Understanding eSports is a series of articles aiming to help you understand the inner workings of eSports around the world. In the very first article, we introduced you to the more interesting teams in the North American Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene. Today, we’ll go across the eastern pond to our friends in Europe. There are a lot more teams to cover and so many with immense potential. I will limit this list to what I believe are the top five teams in terms of accomplishments and, simply put, fun to watch play. They are listed in no particular order.
Undoubtedly one of the best team in the world, Fnatic have dominated Top 3 team finishes in 2014. The arrival of Krimz and Olofmeister really shook things up for the Swedish team, making them top contenders in each tournament they participate in. They were involved in what is now called “Boostgate” during 2014’s last Dreamhack Winter. In short, they found an exploit in one of Valve’s relatively new maps called Overpass, which had not been used or exploited before this event. Using this, they managed to make an unbelievable comeback from a 13 round deficit to win the map. The public was outraged that they would sink to using an exploit to win. In the end, with all the backlash that occurred, they decided to simply drop out from the tournament, claiming that they never intended to break any rules and that they were sorry for all the trouble it caused to the organization and the tournament. I personally dislike this team very much because they use any means necessary to get a victory, even if that means disrespecting the opponents and bending the rules in their favor.
Players to watch: JW is a master at what he does. With his trusty sniper rifle and CZ-75 pistol, he caused all sorts of headaches to a lot of teams in 2014. With the recent pistol gimp, he has been rather quiet at the first LAN event of 2015, namely MLG Aspen. However, I do expect him and his teammates to be ready for the first major of 2015, ESL One in Katowice, Poland.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The Ninjas in Pyjamas are one of the most recognized team in CS:GO. They were one of the first teams to jump into the new game and completely dominate the scene when it was first release in late 2013. Since then, the Swedish organization has had a lot of success in 2014, reaching the final in three of the four majors and winning one at ESL One in Cologne, Germany. However, ever since their second place finish over LDLC (Now EnVyUs) in the last major of 2014, they seemed to have struggled with staying on the winning side. They’ve also had team roster issues since the end of last year. They’ve parted ways with their main sniper and in-game leader Fifflaren at the end of 2014 and switched him out with Mikailele, only to have him leave the team a couple weeks back. However, they still have two of the greatest players in the world part of their ranks and should have an interesting run in 2015.
Players to watch: Get_Right and Forest are the main attraction here. Both can easily win games by themselves if they are on top of it. Get_Right recently won HLTV’s player of the year award with Forest close behind him in 7th place. Are both 1.6 legends starting to get old? It might seem crazy to think so at the young age of 27-28, but for a lot of pro players, the career starts as early as 15 and can end as abruptly as it started. Still, I do believe 2015 will be a great year for NiP, and that Get_Right and Forest will play a major part in their success.
This is the first and only French team in my list. EnVyUs is easily the best in the world at the moment. They recently left their primary sponsor, LDLC.com, to sign a more interesting long term contact with the North American organization EnVyUs. With a shaky 2014 start, they turned it around by winning tournament after tournament, namely the last major event at Dreamhack Winter and more recently, winning the gold medal at MLG Aspen during the X-Games. They seem to be the most consistent and talented team out there, often completely blowing their opponents out of the water, even doing so to top tier teams like NiP and Fnatic. If they continue on their hot streak, they could easily take home one or even two majors in 2015.
Players to watch: It’s not often that an in-game leader will dominate as much as Happy is right now. They are usually reserved to a more strategic role, calling out the strategies to do before the round starts and making mid-game decisions that can completely change end result. However, in the recent months, Happy has stepped up his game considerably and will often finish among the top fraggers of his team; he’s even finished with 40 kills in a single game very recently! 2015 is Happy’s year; all he has to do is continue what he is doing.
Virtus Pro, affectionately named VP, are a sort of a mystery to some. They can sometimes pull off amazing victories like the one during their very first major in their Polish homeland, but haven’t shown as much promise in the last months of 2014, rarely finishing higher than 3rd or 4th. Their players are wildly inconsistent and it can often make or break a match. However, when they are all on the same page, they can crush it and adopt the nickname, Virtus Plow. We’ll see what 2015 holds for them!
Players to watch: A lot of people will tell you to watch out for Pasha and his scary sniper rifle, but I find he is too inconsistent to be made the backbone of the team. I believe the true star players in the organization are Snax and Byali. When they get going and are focused, nothing and no one can stop them.
Many will be surprised to see me put the ex Dignitas crew on here. They just recently got picked up by one of the world’s biggest eSports organisation in TSM and I believe it’s justified. They’ve showed great promise with the addition of Karrigan in first few weeks of 2015 and I think they will be able to pull off some great upsets.
There are many other European teams of mention out there like Na’Vi, Titan (with the unbelievable KennyS) and more recently, Penta, but I can’t put them all here or the list will never end. Overall, the European scene is much stronger and more consistent than most American teams, so expect them to bring home the majority of tournaments again this year. 2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for CS:GO and eSports growth in general and I’ll do my best to guide you through all of it!