The term “Tier 1” is frequently used in the professional Counter-Strike scene, but is not a word that is universally defined. Some people may use it to describe the top five teams in the world, others the top ten. Some may see a Tier 1 team as capable of defeating anyone in the world. What is clear is that the term “Tier 1” is used to describe the best teams, the crème de la crème, the champions of the world. Here are four teams that aren’t there yet, but have the potential to join the elite at Tier 1.
The recent victors of the Northern Arena tournament held in Toronto, Immortals is a team often overlooked due to their lack of Major experience. After reaching the qualifiers, but failing to progress, to two Majors in succession, the Brazilians’ ability to win on an international scale was discredited.
Failing to qualify for two consecutive Major tournaments does make it hard to consider Immortals to have the potential to become a Tier 1 team, as whatever your definition of “Tier 1” is, it surely includes being amongst the 16 best teams in the world on the scene’s biggest stage. Nevertheless, the Brazilians do in fact hold the tools to become a Tier 1 team, being a unit full of raw skill and masterful tactics, making them real contenders to become a Tier 1 team.
Earlier in the year, Immortals won DreamHack Summer, a large tournament that featured Tier 1 opposition in the form of Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas. The Brazilian side collected some noteworthy wins in June, most significantly a 2-0 win over the Swedish Ninjas in the Grand Final, securing them $50,000 from the prize pool.
In terms of more recent results, Immortals is fresh off the back of a win in Toronto, where the side won Northern Arena. During their two big tournament wins this year, Immortals did make a roster change, seeing Gustavo “SHOOWTiME” Gonçalves make room for former SK Gaming coach Wilton “zews” Prado. The inclusion of a two-time Major winning coach to a side full of incredible talent from the likes of Henrique “HEN1” Teles gives the Immortals lineup both incredible raw talent, and experience and tactical prowess from Prado.
Northern Arena showcased what this lineup is capable of, and shows that when the Brazilians are in-form and hitting shots, their skill ceiling is staggeringly high, seen by their best-of-three final win over another team who were performing well, Cloud9. It is a bold statement, but I see Immortals having the right mixture of strategy and skill to become a Tier 1 team.
The predominantly-Danish side has exploded into the upper echelons of the scene recently, churning out win after win against the very best in the world. Having such results as a win at Power-LAN 2016 and a third place finish at the Northern Arena event, as well as a host of strong online wins, the recently-formed organization of Heroic has certainly made a name for themselves as up-and-comers. Not only have they shown they’re an exciting team to follow, they also exhibit signs that suggest they could be Tier 1 material.
In the past month, Heroic has shown the world that not only can they beat big teams on LAN, but they can do it repeatedly. Beginning with their triumph at the Danish tournament Power-LAN, Heroic has toppled giant after giant at large offline events, silencing any who may have thought they were just an upset team. At Northern Arena, they fell to Cloud9 in the semifinals, a game where despite their best efforts, the new-found strength of Cloud9 proved too much for the Danish-Swedish mix team.
Last weekend, Heroic faced their biggest challenge in the time their organization has existed, as they were tasked with escaping a group at the Season 2 Finals of StarLadder i-League Starseries which included Astralis and Na’Vi. Though most people thought to progress from the group would be asking too much of the underdog that keeps on giving, Heroic defied all odds and went on to top the group, thanks to wins over Astralis and TyLoo. In these two brilliant wins, one player stood out for Heroic and received praise from fans and analysts alike for his performance.
Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså had an inspired day in Kiev, as he led his team to both of their group stage wins by dropping a 30 bomb in each of their best-of-one wins. It does seem improbable for Heroic to find a way into that Tier 1 category, but their great teamwork and amazing placings lately show they have the potential to get there.
The North-American giants show legitimate promise to reach the standard of a Tier 1 team after their strong results with the new roster featuring Timothy “autimatic” Ta. Cloud9 made it to the semifinals of the Season 2 Finals of StarLadder i-League Starseries, the biggest tournament since the Cologne Major and an event packed with other Tier 1 teams. To finish above the likes of Na’Vi, Virtus.pro and GODSENT bodes well for the Americans, and they look strong enough to regain the title as a Tier 1 team that some would say they held under the leadership of Sean “seangares” Gares in the summer of last year.
Cloud9’s standout factor in their rise to this level of form seems to be their roster moves and who they chose to pick up. The first genius move they made was picking up the young Jake “Stewie2k” Yip, who nearly all in the community doubted would be able to perform on such an established team as Cloud9. And yet, “Yung Stew” has proven himself time and time again that he is not only worthy of joining the seasoned American team, but actually he might be making a case for himself being the best on their roster. Across Cloud9’s Northern Arena campaign, Yip performed strongly in an event his team placed second at, ending the event with a Kill/death ratio of +36.
Another pickup for Cloud9 that seemingly brought on their revitalised form was autimatic. During the Season 1 Finals of ECS, Ta and his teammates on Team SoloMid impressed the scene with a hugely unexpected finish that saw them place top-four, above the likes of Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas. Since bringing autimatic onto the team, Cloud9 has begun the fourth season of the ESL Pro League remarkably, as they are unbeaten through the first 14 games.
At Northern Arena, they showed they could win offline as well, making it to the final before losing to the strong side that is Immortals, and in a close three-map fashion. Cloud9’s results lately have been impressing everyone, and their recent additions of young and exciting fraggers, autimatic and Stewie2k, make me believe they could become a Tier 1 team.
Once known for being a one-man army, mousesports recently orchestrated a pickup that should alleviate some of the weight that star player Nikola “NiKo” Kovač is oft-forced to carry on his shoulders. While the new lineup has yet to face any true challenges in the form of offline tournaments, the addition of world-class player Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný coming to join one of the world’s greatest players, NiKo, gives mousesports enough ammunition to become a Tier 1 team.
Oskar was HellRaisers’ standout player by a mile. The Czech can AWP at a world-class level and rifle at a level not much below. The heights that the NiKo-oskar combo can reach are unfathomable, giving mousesports the chance to finally reach the top tier of the scene, somewhere that NiKo has been for months.
Admittedly, the majority of mousesports’ potential comes from their individual players, namely oskar, NiKo and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong. However, mousesports also draws strength from coach Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunović, who offers the tactical and more mental side of the game to compliment NiKo and oskar’s innate ability to take enemies’ heads from their bodies.
I would assume that the current mouz roster will need time to come together as a cohesive unit, and find the right way to position and utilize the incredible firepower they have under their banner. Once the team find their structure, they are certainly going to be a side capable of defeating a whole manner of top teams, and not just relying on NiKo having a masterclass game to do so.
What current teams do you think have the potential to reach “Tier 1” status? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us @GAMURScom.
Article by: @clootch