NA Teams and the Inferno Struggle

North American Counter Strike teams often lost games and series against elite level competition throughout 2015 because of their inability to effectively map veto.

North American Counter Strike teams often lost games and series against elite level competition throughout 2015 because of their inability to effectively map veto.  Before the game even begins, the best European teams are already favored to win in a best of x series because of their fluency of the entire map pool before a single shot is fired.  North American teams often struggle in veto stage because of their inability to play certain maps effectively, and require very specific and unlikely map draws for them to stand any kind of chance.  While map pool varies slightly from team to team, this is especially true of a map like Inferno which requires highly disciplined and refined CT play, and effective mid-round strategy and mind-games as a Terrorist.  Further, Inferno highlights the fundamental issues with North American rosters to bring their play to the next level.

North Americans have historically been terrible on Inferno.  Even during Cloud 9’s peak this summer, they were never an effective Inferno team, winning only one game ever against a top tier EU team (against Aizy’s Dignitas as Dreamhack Cluj-Napoka). This statistic was especially odd considering how successful the former [email protected] Complexity was on the map, beating the likes of NiP, Very Games, VP, Na’Vi, and Krimz and Olofm’s LGB.  No other current first tier North American team have ANY wins against top tier EU teams, Inferno clearly not an upset prone map.   This stems from the more PUG oriented style that many American teams draw their roots from, trying to simply out-aim opponents in duels without rhyme or reason.  The CT setups for NA teams can rarely play the sort of consistent setup that is expected of top teams on Inferno, constantly over-rotating to bombsites or wasting utility early into the round.  The Terrorist sides are always predictable and underwhelming, the disciplined EU CTs never overrun by a late round B execute or A-site wrap.

Across the pond, Inferno is a strong, hotly contested map for all of the top tier European teams. Fnatic, Envy, Astralis, VP, Na’Vi, and even the struggling NiP all play a comfortably consistent Inferno.  While the map pool has changed somewhat over the course of CS:GO’s history, Inferno has always been a stalwart of high level play. On T-sides, with the exception of VP and Envy, who can overpower sites quickly with effective trading or superior aim, European teams take methodical map control, forcing CTs out of A Apartments, Banana, and Mid bracket to pose a strong threat anywhere on the map and then execute.  As CTs, Inferno highlights the extreme discipline of the top teams, saving utilities as long as possible and forcing Terrorists into the last 45-30 seconds to execute, areas like top of mid and banana smoked perpetually.  North American teams lacked on both sides of the map, overwhelmed and outplayed by the superior strat-calling of European Terrorist play, and ineffective and predictable against brick wall CT defenses.  The only top NA team in history to have consistently strong showings on Inferno was the Dazed led IBuyPower, who bested the top tier NiP, Na’Vi, LDLC, and the Ex6tenz-led Titan on the map twice.  Dazed was so successful because of how well he tailored his roster to play the map, setting up Skadoodle to hold Banana with an AWP, and maintaining an unbreakable four man stack on the a-site.  Moreover, on T-side, Dazed understood how to effectively bait early rotations from CTs, entering under-defended bomb sites after early trades and map control.  A notable example was in the last round of ESEA grand finals against Titan, where IBP walked into an undefended A-site after baiting all of the CTs to B.

Photo courtesy of ESEA

Obviously, North American teams should put in the effort to become a strong Inferno team a la IBuyPower, but during 2015 Inferno should have been an instant veto.  Inferno, because of its aforementioned requirements for victory, is not a map that a North American team could win in a random best of 1, let alone a requirement for best of 3 or 5.  The map does not reward “random” or “scrimmy” play at the top level the way Cobblestone or Cache can, and the top tier European teams are too skilled to get bested by PUG-esque strategy. Furthermore, the North American scene in general lacks the kind of supremely consistent supportive CT players that are essential to Inferno, players like Xyp9x, NBK, and Krimz, who are always good for at least a frag per round and can single-handedly shut down Terrorist pushes when they are called to.  Inferno is a good example of a “big boy” map, a map that distinguishes the true international powerhouses and great shot-calling minds.  Inferno is not friendly to North American teams, and until they learn to tighten up their play, it never will be.