Now that the Major is over, it’s time to step back and evaluate the results and the wreckage. While the Major ended in predictable fashion, the road to the grand finals was a bumpy one.
I don’t think I need to justify having Astralis in first place on my ranking, but I suppose I will anyway, just for fun.
At IEM Katowice, Astralis went 177-88. That’s a round differential of +89. That means they won twice as many rounds as they lost over two best-of-ones and four best-of-threes. Not only did they have one of the best round differentials in Major history, they dropped one out of their eleven maps, with their only map loss to Renegades in the group stage, an overtime loss on Mirage.
Not only did they only drop one map, they held their opponents to an average of eight rounds per game. Not to mention they did this in one of the most lopsided metas in CS history, where the majority of maps are heavily CT sided. Astralis were able to take big leads and close out games on the unfavorable side, which only adds to the impressiveness of their run in Katowice.
Not only did Astralis have a historic round differential and hold their opponents to an average under ten rounds scored, they have four players in the top six at the event. Device was the number one player in Katowice by a relatively thin margin, Xyp9x and magisk hold the number three and four spots, and dupreeh rounds the core out at number six.
Astralis are easily the most dangerous team in the world right now. They play with an efficiency that is almost unheard of in CS:GO, and their system is tailor made to maximize their all-star caliber talent at every position. I don’t see Astralis slowing down anytime soon, which means they’ll be pushing farther and farther into legendary territory.
The Brazilians are back and better than ever. They played Astralis close in one of the best maps at the event (the first map of their best-of-three on Overpass) and showed flashes of the dominance they used to have back in 2017.
MIBR look like one of the best contenders to knock Astralis off their throne. FalleN is one of the few IGLs in the scene who can outmaneuver gla1ve, and MIBR have a system that could stack up against Astralis in the right best-of-three. MIBR and Astralis are pretty similar in that they’re both system teams, with well-defined roles that enable their players best assets.
Perhaps the most encouraging statistic for MIBR fans is coldzera’s performance. He ranked top five at the event and put on a performance that evoked nostalgia for his MVP runs in years past. Coldzera is one of the players who has shown a willingness and an ability to meet Astralis head on in the server, which puts him in rare company.
Even if coldzera can hit his peak as a player again, it won’t be enough to overcome the Danish juggernaut without help. FalleN is going to need to take a big step up and remind the scene why he was regarded as a top five AWPer just a couple years ago.
Some might consider ENCE placed too high here, and they might be right. But I just can’t get enough of the Finnish super team. Allu is a joy to watch, sergej looks like he’s on his way to top 10 lists by the years end, Aerial is everything youd want out of a secondary/tertiary star. They almost look like mini-Astralis, playing within a well-defined system and maximizing their talent.
The biggest surprise for me in Katowice, at least regarding ENCE, was the effectiveness of xseven. He looked like a mini-Xyp9x, holding down the small sites and the garbage angles, enabling his team perfectly. He had the third most clutches at the event, behind Allu and sergej surprisingly enough, while also having a ton of entry kills.
As long as ENCE continue getting invited to events, they’ll continue to impress. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them returning to the next Major as a real competitor.
Liquid took a major swing with their revamped lineup, and it didn’t work quite how they expected. They fell in the quarter finals of the Major to ENCE, ending their Major run prematurely. This was especially disappointing when contrasted with the expectations for Liquid at the Major, which were high to say the least.
It seems that, for now at least, the Stewie2k experiment is failing. Liquid’s best win in Katowice was a close 2-0 over Na’Vi, which isn’t much to get excited about. The team looked lost, which should be mostly attributed to their weird roster composition. There is a ton of talent on this team, but I can’t imagine they’ll be able to play as good as most would think without some major overhauls to the way they play.
Na’Vi were generally pretty disappointing in Poland. They took care of a disorganized FaZe in quick fashion and were pitted against the Finns of ENCE to secure a spot in the grand finals of the Major.
They lost to ENCE 1-2, and lost both maps 14-16. A team with a player like s1mple should be able to close those games out every time, especially against a team like ENCE. Who is ENCE’s best player? Statistically at the Major, the answer is xseven, although I could also hear an argument for Allu and sergej. S1mple should be able to take every one of those players, without a problem. And yes, s1mple did have a +34 K/D difference over the three maps, but games this close will always be decided by the number one options on each team, and Na’Vi failing to clean it up should be on s1mple.
I won’t be able to trust FaZe until they get a real IGL. Having NiKo call is not a sustainable solution for this team and it’s going to put a hard cap on their ceiling until they figure out something better. I really like their roster, although I wouldn’t be mad at them finding an AWPer who had a little more round to round impact than Guardian.
The big problem is that having a non-traditional IGL limits how good Guardian and, to a lesser extent, rain can be. In addition, AdreN and olof would likely be filling similar roles in a real, well defined system. I imagine that one of them will eventually be removed for an IGL, which would put more emphasis on NiKo and rain fragging, which seems to be the best version of this roster.