The dust from the Eleague major has settled, and new teams, rosters and competitive maps are emerging – as well as the further evolution of the meta. Here are some of the most important lessons we have learnt in the weeks since the Atlanta major:
At the very top echelons of competitive counter-strike, maps are becoming more T sided: Be under no illusions, this doesn’t apply to tier 2 teams or even the lower rungs of tier 1. We are referring to the absolute best teams in the world – the top 5, roughly speaking. Take the final between VP and Astralis for instance; each map ended 9-6 in favour of the terrorist side despite being played on three of the most CT sided competitive maps (Nuke, Overpass, Train). When the top teams in the world head off, ingenious and revolutionary T side strats are often what sets them apart from each other.
A good terrorist side requires tactics and awareness whereas the CT side relies more heavily on coordination and teamplay since they play a more reactionary game. This, combined with the extreme fragility of the CT economy, means that one ingenious or unexpected strat can launch the terrorists into an early lead, facing off against CTs reduced to pistols and possibly armour. This, as demonstrated time and again, can progress into a comfortable win at half time for the T side. Bear in mind that in every half (bar one where it was 7-6 in favour of CT) in the final, the Ts emerged victorious, be it first or second.
Mousesports are in dire need of reform: From their very first game against Na`Vi, Mousesports just did not seem to be a coherent team on the same page. The abysmal numbers posted by Spiidi and Denis do nothing to dispel this accusation. Since the major, the action they have taken is more than questionable. Instead, Mousesports opted to kick arguably the player in best form, ChrisJ, and replaced him with a player benched previously on the roster due to alleged incompatibility with the team. I suspect this move will not be permanent if Mousesports have any desire to be a top tier team in the future.
North still need improvement: North were nothing short of depressing in their first two games – especially for a team predicted to go far in the tournament. In fairness to them, they kept their composure and narrowly slipped by some comparatively worse opposition to make it to the playoffs. It was here in the quarterfinals where they were promptly disposed of by Virtus.Pro. Analysts and fans alike were hopeful for, and expected great things from, North. It never really came together. Their most impressive moment as a team was without doubt the 1hp knife by k0nfig, which speaks to the level of teamplay North put on display.
We are still not living in the Na`Vi era: Despite the title of an article I previously wrote, that time is not upon us yet. However impressive Na`Vi looked while they were storming through the group stage, it did not culminate in a strong and decisive victory over Astralis. In my eyes, the mark of a truly great team is the ability to win while playing badly. It is beyond dispute that Na`Vi didn’t play to their full capacity in the quarterfinals, and while they did manage to win one map, it wasn’t quite enough to see them over the line against the eventual champions. Two majors; two quarterfinal exits.
Gambit will be a force to be reckoned with in 2017: X-God and friends put on quite a show in Atlanta. Under the leadership of Zeus and backed up by the incredible fragging power of AdreN, the Russian/Kazakh lineup look dangerous. They had a successful group stage, advancing 3-1 in dominant fashion – losing only to Astralis. With a little more high-level experience, this team could cause a few upsets with their new prodigy: H0bbit.
The French Superteam: This was always coming, though we now know who it will contain. G2 will be acquiring KennyS, ApeX and NBK, moving SmithZz to a coaching role, dropping rpk and ScreaM, and retaining Shox and bodyy. FaZe awaits for ScreaM who will replace aizy and rpk will transfer to EnvyUs. Meanwhile, EnvyUs pick up some LDLC players under the leadership of Happy and Sixer. Without a shadow of a doubt, G2 now have the creme of the French ‘crop’ and now have the talent to challenge for the top spot in world counter-strike again.