One of the most anticipated new lineups in Counter-Strike will finally play its first competitive match tonight. Team Kinguin and its lineup of some of the biggest names in the scene face off against the former Copenhagen Wolves at 9pm CET in the Starladder Starseries Season 13 group stage.
Mikail “Maikelele” Bill and Adil “Scream” Benrlitom, formerly of Ninjas in Pyjamas and Epsilon respectively, are the biggest names on the roster. That top-flight experience means the pressure will be on to perform right off the bat.
Bill joined the Ninjas after the team dropped long-time AWPer Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson. He played with the team at Dreamhack Winter 2014, MLG X-Games, IOS Pantamera, and ASUS ROG Winter before being traded off in favor of Aleksi “Allu” Jalli.
Benrlitom, for his part, is a veteran who’s played for VeryGames and Titan. Most recently, though, he’s known for his time in Epsilon, where he was a key player before Valve banned his teammates for match fixing.
Filling out the rest of the lineup is former LGB player Håvard “Rain” Nygaard, who put in a very strong performance for his all-Norwegian lineup at ESL One Katowice 2015, including a victory over Penta Esports and a strong performance against Team EnvyUs. Swede Alexander “Skytten” Carlsson, formerly of Team Orbit, and Ricardo “Fox” Pacheco from the Portuguese K1ck esports, fill out the rest of the lineup.
Team Kinguin were drawn into Starseries’ Group D alongside the ex-Copenhagen Wolves team, Gamers2, and French giants EnvyUs. Their qualification campaign begins against perhaps the weakest team in the group, the ex-Copenhagen Wolves. It’s not abundantly clear who will show up for that team after Michael “Friis” Jørgensen and Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen left in March this year, forcing the team to use a number of substitutes.
The community is fairly divided about Team Kinguin. Many point out that, while the individual players are talented, the mixed nationalities could become an issue. In the history of Counter-Strike, the best teams have almost always had players of a single nationality. Ninjas in Pyjamas was even criticized when it replaced the Swedish Bill with the Finnish Aleksi “Allu” Jalli, a move that so far seems to have been relatively successful.
The general consensus is that Kinguin have been given a fairly easy challenge to overcome in their professional debut. But with the extremely short amount of time they’ve been together, this could be much harder than expected.
While EnvyUs will be expected to progress with relative ease out of the group stage, Kinguin, ex-Copenhagen Wolves, and Gamers2 will battle it out for the second qualifying spot. A win in the opening game could be crucial in deciding who progresses behind the favourites EnvyUs. Bill, Benrlitom and Co. will be looking to prove their critics wrong and more importantly, take a strong first step for Kinguin in becoming a top tier Counter-Strike team.
Screengrab via Kinguin/YouTube