European Counter-Strike didn’t suffer as much as other regions did in the online era. Sure, organization were impacted in the entire world, but due to the established grounds in Europe, CSGO still is thriving in the old continent.
However, it has been a minute since a European team was considered the absolute best team in the world. This is, of course, thanks to the rise of the CIS region we saw last year. If you remember well, Gambit dominated Counter-Strike in early 2021, and later in the year it was time for Natus Vincere to take control.
Some teams like G2, Heroic and Vitality rose up to the occasion and did their best over the past year, but it wasn’t enough. At the end of 2021, we saw most of the European contenders going back to the drawing table and joining the roster shuffle season in hopes of building a roster to compete with their nemeses from Eastern Europe.
Now, with the shuffle season heading to its end and tournaments returning, it’s time to see how the main contenders in Europe have rebuilt themselves for the upcoming competitive season. Of course, we’ll also briefly comment on the remaining of the European scene too. After all, Counter-Strike isn’t built by tier one teams alone!
Rumors linking FaZe Clan to ex-MOUZ star Robin “ropz” Kool have been around for a long time. However, only now the organization brought up the young Estonian to its ranks, in place of Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer. This move was well-received when announced earlier this month. And for a good reason: after all, you’re replacing a player which tends to individually underperform for one of the rising stars in Counter-Strike.
So, the idea here is that ropz could reinvigorate this team, and since he has played under Finn “karrigan” Andersen leadership before, it shouldn’t take long until we see him fully implemented into FaZe game plan. There’s no discussion here that this is a great move for both FaZe and ropz, which should once again have a roster backing him up and giving him a chance to once again tap on his full potential.
However, it’s fair to say that there is still a main question mark in this FaZe roster: Håvard “rain” Nygaard. The Norwegian player has been with FaZe for over six years without taking a personal break, and he definitely was part of the success the team found back in 2017. Now, however, his place with the team is being questioned. After two underwhelming years in 2020 and 2021, there are a lot of doubts about if rain really is the man to be the backbone of this squad going into 2022.
While rain’s situation isn’t great, there’s hope. Maybe rain just suffered from the turbulent times he faced with FaZe. For example, it’s not hard to believe that FaZe planned to acquired ropz since early last year. Perhaps negotiations were held back then, and they didn’t want to spend money on other player until business between them and MOUZ resumed, and instead brought olof back from the bench for the time being. It’s pure speculation, but it’s not that hard to believe that something in those lines happened.
In any case, 2022 will see FaZe with probably the squad Karrigan envisioned since his return. Now, he has all the pieces to work through, and that might help rain get his form back. After all, depending on how Karrigan uses ropz, rain definitely could see some position changes across most maps in FaZe’s map pool.
So yes, initially rain will have to prove himself in this roster, but there’s a chance – which hopefully becomes reality – that he recover his incredibly individual level from 2017, or at least something close to it. If he does, then this European squad becomes an incredibly dangerous contender that will surely exchange some blows with the best in the world.
Since late 2021, rumors about what was going to be next for G2’s Counter-Strike division took the headlines. While many names were thrown around, we now know that the organization is bringing Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov to be their AWPer, and concrete rumors show that OG in-game leader, Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, is also a target for G2. Right now, it seems that G2 is going to make a trade for Aleksib, as they will send their then IGL, Nemanja “nexa” Isaković, to OG.
Now, it’s fair game to say that this G2 roster looks incredibly packed. Last year, with their previous AWPer, G2 suffered as he often failed to perform in big matches. Having an AWPer missing whenever the stakes are high undeniably held back G2. Now with m0NESY, G2 has one of the most promising in recent times bring plenty of power. He is unproven against elite competition, sure. But if he can adjust and keep his performance levels, then G2 will have hit the jackpot.
When we look back last year, even with just Nemanja “huNter-“ Kovač and Nikola “NiKo” Kovač as G2’s main sources of firepower, the squad managed to often reach top 4 positions in big tournaments, including the PGL Major Stockholm. Now, they have added another player with is supposed to be another source of firepower. The potential in this roster is simply otherworldly. However, we haven’t touched yet on the rumors about Aleksib.
If rumors turn out to be true, Aleksib will be joining G2 for the upcoming season along with M0NESY. More known for his time at ENCE, Aleksib led the Finnish powerhouse to the organization best phase yet. Furthermore, he also managed to take the team to a runner-up finish at IEM Katowice 2019 and then a playoffs’ finish in StarLadder Major Berlin.
However, Aleksib’s most recent endeavour isn’t as successful. As discussed previously, some of the struggles the European mix in OG faced in 2021 can be blamed in the team’s leadership. This means that Aleksib’s reputation isn’t quite the same as it was since he was benched from ENCE back in 2019. Still, blaming Aleksib alone for all issues OG faced is unfair, and he definitely deserves another chance.
In any case, G2 is coming into 2022 with one of the most promising new rosters coming from the most recent shuffle season. The potential in a duo of NiKo and M0NESY is incredible high, and this definitely could be the team that will challenge Natus Vincere for the place of best team in the world this year.
Vitality’s biggest issue which plagued the team since the organization entered Counter-Strike has never been as exposed as it was last year. Vitality always relied too much on their star AWPer, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, and as good as the French player may be, a team carried by one player can’t compete with the current iterations of Gambit or Natus Vincere consistently.
So, this is exactly what the French organization addressed during this player break. Vitality removed Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van and Richard “shox” Papillon, and decided to go international. In their places comes the ex-Astralis duo of Emil “Magisk” Reif and Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen. This move was seen as an upgrade overall. This is thanks to the players’ experience and firepower they can bring to the squad.
Now, Vitality has a world-class AWPer as their star player leading the charge. Then, there’s Magisk, who is able to perform like a star rifler at his best and has experience leading. Dupreeh whose consistency was one of the main factors behind Astralis dominance will certainly help too. Of course, we can’t forget about Dan “apEX” Madesclaire. He’s the IGL for the squad, and has seen a slight recover in form in the last months of 2021. His form as well as his leadership will be important for the success of this team going forward. And there’s also Kévin “misutaaa” Rabier, the most promising talent in the French scene.
Yet, this mix of European players could take some time until they click together. After all, there’s a clash of culture to deal with it initially, and while ApEX will still be the team’s captain, the Danish duo is also bringing their coach from Astralis to Vitality.
Dupreeh and Magisk got most of the attention from their move to Vitality, which is fair game. They are the ones on the server after all. However, alongside them, Danny “zonic” Sørensen is also coming to Vitality. Danny coached Astralis’ CSGO division since 2016, and he was key for all the success the Danish team found. As one of the most respected and admired coaches in the game, he surely will be essential here.
More specifically, Zonic should aid the team with the initial culture and mindset clash they will inevitably face. Then, he’ll definitely be important for Vitality’s youngest player, misutaaa. The young French has shown glimpses of greatness, and under Zonic guidance, the sky is the limit. ApEX will also be benefited, as they can both work on his calling style and mix their tactical approaches.
Adding the Danes to this squad isn’t just about bringing more firepower into Vitality. Contrary to what G2 did by brining M0NESY, who is a raw source of firepower, Vitality decided to take a route that focuses more on enhancing all areas of their game. The organization is betting that by adding this Danish element, they can find the same form Astralis found in 2019. With it they have a mix of world-class firepower, role cohesion and team chemistry that can’t be easily broken in the server. It’s a smart move for sure.
While the trio above took the spotlights, Europe saw plenty of interesting moves happening. BIG brought in Josef “faveN” Baumann in a move seen as a complete upgrade. The Germans have even done some damage already. Also, MOUZ decided to invest in the unknown. They promoted their academy team star Ádám “torzsi” Torzsás to the main team. Then, they brought in veteran player Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt to the squad. Spicy! And there’s also OG, which will probably get a new captain in the coming days.
In the lower-tiers, Anonymo just announced their new roster; a new French team seems to be in the works with Kyojin. Otto “ottoNd” Sihvo returned to action with HAVU. And the list of roster changes goes on. The past weeks definitely have been very busy for European organization and players. However, the shuffle season is coming to an end, and soon, it’ll be time to see the results. And we can’t forget about the teams that didn’t do roster moves, or had to deal with unplanned changes! Heroic, for example, is keeping their roster together after a successful year. NiP, unfortunately, will have to count in with an academy player for the foreseeable future. Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz is taking an extended break for medical reasons and he will need some time.
So FaZe, G2 and Vitality are our favorites to stop an incoming Natus Vincere era. However, the scene doesn’t revolve about the elite teams only! If you want to keep up with everything, make sure to follow us here!