Optic Gaming Lose to a Winless team but End CWL Pro League Week Seven in a First Place Tie

Optic Gaming, in one single day of the Call of Duty World League, lost to a Tainted Minds team that entered the day winless and also helped themselves in the standings by sneaking out a win over Complexity and now sit in a first-place tie with Rise Nation.

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In a rather wacky day of Call of Duty, Optic Gaming choking and then redeeming themselves to end this week with a net positive was a perfect cherry on top of a messy sundae. Not only did Optic Gaming lost to Tainted Minds, but Rise Nation fell 3-0 to Complexity and Unilad lost a close one to eUnited. It was a big day of upsets, on top of Optic tying up Rise Nation in win percentage. The three top seeds were upset in some capacity and it helped mix up the current standings.

For Complexity, sweeping Rise Nation and getting edged out by Optic Gaming won’t do them any favors in catching eUnited for that fourth and final spot. With eUnited winning over Unilad, Complexity still sits a game behind a playoff spot, but the fortunate part is players like Dashy and Censor are stepping up with huge kill numbers trying to push this team over the top.

For Optic, it’s not looking like a complete product to end the season. Scump was an absolute monster for Optic in week seven, putting the entirety of the team on his aggressive submachine gunplay, picking up Crimsix and Methodz’s lackluster play. Scump is finally looking adjusted to the type of play in World War II. Optic still has yet to put a full team effort together and with one week to go, it’s unlikely this team reaches that point.

It’s been the Scump show on game types that aren’t Search and Destroy, and been the objective minded slayer that he is on hardpoints and capture the flag. On the two deathmatch modes, Scump is unbelievable at holding down areas. He’s a one-man wrecking crew in those positions, but this team can’t find the right touch for Search.

Optic Gaming even fell down 2-1 to Complexity and almost ended the day in a fight for their playoff lives. Now with the win secured and a matchup with Rise Nation next week, Optic can focus on potentially besting Rise Nation and earning that top overall seed.

Featured image courtesy of Call of Duty’s official Twitch page

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The Overwatch League Playoff Preview: Can the NYXL be beaten?

The anticipation for the start of the Overwatch League playoffs has hit a fever pitch for the fans. The long layoff is not only making fans nervous but the players who had two full-weeks of preparation for these three game series. The most incredible part is that with the resurgence of the Valiant and Gladiators, it doesn’t necessarily feel like an easy victory for the New York Excelsior, who enter as the favorite.

Four straight NYXL appearances in the stage finals, and a full regular season of dominating performances. Ending the season with a 34-6 record and a +83 in map differential shows a superiority to the rest of the league. In fact, the NYXL now employ five of South Korea’s starting roster, the same nation that’s barely been pushed at the World Cup the past two years. The question then becomes who will win the Overwatch League, but instead ‘who can stop the NYXL?’

Are the NYXL beatable?

Asking the Los Angeles Valiant that at this moment and time would give you a much different answer than the general public. The stage four champions, a team that’s improved immensely off the moves made by team manager Mike Schwartz, feel as if they are the favorites and can beat the Excelsior.

The Valiant has essentially caught up to the Excelsior in talent with the signings of Indy ‘SPACE’ Halpern and the trade for Scott ‘Custa’ Kennedy, who’s been arguably the biggest difference maker on the team. Now, does this mean the red-hot Valiant can take out the best team in a series?

In the season series, the NYXL lead 3-2 in overall record and that’s including the Valiant’s win in the stage four finals. Based off relevancy, that last result might be the most telling in this matchup with how much the Valiant have improved compared to the NYXL who’ve had a nice comfortable lead all season long. Combine that with SPACE playing at an MVP level, and Terence ‘SoOn’ Tarlier tearing it up on Widowmaker.

A refocused Excelsior team out of the break should get them back on track after dropping three games in stage four. It took Hae-seong ‘Libero’ Kim stepping up to push this team into a stage playoff spot, and then got handled in the stage four finals so time off felt necessary for the top seed. It’s still NYXL vs. the field.

The Field

Each team who I haven’t mentioned already has about as good of a chance of coming alive and winning the entire thing. Each team at one moment and time this season has been at or near the top. Every team earned it as the American favorite Houston Outlaws and the preseason favorites Seoul Dynasty got bounced because they couldn’t keep up at the pace of these four teams.

Starting with the Los Angeles Gladiators, who in some way have improved to the same imaginary level the Valiant have risen too. Let’s not forget the Gladiators picking to face the Valiant instead of the Dallas Fuel and losing in five games. The important thing to remember is that this team is good enough to beat every single team left, and should be looked at as the wildcard team right behind the top two seeded teams.

The other terrifying team is the Boston Uprising and the potentials of their roster with the likes of Nam-joo ‘Striker’ Kwon. This is a team that ran off a huge winning streak that lasted a stage and a half even after the loss of their second damage main. The fortunate aspect of the Uprising run is their run will bypass NYXL until the finals. It also matches them up against two teams they have winning records against.

Lastly, seeing the London Spitfire, a team who has massively underperformed this season according to their standards, with a final shot at winning the title leads me to believe they can do it. But, all the turmoil and shuffling of the roster still brings questions to their chances as a whole. Overall, their talent level is practically just as high as the Excelsior, with the GC Busan core, but they haven’t put it all together since stage one.

Predictions

  • The Boston Uprising over the Philadelphia Fusion in three games
  • Los Angeles Gladiators over the London Spitfire in three games

Semifinals

  • Los Angeles Valiant over the Boston Uprising in two games
  • New York Excelsior over the Los Angeles Gladiators in three games

Finals

  • Los Angeles Valiant over the New York Excelsior in three games

The Valiant seems to be synchronizing and gelling just at the right time. The team unison is higher with this team than any other team in the playoffs, and more big performances from their main playmakers can push them over the top similarly to stage four. Valiant over NYXL in three close games with SPACE as the MVP.

 

NRG Blows Second Map Lead in Consecutive Days as Rogue Impresses in the Win over Complexity at the America FACEIT Minor

It’s been a rough few days for the prohibitive American favorite to not only take one of the two qualifying spots but to be sitting in Rogue’s spot as the top placing team. Now, after starting off 1-0 against both Complexity and eUnited, ended both days losing two straight and are now the first team sent packing.

The loss to Complexity yesterday was completely unexpected, by winning decisively on the first map, only to drop two games with sloppy play and inconsistent play from their bottom-three. For an NRG team that’s usually solid against their own region, the last two days seem like a total outlier. The odds of losing the match when winning the first map are low for any team, but the top-ranked North American team doing it is somewhat of a mystery.

Even the top players showed up on both days, Cvetelin ‘CerQ’ Dimitrov and Vincent ‘Brehze’ Cayonte played quality Counter-Strike. Both finished with positive kill-death ratios and made plenty of big plays. However, the rest of the teams play dropped off drastically after those two. And even on the losing maps, CerQ struggled to get anything going and ended up with less than .60 kills per round.

Unfortunately for NRG, it was the snowball effect for them today. Falling down early on Dust 2 by losing pistol and the lead slowly growing put the stranglehold on an NRG team that was losing confidence. The final kill count on Dust 2 ended at 91-52 in favor of eUnited. It was over once NRG’s mental game faded. eUnited will now face Complexity in qualifying for the Major. The two teams who beat NRG this week.

Rogue Improvements

Rogue deserves plenty of praise for their noteworthy performance at the Minor. Against a Complexity team that played exceptionally well, Rogue went to an even higher level of play and earned the win. It was nice to see a Rogue team, headed by Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, play up to their talent level. They’ve put themselves in a great position to qualify with the 2-0 win against Complexity.

Witnessing Casper ‘cadiaN’ Møller heat up with the AWP on Mirage was quite the sight. He sat apartment side and seemingly didn’t miss a shot for the entirety of the map. Of course, Complexity adjusted to his positioning specifically, but his overall impact on the game didn’t go unnoticed. Outside of cadiaN’s AWP, Hiko was a monster against Complexity. On Dust 2, a map Rogue dominated on, and Hiko finished with 30 kills and a staggering 1.79 rating. He set everything in motion.

The Grand Finals

eUnited vs. Complexity should be a barn burner, in that both teams seem evenly matched in most important areas. Seeing as both teams lost to Rogue, a scenario where one of these teams makes the necessary adjustments to beat Rogue seems unlikely. Especially now with Rogue having the upper bracket advantage, but the important thing to remember here is the winner of Complexity and eUnited qualifies for the FACEIT Major.

Featured image courtesy of FACEIT

Complexity Win Sloppy Affair against NRG at FACEIT’s American Minor

Complexity Win Sloppy Affair against NRG at FACEIT’s American Minor. #FACEITMinor

The week of upsets in the Counter-Strike world continues as NRG falls in an extremely close match with Complexity at the American Minor. After winning a convincing first map on Xache, NRG proceeded to throw away a few leads on Train, only to lose in overtime and eventually get exposed on CT-side of Inferno, dropping eight on nine rounds.

Now the result wasn’t from a lack of trying and by the looks of it could’ve been avoided with a few longer stretches of consistent play. Looking at the post-game numbers, almost all of NRG went positive, with CerQ, their main fragger having good enough numbers to win, but even he failed to give NRG a chance in the second half of Inferno. Despite what looked like a winnable set after map one, Complexity completely turned it around.

In all honesty, Complexity didn’t play close to their best here. ShahZam wasn’t having his best day on the AWP, alongside Stanislaw who finished at even overall. However, Complexity relied more on their strategy and in most cases, especially on the CT-side of maps, were finding advantageous situations. ShahZam wasn’t hitting every shot, but in most cases, he had the opportunity to get the first peak and that opened up everything for Complexity.

Overall, it was a sloppy game from both sides. Complexity came alive in the key moments, but it was a messy back-and-forth before they eventually pulled away in the second half of Inferno. Seeing Complexity have to battle down on Train, having to win six of the last seven rounds to stay alive. Stanislaw didn’t have his best performance, but on Train, he was constantly making big plays happen. Often due to positioning and playing around smokes, but he made the plays when they needed it.

Complexity’s Dephh will end with the highest rating, but CerQ still had his number and ended with a higher kill-death ratio. Complexity will now face Rogue in the upper bracket final as NRG will scramble back down into the lower bracket to face eUnited, who had a rough loss to Rogue.

Featured image courtesy of Complexity 

Natus Vincere are the ESL One: Cologne Champions

Natus Vincere, led by tournament MVP Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, dispensed of the surprising German side, BIG, 3-1 in maps to win their first event of the year. It’s been a long arduous road for the Na’vi side in their quest for a premier title over the likes of Faze and Astralis. In Cologne, it all came together as Na’vi strung together their best performances altogether down the roster.

Back to s1mple, who’s been arguably the best player all year, turned up again in each of the playoff matches. Regardless of some lesser kill numbers out of Egor ‘Flamie’ Vasilyev, S1mple not only was able to continually clutch rounds for Na’vi, but get that consistent kill-per-round. On top of the offensive consistency, his ability to stay alive was uncanny. Special performance from a special player.

S1mple had a magnificent week, but Na’vi won this event the moment Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko started to make plays. The captain of the notorious Na’vi franchise, Zeus was struggling in the bracket play and it was clear they weren’t getting their best result. Once the playoffs hit and the tough matches started to come, the rest of Na’vi outside of S1mple and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov stepped up in a big way. This full-team effort carried them to a win.

It was clear shortly after Na’vi recovered after the 16-10 Dust 2 loss on map two that any setback wasn’t going to deny them. The response on Train was massive in terms of this team avoiding another upset at the hands of BIG Clan. BIG played some impressive Counter-Strike this week, but unfortunately, Johannes ‘nex’ Maget reached his limit on Inferno after consistently dropping huge kill numbers. nex was the BIG Clan’s most valuable player, but he ended game four with four kills.

It was an incredible week of high-level Counter-Strike. Na’vi coming from the depths to rise above the rest and win and ESL One is a fantastic ending. It’s maybe not the storybook ending German fans were looking for, but Na’vi on top of the CS world feels right.

Gen. G Gold Chokes Away $26k in Close Second Place Finish at the PSS Finals

In a wild turn of events, Gen. G Gold lost their lead in the final map to the OP Gaming Rangers who bided their time and capitalized off a lackluster final few rounds for Gen G. Gold. The gold squad out of the Gen. G esports organization have been a pillar in Korea’s PUBG gaming scene, but the OP Rangers pulled the rug out from underneath them.

Gen G. Gold started out on an absolute tear of opposing teams. What the gold squad did in rounds one and two weren’t just winning, it was obliterating the opposing squads. 30 combined kills through the first two rounds and it was coming easy early on. Each engagement went perfectly for Gen. G Gold, allowing them to play more of a breach style and get multi-kills by being in range for grenade throws. It was quite impressive to see the combination of positioning and the right weapon decisions being made consistently.

However, the downfall for Gen G Gold on finals day resided in the final two rounds: zero kills and a bottom five placement on both maps. Despite two wins and third place finish with 33 total kills, that wasn’t good enough to get this team over the top. In that time, the OP Rangers were averaging a fifth-place finish and were dropping high kill games in every round. Without anyone noticing, OP Rangers quietly took over what looked to be an insurmountable lead.

All this is not even mentioning the $26k prize money they lost out on by dying early, without kills on the last two maps. Talk about falling into the trap of big leads. Gen G Gold is still regarded as likely the best Korean team, and this loss will only be looked at as a small setback.

Na’Vi and BIG Clan both pull momentumental upsets to reach the ESL One: Cologne Grand Finals

Monumental might be an understatement when considering the type of day Big Clan, the only German-native team, had at ESL One: Cologne. The team that some thought didn’t even earn the invite to this event are three map wins away from doing the unthinkable and winning the whole damn event. It all comes down to one huge game, in front of a massive crowd of rabid Counter-Strike fans in Germany.

The storylines coming out of this event, aside from an early exit from Team Liquid, were all focused on the insurgence of the German side. The former NRG team, headed by tabseN and gob b, who is looked at as influential leaders on BIG, were certainly not a popular pick to make a deep run. After losing early to Fnatic on day two, BIG came together and strung together a strong performance after another.

TabseN’s and nex went absolutely off in the win: a combined 155 kills, and a staggering +44 that ultimately sealed the deal for FaZe Clan and their hopes of winning the intel grand slam. On all three maps, these two players made it increasingly difficult on Rain to clutch out rounds, and they essentially shutdown Guardian, who was having a strong ESL before the loss. FaZe looked like the team to beat once again, but after gaining momentum in that the third and final map of the match, BIG Clan never slowed down. The 12-3 first half sealed any hopes of a FaZe win.

Who Wins the Finals?

Picking between these two teams is tough considering both are coming off emotional, upset wins. Both teams enter Sunday with an amazing sense of momentum at their backs, and it feels as if the intangibles will make the difference. Natus Vincere definitely has the experience advantage, but it’s going to be a full-house of German fans feverishly chanting for their new German heroes.

For Na’vi, it took all they had in them to get past the Dutch side, Astralis. Seeing Zeus pop-off on Inferno and Electronic play a consistent, frag-heavy game is the main reasons this team was able to pull it off. Astralis is going to overwhelm teams top-to-bottom, but with Simp1e playing, at arguably an MVP level all it takes is a few other Na’vi players to step up. That’s how this team got over the hump and have a serious chance of winning it all.

Now, despite all the hype surrounding BIG Clan, and the crowd support they’ll surely receive tomorrow, Na’vi has to be looked upon as the favorite. BIG Clan looked like the best team overall, but it’s tough to see them duplicating their peak performance like they did on map three against FaZe. If that team shows up, Na’vi’s in for a treat, but with Simp1e playing at his mind-blowingly strong level, it’s going to be tough to shut down that firepower.

Featured Image courtesy of ESL