Counter-Strike: Behind The Chaotic North American Shuffle
I've recently reported on several articles that were and still are, the main focus of the North American acquisitions and removals of their key players. At the current moment there is a war going on, a war of attrition, a war between organizations. These organizations are switching their players after seemingly affected by crucial losses at the hands of in-state and foreign teams at the recent ESEA S18 LAN.
This has created an environment all around cs related sites that leave many desperate for answers, desperation among fans and players alike as more information piles on to the internet. Players current or former are being hounded by fans asking for secrets, or are the ones relaying information that are "speculative". These are tough times for professional gamers, like a normal sports draft except, these opportunities come at a cost - a career ending cost.
A brief history lesson for those who are just tuning in to the news or simply don't follow Counter-Strike news often. This time last week, information was leaked by Tarik "tarik" Celik via stream where he released information at a cost of Twitch subscriptions. This lead to blog posts, HLTV & Reddit posts springing up which snowballed into a massive witch hunt.
Who was going to be affected? Why were they being cut? What's the end game? These are the questions that we all had in mind. Many of these leaks by "Tarik" were followed by his teammates or friends on his steam that affirmed some knowledge regarding the "NA Shuffle". Many of his leaks were accurate and out of those, the removal of Kory "Semphis" Frieson & Shahzeb "ShahZam" Khan were accurately predicted.
In addition to his leaks, many other predominant cs figures were involved, speaking openly over twitter or streams regarding the changes, using them as motive for profit or simply to sabotage the announcements early on. It feels like many of the North American professionals have some knowledge as many of them are friends and speak to one another outside the game on a daily basis.
There are still many more questions that are left unanswered, especially revolving around today's hot topic. "Hiko's Super Team".. A team that isn't definitive and a team that might not happen. A team that has been a hot topic for a while now but has gained some momentum after the "NA Shuffle" have begun. For the sake of curiosity, what if "Tarik" never brought up these leaks? What if no one brought this up? Would everything go according to plan?
That peaks my curiosity. Hiko, arguably one of the best North American players has been building his "dream team" for a while now, after openly leaving C9 due to internal issues. It was no secret that he was dissatisfied with the culture revolving around the team, the issues that they faced due to coordination and team views. His team surely seems like it could have fixed that, right?
Now that everyone is running around like a chicken without a head, these organizations are seeing that and are also running around attempting to keep their players or gain some players. For example, ex-C9 superstar "Semphis" was picked up by Nihilum Gaming almost immediately. Why? "Semphis" a longtime core member of C9 is still a great player with a skill set that can't be matched, especially in a team that is still very new to counter-strike and "Semphis" would be a great addition to cementing their stance in the NA league.
Organizations like C9 have yet to officially announce two new players to complete their main roster. I can only imagine what they are doing to acquire them. We as fans aren't the only ones that see these rumors, they are either worried or are using this time to play a game of chess. Another example, Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, one of the best "AWPers" NA has to offer, is reportedly being sought out by C9 to replace the "AWPer" role after the position was vacated by the removal of Shahzeb "ShahZam" Khan.
("Skadoodle" pictured left with former iBP via News.ESEA.com)
A rumored acquisition that would cost a rumored $20,000+ contract which shows the desperation or willingness Cloud9 is ready to go to pick him up. Back to the Hiko "Super Team" subject, this would leave Hiko without an "AWPer" and hinder his plans for the team. A lot of speculations, too many to count. As a journalist I cringe on the amount of reporting I've done regarding this subject but it's also a puzzle for me.
Putting these pieces together, as a fan excite and disappoint me deeply. We read of these changes but we don't necessarily grasp the reality of it until it's all said in done. North American Counter-Strike is the wild wild west and it shows. It's a game of politics where money & material rule. A place where recycled stars clash and prospect players are left behind to rot.
North America isn't ready to win a major. Let's face it. We aren't even ready to keep secrets. Your thoughts? Use the Twitter hashtag #NAShuffle to voice your feedback or opinion on the matter.
- Walter "Dustyy" Sosa
Follow me on Twitter: @MellowWalt