Free Agent Frenzy: Where They Can Go
Teams have recently begun solidifying their rosters in preparation for the upcoming StarLadder Major in Berlin, that inches its way closer and closer. These roster changes leaves a number of players teamless, in search of a new place to call home. That leaves the question, where exactly can such players go?
Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey
Known as the “French Exile” to many, kioShiMa has spent the better part of 3 years as a member of English speaking teams, whether that be in the international FaZe Clan lineup or, more recently, alongside the American core that was the IEM Katowice Cloud9 roster. If he were to be allowed back into his home region’s top echelon of Counter-Strike, there are two Major options he could look into. Assuming relationships allow, both Vitality and G2 Esports have players who could easily be seen as inferior when compared to the likes of Fabien.
For Vitality, both Alex “ALEX” McMeekin and Cédric “RpK” Guipouy have proven rather lackluster against higher tier opposition, as they have crumbled at the feet of fellow top 20 teams on multiple occasions. Both players currently hold respective 0.85 and 0.93 HLTV ratings against top 20 teams offline, which does not bode well for either of them come time for a roster change.
ALEX offers input for the tactical efforts of the team when Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt hits a wall, while RpK brings a level of experience that the two youngest players of the team, being ALEX and superstar Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, do not. That being said, kioShiMa possesses both the experience at the highest level that you find in RpK as well as the ability to vocalize the way he feels that you see from ALEX. The question of who of the two is to go can be left to the reader, but it seems that kio would only benefit the team in the long run.
The case of G2 leaves them less susceptible to alteration, as they have picked up François “AmaNEk” Delaunay just over 2 months ago. If a player were to leave in order to make room for kio, my pick would have to be Audric “JaCkz” Jug. Now, the issue I see with this move is that JaCkz has proven himself as a more than capable fragger with the freedom granted to him since AmaNEk’s arrival.
The reason I have chosen him as the one to go is simply due to his shelf life in comparison to his teammates, as Lucas “Lucky” Chastang has not yet come into his own, but is only 21 years of age, while JaCkz has only just found his footing at 26. kioShiMa has shown his worth for quite some time now at 24 years old, and he would more than likely bloom in the position JaCkz has found himself in for these last few months. Nevertheless, I see Vitality as the much more reasonable landing spot for him if he were to return to France in his near future.
Robin “flusha” Ronnquist
Another player who has chosen to spend some time in North America is flusha. Considered a veteran of the Swedish CS:GO scene at the age of 25, is someone who has shown time and time again that he has more than enough left in the tank to compete at the elite levels of the scene is he, and he will undoubtedly begin looking for a team sooner rather than later.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
It is no secret that the Ninjas had approached Robin with the intention of having him stand in for the temporarily inactive Dennis “dennis” Edman back in March. The reasons for his refusal of this offer root from Cloud9’s wishes, as he was quoted as saying "Now that dennis is gone, they asked me if I wanted to stand-in, but C9 still wants me. They've [C9] got loads of problems with their lineup." This leads many to believe that he would have accepted the offer if it were truly up to him at the time, but his contract had apparently restricted him from doing so.
He would likely prove to be an upgrade to the two least impactful players statistically in the aforementioned dennis and long-standing team member Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, who have not been a terrible detriment to the lineup, but are certainly not near their consistent peek performances we have seen in years past. Not only would he raise the ceiling for the team’s fragging potential, but he has a history of adding his strategical two cents into teams, having acted as the primary in-game leader of teams passed. Considering he would likely be replacing one of the two most experience players of the lineup, it can be seen as an even trade in most aspects and a direct improvement in others.
Yet another roster with a lack of leadership is the FaZe Clan, a rather lost group of players who have recently added Filip “NEO” Kubski as their interim in-game leader. He will presumably be playing with them from now through the Berlin Major on a sort of trial basis. A Majority of the heads in the community had turned at word of this move, one that was almost completely unexpected. For some time now, NEO has not been known for his tactical prowess or ability to frag amongst the best players in the world, as could be seen near the end of his time with Virtus Pro.
There has been no real word of the FaZe Clan sending an offer flusha’s way, but it would be odd for him to decline such a proposition considering the potential the team has in terms of raw talent and experience. I doubt that flusha would bring a serious depth in strategy to the team. However, his visibly looser style of calling should be more than enough to round all of his players together while still granting them the freedom they need to succeed individually. During his time leading Cloud9, flusha had a 1.12 HLTV rating across the four top 20 LAN events they had attended, with an impressive kill/death ratio of 1.09. His trials as a leader between the fnatic era and his time in Cloud9 should show his worth to teams in search of a solid fragging in-game leader.
Miikka “suNny” Kemppi
While the focus of this piece was players who are free agents, suNny’s talent is too great to be overlooked when considering he is not actively playing for a top team. Over the course of 2017, 2018, and 2019, suNny had shown his chops as a world class entry fragger on numerous occasions, opening up countless rounds for his teams against some of the most challenging opponents you could find. Since his unanticipated benching during the reconstruction of the latest mousesports lineup, he has come into contact with two notable organizations who were also in search of a revamp.
If his decision were to remain in Europe and continue playing internationally, HellRaisers would have been a pretty safe bet for the player, as he would have came as a package deal alongside his former mousesports teammate, oskar. Side by side, those two players were the driving force of the mousesport’s train, both figuratively and on the map itself with 1.21 and 1.18 HLTV ratings against top 10 teams on the map, respectively. His ability to force himself into a bombsite time and time again makes him one of the most useful players to have when you’re down on utility or manpower in the mid-to-late round scenarios.
If he were to have joined at this time, he would have likely taken the spot that went up to Christian “loWel” Garcia Antoran. However, if he were to join the team now it would be between one of loWel or the more recent induction Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas. Unfortunately for the Spaniard looking to redeem himself internationally, loWel would more than likely be the one replaced considering his role as one of the team’s entry fraggers, as ISSAA has established himself as the other player of this same role. The only way I could see this going down differently is if loWel were to fall back into a more supportive role to set suNny up for success upon their ingress into a bombsite.
After announcing that Zellsis would not be moving forward with the team, Cloud9 were on the hunt for a fifth player to complete their roster. At this point, they would still have hold of one of our very own free agents, kioShiMa, and were only in need of one. Considering the team was down an explosive X-factor type player to turn the tides of rounds, suNny would have certainly filled that gap. His aim, decision making, and map awareness help make him such a versatile unit in the server - something C9 were in desperate need of at the time. The team that was to be at that point could have been something to fear with the seemingly strong structure of roles.
Since then, René “cajunb” Borg and Daniel “vice” Kim have found their way into the lineup in the absence of kioShiMa and Zellsis with very minimal success as a result of it. The structure of the team seems to be rather lopsided in role relative to players that are meant to provide the supportive foundation to their teams and those who excel at taking control of the map, with C9 lacking the latter of the two. Of the five players, the player to go would have to be vice. Unfortunately for the newcomer, the team doesn’t seem to have a place for him in its current state, as experience and firepower in tandem would likely take this team much farther in the long run than waiting on vice to someday step up.
While these teams are not the only options for these players, I find them the most interesting and relatively reasonable places for them to end up in. Given the fact that the StarLadder Major is just around the corner, that may change with the inevitable post-Major shuffle that is to come.