July begins the Major cycle, and with that comes big questions about the 10 most important teams in CS:GO. How will things shakeout over the next month, and what will that mean for the odds headed into the Major?
Here are 10 questions for the 10 best teams in CS right now. At the end of the month, we’ll revisit this list, and see what happened.
Can They Put a Ring on It?
Liquid have become the prohibitive number one team, and for good reason. They look downright scary when they’re firing on all cylinders, and they have one of the best collections of talent since the 2017 FaZe lineup. Number one is securely in their sites, and it this point it looks like it’s theirs to lose.
But will they be able to lock it down? Everyone and their cousin will be pushing them to the brink for that number one spot, and Liquid need to fend off every attack. The field has never been stronger, and that puts an outsized amount of pressure on the backs of Liquid. This time next month, will we still be talking about them as the de facto number one?
Are They Going to Pick up Sunny Before the Major?
This is something that I’ve talked about frequently, and with good reason. While ENCE has broken out this year as a solid top five team, it appears they’ve become the new Team Liquid. They’ve taken multiple second place finishes this year, falling short to teams like Liquid and Na’Vi time and time again.
Now, I’m not saying they’ve plateaued necessarily. They could very well get better, and it wouldn’t surprise me. This roster move just seems to obvious. If ENCE were to replace someone, it would be Aerial, as he routinely disappears in big games, and honestly just isn’t good enough to play in tier one.
suNny would immediately make this team an even bigger threat to the other teams in the top five, which is what ENCE should be aiming for. It’s rare for CS to be as open as it is right now. Liquid have a rather tenuous grasp on the number one spot, and it’s not silly to suggest that ENCE could snag it from them with a win at the Major.
What’s Eating RPK?
There was a time in the not too distant past where I talked about RPK as a real threat in tier one. I still remember prime RPK, 2016 RPK, G2 RPK. Unfortunately, it seems like those days are behind him now. He’s struggled to keep his rating above 1, managing the feat only twice in the last six months.
Vitality have a window to capitalize on ZywOo’s incredible form. While it’s likely he only gets better from here, they could pounce on the same window that ENCE have right now. I don’t know if there’s a roster move for Vitality to make, but it’s certainly something they should explore in the lead up to the Major.
Can They Run It Back?
Astralis were the prohibitive favorites for the Berlin Major before they had even won the Katowice Major. They were juggernauts, and there was little hope of any team ending their reign of terror. The one thing the Danes didn’t account for, unfortunately, was rust.
Astralis spent a long while sitting on the sidelines this year, and I’m afraid it’s come back to bit them. Despite some excellent individual performances from everyone on the team, Astralis has yet to pull it together and even 80% of what they were in Katowice.
It certainly isn’t too late for Astralis, nor would them winning the next five tournaments back to back surprise me. But there’s also a world where they become just another team, plugging away in the middle of the pack, reminiscing about their time at the top of the foodchain.
Do Two Steps Forward Require a Step Back?
It seems like FaZe have finally settled on an IGL, at least for the time being. NEO of Virtus.Pro fame has been selected to lead (formerly) the world’s most dangerous group of mercenaries. But is he the right choice?
NEO has played with, like, six total teammates over the past six years. Rain, on the other hand, plays with six different players before lunch every day. One could argue NEO will bring some stability to this roster, but I can’t imagine NiKo and co. will take kindly to NEO waltzing in and trying to teach them the values of “perseverance” and “teamwork”. We’ll check back in at the end of the month, see how it’s working out.
Is Stan Really the Man With the Plan?
NRG continue to make big swings with their signing of Stanislaw. First they added Tarik, the Major winning rifler formerly of MIBR, now Stanislaw, the most lauded American IGL since Sean Gares. Any way you cut it this is a winning move. Then again, so was adding Tarik.
For some reason, NRG hasn’t been able to put it together yet. They have all the talent in the world, but they just can’t seem to focus it all in the right direction, grease the gears, put a system in place. Stanislaw seems like he’s the perfect person to help turn this disparate group of fraggers into a potential world beater.
Can Furia Do It Again? and Again? and Again?
The players on Furia were recently signed to four year deals, which is a pretty long time in the world of CS. They broke onto the scene earlier this year and made quite the splash, tallying up a number of impressive wins. Now the question for them is the same as it is for every other team on this list. Can you keep it up?
Believe it or not, it can be a lot easier for unknown upset teams to take wins off of established, top five teams, due to their unpredictability. Do you really think Liquid or Astralis were watching Furia’s demos at the beginning of the year? Hah.
Now it’s time for Furia to play with the big boys. They’ll have to adapt, they’ll have to be flexible, and start to prepare for teams scouting them out. If they can’t do this, they’ll quickly fade into obscurity.
Can G2 Actually Get Any Better?
Has G2 hit their ceiling with this team? At the EPL Finals they managed an appearance in the Grand Finals before being thoroughly dismantled by Liquid, and I can’t see it getting much better than that. I’ve been vocal about my distaste for shox as a leader, and I think my reasons why shine pretty clearly at this point.
The most exciting thing to come out G2 in the next six months might just be sending kennyS to Vitality, which I would wholeheartedly be a fan of. Let’s get Kenny and ZywOo on the same team, see what kind of damage they can do to tier one.
MIBR Shuffling Again?
It feels like we just did this, don’t you think? Am I going crazy or did we do this like, two weeks ago? MIBR has sent felps down to the Minors in favor of LUCAS1, one half of the HEN1 and LUCAS1 core that made the Grand Finals at the PGL Major.
Are MIBR the new NiP? Are they just going to keep swapping that fifth player in and out until they win IEM Oakland? I have to assume yes at this point, unless they pull out a miracle and snag a big tournament win in the next month.
Is Frozen Everything Mousesports Needs Him to Be?
Mousesports has taken a big chance on this young core. They dumped a championship caliber roster, which included Oskar, one of the best AWPers in the game, for a collection of high potential young guys and Karrigan. They’ve had months to work together as a team, building up chemistry and adjusting to Karrigan’s system, and now the time has come for them to be put to the test.
Frozen has been one of the more up and down players on this roster, which is worrying. He is supposed to be the sparkplug in this offense alongside woxic, tools for Karrigan to wield like he did with Device, or NiKo.
The best version of this team requires big, consistent performances from frozen. Teams with championship aspirations can’t have their best rifler dropping in and out of games like he does.