5 Takeaways from MLG Columbus 2016

Mike "Ragamuffin" Ciavarella April 4th 2016 3:00 PM

Now that the major is over, here are five things we learned last week in Columbus

1) Luminosity is legit, and Taco deserves a spot on the team
Despite Luminosity's great success in tournaments before this major, most analysts believed they still had something to prove. After all, we saw a similar streak of good results from Cloud9 just under a year ago, and they did not meet expectations at Cologne 2015. At this tournament, Luminosity proved they can hang with the best and perform under pressure (understatement of the year - the Brazilians faced 19 map points in the playoffs and fended off all but one of them). After handling an, albeit pyth-less, NiP in the group stage, they went on to face Virtus Pro, a team renown for performing at majors when it matters. VP managed to take their map pick, cache, in OT, but Luminosity followed up with two hard-fought map wins to take the series. Then, with barely any time to rest or prepare, they had to take on a red-hot Liquid team in the semis later that day. Even when they were on the ropes, fighting just for overtime on both maps, Luminosity kept their heads up and shut down Liquid's phenomenal play. After such a stressful two matches, the finals were a cakewalk for LG. They did in this tournament everything anyone could ask them to do, which solidifies their status as a top team.
Much of this success can be attributed to LG's star players, coldzera and Fallen. Cold had a ridiculous 1.36 rating in the whole tournament and brought home a much deserved MVP trophy (also, you know you're legit when you're accused of cheating on LAN!), while Fallen had the most AWP kills out of any player in the tournament and 6 1vX clutches, all while leading the team. But it was an underrated player, Taco, who bailed them out of a nerve wracking 2nd map vs. Liquid. Taco got a lot of flak from the community for talking trash on Twitter. That's because he is regarded as the weakest player by far on his team, and many thought he was undeserved of the roster spot in the first place. The critics were silenced by the end of the semifinals. When the rest of the team was underperforming, Taco kept Luminosity in the game with strong CT side play in the A site and got a key quad kill to stem Liquid's momentum. Taco also clutched the last round on overpass to win his team the finals. He might not be the flashiest player or most consistent fragger, but Taco's team-first playstyle fits into Fallen's scheme perfectly. Now that Luminosity have convincingly won a major with their roster, no one can deny that all of the players deserve a spot on the team - even Taco.

2) The future of North American CS is promising
Even though a record 4 USA teams qualified for the major, it was clear they had their work cut out for them. And yet, despite the challenge of playing the absolute best teams in the world on the biggest stage of their careers, they rose to the occasion and exceeded expectations. Liquid had the best chance of any NA team to make it out of groups, where many assumed it would come down to them and Faze in a BO3 for 2nd place. When Adren, who had been cut from the team to make room for koosta, was asked to sub back in (that must have been an awkward conversation), Faze had the edge in many fans' minds. However, Adren put the team on his back and defeated Faze in the first group stage matchup, and then Liquid beat world #1 fnatic in a thrilling double-OT game. Liquid reached the semifinals (where they probably should have won) thanks in large part to a superstar performance by s1mple and surprisingly solid play from Adren. S1mple had the 4th highest rating in the tournament at 1.16, and Adren had the 3rd least deaths per round at 0.58.
CLG was the other bright spot for the USA when they made it out of what was arguably the group of death. Granted, they had some help from EnvyUs, who did not play anywhere near their best CS at this tournament. But that should not take away from a dominant sniping performance by jdm64, who had the most AWP kills per round (about 1 every two rounds!) and the 2nd most AWP kills total, after FalleN, who played in 4 more maps than him. Unfortunately, CLG was put up against Liquid in the quarterfinals, where one of the US teams had to go. However, given a different seeding, there easily could have been 2 NA teams in the semifinals. That's a great success for a continent that was largely written off in favor of "legends" when the seedings came out. Expect to see Liquid improve with the addition of koosta and for the core of CLG to continue to get better leading to the next major.
On the bad side, the two other NA teams, Splyce and Cloud9, did not win a single game. Splyce got eviscerated by fnatic and then handled by Faze, while Cloud9 lost control of their opener against NaVi and then was bodied by G2. Splyce were clearly the weakest team at the major and had nothing to lose going into it - Davey's team can be happy with merely qualifying. On the contrary, this is bound to be disappointing for Cloud9. They were considered the best team in the Americas this time last year, and they once again failed to make it out of the group stage at a major. If Irukandji can't coach this team to some big wins before the next major rolls around, we might see some drastic changes in the Cloud9 roster.

3) Fnatic is human after all

Coming into the major, fnatic were the clear favorite to win it all. They had won the previous 6 tournaments they participated in, all against top-tier opponents, and all with new recruit dennis. But anything can happen in a major, and fnatic were shocked twice before being shown the door in the quarterfinals. It started against Liquid in the group stage, when Hiko's squad took fnatic to double overtime and managed to pull out a win on the back of a great performance by s1mple. This meant that fnatic had to play Luminosity, NaVi, or Astralis in the quarterfinals, a hard matchup no matter what. They drew the latter, arguably the easiest of the 3 opponents, but the Danes were well-prepared, completely stifling fnatic in 2 maps. This marked the 2nd major in a row where fnatic was knocked out in the quarterfinals.
So what happened to the usually dominant Swedes? They had a few problems. The first issue is that olofmeister, the best player in the world, is dealing with a wrist injury. This lead him to have the lowest rating on the team at this major, the first time that has happened. He also underperformed for the 2nd straight major - he was rated .98 at Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca. Fnatic's core is strong, probably the strongest in the game, but they can't win at such a high level when one of their players, let alone their best player, is playing poorly throughout a tournament. Fnatic has announced today that they are skipping Dreamhack Malmo to give olof time to recover, highlighting that this is, in fact, a serious issue. The other problem, ironically, is that fnatic has been amazing leading up to the major. Winning is great, but it put a huge target on fnatic's back. Other teams learned from the best, studying fnatic's playstyle and strats to counter them. How else do we explain the way Astralis overran fnatic only to capitulate against NaVi themselves? Or how Liquid took 16 T-side rounds against fnatic's usually impenetrable defense, only to choke twice against Luminosity? These failures can't merely be chalked up to a bad map by Olof or Krimz. Opponents did their homework, and fnatic wrote the textbook for them to study with. For now though, fnatic can take solace in the fact that they will still be the world #1 even after their early exit.

4) French CS has serious issues
This tournament was not kind to the French, as neither of their teams made it out of the group stage. EnvyUs, the winners of the previous major, might have had a valid excuse - recently, Kioshima was kicked from their team and replaced with Devil. But none of the defending champs performed particularly well either, and there was clearly some tension between the players. NBK had indirectly called out his teammates on Twitter prior to the major, slamming them for lack of motivation. And after NV's meltdown against CLG in the opener (after an 8:7 T half, NV lost 9 consecutive CT rounds), Happy was seen taking off his jersey on stage, perhaps a sign of something to come. What's clear is that even after getting rid of Kioshima... and shox... and Smithzz, NV still have some major chemistry flaws. These players need to set aside their egos, develop some kind of team unity, and generally mature a lot as people, or they are going nowhere fast. NV is already out of the top 5 after this abysmal performance. If they keep this up, they will be out of the top 10 too before they know it. G2 at least had something positive to take out of this major - they completely blew out Cloud9, a team that consistently gets the better of shox and Smithzz, and they took a map off Virtus Pro. However, G2 looked lackluster in the other 3 maps they played. Shox is still giving off a general sense of malaise and apathy like he did back in his NV days. His teammates (mainly his friend Smithzz) need to light a fire under him and get him motivated again. G2 has a hard time winning rounds when shox isn't going off. Also, as intelligent of a team leader Ex6tenz is, his fragging ability is seriously lacking, and he may have to resign to a coaching position if this team wants any shot of competing for a title.

5) Niko might one day be the best CS:GO player to not win a major
If Niko wasn't on your radar before this major, he certainly should be now. Despite mouseports bombing out of the group stage to Luminosity and NiP, Niko statistically had an amazing major. He was tied for 4th in overall rating at 1.18, had the highest DPR at 98.5, and was tied for the 2nd highest KPR at 0.85. The 19 year-old is quickly becoming one of the top 10 players in the world, but he has no one to support him on his rise to the top. It's clear that the current mouz lineup simply cannot match up to the top talent in the world right now. In the present state of CS, however, Niko doesn't have many options to turn to. The scene in his home country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is virtually non-existent now that pita has moved to the states, so scratch that from the list. Another issue is that the once strong German CS scene that good players from surrounding countries would turn to is a shell of its former self. The only German player worth mentioning in the same breath as Niko is Khrystal, but even a roster with those two plus ChrisJ probably wouldn't be enough. It seems like the only short term solution for Niko, as many people have stated before, is to join Faze and take the place of Maikelele (assuming, of course, mousesports even allow him to go in the first place). There he will be able to develop his skills further alongside similarly skilled players, and he can hope that either Faze rebounds in the next tournaments or someone on a better team retires and they decide to pick him up. The youngster still has a lot of time left in his career, but given the current state of CS, the future looks somewhat bleak for Niko.

My new top 10:

What did you guys take away from this major? Let me know in the comments below!

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About Me

Ragamuffin is a Counter-Strike expert who has been following the competitive CS scene since 2004. He has a passion for competitive CS:GO and a severe inability to play it. He is also a computer engineer by day.

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