The drought is real. IEM has been and gone, DreamHack Masters Vegas is fading in the memory, and then we seem to remember some event over in Atlanta, but whenever we try to think of specifics we just get Craig Rempel’s A Little Bit Closer in stuck in our mind, so we aren’t actually sure if it was real or just some strange fever dream.
That’s not to say nothing has happened this week, because this is Counter-Strike and the wealth of online competition means no team ever gets a week off at this time of year, but it has been a little quieter than usual. The ESL Pro League was of course still happening, but was unusually quiet this week, and the StarLadder qualifiers have offered some entertaining games but not as many as we thought.
But the community has still been going strong with the usual streams and memes, and for a change tournament organisers have made a few announcements. So as ever we are here to round up everything that happened in the past seven days, and hope that the next seven will be a little more interesting.
Match of the week: Astralis vs Virtus Pro
The rivalry between these two teams over the last few months has turned into something quite special. Every time they have matched up in recent weeks there has been at least one amazing play or story to come out of the match, purely because right now they seem so evenly matched.
With VP’s choke in Katowice many had Astralis down as the winners for this, but a last minute change saw Dev1ce, who may need surgery, miss the match and Astralis coach zonic take his place. Amazingly zonic held his own, although he was one of the best 1.6 players ever so we probably should have had a little more faith in his abilities, and even managed to out frag multiple members of Astralis in the match, including Katowice MVP Xyp9x.
Both maps, or if we want to get technical matches, are worth a watch just to see zonic in action, but it is the second one that really stood out. It ended up going to overtime on Nuke, with both teams looking really quite good considering one just came off one of the most embarrassing losses of their careers and the other was playing with their coach. It’s worth a watch if you get a chance, but it probably isn’t one we will be coming back to in a year’s time and saying how it was a classic.
Winners & Losers
It has been pretty quiet in the French scene in recent weeks, but G2 finally got some good news this week as they have finally made it to a LAN. Despite playing in multiple qualifiers the new French super team is yet to play on a stage, and it looks like their first opportunity will be at DreamHack Austin at the end of next month. The team has been directly invited to the event, and providing they don’t make it through the StarLadder qualifiers it will most likely be their first major event together. It remains to be seen what the quality of the field will be like for Austin, but even if the big names do show it G2 should surely be hopeful of doing reasonably well.
ESL and Intel have announced that they are taking the Intel Extreme Masters to Australia, or more specifically Sydney, for the first event of Season 12. IEM Sydney will take place on May 6th and 7th at the Qudos Bank Arena and will feature teams from across the world including Astralis, Renegades and most likely OpTic, as team owner H3cz let slip on stream https://www.boomeo.com/the-pulse/optic-owner-h3cz-lets-slip-iem-sydney-invitation/ that the team had been invited. The event will also feature a prize pool of 250,000 Australian dollars, which translates to around $180,000 USD, so teams will be hoping to do well in order to grab a big chunk of cash.
Winner: UK CS
UK eSports company Gfinity revealed the first details of its Challenger and Elite Series competitions this week, and revealed that CS:GO will be one of three games played. The Challenger Series, which kicks off in a few weeks, will allow anyone to play in online matches to gain points. At the end of the season those with the most points will be entered into the Elite Draft, where eight organisations will pick their teams. These teams will then play in the Elite Series, which will take place at the Gfinity Arena in London. Prize money, how the draft will work and what teams are involved have not been discussed, but this does sound like it could give the UK scene a much needed boost.
After zonic’s heroics for Astralis OpTic coach peacemaker thought he might try the same thing and stood in for the Green Wall in their match against NRG in the ESL Pro League. Unfortunately peacemaker doesn’t happen to be a former 1.6 pro like zonic, so struggled to keep up with the team. A match that OpTic should probably have won easily became difficult to watch as they lost both maps, and looked pretty poor. Maybe he should just stick to coaching for the time being.
Another loss for the Green Wall, but it may end up being a win for them in the long run. It appears that Hiko will not be staying with the team and will instead become a free agent. After the loss of Stanislaw to Liquid OpTic brought in Hiko on a trial basis, but struggled to find results. Now they have said goodbye to the NA legend and will presumably be looking for a new player pretty quickly. The loss of Stanislaw has really messed up what was easily NA’s best team just a few months ago and things don’t seem to be getting any better for the Green Wall anytime soon, as the NA free agent pool isn’t exactly stacked with talent.
Bad times for dev1ce this week as he was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia that may result in him needing surgery and presumably missing a lot of playing time. Zonic standing in can only work for so long, so Astralis’ future looks a little uncertain right now. However by far the most important thing is dev1ce’s health, and we all wish him the best.
Got the diagnosis hiatus hernia which can be fixed through surgery, but has some side effects. Still considering my options. Will play later
— Nicolai Reedtz (@dev1ce) March 8, 2017
Play of the Week
A good AWP shot is a thing of beauty. In 90% of cases you get one chance before your position is compromised and a swift death comes your way, so hitting that shot is vital. Now when two players are swarming onto the site that shot becomes even more important, miss completely and you are all but dead. However Shroud took this to a new level and managed to take out both players, with one bullet, from an impossible angle, while jumping. Sure there is a lot of luck here, but it is just so good we couldn’t leave it out.
FalleN gets the honorable mention this week for this impressive pistol round that wowed everyone in the star-studded game.
Fail of the Week
We could have gone with one of peacemaker’s plays from the OpTic match, but we feel like he has suffered enough so instead we went with former OpTic man, Daps, messing up this grenade and costing his team the round. We don’t claim to be the best players, and certainly nowhere near the pro level, but even we would be fairly confident of not screwing things up this much.
A slightly strange honorable mention goes to f0rest, for his darts ability. For someone who has a dart board in their office you would hope he would be able to get at least two of the three darts into the actual board itself, but even that turned out to be too much.
Finally some good news as the exiled former members of Tyloo appear to have joined the new team that caused the whole situation. Both Karsa and fancy1, along with LOVEYY from Vici Gaming, have joined Flash Gaming, and will also be co owners of the org. The final two players should be revealed in the coming weeks, and rumours suggest they will relocate to NA or EU to get better scrim options.
Moses went on a bit of a rant about NA CS over on Twitter and basically called out everyone in the scene. He brought up multiple issues such as the lack of people wanting to become in game leaders, people focusing more on streaming and the lack of any real competition in the amateur scene.
It always feels from the outside looking in that NA don't have many pro players, but aspiring streamers who use being "pro" to get viewers
— Jason O'Toole (@OnFireMoses) March 7, 2017
Neo’s dad did an interview with Virtus Pro last week and it turns out he is one of the coolest pro parents we have ever seen. Not only is he the reason Neo started playing CS, he also clearly knows his stuff, and suggests that VP need to get a psychologist in order to stay at the top instead of crashing when they win an event.