Week 8.1 vs. Scrape Squad (16-9)
Highlights: TheOne was putting on a one-man show during the first half of this match, but it was Trerobinson who set the tone from the get go. In Rd1, during a quick 2-3 split A, Tre picked up 3 glock kills as he worked up mid and onto cat, which proved to be instrumental in securing the pistols for his team and got them off and running against a strong Scrape Squad team.
I forgot to write down which specific round it was, but on one of the gun rounds, TheOne got caught completely in the middle of CT B tunnels entrance as he attempted to push into site. Seeing Scrape Kaotic lining him up from the back of platform, he pulled off a falling backward flick 1 AK, then added to his kill count by grabbing two more AK frags as his team took site. It was a really, really nice first shot.
Lowlights: Unfortunately for him, Rd18 saw an already dismal eco end in tatters as two NSX members were scouted at mid by Scrape Nemesis, and as TheOne tried to grab one or two frags before expiring, a Scrape Squad member got behind him and applied the finishing shank.
MVP: After his first half, TheOne should be playing EVERY T-side for NSX is that's what he brings to the table. He just seemed to be everywhere, and I think he had 20 frags by Rd10 or 11.
Week 8.2 vs. Bloodline (16-5)
Highlights: The danger of forgetting to watch your flanks was proven by Cloud, as he rotated behind the Bloodline team as four Ts traded fire on catwalk with the NSX members in A site. Catching them completely off guard, Cloud racked up four quick frags in the round 6 massacre.
Lowlights: This was a pretty one sided affair, so the only real downside was that the CT side gun rounds were fairly ugly in the first few attempts as NSX was playing a little too loosely at first. A few quick adjustments and one cloud massacre later, NSX was cruising.
MVP: This was like "Who wants to step in on Dust2 and drop bombs week" (as former teammates will tell you, Rotaderp lives for those weeks!). Matteo stepped up this match, playing a great match and leading his team with 25 frags. NSX was basically shuffling it's roster in and out for twenty bombs.
Analysis: NSX and Table Shakers were neck and neck for the 10-11 spots, and ultimately what swayed me for TS was their impressive finish, whereas NSX faired a bit easier this week (which isn't their fault). That, combined with their roster shuffles due to Illusion's absence and somewhat lightened practice routine led me to give Table Shakers an oh-so-slight edge. But, that's taking nothing away from NSX, because after some great mid-season additions, this team has been clicking and beating almost everyone else in the West. In fact, when you look at their 13-3 record, they only really lost two matches, as Spacemen forced a 4v5 on them, and after watching both teams play numerous weeks and looking at where they are, I think NSX probably would have pulled that one out. It would have been close, because Spacemen aren't any slouches and have an impressive record themselves, but NSX has really impressed me all season long. What stopped me from ranking them after their early close loss to Statsme wasn't for lack of talent, it was that they hadn't been playing the top tiers of their conference (due to the scheduling from that early loss) whereas other teams had. So it was merely a matter of biding their time to make a statement, and with some key additions (Trerobinson was a perfect fit for this group) they've been looking stronger and stronger as the season progresses, taking the head to head against Table Shakers on Nuke, and crushing playoff teams like SK and (potentially) Divine is 5. And their match against another playoff team in Scrape Squad to end the season, while it wasn't a blowout, was convincing enough for me to think that they're going to be tough regardless. Their Dust2 matches were well played, with their biggest challenge coming against Scrape. In both matches, their T side was well executed, and they really seemed to be a team that went with the flow of the round extremely well. Early pick mid? Hit B. Pick B? Take site fast. Pick long? Split A. While it doesn't sound complicated, it was well co-ordinated and everyone seemed to know what to do and where to be, which is impressive given that neither match fielded the same five. The variety of the T side was aided by some really impressive shot making ability by their team (entries proved to be a strong point), and unlike their West brethren TS, these guys realized that the key to surviving an eco was to mass 3-4 rifles at a spot and take it by force. Their CT side was a bit of a struggle at times, which can be attributed to both using an unfamiliar lineup, but also the fact that their players were prone to leaving players completely exposed, especially if another spot fell quickly. And NSX needs to make sure they close matches out properly, and not allow teams any sort of chance to get back in it, because they made that mistake against Scrape Squad. After going up 13-2 on their T side, they let scrape make a run in the second half, and while they ultimately closed it out, they'll find that a number of teams in the playoffs have feasted on their opponents just slipping up once or twice. I expect Illusion to have this group ready to rock for playoffs and I expect them to make the Sweet Sixteen, and with a favorable draw, perhaps even further. I think their undoing will ultimately be the little mistakes that piled up over the past few weeks. Savage exposed them a bit in this regard, winning close rounds that NSX let them back into and shutting down NSX's offense at key moments. And this team, fair or not, has a bit of a bullseye on their back...
Ace Gaming MSI
Week 8.1 vs. #5 Best Open Team (9-16)
Highlights: Illicit was steamrolling on T side to start. The match-medic started at 3-3, and the very first round (Rd7) I see Daps 1 Ak roca at B site, then grab two more during the B take, and in the early going that was basically this match in a nutshell. Illicit was running some pretty decent splits and picking strats and just taking BOT apart.
Rd21: With his team struggling on CT side, Sleek tried to get them going with an AWP 4k, grabbing 2 at mid then two more at A to shut down a take attempt by BOT.
Lowlights: I've already talked about the crucial eco round woes that Illicit gave up during my BOT writeup. And that basically summed up the match, both on T and CT side: Missed opportunities. BOT played really, really well to bring this back, but Illicit had so many chances to close this thing out or put BOT in a really deep hole.
MVP: Daps has been Illicit's most consistent performer all season, and this match was no exception, and especially gave BOT fits at B for the majority of the first half.
Week 8.2 vs. #15 The Good Guys (11-16)
Highlights: Kripp managed to extend the match yet one more round in Rd25, finding himself in a 1 v 1 with Good Game's Stephen, who had planted bomb and was lurking in site. With the match in the balance, Kripp managed to outshoot stephen and defuse, extending Illicit's hopes for at least one more round.
Lowlights: It's been Illicit's kryptonite all season long, and in this match, those pistol round woes reared their ugly head again, as Illicit lost both CT and T pistols. In a match like this, those rounds were crucial, even with them stealing one back with an early by in the 3rd T round. If they want to have ANY hope of a deep playoff run, this trend needs to go the opposite direction.
MVP: Krippers was on point this match and playing well despite Illicit struggling for offense at times.
Analysis: Illicit was essentially a Top5 team for most of the season, but has been plagued with some tough losses and roster shuffles in the past few weeks, and it's hurt their performance in game noticeably. Illicit, all season long, never lacked for firepower, and they displayed an impressive offensive mindset on both T side and CT side that was tough for a lot of teams to deal with, even in their losses. Against #6 Fully Torqued, they were up 11-4 after the first half on Nuke, as they were against #3 Grundle and were up 7-3 and 8-4 at various points in their match against #5 BOT. Basically, Illicit was trouncing top teams like it was their job, and they looked for all the world to be challenging DB9K for that undefeated spot down the road. Their T sides are explosive, even this week on Dust2, as BOT found themselves getting blitzed at almost every site, and Good Guys, while they fared better, still struggled to contain Illicit's offense in many of the rounds where they ultimately ended up winning. Illicit's smokes and flashes for their takes had some great timing, and when they landed that first shot, it was pretty much game over for the CTs. But, they had a bad habit of stretching themselves thin to work those picks, especially on ecos, and because their players worked spots solo in various areas, the initial entry was key because no trades would be forthcoming. Their CT side was a struggle: Illicit likes to be an aggressive team but they just got outpicked by BOT and Good Guys played a very smart, very tight CT side that basically was fine giving up a frag for a quick trade in return. In fact, Good Guys are the only team this season that essentially outplayed Illicit two halves in a row, and I would say a big reason for that was the pistols. And for some reason, illicit just can't seem to close matches, making mental error after mental error when they are up, and showing a disturbing lack of adaptability when things are going as planned. It's not as if their woes only show up on one particular side: They played a great CT side against FT then bombed T side, and the complete opposite occurred against BOT and Grundle. Much like a pre-ring Lebron James, Illicit has all the talent in the world but seems to lack the killer instinct to close matches out. Granted, FT made a living out of doing that this season, and BOT and Grundle are heavy momentum teams, give them an inch and suddenly they've taken a mile. And, as I mentioned above, I'm fairly certain Illicit lost pistol rounds in each of those matches, so that's five-six blown rounds right there. Had Illicit managed to win even one of these matches, I probably would have had them right behind Torqued, but because they lost both, I'm a little leery of the way this team is trending. That's the bad news. The good news is that, even with these woes, they've almost taken out 3 of my top 6 teams, and beaten two more playoff teams in Deagle Only and Modified Reality (I think) along the way. And looking at their scrims recently, it looks as if they are putting in more time with playoffs coming up, which is a bad thing for their first few matchups. I think, from a seeding perspective, those two late losses basically have turned Illicit into a bracket buster, and depending on which team they draw, they could end up shocking open. Like I said, when this team is playing well, they're top5 easily, and I'm sure they'd love another crack at the opportunity to prove they can close against some of the teams they lost too. Illicit is struggling yes, but I think even struggling, they are just too good for a lot of teams out there, and with a little tweaking they'll be right back in the hunt. A first round win, especially in a big manner, would go a long way to giving this team a much needed boost.
Week 8.1 vs. #6 Fully Torqued (9-16)
Highlights: Look, i'll be straight with my readers, CT side for the first 13 rounds was a complete disaster for Good Guys. BUT! The last two rounds? Great! It became the 2 round Naotar show! In Rd14, he shut down FT's A split at long with three quick awp frags, finally getting Good Guys in control of a round. Then, in round 15, GG found themselves in a 2 v 2 with both of their members in CT spawn and both Ts planting in B. Posted up, Naotar watched Whoyodaddy jump across doors to get back to car/tunnels, and domed him with a really nice awp HS from CT boxes, and then traded Vanacker at close range after his teammate was downed. Two great rounds from Naotar!
Lowlight: Which probably was making up for Rd13, in which he pushed long as part of an eco, and managed to do 94 in 6 hits with the P2000 to a jumping and dancing Whoyodaddy as he emptied his clip, finally getting dropped in return.
Did I mention their first 13 rounds on CT side? I did? K, just checking.
MVP: Stephen had 26 frags....the next closest teammate had 13. Yikes. That being said, Naotar takes MVP because of his two great plays to avoid the 15-0 shutout on CT side. And make no mistake, it was a real possibility.
Week 8.2 vs. #12 Illicit (16-11)
Highlights: In Rd.17, Good Guys realized that Illicit was stacking A site in an attempt to grab an eco round after losing pistols. Instead of making their attempted push regardless, GG made a wise choice in shifting their focus to the unprotected B site. During the subsequent hold, Naotar racked up four SMG kills as Illicit tried to storm the site.
Lowlight: Rd20: In a brilliantly done and timed eco round, Good Guys rushed 2 people into B at warp speed, causing the entire illicit team to rotate over. Meanwhile, their remaining players swept into long in a great fake that illicit caught on to a bit too late to stop them from taking site and planting....IF Good Guys didn't mess up their single cover smoke, leaving half the jump exposed to the Illicit shooting gallery in CT spawn. To see a great fake end like that...FOR SHAME!
MVP: Stephen has really slid in nicely to fill the void left by the recent departures, and he was on point this match with some great frags and a nice 1 v 1 clutch in the very first pistol to keep Illicit's dubious losing streak alive and well.
Analysis: Good Guys (Big Bang/Team Dumb/Stupid) has been consistently performing all season long against great competition. Whether it was a really close loss to then #1 Noobiez (despite the score, that match was darn close and really well played by both teams), convincing wins over #8 Mayans, and #12 Illicit, and well played but flawed efforts against #2 DB9K, #6 FT and former Top5 L2P. They've also beaten other playoff teams like Deagle Only, Contra Force (potentially), Nexzil (potentially) and Ubinited, in fairly convincing fashion, and done it with varying lineups to boot. I admit, I was really worried how this team would respond after losing over half their starting lineup late in the season with the departures of Ai and Prophet, and the accidental removal of Rodney (which really should drop them 10 spots by itself). But former starter Naotar stepped back in to fill one of the gaps with his solid play, and pickups StepheN and bryyy have proven to be both talented and capable, and seem to have meshed well with their new squad. Although they lost 2 of their last four, those efforts came against my #2 and #6 teams and (with the exception of the first half against FT) well played throughout and tighter than the scores would otherwise indicate. Good Guys have been playing great competition almost from the start of the season, drawing noobiez and then playing highly ranked teams each week. To say this group is battle tested would be a bit of an understatement, and from the looks of it, they're committed to sticking around for the long haul, as most teams without much in the way of caring probably would have died after the Week6 roster shakeups. But Good Guys stuck to their guns, and while I don't see this lineup ultimately having enough to overcome the top tier of teams ahead of them, a couple of wins in the initial rounds shouldn't be too much to expect from this group. Their Dust2 matches basically was their season in a nutshell. They played a disciplined, top squad in FT and got annihilated on CT side. I was able to watch 5 rounds, and instantly saw the problem: Bang just had no answer for Torqued's mixture of well timed, well executed takes and firepower. Small mistakes and ill advised peeks put them into minor man down situations that FT basically exploited as well as any team could hope too, punishing Good Guys for every mis-step. But, like every other match I've watched them play, Good Guys didn't make it easy for them, rattling off a great T side of their own, showing some good chemistry and timing, and because their players are good at getting the initial picks or trades, it forced FT to give up angles and rotate, which GG capitalized on. Like their other losses, it made you wonder "What if they'd won a 2-3 more CT rounds..." Their Illicit match was the exact opposite, against a talented, but less cohesive unit that was struggling a bit, and Good Guys pounced at every opportunity. Their CT side locked down spots much more effectively because Illicit didn't overwhelm them as much and were a bit more spread out, allowing GG to whittle them down. And their T side displayed some nice patience, apparently realizing that Illicit like to try and get some aggressive picks, and making them pay for it while varying their own takes nicely. And thus, Good Guys is one of those teams that's going to make anyone who isn't fully prepared or on their game pay, but is going to struggle against the top competition because of their little mistakes each round and their hot/cold nature at time. They rank right behind illicit only because Illicit, despite their struggles, has proven their ability to compete with the big boys by having a number of them on the ropes. Good Guys is one or two rounds away from getting there, but I don't see them fixing that in time for this season. They are #13 because I love their talent, and because they've consistently been facing top teams each week, and done extremely well all things considered. And, every additional day they play is more time for their unit to play together and get better. Expect some early wins, but expect some late struggles, especially on maps this current five hasn't prepared for as much from earlier in the season.
Mobility Gaming GO
Week 8.1 vs. #18 Vigilance (16-13)
Highlights: This was a back and forth match, and it really came down to the final few round with great plays on each side:
Rd17 - This was a great win for Mobility. After losing four players to Vigilance's nice eco split A, Rush found himself in a 1v3 with bomb planted and Ts up everywhere. He managed to clean up the first 2 Ts scattered around cat and site with some nice gun work, then found himself facing the final T member who was posted on long platform. Despite Rush being on bomb, the final T missed his initial two famas bursts, allowing Rush to flick himself off bomb, pull of a really nice flick SMG burst to down the T, and then get the defuse. Great win for Mobility. He also had a big awp 4k in Rd 27 holding down B against a Vigilance rush.
Rd29 - Up 15-13 but with Vigilance refusing to go down, Makalov, who'd been having a quiet match by his standards, came up big with his awp at long, shutting down the Vigilance push with 4 nasty awp frags to shut the door.
Lowlights: Starting the match 5v4, apparently on accident, when one of the Vigilance players lagged out right before going live. It probably WAS an accident, but it looked bad given everything else nonetheless. That, and the first 8 rounds on T side were a mess, as Mob essentially tried to set up a spread out pick strat or eco rush a site, and that was it. Their 1-7 record those first 8 rounds was a testament to how ineffective that strategy was.
MVP: Rush was nothing short of a BEAST this match, dropping 36 frags, coming up with huge clutches, and without his play (every single on of them) Mobility probably loses this match to a Vigilance team that is suddenly looking very, very good come playoff time.
Week 8.2 vs. NwG (16-0 FFW)
I normally don't put anything for FFWs, but I felt that I needed to say that I'm a little disappointed about how Mobility handled this. As a team that was so hot under the collar for how Grundle handled their lagout situation in their match, it was sad to see that they couldn't give NwG some extra time as they were finishing their CSS match. Yes, NwG scheduled it that night, and yes, they probably should have accounted for the fact that their match may go over, but I've watched other teams in the same situations with double headers (such as CyberRev's match on cache) over the course of the season, and it's really nice to see when they work together or suck it up and play a little later than they ideally wanted. Mobility may be a great group of guys and there may be even more extenuating circumstances, but regardless, disappointed in this result and in both teams for not working together to get it played.
Analysis: I've said my piece regarding how Mobility closed this season out. These Power Rankings (despite what some may think) are not a popularity contest. Mobility has played what I think is the tough schedule and looked darned impressive doing it most of the time. This team is very prone to streaks, and a lot of the early matches I watched of theirs, it basically felt to me as if I was watching CS:GO's version of the LA Lakers. Makalov was basically playing the role of Kobe, and he was gonna get his. The question became, were any of his teammates going to consistently step up to aid him? If not, teams basically focused on shutting Makalov down or isolating him, and then working the other spots to victory. And in their first 3 losses, in a close match to Illicit, and then two rather one sided losses to DB9K and playoff team Play4Fun, that's exactly what happened. Then, this team showed what they could do if other members started stepping up, nearly dethroning #3 Grundle on Cache in a match that they were up big in before letting it slip through their fingers (a lagout yes, but Mobility had other chances after). On Dust2, they faced a rejuvenated Vigilance team that's looking a lot better and more prepared than previous weeks I've watched them, and it certainly started pretty badly for Mobility. I was keeping a stat sheet of my own, writing down the success of Mobility's spread out pick/straight rushes versus the success of when they grouped up and ran co-ordinated splits with timed smokes and flashes. And wouldn't you know: Picks and rushes? 1-7. Splits and group pushes? 6-1. It just showed that this team CAN be really, really good when they play the right way. They've got players with good shots, but they really shine when they are able to get quick trades and catch teams on the rotate, allowing THEIR players to set up and use their aim to the fullest. Their CT side showed this, as Mobility played some very compact setups that allowed their players to assist one another extremely quickly and seal off any mass rushes with 2-3 players almost instantaneously. Vigilance won some T rounds, but it was because they executed their strats well and got some amazing opening picks. When they didn't, Mobility made them pay for it quickly. And really, that's been the story over the whole season: Their wins over other playoff teams like Vigilance, Low-key, My little pony, and potential playoff teams like Senile and Synermosity showed a much better balance in the frags department. Their losses basically were one man efforts. It's one the reasons I was surprised they cut codeybear, because more often than not he was that additional fragger. I felt they needed their other players to step up big for Mobility to have any shot of making a run, and their players have started to respond. Makalov, except for a round or two, had a very quiet match by his standards, but Rush and other teammates stepped in to fill the void and they beat a very good Vig team. 3 weeks ago? They lose that match. What's scary is that they are competing even when he is the sole fragger, so if they all start chipping in, this team could be very dangerous in playoffs. As it is now, I think they'll make the Sweet Sixteen. After that, it's going to be who they match up against.
Week 8.1 vs. Crown Us (16-8)
Highlight: In Rd6, it looked as if Crown Us was going to be able to steal an eco round win against Monster, who had overextended themselves slightly. However, Get_Big came up with a number of huge frags en route to a 4k at A, sweeping from long around to catwalk, to ensure that no such thing happened on his watch.
Lowlight: The very first round was a bit of a dubious start for this bunch, as their long push was effectively contained by Crown Us and left Monster trapped with nowhere to go. All 5 Ts were essentially milling around with no real direction and no ability to go anywhere, and they were picked off 1 by 1 as the round progressed, unable to make headway. The second round eco rush B ended in a quick massacre as well, leading me to wonder if I was going to be watching an upset. Fortunately they rebounded quickly!
MVP: With a couple 4ks of his own, a team leading 22 frags, and solid play in both halves for his team, Trance takes home the MVP for this match.
Week 8.2 vs. #17 CyberRevolution (16-10)
Highlight: Rd1: Char picks up two early frags on the CT pistol round, in what became a theme of shutting down Crev's mid portion of their B take, and then finds himself in a 2v2 with teammate vector against Crev Disclosure and Fractured. Despite having low health, Char dropped both remaining Ts, including winning the 1 v 1 against Fractured.
Rd8: Again Crev tried their Mid/B split, and again Char shut down mid by himself, grabbing two quick frags and then picked up another two at B site.
Lowlight: Monster lost some rounds that they had in the bag that really could have cost them if they had slipped up anywhere else. Rd 4 saw them lose a 4v2 against a Crev light buy, and they gave up a 4k to seb in Rd. 17 on a Crev eco. Those are the types of rounds they can't afford to give up if they want to be a legitimate threat to the top teams in the post season, because those opportunities will be few and far between, and have to be capitalized on when they appear.
MVP: Char was basically shutting down CyberRev's mid/B split on his own in a number of rounds, and it was his CT side play that put Monster in the driver seat for this match. Without his stellar frags in some rounds, I'm not sure if Monster pulls this out.
Analysis: Monster was a team that, admittedly, I didn't really give much thought to for my Power Rankings for a number of weeks, because when I initially watched them, they had a tough loss against fellow playoff member G Squad, and then got absolutely blown out and looked horrible in their loss #16 Singes early in the season on Mill. Right before their Nuke matches, they made some mid-season pickups, and it looked to be more of the same, as although they beat a Monkey Xpress team that just missed these PRs, they lost to a 502 Booze Cruise team that I haven't been able to figure out all season (they blow out some great playoff teams then lose to some questionable teams the same way oO). They've also proven the adage that practice makes perfect. Ever since that final loss, these guys have been practicing like crazy. Just look at their scrim record for this period alone: 43-17-1. These guys are putting in the time and effort to land themselves a high seed and make some noise in playoffs, and let me tell you, it has been showing up in their matches in the second half of the season, winning 7 in a row to close out the season on an extremely positive note. Along the way, they've beaten some noteworthy teams like Aversion, Mirror Image Gaming, Energized, Neck Beard Strong, and finishing with wins over Crown Us and #17 CyberRevolution. In short, this new roster seems to be meshing well, and they are helping the process along by putting in as much practice time as they possibly can, and I think that is going to be a difference maker in a lot of their potential matchups that could come in playoffs. A good number of teams have been relying on pure skill alone (although with playoffs coming up, ya never know!) and that lack of practice time could catch up to them against a prepared team like Monster. I even see them posting already (along with table shakers and other teams) looking for Bo3 practices and booking in advance. Monster had some really well executed T strats on their Dust2 matches, with great fakes and some great execution in terms of smokes and flashes during their splits, and their timing as a unit. If I had one knock against them as I was watching, it was that they tend to be extremely, extremely, extremely slow on T side. I mean, when I saw a 40+ min demo for a 16-8 match and a 50 min demo for a 16-10 match, I knew what was coming. That patience rewards them against pushes, and it makes fakes extremely effective because with such little time, any action is assumed to be the final push. But it also leaves them with almost zero margin for error if they get bogged down. However, if they get a pick, they are very good about revving up and hitting the weakened spot, so it's one of those things where I think they'll have to tailor it to the opponent their facing, and with the adaptability I saw in these two matches and previous ones, I don't think that will be much of an issue for them. Their CT side was extremely compact and passive, and they refused to get drawn into picking wars by either opponent, which was especially interesting to watch against Crev, another veteran, patient group and the resulting chess match was entertaining. Their smart angles and compact style allowed them to support quickly and generally avoid getting picked early, and they had some really, really nice individual smarts and shots to back it up. Basically, Monster is trending way way up heading into playoffs. I'm sure ending the season with a convincing win over a very good CyberRev team was a great shot of confidence and reward for their hard work, and will do a lot to give them belief as they enter into the post-season. My question becomes one of whether they can slug it out with the big boys, and against teams that have a more consistent edge than Crev. They've had some close matches against hot and cold teams before, and I've seen them waver on the edge of inconsistency and at times just get blown out of the water on rounds. But hard work tends to overcome a lot of flaws, and I expect Monster to make some noise early on.
The Human Element
Week 8.1 vs. Monkey Xpress (9-16)
Highlights: In Rd.16, Fromage came up with four huge frags on the A take for Singes. He found himself in a 1v2 against two MX members, one in CT spawn and one at long, and from his position on catwalk he was able to drop both and secure the T pistol round for Singes.
Lowlight: Singes could not hit a shot on CT side (a theme repeated in their second match) and they gave up a couple of man advantage rounds that they should have had in the bag. A watched a number of rounds where Singes had man advantages on retakes or holding against retakes and despite being setup, they would get caught holding a nade, or trying to get the first peek in, or other simple mistakes that ended up costing them in a big way.
MVP: Equalizer and his awp did their best to, well, equalize things. Despite his team leading 21 frags, it wasn't enough to overcome an on-fire Singes team.
Week 7.2 vs. #19 Ingenuity CS:GO (16-14)
Highlights: There were so many to choose from, because Singes had to bail themselves out of so many rounds:
Rds9 and 11 saw Singes win broken buys against Ingenuity that proved to be the difference in the match. Down 0-8 on their CT side, Singes light bought, and stacked A, leaving B undefended. Ingen rushed B with all 5, planted bomb, and then proceeded to lose members to peeks and pushes, before finally surrendering the first round to Singes. Rd11 saw Bayko push in long doors with a Mag7, killing 1 T, and then two more inexplicably decided to rush him instead of spamming/waiting. He killed both and collected a fourth. Those rounds were huge for Singes.
Rd 21: DB managed a 1v2 against two Ingen players, sitting at long with the bomb planted A and catching the CT pushing from spawn and one on plat with two nice AK burts. In Rd 22, he won a 1v1 with bomb again planted A, and the final CT pushing up from long. DB silently waited at elevator with extremely low health, and finally, with time winding down, the CT was forced to attempt a defuse, and DB killed him.
Rd27: This was the match saver. Tied at 13-13 and with no money for either team in the event of a loss, Fromage found himself in a 1v3 with bomb planted B. Priming a flash, he banked it out window and pushed out, at the EXACT moment the CTs pushed in from doors and tunnels, so no one ended up seeing him exit window and thus did not know where he was. By this point, time was running low, so a CT began defusing while the other two took up covering spots, and while Fromage was killed at doors, he JUST got the defuser before expiring. Time ran out. Round won. 14-13 Singes and Ingen lost the eco round to make it 15-13.
Lowlight: Despite his heroics, DB got a little TOO amped during a B take in Rd24. As CTs were flooding out window and raining into site on the re-take, DB was spraying from double stack while Equalizer was shooting from underneath window. Unfortunately for Equalizer, a CT fell right in front of him, and DB holds back for no man. One spray later, one dead CT....and Equalizer.
MVP: DB had a big, big match to keep his team in it, but Fromage's clutch proved to be the difference maker. As such, they share MVP for this match.
Analysis: I struggled with Singes for a long time this week. On the one hand, they lost to Monkey Xpress, who has been playing with a new lineup since Nuke and looked darn good in both of their D2 matches, but I have questions on their strength of schedule, their activity, and some of their play on maps aside from D2. Then Singes played Ingenuity, and it looked like another blowout loss after going down 0-8 on their CT side, and ending the half 5-10. But Singes showed some gritty resolve that I hadn't seen from them this season, climbing back into the match with some amazing clutch play, great shots, and capitalizing on all of Ingenuity's mistakes. Singes has been in and out of my Power Rankings all season long, mostly because they've beaten some really good, playoff bound teams like Perfectionvore, Monster (prior to the new lineup) and Ingenuity, along with tough, streaky teams that played well against them like Energized and Smoke and Mirrors. Their four losses this season were basically all to top 10 teams aside from the last loss to 13-3 Monkey Xpress, who was playing lights out in that match, and it was still fairly close. Granted, #4PoV blew them out on Inferno, but PoV started on CT side and won 14-1, and T side (except for this week) has been where Singes struggles. They were as competitive as anyone against #1 Powermode, and they had a hard fought, close loss to #9 HM5 (themselves a top5 for much of the season). I don't doubt Singes talent for a moment, they are chock full of play makers and guys with some great individual playing ability, and they seem to work well as a group, despite some struggles at time. What kills me with them is how often they try to boil things down to a picking war on T side, when they have so much more success in groups, and how sloppy their rotates can be on CT side, which cost them numerous rounds on Dust2. Against Monkey Xpress, Singes' normally rock solid CT side was their downfall, as they struggled to land shots against the initial pushes, and Monkey Xpress left players to catch Singes on rotates almost every round. The same thing happened against Ingenuity, who was steamrolling them on Singes CT side, because one spot would get overwhelmed by some great teamwork by Ingen, and then other Singes players would get caught trying to rotate/flank one at a time, instead of together. But, the few rounds where they played compact, worked re-takes as a group, or their opponents tried to get into a picking battle with them, Singes looked far more like the dominant team I'd watched in previous weeks. Ironically, it was their T side, much maligned by me all season, that saved the day in their Ingenuity match and looked decent against Monkey Xpress. Although it had a heavy picking element to it as well, Singes displayed some decent teamwork, but really excelled in their site holds and mid-round adjustments. I can't count the number of times Singes went down 3v5, or 2v4, and brought the round back by not panicking, playing smart, catching rotators and working weak spots, and then being money on the holds and clutch rounds. Much like #5 BOT, these guys aren't out of a round until all 5 are dead, because they have the firepower and the smarts to whittle down your team until suddenly a 3v1 is a 1v1 thanks to two one AKs, and now you're in some trouble. Singes, from what I've seen all season, doesn't have the ability to dethrone any of the top teams on my list. They lack to co-ordination and rock solid foundation to get the job done on T side consistently, and their CT side is prone to being overwhelmed by coordinated strats and well oiled, prepared teams. A team like FT, for example, or obviously a PM or PoV as we learned already, would be stylistic nightmares for them. But, with the right draw? Maybe they could knock off a streaky, pick heavy team like BOT or Grundle, depending on the day. With this team, you just don't know. I expect them to win a couple of early ones, but we'll see in the later rounds if they can prove me wrong.
Week 8.1 vs. Ex Nihilo (16-12)
Highlight: Lacombe, the highlight reel machine over the course of the season, gave another one in the very first round. With bomb planted B, Lacombe had already grabbed the first two Ts to open Crev's match, and found himself in a 2v3 and the Ts set up for the hold. He managed to kill all three remaining Ts with some dirty pistol work, securing the Ace and the round for Crev.
Lowlight: In a round that sums up EXACTLY why Crev drives me crazy, Rd.6 started off so well for our CT boys in blue. On an eco, they grabbed 3 quick kills, only losing one member in the process, and now they had guns to boot. Then, they turn around and LOSE the 4v2 with some horrendous peeks and boneheaded decisions, and I sit there and go, "Guys....what the F***?!" That's been my life with Crev all season.
MVP: Triq, although he didn't have the most frags, had some great clutch round moments to help his team to a hard fought victory over a tough Ex Nihilo team that is also potentially playoff bound.
Week 8.2 vs. Monster (10-16)
Highlight: Crev had some good rounds to make this close, but the best was during one of Crev's T gun rounds (i forgot to write which one :( ). On a quick B take, he managed to get two frags, but at the cost of all four of his teammate, and with the final 3 CTs ready to nail his hide to the wall. However, with some nifty rifle work, he dropped two of the three, and sneaked back to A with bomb while the other CT lurked around B for the plant. He managed to outshoot the final CT as he tried to locate him after the plant, securing the Ace, the clutch, and this conversation after:
Monster Trance: "Damnit, I was hoping you wouldn't go A"
Disclosure: "The french told me"
The french: naturally born w/ wallhacks.
Lowlight: Watching Crev blow round after round on T side because they couldn't grasp the concept of working together. You want to know word for word what I have written on my notecard for this match? "WORK TOGETHER CREV! MY GOD!" TAKE TIME AND STOP THE INDIVIDUAL PEEKS!" Literally, I wrote this in caps.
MVP: Both Disclosure and Seb had a well played match, but it wasn't quite enough to get them past a prepared and hungry Monster team.
Analysis: No team this season has made me get straight up angry watching demos like CyberRev. Sure, I'll watch rounds for other teams and shake my head from time to time at a bad play, but with CyberRev, a team I see such brilliance from, it's truly maddening. I was tempted to drop them from my PRs entirely, but after a couple of deep breaths and several demos later, I regained some perspective. It's true, CyberRev at times as looked horrendous, none more so than their Mill loss to playoff team Awakening, in what was so one sided I wondered if Awakening was just playing against bots named like the Crev players. And they've had blowouts at the hands of #4 PoV and #1 Powermode, but to be fair, they are far from the only teams in the playoffs with that dubious distinction. And their final loss came against a revamped Monster roster that's been playing extremely well, and sits at 13-3 after some early season setbacks. So 4 losses, 2 against top4 teams, 1 against a strong 13-3 team, and one outlier against an Awakening team that has proven to be the epitomy of hot/cold (so potentially just a bad timing award on that one). Lets look at the wins shall we? Razzle Dazzle, G Squad, ZSM, Pop Pips, and Ex Nihilo are all playoff bound with some good wins and records of their own (ZSM and Pop Pips have especially been playing as of late), and a great win on Cache over #9 HM5. They also beat Smoke and Mirrors at a time when they they were still a top team before they imploded late, so basically, who the hell knows with CyberRev! It's not that they've lost, it's when they lose they just look so bad! But what's undeniable is that they are talented, and when they are focused and prepared, they are a tough team for anyone to handle, as HM5 found out on Cache and others previously. Their Dust2 matches saw them victorious against a game Ex Nihilo and a close loss to Monster that I think they could have won, if they had played a bit smarter at times. Crev's T side struggles were mainly the result of early, unsupported pushes that cost them a lot of rounds because, while they actually managed to consistently take sites with great entries from their dimished group, they just didn't have enough players to consistently hold sites after taking it. Had they done those splits and pushes as a group, getting trades or entries while losing a player in return, suddenly its a 4v4 or 3v3, instead of a 3v5, 2v4, or worse. And their holds against re-takes drove me crazy at times because they would peek out and expose themselves needlessly, and it cost them. They actually had some good strats, and when they executed them, it was generally very well done. I can't really fault them on their B split failures against Monster, because they actually executed well, but Monster Char was just in the zone and shutting down the mid portion consistently. Their CT side was frustrating to watch because they didn't seem to grasp that constant peeking and repeeking only gave their opponents more and more chances to pick them, and their passive setups displayed a lot more success. Crev has the shots to compete with anyone, and their players are generally very smart in the clutch and as a unit they are a very dangerous bunch. But they have a disturbing tendency to check out mentally at the wrong times, or to not recognize what is working and what isn't. They give up rounds in a hurry, and lose rounds that they have a dominating advantage in because they get impatient or don't play for the trade. And that's why they fall out of my Top16, because while I think they have the TALENT to go to the sweet sixteen, perhaps even upset a few of the higher ranked teams (like they proved against HM5), I'm just not sure which Crev team is going to show up to play. They are putting in some good practice at the moment, so maybe that will re-focus them and they'll lock things down on the big stage. But I've thought that before.....
Week 8.1 vs. #15 Mobility Gaming (13-16)
Highlight: A lot of great rounds by Vigilance in this match:
Rd3: Despite his team being on CT side, Checkmate scrounged himself up a glock and planted himself by car. Mobility came flying out of B tunnels on one of their not-so-successful eco rushes. I guess to be fair, it's hard to be successful when you have Checkmate racking up 3 quick glock kills just flicking to each T as they come out of tunnels.
Rd23: Ruff w/ a great AWP 4k, grabbing the initial pick at mid, then picking up 2 more kills working into B site and a fourth in CT spawn.
Lowlight: Ridic, for some odd reason, has a strange impulse to run in front of teammates in the process of shooting people. He did it in Rd. 2 when lopez was racking up a triple kill at long, rushing ahead of him to catch any remaining Ts and getting dinked in the process. Apparently, it took a larger round (literally) to get the message across. In Rd. 25, Ruff was picking into B site from Tunnels, and Ridic strafed in front of him, catching an awp round in the skull. Probably got the point across that time.
MVP: Speaking of Ruff, he's been a factor in almost every match I've watched, and he was playing well in both halves of this match to keep Vigilance close right to the very end.
Week 8.2 vs. Enclave E-Sports (16-3)
This match was 5 v 4, and so I didn't spend the time watching the demo because I don't really think it would tell me anything in this matchup. I'm not sure why the fifth couldn't play, but hopefully it was beyond the control of both teams.
Analysis: Some people may be surprised to see Vigilance here. I myself am one of them. I say that not to be a jerk, but because I honestly expected this team to be dead after a couple of early losses, which generally tends to be the case with star studded rosters in open. But, to their credit, they've stuck it out, and my former Pre-Season #1 is starting to hit their stride at the right moment in the season. Because of the early losses to a Onyx squad that was in my Top10 all season until they had major roster shuffles and died and to a playoff bound AnnexG team that's been quietly surprising people (and a former member of my PR as well), I was concerned that this team's skill just wasn't going to translate to GO, and with them not really having much in the way of activity, they were never going to be a serious contender. However, with a lighter schedule until the last few weeks, and some roster tweaking on their part, Vigilance is back and looking much more like the team I though they could be when the season started. They beat some tough teams in Fraggle Rock, Senile, Lazerhawk, and Super, but really roared back on the scene on Cache, with close wins over former top5 and PR longtime mainstay L2P and 12-4 Crust. On Dust2 this week, they basically cakewalked in their last match against a playoff bound Enclave Esports that was played 5v4, but had a tough, heartbreaking loss to my #15 squad Mobility. Let me tell you, Vigilance looked really good early on in this match, up 7-1 on their CT side and cruising along. With some really well played angles, smart gamesense, and great shots, they manhandled Mobility every time they tried to engage in a picking war. Vigilance's struggles came when Mobility began working areas as a co-ordinated unit, because Vigilance essentially relied on a pretty basic CT setup that often times left members exposed and relied on their ability to outshoot 1 or 2 Ts, but ran into trouble against a coordinated pack. Their T side was actually more concerted than I thought it would be. Sure there were some general, "See if we can work pick" strats that are the staple of every team, but they varied it with some nicely executed splits, especially at B. Their players had a really good ability to get entries, and they were very adept at holding site down once they had taken it. But, in the key moments, their teamwork dissolved and they tried to work spots solo, which played right into Mobility's hand, or tried to out and out rush, which turned into a massacre. It also didn't help that Makalov, quiet all match and not playing well, suddenly went bonkers at long the final 4-5 rounds with the match even, grabbing a really nice AWP 3k and 4k in two rounds with some ridiculous shots, and Rush had a 4k at B. So basically, Vigilance lost on some really great individual plays by Mobility, which is something I can't fault them for too much. You can do everything right, but if a person makes a great shot, what else can you do? My main concern for this group is still their activity. I don't know if they'll suddenly ramp up the practice once brackets and maps are released, but they had been practicing quite a bit leading up to Dust2, and it fell off a bit over the past week and half. But they practiced Cache a lot from what I could see, and it showed in their matches, and they beat two quality teams in tough matches, and then almost beat another one on Dust2. If they pick it back up, with their shots and experience, this could be a very, very dangerous team that should not be underestimated by any of their opponents in the postseason.
Week 8.1 vs. Ex Nihilo (16-12)
Highlight: Rd10: Dew went crazy on a B take against the French Canadians, rolling into B site on a mission and dropping three Powermode members with some ridiculous AK work that was like, "Dang! Where did that come from?!"
Lowlight: I know I mentioned it in the PMD writeup, but Rd. 6 was just too funny for me, as poor Klutch tried to finish off a hopping and weaving KTX on B platform. Despite emptying his clip from a close range, Klutch just couldn't connect enough times to prevent the shank.
MVP: Gnome played really well in this match, and his team leading 19 frags and some nice 3k's helped Ingenuity play a respectable, tough match against my #1 team.
Week 8.2 vs. #16 Singes (14-16)
Highlight: Man, Ingenuity had some great T side rounds, but the round where I knew this team was going to be a handful was the very first one: On their T pistols, Ingenuity rushed Long with all 5 members, understanding that volume and quanitity, especially with the OP glock, was the name of the game. Dioko opened up with two quick frags to put them up 5v3, but then, Ingen stopped, left two long, and sent 3 back around to Mid/Cat. Singes, already set up for the long cross, heard the nades and smokes mid and re-adjusted themselves thinking long had been a fake, and were caught completely off guard. Gnome cleaned up the last three Ts as Ingen completed a really well done pinch on pistols.
Lowlight: Go read all my Highlights for #16 Singes. Each one of those rounds was basically a lowlight, and after such a dominating T side performance, and so many CT rounds up and with the advantage in manpower, it must have been a bitter pill to swallow upon losing.
MVP: Gnome led his team with 35 frags and some great, great rounds, although the entire team stepped up at various moments to contribute.
Analysis: A new addition to my list for the first time this season, Ingenuity is a team that I've watched off and one during the season, but one that sort of baffled me. An early one sided loss to 502 Booze Cruise was with an almost entirely different roster, and all of their pickups were essentially the day before their second loss to Ex Nihilo on train. Since then, these guys have been practicing like crazy, and much like Monster, the results of their new lineup and their practice have been really, really impressive. Gnome, Klutch, and Dew have been great additions to the roster, adding some heavy firepower and smart play that's really solidified this unit, and it showed with some nice wins over Perfectionvore and Fierce Gaming. Each time I watched them, they looked better than the last, and they looked their best on Dust2 despite losing both matches. Their T side was nothing short of phenomenal against both Powermode and Singes, with some great timing on their splits and even better teamwork. These guys looked like a well oiled machine on their takes, with smokes generally perfectly placed and flashes well timed to blind certain areas, teammates covering each other on pushes, and working as a group. They were demolishing Singes for the entirety of the half, and if it wasn't for a really bad B hold and a silly long push discussed in the Singes write-up, I'd be talking about their demolition of a very talented playoff team. Their CT side wasn't as bad as the score made it out to be. Powermode basically, well, they were just Powermode, and while Ingenuity actually put up a pretty decent fight most rounds, they just couldn't stop the French Canadians from walking over them. The Singes match was a disappointment. They played a really solid CT side, and they more often than not got the first, or even the first two picks of the round. But time and again, getting impatient or trying to peek one time too many cost them players and allowed Singes back into the round, and they just couldn't close when they had the opportunities. To be completely fair, Singes made some great, great plays and had some crazy shots during those rounds, so not all of them were Ingenuity's fault by any means. As I said with Vigilance versus Mobility, sometimes the opponent just makes a great play regardless. Some of it was bad luck, like Fromage pushing out of B the exact millisecond all CTs entered site so that no one saw it. But Ingenuity had so many chances to close the thing out, and they just couldn't convert. Even the very last round, they had a 4v2, then a 2v1, and while the Singes players had some nice AK work, it was just fitting the match ended like that. So why do I have them above others? Because the past few weeks, and especially this week, they looked really, really good. Their preparation is evident, and although I'm not sure OctanE's replacement of Rags is permanent or temporary, this group works well as a whole. Each of their players knows their roles, knows the strats, and it took a great effort from Singes and a boatload of amazing clutches to get beaten. They made Powermode's CT side look somewhat ordinary with their great T side, which is a feat in of itself. Basically, I really, really like how this team is playing right now, and I think that their combination of firepower and heavy amounts of practice is going to make the T side especially a nightmare to stop. If they can close matches out and tighten up their CT side a bit, lookout open.