CS:GO is on fire right now after emerging as the most watched game on Twitch in December 2018. It picked up 7.9 million viewing hours throughout the month and that allowed it to overtake Dota 2 as the most popular game of them all.
Considerable excitement therefore greeted the first big tournament of the year and the ELEAGUE Invitational did not disappoint. Here are the five key things we learned during an action-packed weekend in Atlanta:
FaZe Rediscover The Magic
FaZe Clan started the tournament in sluggish fashion and slumped to a comprehensive 2-0 defeat the hands of Cloud9 in their opener. Yet they rallied impressively by sweeping aside Complexity and BIG Clan to surge into the Grand Finals and gain a shot at revenge against Cloud9. It all looked to have gone pear-shaped as they lost the opening map 16-3 on Mirage, but then individual brilliance helped them stage a stirring comeback.
Rain’s triple p250 kill to seize Inferno and tie the score at 1-1 was exhilarating, and then the veteran GuardiaN took over with utter heroics on Train. He was all over the map and he pulled off a sensational one on four ace-clutch to send fans into raptures and drag his team to game point. He finished the decider with 34 kills and 131.2 average damage per round as FaZe Clan vanquished their rivals and began the year in style with a famous win. These flashes of individual virtuosity have been sorely lacking in previous tournaments, which is strange when you consider how talented they are.
Talented Roster Needs to Form a Cohesive Unit
FaZe made the bold decision to bench karrigan after a poor run of results and he has now joined Team Envy on loan for the IEM Katowice Major. His position as In-Game Leader was under huge scrutiny after a poor showing at the FACEIT London Major, and the team began to alternate him with NiKo when it came to calling the shots. It was confusing for everyone, and many were pleased to see the team abandon this strategy. NiKo is now the undisputed leader and they brought in former Major winner and MVP AdreN to replace karrigan as their fifth player. AdreN now plays a dedicated support role, and it is fascinating to see them trying to gel as an effective unit in karrigan’s absence. The star quality in this team is beyond doubt, as the likes of GuardiaN, Olofmeister and NiKo are superstars, but they now need to achieve greater coordination. YNk has a big job on his hands as he tries to pull his team in the same direction with a flawless strategy. Achieving chemistry and harmony takes time, but that is not a luxury afforded to YNk. GuardiaN looks like this could be his last year and Olofmeister might not last too long either, so they need to achieve a degree of immediate success to keep NiKo and Rain interested in sticking around.
Autimatic Shows Plenty of Promise
Cloud9 were ultimately left empty-handed and reflecting on what might have been, but they can take plenty of positives from their performance in Atlanta. They coasted into the Grand Final and they were only undone by the sheer genius of GuardiaN in the ultimate showdown. One chief highlight for the American team was the performance of Autimatic, who showed what a menace he can be with the AWP in his hands. He was extremely effective with the weapon, displaying strong accuracy, and that helped his team out of some perilous spots. C9 showed signs of a comeback in both of the final maps in the tournament, but FaZe’s firepower was just too much for them. Yet it gives them plenty to work on and if Autimatic can kick on and Flusha and kioShiMa can achieve consistency then this team could go far.
BIG Could be Primed for Future Greatness
Gob B, tiziaN, tabseN, Smooya and new recruit Xantares form a talented roster and they showed a great deal of potential in Atlanta. They were unlucky to lose to eventual tournament winners FaZe in the lower bracket final, as they beat them on Train and only lost narrowly on Cache before a 16-10 defeat on Inferno. Xantares is a beacon of hope for BIG’s CS:GO roster as the Turkish star was the most talented individual that was not signed to a top European team. His hyper-aggressive play, his first aim accuracy and his undoubted level of skill make him a supremely dangerous individual and he should give this entire team a lift. He can win plenty of individual match-ups for the team and if Gob B can unleash Xantares’ talent to full effect then it could make for some very interesting results. Nobody will relish playing them at next month’s Major in Katowice and they could enjoy a very fruitful year indeed.
Astralis Still Favourites for the Katowice Major
Teams like FaZe and Cloud9 can now head into the upcoming Katowice Major with renewed vigour and optimism, but there is only one favourite. Astralis were head and shoulders above their peers in 2018 and they are going to be a real handful once again this year. Their trophy cabinet may be bulging, but their desire to remain at the top is huge and they are the clear frontrunners with leading betting sites like https://unikrn.com/bet to emerge victorious in Katowice. Gla1ve, dev1ce and co will have seen little to unduly worry them in Atlanta at the weekend.
FaZe displayed great fortitude in bouncing back from a disastrous opening map, and they have a wealth of talent at their disposal, but they lack the effortless chemistry of the mighty Astralis. Cloud9’s limitations were ultimately exposed, and the likes of Liquid and Natus Vincere are more likely to trouble Astralis at the Major than anyone competing in the ELEAGUE Invitational.