CS:GO Asia Championships Preview
The $300k Asia Championships start tomorrow and will run all the way through the weekend. Eight teams are attending the event in Shanghai at the Yuanshen Gymnasium, and will start out the event with a Bo3 double-elimination group stage. With the likes of Natus Vincere, EnVyUs, and VG.Flash in Group A this is going to be an all out brawl. Especially with the new additions that two of the teams have picked up. As for Group B, this will be a giant underdog battle. TyLoo, Heroic, Virtus pro, and MVP PK will all be trying to prove themselves worthy of competing with the big boys in the playoffs. This is going to be a very exciting event and today I am here to inform you of whose attending and what you should be expecting.
MVP has decided to swap their AWPer HSK for IGL minixeta from the second best team in Korea GOSU. Minixeta has been on a uphill climb the past few weeks, but AWPing is not his strong suit. It will be very interesting to see where this goes, especially since they don't really have any player filling in HSK’s role. Seeing as solo is the only person on MVP PK who has ever spent time AWPing, they will either use him for now or just run a full five-man rifle setup. Something that has become common with a lot of teams nowadays. Solo is also the IGL of MVP, so another option would be to keep him in this role and use minixeta as a primary rifler. Shoving the newcomer into the IGL role right before a LAN event would definitely be a bad idea for the team, especially if they plan on accomplishing anything here.
HSK has struggled a lot the past few months and obviously hasn't been providing the firepower MVP PK needs to be winning games. I doubt that minixeta will be bringing a lot of impact at the start, but this is a very young and talented up and coming player. In a few months, we could see him either leading the team or by zeff and XigNs side plowing their way through enemies. No matter what he ends up doing for the team, this was a change that needed to happen. Their old style of play wasn't working for them at IEM Sydney or the EPL Finals.
MVP PK aren't the only ones coming into this event with a new player, both NiP and EnVyUs are experiencing the same thing right now. MVP will be struggling twice as hard alongside them, using a new player or a stand-in is never easy. Especially when the player being removed was your AWPer, a role that is not easy to fill. Their first game will be against Heroic, one of the more questionable teams at the event. Heroics current lineup is relatively new, and if MVP did their homework they could definitely make the games a bit too close for comfort. My prediction is that MVP PK will be placing 6th overall.
EnVyUs is yet another French team struggling to come up with a roster good enough to compete for championship titles. Most recently they decided to bench both RpK and Happy for unknown reasons, in their place they are putting xms and SIXER on their active roster. Over the past 6 months, they have been on a downward spiral, most recently getting relegated from both ECS and EPL. Since the end of these online leagues, we have not seen the team play very many games. What we have seen has proven that they are not going to be in event winning form for this LAN.
French superstar ScreaM, most known for his “One taps” has been unable to make anything happen with the current roster. He has been on a steady decline since IEM Sydney in terms of individual skill. He has actually managed to put up his worst numbers while on EnVyUs at DreamHack Marseille, as well as having his second worst LAN performance in his whole entire career. Online hasn't been any better, during this season of ECS ScreaM just barely managed to earn a rating above 1.04. EPL was pretty much the same story, in fact the team ended up getting relegated from both online leagues this year.
Things have been on a steady decline for this French roster pretty much since they formed and now that they are playing with xms and SIXER my expectations are even lower. Both players are definite downgrades and seem to be a last-ditch effort at keeping the team going. They will have to face Natus Vincere, currently the second-best team in the world to start out the event. A team that they stand no chance against, luckily for them there are three spots available for the playoffs. Beating VG.Flash to one of those spots seems like something that not even this French squad can mess up. For the Asia Championships, I am predicting that EnVyUs will be placing 5th overall.
This will be the first event that Heroics current lineup will have ever played with RUBINO, the teams official 5th player. Cromen was by no means a terrible player for Heroic, but any team will be affected by not having their full squad for that long. Especially since they didn't get to actually start practicing until after the DreamHack event. This lineup isn't much different from the most previous one that included JUGi (who was on the bench for several months) and Snappi. In fact, so far the results have not been very different either
The team has barely played any LAN’s this year and judging them based off of recent performances they aren't very reliable.
Given the circumstances Heroic placed very well at both DreamHack Austin and the EPL finals, but their lack of practice and preparation is quite obvious. They have literally only played three maps; Cache, Mirage, and Overpass. Their retake and execute strats are quite stale at this point and assuming that the other teams did their homework Heroics opponents will have no trouble countering their every move. Luckily teams will continue letting these three maps slide since they are the only ones anybody has any info about them on. Right now nobody is comfortable choosing a map that Heroic has yet to play because they don't know what else they have planned, especially now that they have had a few weeks to prepare. Looking at the competition, they are definitely capable of making a top 3 finish. This will come down to if they have expanded their horizons and come up with new material. If not, then I wouldn't even be surprised if we saw VP read the team like a book.
Heroic has a very easy group, their only real worry being TyLoo so getting to the playoffs will be a breeze. Their first game will be against MVP PK and even with this being a Bo3 they still need to be careful. Just a few weeks ago they managed to take a map off of NRG, one of the best teams in NA right now. If the European team plays their cards right, they should be ending this event with a playoff spot. Personally, I see the team placing 3rd overall especially given the state a majority of their opponents are in right now.
s1mple and his teammates are coming into this event off of their first grand final victory of 2018. Taking home the trophy at StarSeries Season 5 as hometown heroes, was a huge accomplishment for the Ukrainians who are looking better and better with each event that goes by. Since the Boston Major, Navi has yet to place anything less than 3rd at any of the LAN events they have attended this year. Most of this was due to s1mple, the star of the team and arguably the best player in the world. So far this year, he has averaged a 1.37 rating and has already snagged 3 MVP awards from LAN events. Two or those being from tournaments that his team didn't even win. S1mple has and probably always will be the main firepower behind this lineup, however lately Electronic has been stepping up his game tremendously.
Since the team decided to finally let Electronic have more freedom in his play style, he has been putting up amazing numbers. Sometimes even carrying s1mple, an accomplishment that very few people have the ability to say at a competitive level. These two have been quite the duo as of late, a tag team of pure firepower and strength. Nowadays if you see s1mple running onto a site, even if you kill him, you better be very aware of electronic coming out to finish the job. Now that Navi has found a consistent fragger and impactful player like Electronic to back up s1mple, this is no longer a one-man show and they are definitely the best team attending this event.
Navi has proven time and time again this year why they are a top 3 team in the world and I expect nothing else from the Ukrainian superstars. With s1mple leading the way, this should be a very easy $300k tournament win. I would personally bet my money on them placing 1st overall, they are the most put together team at this event and are by far the most favored to win.
VP has been on a downward spiral for almost two years now and the fact that they have done nothing to try and fix their problems just proves how little they care. Sure they removed TaZ for MICHU, but they have not made any progress since the young player Joined. We saw an example of their recent form at the end of May during the small Adrenaline Cyber League LAN where they lost 2-1 to AVANGAR. Making them the first team to be out of the event. Looking at their last 6 months, they have placed no better than 14th at 4 of the past 7 big tournaments they have attended.
Individually, everybody has been playing well below a tier 1 level. Right now they have no hard carry, no superstar, nothing. From MICHU to pashaBiceps, they are all having an extremely hard time. So far this year, nobody on the team has even managed to average above a 1.00 rating which is not something you ever see on a “Major winning” team. It is very sad to see, but this is a lineup full of talented players past their prime (besides MICHU of course). The days of Snax taking home an MVP every few months, or repeated top 3 finishes for this team are done.
VP’s group is by far the easier one at this event, however knowing VP they are still going to mess this up somehow. We have seen them choke against far worse teams than MVP PK and TyLoo. They have done so bad that their days of “Virtusplow” have been turned into ‘Virtusthrow”, and I expect the later nickname to be sticking around for this tournament. I predict that VP will be finishing this event in 7th place.
Ninjas in Pyjamas:
We all knew that NiP was going to make a change, however removing up and coming AWPer draken was not what most people had expected. Draken had been one of the main reasons the team wasn't placing dead last at events, however sadly due to internal conflicts he could no longer stay on the team. According to the org, his play style just wasn't compatible with theirs. So they decided to pick up lekr0 who was recently released from Fnatic due to internal conflicts. He definitely won't be AWPing for the team, but he will be bringing a lot of firepower that NiP is lacking.
During Lekr0’s time with Fnatic, he managed to help the team win back to back events IEM Katowice and the WESG 2017 World Finals. NiP definitely chose a very good player to be replacing Draken and his presence is going to bring quite a bit of life to the struggling team. While on Fnatic he averaged a 1.04 rating, starting out his time with them a bit slow but quickly picking up the pace after getting the hang of things. Lekr0 is a young but very talented player, he may not be able to fix all of the Swedes problems but he most certainly is a very good start.
NiP are personally my second favorite team to make it out of groups, obviously the addition of Lekr0 isn't going to make them able to beat Natus Vincere. It does, however, keep them well above EnVy’s level. A team they could beat even with draken on the team. As for VG.Flash it is quite obvious why they won't be a problem for NiP, but the playoffs will be a different story. That is where the real challenge will begin, but I am actually very confident they will make it to the finals of this event and place 2nd overall.
TyLoo is quite the mess right now, with Mo still out due to his accident they will be attending this event with AE. A rising star who people actually had high expectations for when he was first announced as the stand-in for TyLoo’s fifth player but has proven to be quite the opposite. I wouldn't put all the blame on him though, right now the team is speaking three different languages. Which means that BnTeT, the IGL, is currently calling strats three different times before a round starts. Despite this severe problem, they still managed to 2-0 Natus Vincere in convincing fashion during StarSeries. However, they then proceeded to lose their next three games against Mouz, NiP, and Godsent. BnTeT and the rest of the players tried their hardest to get past this barrier but it wasn't enough, and I am afraid that we will see this problem impact their outcome here in China as well.
Communication wasn't the only problem the team faced, both AE and xccurate had unusually bad performances. AE had the worst event of his career, gaining a mear 0.76 rating and barely getting double digits on a majority of the maps played. However, he was also one of the players that were more heavily affected by the language barrier the team is currently facing. As for xccurate, he had his lowest rating since joining TyLoo. For a team who relies heavily on their AWPer, the lack of his presence really took its toll on everyone. Even in their win against Navi xccurate was still struggling to get anything going.
All in all StarSeries was a pretty bad tournament for everyone on the team, even BnTeT and DD were struggling to compete. Seeing as all the players won't suddenly become fluent in one language over the course of a week, they will probably struggle with the same problems again. Even with these struggles, they have a good chance of making it out of their group. Seeing as three teams make it out, TyLoo is pretty much guaranteed at least one of those spots in my eyes. My prediction is that they will be placing 4th overall.
As most of you know, this team is made up of players from ViCi and Flash Gaming. Two teams that before merging had never given us a good performance on an international level. They’ve had a few somewhat shocking wins, beating TyLoo on two maps is no easy feat. However, their inability to play competitively against top teams like Navi or NRG was yet again proven at StarSeries. We saw how the Bo3 format affected them, and I highly doubt it’ll be any different now. They don't have enough experience, both online and LAN, to go far in an event like this.
During StarSeries they only had one outstanding performance, VG.Flash managed to beat SK 16-1 in the first map of their Bo3 on Cache. leaving all the fans watching speechless, which continued into the second map where they took SK into OT on Inferno. This close game came not just from SK playing well below their normal skill level, but also from how VG.Flash played. They had super good mechanical skill, as well as several tactical plays. Their rotations were swift on the CT side and their executes on the T side almost always caught SK off guard. This is something that a lot of the top Asian teams bring into these kinds of events and it almost always catches teams off guard. The players from these teams bring a lot of individual skill to the playing field and have the aim needed to compete in aim duals. However tactically, their strats only work for one or two games a tournament. Once teams realize they actually have to do their homework and treating them like equals things quickly fall apart. Which we saw in their next two games against Natus Vincere and NRG.
VG.Flash is the second best team in China right now, and like TyLoo is beginning to compete with some of the best teams in the world every chance they get. However, seeing how they did at StarSeries proves that they aren't ready to be competing at the higher levels of Counter-Strike. Looking at their group, they will have to face 3 of the best teams at the event just to win at least one game. Overall I feel that they will be in last place and I don't see them even taking a map off of their opponents.