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

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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.

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

ESL One: Cologne Final Four: How We Got Here

Astralis, FaZe, BIG, and Natus Vincere. The Final four of ESL One: Cologne as the final two days of the event approaches. Two of these teams will be going home after today. The least likely to win will easily be played by BIG and Na’Vi, who both had surprising but strong runs all the way through to the semifinals.

Astralis

Let’s take a look back at the past week, Astralis has put up staggering numbers in their five map wins. Of the top five ranked players through the week, Astralis has three of the top five, according to HLTV. The Dutch team has managed to put a hurting on opponents with great accuracy numbers and a low death total. Dupreeh has the highest rating with a +41 kill to death ratio, but Ga1ve and Device have been just as instrumental to their fantastic start.

FaZe Clan

Overall, FaZe Clan strung together the strongest set of games from any time I spectated this week. The team as a whole dominated, but Rain’s sheer carrying mentality came through as he utterly outclassed teams in their six ESL One maps. A +46 K/D ratio and the highest accuracy of any player makes him a threat to win the MVP at Cologne. Guadrian’s also had big performances along with NIko, which is business as usual.

FaZe did drop a game to Fnatic, but outside of that, it’s been business as usual. Sights will be set on Astralis, as this game will serve as a trap game for both FaZe and Astralis. Overlooking these opponents could result in going home early.

BIG

BIG’s path to this point required some bracket luck and despite not finding a player within the top ten of player rating, they’re still playing well enough to pull off the upset. BIG enters the semifinals with a 7-4 record, dropping four maps this tournament. It’s been a hard fought road to this point for BIG. BIG dropped games against Fnatic, Renegades, and MIBR. The margins of victory for this team were narrow, going to overtime in an elimination TWO TIMES this tournament.

Na’Vi

Unlike BIG, Na’vi’s got a less balanced attack and been more reliant on S1mple being an absolute madman. S1imple’s been insane in his last few matches as Na’vi needed it to power through Fnatic in the quarterfinals and ENCE Esports earlier on in the bracket. Similarly to BIG, Na’vi journey had them lose to G2 in round one, and later pass that team that sent them to the losers bracket. If Na’vi gets anything from Edward and Zeus, Astralis could be in for some trouble.

Both players sit at a combined -30, but the rest of Na’Vi are a combined +197 kills so I’d say that evens out.

Prediction: Astralis over Na’vi, FaZe over BIG

Astralis> FaZe in the finals

Featured photo courtesy of reddit user Skaronator

Team Liquid Bounced Out Early at ESL One: Cologne

In a surprising turn of events, Team Liquid, the seventh-ranked CS:GO team in the world was eliminated by North in an intensely close set.  The loss sent Liquid packing after suffering a loss at the hands of BIG, 16-7, and ended their ESL Cologne run extremely quickly. One of the prohibitive favorites entering the tournament is out first.

 

The funny part is Team Liquid entered this tournament taking their last three over BIG and even finding success against North. In any case, the sloppy start to the weekend brought them instantly to the brink of elimination and failing to close a number of round leads that ultimately led to nothing. Against North, they took pistol round every single time, but besides NAF’s huge performance on Train, this team failed to capitalize.

On Train, Liquid did almost everything right: got pistol round, won first kill 17-8 times, and had strong performances but TACO failing to get going coupled EliGe sitting at around 16 kills doomed them. Overall, failing to kill Valde, who had a match-low 37 deaths and letting him roam free was a detriment. Valde deserves credit for not only staying alive but also using that survivability to end up getting huge flank opportunities. NAF did all that he could, dropping a match-high 53 kills, but nit0, TACO, and EliGe went a combined -20.

 

Based on the numbers alone, it’s almost shocking that Team Liquid lost. Every category matches up with the usual winning team, but when two players are consistently losing gunfights it’s hard to adjust. Team Liquid, who’s been up-and-down in recent months, showed up and dropped the ball. One of the most explosive teams in Counter-Strike completely shut down.

North will move on to face MIBR, who got beat handily by FaZe Clan. Even the team Team Liquid got upset in the first round, BIG, got badly beaten by Fnatic. It wasn’t the strongest week for Team Liquid, and it looks to be a problem of support within the team.

Featured image courtesy of ESL One: Cologne Stream

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ESL One: Cologne 2018 CS:GO Bracket

ESL One: Cologne 2018 is finally here and with their 32 team bracket format it’s looking like one of the best events of the entire year. FaZe Clan and Astralis sit at the top of their brackets as the two best teams, but there’s a number of qualified teams capable of winning it all.

Based on the past few events, it could come down to either Team Liquid, Na’Vi, or even SK Gaming. In total, six teams look capable of making a deep run. The standard names will be there, and in all likelihood, the team that wins it all has to beat Astralis or FaZe Clan. It’s unlikely the road to the finals doesn’t go through the juggernauts at the top of the bracket.

Potential matchups include mousesports against Na’vi, which was a huge set at ESL Pro League season seven. Team Liquid facing off against FaZe Clan could also make for some heart throbbing Counter-Strike. ESL One is one of the most intense weeks of CS:GO all year round. Make sure to catch the action here