Counter-Strike: The Golden Age of Cloud9 Has Just Begun
North American fans were treated to two specular events all in one this weekend, some good CS & Independence Day.
After a grueling and hard fought weekend at the ESL ESEA Pro League Finals, one team has emerged champion, fan-favorite & veteran Team Fnatic. Right behind them was none other than Team NA Hype Murica' Cloud9. Surprised? So were we, not many expected Cloud9 nonetheless any North American team to make it to the grand finals, the semi finals.. or even the quarter finals.
It marks a turn of tides. An American team hasn't graced the title of champion from a major tournament for roughly 9 years now. Were we as a nation going to house a North American team that was going to take the title home again? Were we finally going to beat a European team in a finals series? Unfortunately we didn't, fortunately, we learned two things, or at least I did.
North America is learning. North America is putting their feet down and they're not taking no as an answer. Dozens of American teams are out there in a professional or semi-professional capacity, those who are privileged, have a backing from company's and capable organizations who want them to succeed. We look back at the eSports industry, exclusively North America -- organizations were dime a dozen and had no financial or morale support to give other than a couple powerhouse organizations like iBP, compLexity (now C9), and.. that's mainly it?
Now it seems like every other bunch of months we'll have a new organization or existing organization pop up and say "what up swedes WOOO", give them a gaming house, suit 'em up with equipment the best a professional player would ever ask for, and put them on a stringent path to fight the Europeans in a tournament. I can only picture it as scene in 'Rocky' where two opponents go punch for punch, taking a punch and receiving one.
For Cloud9 to beat out EnvyUs then CLG to lose out to Fnatic, it was a particularity bitter sweet event. It showed their progression from previous events, and it also showed us that they weren't slowing down for no one, not even American teams could hinder their chances at taking that championship home. However they folded under the pressure to the beast we call Fnatic. It's been two-three seasons since a North American team has made it to semi-finals/finals, to see Cloud9 make it that far was that spark of hope we needed.
European teams aren't the devilishly great teams that are untouchable anymore. For the rest of North America, they've got some training to do, not excluding Cloud9 but with only weeks left til the Electronic Sports World Cup they've got to make this event the staple trophy they figuratively post up on their special spot reserved for "NA Trophy". This was the closest they've gotten in a long time but it's just begun really.
Their lineup is set in stone for the time being. Heck, I wouldn't blame them. The current lineup is physically (we're looking at you freakazoid..) & mentally prepared. Their skills are up to par with their counterparts, their integral roles are coming together and to sum it up - they haven't looked this good since the old compLexity days. We can shun their plays and dissect their every action or misaction but we should praise them for their hard work. Get 'em tiger. The world is your oyster.