Photo: By Adela Sznajder for ESL
‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The first two rounds of the IEM Katowice 2019 Legends Stage has ended. At the end of 16 games, there was a plethora of information and results to process. As that’s the case, I’ve picked out the five biggest takeaways from the first day.
BIG disappointment on Mirage
No one had seen BIG perform with this five man line-up, but I had high expectations for them. XANTARES is a skilled aimer and while the team had less time to prepare thanks to Smooya’s unexpected departure, I thought that they could formulate a solid enough team that they could make it to the Champions Stage. Instead they went 0-2 to the French squads: Vitality and G2. While the scores were competitive (11-16 loss to Vitality and 13-16 loss to G2), the content of the games showed a lot of slop from the BIG side.
BIG is a team that made their name off of disciplined Counter-Strike, set plays, and good utility usage. I didn’t see any of that here. Instead I saw some rather sloppy team counter-strike, a lot of individual defaults that saw the team get punished, and a general lack of cohesion. The strangest aspect to me of all of this is why BIG are playing Mirage as that was a map they permabanned in the previous iteration of the team.
Hopefully this was just a bad day for them and they can bounce back tomorrow. The problem for BIG is that they will have to show far better form in the upcoming bo3s.
Too hard for ENCE
Things were easy for ENCE until they weren’t. ENCE ended the day 0-2, but unlike the 0-2 loss that BIG suffered, they didn’t play bad Counter-Strike at least theoretically. They played a solid game against Renegades, but Renegades outplayed them as a squad and jkaem in particular had a massive game. As for the HellRaisers game, their small-site defense was exploited as they had no economy to get the utility they needed to hold the sites. When they flipped to the T-side though, they had did far better, but their nervousness showed as they let a few key rounds slip away from them.
For ENCE, the biggest challenge going forward will be their mentality and how they deal with the nerves. With four rookies on the squad, we could see an early exit from the Finns.
NRG fail the comeback twice
The third upset of the day was NRG going 0-2. They played against NiP and AVANGAR. Both games followed a similar formula. Both NiP and AVANGAR ran strong CT-sides against NRG and NRG had to pull out a strong comeback on their own CT-side to make it competitive. In both games, NRG failed to push it all the way back as they lost in the closing rounds of both maps (30th against NiP and 29th against AVANGAR).
The biggest problem I saw was slow starts from NRG on their T-side. They didn’t seem as locked in and that can be a problem as they give away rounds that they need to win like antiforce buys or antiecos. If I were to point out any individual player having a bad tournament thus far, it’s CeRq. Brehze is playing the best tournament of his life so far while Ethan is doing great as a secondary star. CeRq is having a hard time getting into this game and while it’s fine for now, it could be a problem down the line when they face some of the stronger teams in the field.
Yea, the Boys!
Renegades ended the day 2-0 with two impressive victories on Inferno against ENCE and FaZe. In both games, Renegades played a solid game on both sides of the map. What I particularly liked about Renegades T-side is that it keeps evolving each time I see it. They keep giving a slightly different look on each map against each opponent. Against ENCE they used a standard game that focused on defaults into set plays while against FaZe they hit different spots of the map (such as a 4 man aps explosion or 4 man rush to arch).
The ordering of the rounds makes a lot of sense as each round has been setting up the following round after it. For instance, they did an A execute in the eight round against ENCE. Then in the ninth they used the same nades, but only had AZR commit to lurking brackets while the rest of the team hit the B-site at the end of the round.
This is also one of those rare teams where no player seems out of place. Each player has a distinct role and position on this team that seems to fit their playstyle. With the team going 2-0 so far, it’s likely that they make the playoffs.
Other notable hits:
- Na`Vi end up going 2-0 despite looking shaky against Vitality. S1mple is a God.
- Astralis is dominant.
- Liquid have all the skill of FaZe with strong teamplay and structure (granted this is based on two bo1s).
- AVANGAR continue to be a solid team.
- apEX had a godlike game against Na`Vi.
- ZywOo had a bad regulation, but turned it up in overtime.
- F0rest’s Challenger form continue for now.
- The SPUNJ vs Cloud9 fan score is currently 1:1