The Starseries & I-League Season 7 tournament is currently underway and we are already down to the last Eight teams. These teams have competed against the others in the Swiss format. As we head into the last few matches of the tournament, this event could very well define the rankings of the best Counter-Strike teams.
In this article, we take a look at the eight teams and their progression at this event.
The Fnatic team has received significant criticism in the recent past for their veto choices. The Fnatic team went 3-0 in the Group stage of Starseries & I-League Season 7 after defeating teams such as NIP, Vitality as well as NRG. They received some really easy match-ups and that is a reason why they were in the playoffs so early.
However, having an easy Group stage often means that the team will face slightly tougher teams in the Playoffs. They will play against North in the Quarterfinals as they attempt to secure a Top 4 finish at the event. The Fnatic team has Xizt as their In-Game Leader. His choices in the veto and playstyle can seem confusing at times, however, the team has a good grasp on its playstyle. They have a good mixture of veterans such as Xizt, Krimz and JW; but they also have young blood in the form of Twist and Brollan. The duo from Red Reserve has proven itself as a strong competitor amongst Tier one teams.
With the ample experience, guidance and strategy from the veterans, we have seen Brollan emerge as the spear of the Fnatic firepower. Fnatic faces off against North in their quarterfinal match, and North is not really a strong team right now. If Fnatic is able to play as they have done so at this tournament, they should be able to overcome the Danish team.
The Renegades team has definitely surprised many with their 3-0 placement at Starladder. Their run at the Major was overlooked due to ENCE reaching the Grand Finals and making a strong run for the title.
The Renegades team made several changes to their roster late last year. The addition of Gratisfaction brought a new element of attack to their playstyle. He is one of the best Australian AWP players and has continued his stellar form on Renegades. With the majority of the team fluent in English, this team has not faced much of communication problems that other new teams often face.
Renegades’ performance is helped by their renewed enthusiasm and a systematic approach to trading frags. They are often at an advantage cause they do their basics efficiently. They are able to trade frags and then take up superior positions further secure their lead. Renegades will face off against Ninjas in Pyjamas in their quarterfinal match.
This is a matchup that the Australian team can definitely accept and possibly even come out victorious. A lot will depend on the teams and their performance during the match.
The Danish team started the tournament losing to NRG and NIP in their opening matches. These were strong teams and to be honest, it was not a big surprise to see North lose to them. However, the path ahead was not one made of roses for the Danish team. They had to face off against MiBr and Faze Clan with no room for error.
Train is the best map for the Danish team, however, they are up against Fnatic, a team which rarely plays Train. It will not be surprising to see Fnatic remove Train in the veto phase. Losing the option of their best map is going to be a problem for North Gaming. Their performance on the other maps is just mediocre, and nothing to write home about.
North has a strong CT side, but it has not always helped them in dire situations. They are often at the losing side of the economic battle. The new update has made things easier for the team, however, they still fail to secure convincing victories on their buy rounds. They are on an upswing, especially with their wins over Faze Clan and MiBr. Compared to those teams, Fnatic might seem to be an easier proposition. However, Fnatic’s performance is nothing to ignore as the Swedish team looks very strong in their current form.
North has a small chance to proceed to the semi-finals, however, we don’t expect them to go further than that. The Danish team has synergy problems and until they can solve these issues, they will remain a shadow of their potential.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas
The Swedish roster has seen itself slowly rise through the ranks of the Counter-Strike teams. They were once the best team in the world, but those times are just an illusion at present. The Ninjas recently added Draken to their CS:GO lineup once more. Draken has experience playing with the Ninjas and it was obvious that the NInjas needed the firepower now more than ever.
At this tournament, The NIP team has lost to Fnatic and Na’Vi. While these losses are acceptable, their wins have nto always been convincing. In fact, their match against Team Spirit saw the NIP team win Train due to a very crucial 1v2 clutch by F0rest. These close scorelines don’t always inspire confidence in the performance of the Swedes.
Unfortunately for the Ninjas, the team does not have a very strong win-rate on any special map. They have played a wide array of maps, but their win-rate seems to hover near an even 50%. Due to this, the veto of any match involving NIP becomes crucial. They have to alter their veto according to their opponents and ensure a decent match-up on any map. The Ninjas in Pyjamas rely on the veterans to have a great game in order to perform well. Get_Right and F0rest are still the backbone of the NIP team. If the two veterans fail to perform up to their standards, then the NIP team falters miserably. They struggle to win against much weaker Tier three teams.
NIP play against Renegades and this is a match-up that favours the Swedes on paper. However, it also depends on the team’s performance on that particular day. NIP is not always the perfect example of consistency. They need to get a good veto in order to secure an early advantage against the Aussies.
The French team has slowly emerged as the best French team in Counter-Strike. Ofcourse, this is due to the presence of Zywoo on their CS: GO roster. The youngster is one of the biggest talents in Counter-Strike and is slated to become a top tier player in 2019.
The rest of the team also plays around Zywoo allowing him to play at his full potential. However, this playstyle places a lot of pressure on Zywoo. He has been able to carry the team on his back so far, but in the event that he fails to do so, Vitality does not look strong at all.
The French team remains a very strong roster on paper, but there are just too many elements which are not working at their peak level right now. Vitality is slightly reminiscent of the 2014 Titan team which placed undue importance on Kennys at the time.
Vitality faces off against NRG esports in their upcoming quarterfinal match. It will be a true test for Vitality as we can be sure that Daps will look to shut down Zywoo in their match.
The NRG Esports team is one of the most promising teams in the North American scene. They have multiple angles of prominent and talented youngsters. Players such as Tarik, Brehze and Ethan have consistently put up big numbers for the team. These three pillars are the strike force for NRG and they have not disappointed so far at Starseries & I-League Season 7.
NRG won their matches against MiBr, North and BIG. They have been quite consistent in their performance so far at the event and that makes them an easy target. Their opponents for the quarterfinals, Vitality can possibly prepare for their veto beforehand. NRG has the element of a very high skill ceiling which works for them. In addition to the trio mentioned above, NRG also has CERQ who has shown us a very high skill level in online matches. So far, he has not really put up similar numbers in offline matches
NRG Esports is one of the strongest teams when it comes to Train, Overpass and Mirage. They are also equally strong on Inferno. Their strong map pool ensures that they are able to play on at least two very comfortable maps. With Tarik recently joining the team, there is a renewed enthusiasm for the team’s performance and their hunger for success. Tarik has had a 1.11 rating on NRG this year and that is impressive for a team that is still discovering its own playstyle. His ability to pop off with 1.45 ratings on some days is exactly what NRG esports needs as they heed deeper into the playoffs.
NRG esports is a very strong team on paper, but they need to be more comfortable playing with each other. Greater coordination between the players can only strengthen their score and provide successful results for the team.
The Finnish team surprised all of us with the incredible run at the IEM Katowice 2019 Major. The Finnish team was able to go deep into the tournament due to their mixture of aggression as well as cautious approach in their games. Allu is often given a free rein wherein he can push through certain regions of the map. The quick decisive kills are followed with a period of slow and cautious movement on the map. ENCE like to dominate their opponents before they assertively strike again. Ofcourse the team also has the ability to ensure that they can move in very quickly
At this tournament, ENCE has already played against the likes of Team Spirit, Vici Gaming and Faze Clan. Their victories over these teams truly portray the team’s efficiency in their games. ENCE has been putting out many videos on social media where they are able to show the synergy amongst the players. AleksiB is truly a leader for the rest of the squad and is able to hold the team to its strengths. They have a particular playstyle and they stick to that play style which has proven effective for the roster so far. AleksiB, often has a very different style.
ENCE will face off against Na’Vi a strong contender for the title at the tournament. The winner of this quarterfinal matchup might as well be the winner of the entire tournament.
The Natus Vincere squad is considered to be one of the contenders to take down Astralis from their throne. However, despite having two of the best players in CS: GO right now, Na’Vi fails to live up to their expectations. S1mple is a player who shines despite being on Na’Vi. The usage of the word despite definitely raises questions whether Na’Vi is the right fit for S1mple. He is a huge talent and most of it is going to waste in the team’s decisions to try to get better as a team.
Na’Vi’s issues seem to be within the team more than on the server. The team seems to be facing lots of coordination issues, which is why we do not see the players in the best position always. They are at a disadvantage on multiple occasions. While a player such as S1mple can often get away even from disadvantageous situations.
Na’Vi is a team that has the potential to topple Astralis. However, the team is simply out of form with S1mple being the saving grace for the CIS roster. They need drastic changes which should include the likes of Flamie, Edward. The team has never won a Major and this period will be a building block for the organisation as they attempt to strengthen their core roster.
Na’Vi will face off against ENCE in the quarterfinals. It is due to the poor nature of the seeding that we will see two strong teams in the quarterfinals itself. This match will be extremely interesting to watch as it has teams worthy of reaching the Grand finals of Starseries & I-League Season 7.
The Starseries tournament features almost all the stronger teams except Astralis and Team Liquid. As such, this event will truly establish the rankings in Counter-Strike after the top few. The first match of the playoffs is between NRG and Team Vitality. You can catch all the action live here.