounds. That simply won’t do, and further highlights just how far this once-mighty Counter-Strike team has fallen.
Counter Logic Gaming
If any team seemed primed to make a surprise run at a title, it was Counter Logic Gaming. The team had been red hot late last year while playing under the MouseSpaz name. While their X Games Invitational experience ended with a group stage elimination, the team still managed to impress by upsetting the world’s best team today, Team Envy (then playing as LDLC).
Even the team’s group stage loss to Fnatic at Clutch Con was a respectable performance that hinted at better things to come. So when Counter Logic Gaming found themselves being outplayed by Elevate in the quarterfinals, it had to be massively disappointing.
The series loss came by a two games to one margin, but Counter Logic Gaming was barely able to manage even that. A game two win required a big second half comeback, and the third and decisive game in the series was a blowout win in favor of Elevate.
There’s no doubting the potential that Counter Logic Gaming’s new Counter-Strike roster holds. But the results of the past few weeks have made it clear that while that potential does exist, it has yet to be fully realized.