• Anthony Vitale

BIG Disappointment, NRG Drained; Major 0-3 Teams

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Heading into the Katowice Major, many Counter-Strike fans had faith in the players of the BIG Clan and NRG Esports. However, upon the Legends Stage’s end, Pick’Em predictions were left broken for many, with both teams going out with a 0-3 record.

BIG Clan’s Disappointment

The signing of Can "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş to BIG via the BIG Clan Twitter
The signing of Can "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş to BIG via the BIG Clan Twitter

After a year’s worth of improvements, the BIG Clan has disappointed many with their showing in Katowice. After a stellar performance in the London FACEIT Major in May of last year, the German core was more than capable of keeping themselves in contention for the top 10 in the world, if not higher, over the course of 2019. The addition of Owen "smooya" Butterfield made the squad a formidable opponent throughout 2018 and into 2019, and the benching of Johannes "nex" Maget for Turkish superstar Can "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş helped make the team look even more solid on paper.

With their first LAN of the year being the ELEAGUE CS:GO Invitational, they would overcome compLexity Gaming and nearly trump the FaZe Clan in best-of-threes, but fell just short of the victory. This would be the only offline event this 5-man roster would face together, as smooya found the environment he was playing in to be too poor for him to continue with the team. This would mean the aforementioned nex would make his return a little over a month after his initial benching.

Despite their roster troubles, the team had to keep their heads held high heading to Poland, as a slight role shift with Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz functioning as the team’s go-to AWP player in the event would be something they would have to work around. Having XANTARES in the roster meant that tabseN could afford to take a backseat in the rifling department, as he has proved that he is no slouch with the sniper in the past. In terms of raw talent on the rifles, BIG was a force to be reckoned with, but fitting the players in appropriate positions around the map was the real focus.

Their first matchup in the event would be Vitality, a foe who, while entirely capable of playing at an elite level, was considered one of the weaker teams to be matched up against at the start. Scoring 7 rounds on their Mirage CT-half seemed like a good omen, as they had to be more reliant on their T side with the lack of an AWP presence and 5-man rifle setups, but they only claimed 4 more rounds past this point to lose the map 16 to 11. Star performances from the likes of Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut and Cédric “RpK” Guipouy meant a heroic effort from BIG was required to convert the map into a win.

Another close affair with a French team in the form of G2 Esports found BIG up 9 to 6 heading into their CT half of the same map, allowing G2 to claim 10 rounds for the 16 to 13 triumph in a rather upsetting fashion. While the spectators saw BIG win most of the heads up aim duels and individual battles, G2 were outplaying them every step of the way and winning all the clutch scenarios required of them. These two results did not bode well for the team heading into their elimination match against ENCE eSports.

A convincing map one victory of 16 to 5 on Dust2 gave BIG the edge that they needed to climb from the slump their found themselves in, but a return of fire from ENCE proved too much for them to handle. A CT side lead of 8 to 7 on Train seemed a little iffy knowing how the map tends to lean in favor of the Counter-Terrorists, and would eventually lead to ENCE stealing the lead, closing the map 16 to 14 and giving them the momentum they needed to close out map 3, Overpass, 16 to 10, with a dominant start to the match.

NRG Esports’ Playoff Aspirations cut Short

NRG Esports had secured themselves a spot in the New Legends stage of the Major after a 3-0 flawless record in the New Challengers Stage over Winstrike, ViCi Gaming, and TYLOO. This was a result that would make most believe in their chances moving on, but what they brought to the table was less than satisfactory. In their opening match against the Ninjas in Pyjamas, Damian “daps” Steele and co. were hit hard by a dominant CT side Nuke at 11 to 4 at half, but managed to pull things back to a close scoreline. The match was looking favorable for an NRG comeback, but NiP were able to close things out with Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg and Fredrik “REZ” Sterner leading the way.

A slightly more upsetting defeat came at the hands of AVANGAR on Overpass, with NRG once again unable to score more than 4 rounds on their T side. Once again, the crew, with Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte at the helm, fought tooth and nail to pull themselves from the depths of defeat. The team gave a valiant effort, but it was not enough to find a map win in the end, with more to be desired from the previously named in-game leader daps and AWP player Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov. This match would place them in the 0-2 pool of teams up for best-of-three elimination.

NRG’s most devastating loss would be to their region rivals in compLexity. Seemingly reignited fragging IGL Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz put up stellar numbers in the first map of the series as the only player on his team with a positive HTLV rating of 1.57. An incredible average damage per round of 123.8 from stanislaw to the next closest in the server of Brehze’s 91.3 gave them the edge to take the map in a second overtime. The second map, Cache, was a team effort from compLexity to close the series out in yet another overtime and save their chances at the major, knocking out the heavy playoff favorites of NRG.

What Needs Change?

For BIG, the lack of preparation since smooya’s departure seems to be their biggest kryptonite at the moment. I do not feel the team requires another roster change as of right now, seeing as the team has more than enough rifling power, as well as the fact that tabseN is a versatile sniper to have on their Counter-Terrorist sides. Since the game’s meta change with 5 man rifle setups on Terrorist sides becoming more and more apparent, the necessity of an elite sniper on a team has deteriorated over time. With some time and a little bit of elbow grease, BIG should be back as one of the top 8 contenders in no time.

Jacob "FugLy" Medina at DreamHack Valencia (Image Credit to DreamHack)
Jacob "FugLy" Medina at DreamHack Valencia (Image Credit to DreamHack)

NRG is a slightly more complicated case, as their lineup on paper does not seem to be one of great raw power. While star riflers Brehze and Ethan “Ethan” Arnold have been putting up relatively consistent high numbers in official matches, the inconsistencies of CeRq on the AWP and lack of fragging from daps and support player/lurker Jacob “FugLy” Medina seemed to be their most apparent issues. Being the IGL, daps does what he can in the server while everything going on around the server runs through his head, so he is granted a slight pass. However, with the recent signing of Tarik “tarik” Celik in place of FugLy according to VPEsports, roles are going to have to shift between the players. While tarik fills in the firepower department, FugLy played a much more passive, reserved role in the team, while tarik is better known for his play-making and entry-fragging abilities. Whether or not this will affect the team is unknown, as tarik is admittedly a very cerebral player on the contrary to his “peanut brain” persona he has been given some time ago.

With both these teams heading back to their region's respective minors, we will hope to see them back in Berlin for the StarLadder major later this year.


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