There’s no mistaking, eSports are getting more and more popular. 2014 was filled with surprises, excitement and more turnarounds that you can ask for. My game of choice for eSports is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. I’ve been playing CS ever since it came out and it’s quite honestly the game I’ve sunk the most hours into (save for World of Warcraft). Looking from the outside, the scene can be very hard to get into, especially if you’ve never followed it. This is the first part in a series of 2 where I will try and help you understand what’s going on in this wonderful and exciting world! In this first article, I will look into something that is close to home, the North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene.
North America versus Europe has always been something interesting to watch in the history of Counter-Strike. The rivalry between the two runs deep, with the Europeans diving headfirst into the CSGO train as soon as it came out. The Americans on the other hand took quite some time to get used to a new game after Counter-Strike: Source, the former version of CS. In any international LAN events, they’ve been having a very hard time getting any interesting and compelling results. However, the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015 gave us what we now call, The Great North American Shuffle. A lot of the top major teams switched/changed/modified their rosters, in hopes of getting their hands on the $250000 main LAN events prize pools. But what is even more interesting, is that some of the big names in American eSports are finally recognizing the potential in CSGO, and are picking up some incredibly talented young players.
This one is a bit of a mystery. There have been a lot of roster changes for the team and they are now looking for a permanent sponsor. They used to be sponsored by iBuypower but seemingly out of nowhere they were dropped. At the moment, a lot of rumors are placing them with one of the biggest eSport teams in America, Evil Geniuses. However, at this moment, they remain bannerless. A few players were also involved in a mini-scandal regarding match fixing, so this is probably the main reason why no team has given them a chance. More information regarding the betting scandal can be found here. I do believe that once they have found their home, this will be the future CSGO power house.
Players to watch: Hard to decide. You have probably the best sniper in NA with Skadoodle, two of the best clutch players in Hiko and Swag, and a great in-game leader in Dazed. They are truly the NA Dream Team.
Probably the biggest loser in this NA shuffle. Cloud9 lost one of the best players in the world, Hiko, and replaced him with Shazam, a player with a rather strange reputation of bad mouthing and personality clashes with his old teams. However, I do believe that they can still hold their ground against the best NA teams and even some middle/upper tier Europeans.
Players to watch: Shroud has been doing a great job keeping the team together and winning some clutch rounds during important tournaments. I expect him to grow even more in 2015 and hopefully the rest of the team can follow.
One of the newest teams and probably the one with the most potential. CLG were one of the first teams to get picked up by a major organisation that had not dabbled into CSGO, namely Counter-Logic Gaming. They are still relatively new to the scene, but they are capable of making a big splash in 2015.
Players to watch: Tarik is without a doubt the best pure riffler in North America. He has amazing game sense and can turn a loss into win easily. Along PTR, probably the only sniper who can rival Skadoodle, they are promised to great things.
Team Liquid is most recent pickup by a major organisation. Liquid is undoubtedly the most recognized name in NA eSports, along with Evil Geniuses. There was a lot of speculation regarding which team they would eventually pick up, but they settled on Adren’s team. So far it’s been a rocky start, with only a couple wins over the last games, but keep your eyes open, they might surprise a lot of people!
Players to watch: Adren is the backbone of the team, able to clutch, snipe, rifle and pretty much do any role with success. I also believe that Nitro can be a great player, providing he keeps working hard at his game and the roster doesn’t change too much.
I hesitated putting Torqued in this list. On one hand, they have the players and the potential to easily be a top tier team. But on the other hand, they have a very strong personality clash between Moe and Steel. What some people call confidence, I call arrogance with nothing to back it up. So far, they’ve only been talk and haven’t shown anything interesting, other than Steel assuring that he would quit the CSGO scene if Torqued wasn’t a top tier team by the end of 2015.
Players to watch: Moe is a great sniper. When the game is on, there’s no stopping him. What impresses me even more is when he uses it up close, almost like a shotgun. Impressive to watch! Steel is also a very good riffler and came make a great difference in a match.
With MLG Aspen starting this Friday, this is the best time to start getting into the game. I strongly believe that Counter-Strike: GO is the best spectator eSport out there. You don’t need to understand all the tactics and know all the teams to appreciate the immense talent that these guys posses. You can find this more information about this weekend’s event along with the official schedule here.