Danish Allana, April 19, 2017

The Champions, Challengers and Underdogs of CS Summit

Beyond The Summit’s first Counter-Strike event is set to kick off on April 20, where eight teams will fight for the lion’s share of a $150,000 prize pool.

The eight teams will face off in a double-elimination, best-of-three bracket – a format we rarely see at larger events due to how time consuming it would be.Teams will fall into upper and lower-brackets as the event progresses, allowing them a chance at redemption should they falter early in the tournament.

This results in three rounds of matchups, culminating with the consolidation and grand finals on Sunday, April 23rd. The first round of matches are:

SK vs. EnVyUs
Gambit vs. Godsent
OpTic vs. Cloud9
Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Liquid

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SK Gaming

The once-dominant Brazilian super-squad helmed by Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo look to finally add another notch to their belt at CS_Summit – a win they most definitely need, as they’ve failed to make it out of groups for their last two events in a row.

A title here is especially important for SK – they’re coming into this event as clear favourites due to the absence of Astralis, FaZe Clan, Virtus.Pro, and Na’Vi. This makes them the only top-five team in attendance.

Image courtesy of SK Gaming on Facebook
Image courtesy of SK Gaming on Facebook

SK’s recent struggles seem to primarily stem from Toledo’s drop in form – though he was the #2 player in the world for 2016, Toledo has yet to impress as he did last year. It’s clear that SK needs their AWPer and in-game-leader to return to dominance.

Many speculate that Toledo’s drop in performance stems from the addition of Joao “felps” Vasconcellos, who joined the squad after the ELEAGUE Major to replace Lincoln “fnx” Lau.

Vasconcellos’ incorporation into the team means that Toledo must now manage three stars – including Marcelo “coldzera” David and Fernando “fer” Alvarenga– leaving little room for himself to perform at the same level.

Alongside the addition of Vasconcellos, SK has faced another struggle: their diminished map pool. The addition of Nuke proved to be troublesome for the squad, and matters were exacerbated when Dust II was later removed from the pool.

Though Dust II was a middle-ground map for the Brazilians, it allowed them to have a fighting chance in best-of-threes, as their Mirage was faltering at the time. Those issues seem to have alleviated – Vasconcellos has demonstrated an uncanny ability to demolish any mid-window presence, allowing SK to dominate on Mirage once again.

Despite their struggles with maps, SK still has one of the stronger map pools at CS_Summit, due to the roster struggles that some of their opposition have had. The Brazilians still have a solid map pool versus most opposition, but struggle against other top teams; fortunately for them, the only team that present a challenge to them are Cloud9, with Ninjas in Pyjamas and Gambit waiting in the sidelines.

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Their first round against Team EnvyUs sees them pay out at 1.31, a small but seemingly safe ratio. The better payout comes at under 2 maps at 1.64, but of course that comes with more risk. Either way, EnVyUs are notable underdogs in this match.

Cloud9

The North American squad announced that they would field Braxton “swag” Pierce in place of Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham at CS_Summit, as Latham is currently recovering from a surgery. This marks the second time Pierce will play for Cloud9 at an event despite his ongoing ban from most major tournaments.

Cloud9 have established themselves as an online force yet have returned little in way of LAN results since their win at ESL Pro League Season 4.

At Summit, they have the advantage of a decent map pool to challenge their opponents.

Timothy “autimatic” Ta aided in expanding Cloud9’s map pool when  by suddenly expanding his role to include in-game leadership on Nuke, leading to an upset win over SK at IEM Katowice; however, this alone will not be enough to take down teams at CS_Summit – other teams at the event have shown an affinity for Nuke as well, including the Swedish powerhouse that is Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Their first-round opponents, Optic Gaming have historically been close contenders in head-to-head match-ups. However, that was before Optic’s roster change, which explains the seemingly low 1.42 payout on C9.

Not only do Cloud 9 have an in-game leader who isn’t to stand-in, they have the skill to back his calls up. As with many first-round pairings, a small bet under 2.5 maps at 1.7 odds has the best payout of still likely scenarios, unless you truly believe in Optic.

The Challengers

Ninjas in Pyjamas

A rapid fall from grace encouraged the Ninjas to make a roster change once again – a roster which they debuted with at SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 Finals, where we saw William “draken” Sundin take the place of Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi.

The roster is unleashed, courtesy of NiP Facebook
The roster is unleashed, courtesy of NiP Facebook

The roster change granted the Swedes an upset win over Virtus.Pro at StarSeries, but achieved little else – they were knocked out of the tournament with a 2-3 record, with their only other win coming from MVP.Project.

NiP look once again to demonstrate the abilities of their new roster at CS_Summit, and their map pool actually matches up well against most of their opponents – they auto-ban Mirage, and are willing to pick Nuke or Cache if it comes to it. This means that SK’s map pool is greatly stifled, alongside Cloud9.

The Ninjas have a good chance to make it deep in this tournament, but they’ll first have to fight through a number of best-of-threes, which will test their map pool to its limit.

Gambit Gaming

The second CIS powerhouse has demonstrated considerable skill in the past few months, but their main issue stems from a severe lack of a map pool.

Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko has lead them to victory on Cobblestone and Overpass on multiple occasions, showing great prowess with his calling on both maps; however, their dominance ends there – Gambit has demonstrated little ability to perform as well on any other maps. This has been one of their core issues after their performance at the Major.

Gambit recently took 12-14 (of 16) at Starseries Season 3 (image courtesy of Gambit Esports on Facebook)
Gambit recently tied for 12 place (of 16) at Starseries Season 3 (image courtesy of Gambit Esports on Facebook)

The firepower they possess is fearsome - Dauren 'AdreN' Kystaubayev and Abay 'HObbit' Khasenov are incredible players – but Gambit’s inability to expand their map pool has been their downfall.

If Gambit has managed to incorporate one or two more maps into their pool, they will be a formidable opponent for any team that faces them; it just remains to be seen if they’ll be able to combat the likes of SK, Cloud9, and Ninjas in Pyjamas, since a versatile map pool will be key in these matchups.

Their first-round against Godsent is tough to call, but a 2.00 pay out on over 2.5 maps lets you bet on how closely these teams contest each other. It’s unlikely that Godsent (2.3) hold back Gambit (1.59) in a full three maps, so their win potential likely comes to an unlikely-but-possible win streak before Gambit steps up.

Team Liquid

The recent addition of Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken presents this squad with a chance to redeem their status as the best team in North America – a title they held for a short while when they still had Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev on their side.

Liquid also faces issues with their map pool, and Van Dulken will have to quickly adapt to his positions – if they’re not comfortable on certain maps, or aren’t able to adapt on the fly, they’ll struggle versus many of the teams in this tournament.

Another factor that’ll determine how far Liquid can make it will be the performances of Nick 'nitr0' Cannella and Josh 'jdm64' Marzano – both players have struggled to attain their previous form, and without their star AWPer Liquid will labour to compete against the likes of SK.

Liquid has the juiciest bet in the first round, with 3.00 against NiP. That’s possible, and it could have big returns for a small outright wager.

The Underdogs

Team EnVyUs

CS_Summit will mark the LAN debut of Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer’s new roster, where we’ll see the headshot machine Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and the tank Cédric “RpK” Guipouy compete for their first title under EnVyUs.

EnVyUs’ shaky performance online saw them failing to qualify for StarSeries, although their final match versus HellRaisers was close, even going into overtime.

Their raw skill and lack of an established map pool will make this event incredibly difficult for them – their riflers haven’t yet hit the caliber of the other teams in attendance, and their AWPer, Christopher “SIXER” Xia, has yet to show the skill that he’s previously demonstrated in past iterations of Counter-Strike.

OpTic Gaming

After an incredible run of form that allowed them to claim the ELEAGUE Season 2 trophy, OpTic has struggled. The loss of their in-game leader Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz crushed their ability to stay competitive in top-tier tournaments.

While they still field a skilled roster with the likes of Tarik “Tarik” Celik and Óscar 'mixwell' Cañellas, their lack of an in-game leader has demolished their map pool.

OpTic still has a chance to put up a fight at CS_Summit, but without an established fifth player, it’s unlikely that they’ll make it far.

Godsent

Though this Swedish squad contains some legendary names, they have yet to put out any legendary performances - Markus “pronax” Wallsten hasn’t shown the prowess he once had on Fnatic, and it’s clear that the roster has struggled to find their identity.

Image courtesy of Godsent on Facebook
Image courtesy of Godsent on Facebook

The Gods have been kind to the squad as of late though – Wallsten & co. took down BIG 2-0 on April 17th to qualify for ESL Pro League Season 6, granting them the opportunity to prove themselves next season.

Godsent will also have a chance to prove themselves here – if they can upset at CS_Summit, they’ll draw a lot of attention and praise their way.

CS_Summit will run from April 20th to April 23rd, where the first matches of each day will begin at 9:30 AM PST.

Danish Allana

Danish "Nohte" Allana is a writer residing in Canada. He loves Counter-Strike in all facets, but he can also be seen playing various RPGs (Final Fantasy has been a favourite for years). When he's not gaming, you can find him going for walks by the water. Reach him, follow him or stalk him on Twitter.