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Wed Jun 07 2017
CS:GO Ponderings: ESL Pro League, North, and Liquid

A stream of consciousness in which Sam Delorme gives a few thoughts about the ongoings of the Counter-Strike scene:

1. EPL wasn’t a great event. Groups were a mess, there were too many games and most of which that didn’t even matter to most fans. But let’s not dwell on the mishaps of ESL, or the absence of teams or the woes of online we are all weary of. The past is the past, and, I sweat the small stuff and the salt has left my body. It’s all good vibrations from now on.

2. WHAT WAS THAT GROUP STAGE? Seriously? For crying out loud did that real-- no, no. None of that. Surely there is good stuff worthy of discussion.

3. If everything around the event was sub-par, at least the games themselves were interesting. Many interesting changes occurred, forms changed or continued. Players went cold, others left sizzling. In hopes of healing my spirit as well as yours, I’ll go through the most noteworthy news here.

4. Let’s start from the lowest and move onto the highest. Na’vi bombed out of yet another tournament. They lost to North, Mousesports, and Optic. The worst part of all this is that this was the easy group. Take a look at Na’vi’s roster and tell me how they could possibly lose to Mousesports or Optic. No one was doing especially poorly in the fragging department, unlike Tours.

To me, yet another group-stage exit has been a death sentence for this roster. They were doing well enough in the first few months of the year, but yet another dip in form must mean this lineup is done. It’s peaks and valleys with this team, if peaks are modest hills and valleys are vast craters. Some of these players are world-class, and belong on better teams. Especially s1mple, as even he seems to have lost his dionysian spirit. That said, it’s unlikely they make any sort of change before the Major, but unless there’s a PGL miracle, expect an ANGE1 to come down from the heavens.

5. Moving on, let’s talk about the “Oh, that’s kind of nice, I guess” team of this event: Team Liquid. Everything went rather well for Liquid this tournament. Twistzz look good against decent competition, Elige maintained his form, and most importantly, JDM showed up. This is the first real star performance we’ve seen from JDM on Liquid. This was his first positive +/- event since he joined Liquid. He’s had some good matches, to be sure, but this is his first tournament-long success. Even better, it’s not like JDM had a massive over-performance. He played like you would’ve expected him to when he originally joined the roster. If Stanislaw can get JDM rolling consistently, this Liquid team might grow beyond what we’ve seen here.

6. But even keeping steady at this level wouldn’t be the worst thing. Being around the Gambits and Mousesports and Hellraisers of the world is a good spot to be, and I don’t see Liquid breaking into the Top 6 even with further improvements. It’s also worth noting that NA can’t earn a Top 10 spot for the life of them, so a top-of-the-tier-2 would be a decent achievement for this Liquid squad.

7. I took a dig at North in the last Ponderings, so it’s worth reviewing my perspective in light of EPL. First, they mentioned they switched spots. I don’t know what spots they changed yet, I haven’t done that homework. Lurppis mentioned that Magisk switched from A to B on Mirage, but otherwise I’m not sure. Would be interesting to see, though, because if the changes are all like that one then it means that MSL decided to move Magisk away from the action in favor of others.

8. Right off the bat, k0nfig deserves all kinds of praise. Sporting a powerful +50 +/- over the tournament, he was second only to kennyS, the MVP. Not bad. It’s tournaments like these where you wonder how this guy hasn’t been more successful over the past couple years. It’s important to remember that his bull-headed style both creates and hurts his effectiveness. What’s most impressive to me is that k0nfig took a very inconsistent playstyle and ran with it firing all cylinders all tournament long. Impressive, but not permanent. K0nfig will cool off soon enough, and that’s when North’s problems will resurface.

9. Worthy of note, Aizy was stellar at this event. He was sporting a +21 coming into the final, synergizing quite well with k0nfig and MSL. Was good to see him make plays. Unfortunately for him, his performance took a nosedive in the final, where he ended the 4 map series with a -31 +/-. That’s not great. So Aizy looked improved with the new setup for North right up until they faced tier 1 opposition. Then he got mauled. Some very good stuff, some very bad. I’d say it’s a wash for Aizy, but his level is something that may change dramatically, for better or for worse, in the next few events. Facing great teams at Cologne and the Major, we’ll get to see exactly what he’s made of.

10. Let’s move onto another team. SK. In the last Ponderings, I wrote about my worries with SK, particularly with their lack of coordination with felps. That wasn’t the problem here. At EPL, SK had a total breakdown of a day 2, and quite frankly, I have no clue what happened. But they recovered against Mousesports, and looked alright against G2. The glaring issue with them wasn’t a team breakdown, but a very disappointing performance from coldzera.

Very strange. So strange, I don’t expect that to be an issue going forward. Coldzera has been the most consistent player in the world for more than a year now, and I don’t expect a single poor showing to change that. I’m still worried about felps, but not at all about cold.

11. And finally, the French. G2 came out guns malfunctioning on the first day, but it was all good from then on. They gave SK a proper fight, and they came out on top. They faced a dark horse team in the finals, and they got the job done. KennyS was legendary, NBK was hot and Bodyy played perhaps his best tournament as of yet as a pro.

12. And yet, shox was still not that great. At this point, it must be the role he’s set for himself in the team. I remain unconvinced by most of the dual awp setups they attempt, particularly because they force buy so much. So many rounds have been thrown away because of the economy game. I feel like this team will sometimes get properly rolled because they can never get their money straight. And yet, if they win enough force-buys, none of that matters. That’s the French dilemma, isn’t it? But I’m just glad they’re back.

If you enjoyed this piece, you can keep up and support Sam Delorme via Twitter.

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