Space Soldiers - Major in Focus
We have a Turkish team at a Major for only the second time, and hopefully, finally, we get to see XANTARES tear it up. XANTARES has seduced many a viewer who has seen him destroy decent players for the last few years, but until now has left his admirers with a feeling akin to needing a sneeze that never quite comes. Space Soldiers as a team have been somewhat similar; always threatening to break through, constantly looking to be on the tip of something huge, and just stumbling. Now, they have their stickers again, something they’ve fought for for so long - it’s time to show up at the biggest tournament in the calendar.
Space Soldiers are notable for having no primary AWPer which allows them to run aggressive dynamic T sides, but being able to move into AWP set-ups on the CT side with Buğra ‘Calyx’ Arkın and Ahmet ‘paz’ Karahoca both being capable snipers. They have some serious firepower with Calyx and XANTARES; the latter especially, who has a 1.23 HLTV rating on LAN in the last six months with 0.79 kills per round.
In the last few months, they’ve won DreamHack Austin - a small prize, but a prize nonetheless - but at Belo Horizonte, they had a really tough group, beating SK 2-0 before losing 2-0 to FaZe then getting 2-0’d by SK in the reverse. They’re no longer a novelty - no longer a team you talk about as a huge underdog, no longer do we laugh at teams who lose to Space Soldiers; now, they’re among the big boys and need to prove they deserve to be there.
At the previous Major, they made it to the decider game in the Group Stage, but fell to Mousesports in a tight 13-16 loss on Mirage - a valiant effort, given Mouz were probably the most dangerous Mirage team around that time. They even beat eventual winners Cloud9 as well as BIG, both on Cobblestone - but that map is out of the pool right now.
Their current line-up consists of IGL Engin ‘MAJ3R’ Küpeli - a reliable fragger who has led this team to heights they hadn’t been to before; Ismailcan ‘XANTARES’ Dörtkardeş - an stupendously gifted individual, blessed with the aim to complement his insane aggression; Buğra ‘Calyx’ Arkın - oft cited as the second star of this team, an effervescent hybrid with the ability to win any map on his own; Ahmet ‘paz’ Karahoca - the rock on which the others fall, when everyone else is flailing he keeps the team glued together; and finally, Engin ‘ngiN’ Kor - the support player who allows his stars to shine.
They made Cobblestone their ‘home’ map for a while and were seriously dangerous on it - but since it left the map pool, they’ve become a really good Cache team. They’re pretty hit and miss on Mirage, winning 10 of their last 20 games on it, but they’ve been very decent on Dust 2 since it’s reintroduction and they’re quite good at Train too. If you get them on Nuke you’ve got a great chance, and good Inferno and Overpass sides will probably beat them.
Space Soldiers’ star man is the ridiculously talented XANTARES, a pure fragger who can open up rounds with the AK47 and shut them down with the M4A4. His aggression and aim helps run Space Soldiers’ T side, and they rely on him on the CT side to play their star roles.