Gfinity Spring Masters II: KYAN1TE's Preview & Predictions
Last time round, the Ninjas made the final and collapsed to the EnVyUs powerhouse that was shaking the Global Offensive world at the time. Just over a month later, the second Gfinity Spring Masters is now upon us, this time buffed with a larger number of teams and it will without a doubt make one hell of a spectacle whether you’re watching on stream or in person from London.
The event has been expanded from 8 teams competing for the large prize pool of $50,000 to 10 teams. Property, Gamers2 & Infused are removed to make way for the return of Titan, Natus Vincere, Team Liquid & the duo from down under in Vox Eminor & Team Immunity. Cloud9 return with a fresh line-up after dropping Canadian Semphis & often scrutinised Shahzam for the ex-iBuyPower man in Skadoodle & a man who will need no introduction to key members in the Cloud9 line-up from his Complexity days in fREAKAZOiD.
The format is yet to be announced, let alone the groups. But based on the current form of teams, as a caster at the event and proud member of the Ninjas in Pyjamas organisation, I thought I might as well give my two cents on how I predict the event will pan out next weekend. Due to no format being announced at the time of writing this, I will simply assume teams will finish 1st to 10th, with of course 1st & 2nd competing in the grand final and so on.
EnVyUs – Recently, the French side have looked incredibly shaky both online & offline. Losing 5-16 online against the Swedes of fnatic, on a map which is normally regarded as one of EnVyUs’s strongest in de_cache. They also recently lost a BO3 versus Norwegian side LGB, a result which surprised many. Also, prior to that the French were whiskers away from dropping points against what has recently been a completely deflated HellRaisers team. They also barely crept past the line in their games versus newly crowned German EPS champions Mousesports and not even qualifying for the FACEIT League 2015 offline finals, only winning 4 and losing 10.
However, if there’s anything we know about the French team it’s that they will be more than aware of their recent issues and will without a doubt be working hard in an attempt to iron them out prior to next weekend to strengthen their bid to hold on to their title as Gfinity Spring Master holding champions.
Do I think they have what it takes to win the event? Of course they do. But with the LAN close by, they’ll have to work harder than ever to identify their shortcomings and implement amends. Fortunately for them, even if their teamwork right now isn't on point, individually they should still pull through with at least a respectable top 4 finish.
My prediction: I predict they will finish in 3rd place, most likely losing in the semi-finals.
Player to watch: SmithZz.
fnatic – The Katowice 2015 major champions will be coming in to this event feeling like they have a point to prove after crashing out to a surprising defeat at the hands of TSM on British soil at the FACEIT LAN, finishing 3rd/4th alongside Virtus.pro.
A few weeks ago, the community were touting them as the strongest team in CS:GO and even though they haven’t performed to their regular standards offline recently, online has been a completely different ball game and it’s a medium where they’ve looked like their regular selves again. Results including their thrashing of EnVyUs 16-5 on cache and strong BO3 performance against Virtus.pro, beating them both on Cache and Mirage (Virtus.pro’s home map). We also mustn’t forget that TSM have been in inspired form since Dreamhack Bucharest and fnatic still took them to the wire at the FACEIT studios. So two weeks later, particularly with no TSM at this event, we know they easily have the firepower to stampede through any other team at the event.
Flusha is of course Fnatic’s new in game leader, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does at his first offline event. However, my gut feeling tells me if it seems the Swedes are struggling, they will be versatile enough to switch back to Pronax when required or even switch on a map basis.
My prediction: I predict fnatic will top the event, beating the lords of consistency, Ninjas in Pyjamas whom they will meet in the all Swedish final – 1st.
Player to watch: Olofmeister.
Ninjas in Pyjamas – As I called them earlier, the Lords of Consistency. They haven’t won many titles recently, but if there’s a CS:GO final somewhere… it’d take a brave man to bet their money against the Ninjas being one of the teams competing in it. Last time round at the first Gfinity Spring Masters, they crumbled at the last hurdle and failed to GeT it RiGhT in the BO5 final against EnVyUs. They also lost to TSM in last weeks FACEIT League 2015 finals, 2-1 despite a great start to the BO3 with a 16-1 win on inferno.
As far as their recent online form is concerned, they’ve had their ups and downs. They dropped 13 rounds on inferno which was surprising to say the least. Particularly considering how strong the Ninjas are known for their inferno play. They got hammered by the Virtus.plow 16-3 on cache, which again is very unlike them… so much for never picking cache against you, right Xizt? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9I2eQFOo3A) and finally despite a 2-0 BO3 win in CEVO against Na’Vi (who will also be at the Gfinity Spring Masters), it took the Ninjas an overtime on each map (Mirage & Dust2) to secure the wins.
So, where does this leave the Ninjas following this dodgy run of online form? Personally, I don’t think it’ll matter. We’ve seen NiP on numerous occasions go in to offline events on the back of poor online form and look like a completely different side. We can never rule out the possibility that teams right now could be hiding things from each other and prioritising success at the offline event over online leagues where teams have room for error.
My prediction: NiP will reach the final and lose to fnatic, 2nd.
Player to watch: f0rest (I reckon he’ll come out all guns blazing after some poor performances recently).
Titan – Ever since the French scene shuffle occurred post-KQLY, Titan have never really been able to find their rhythm. To cut a long story short, on paper they have a team of individuals who without a doubt all possess the individual skill to be compete with the worlds best – heck, KennyS is arguably the worlds best. However, Counter-Strike is a team game and it never really seems like Titan have found the perfect formula to all reach and perform at the top of their game simultaneously. More than often, too much tactical reliance has been left on KennyS and to really stand a chance to fulfil their true potential, Titan will all need to be on point. An event of course where we saw how deadly Titan can be when they are all performing would have to be the ESL Pro League finals, where they finished 2nd behind Natus Vincere.
As far as online form is concerned, Titan have been going through an incredibly tough phase. They failed to qualify for the FACEIT 2015 finals and didn’t look too special in Dallas, winning only the games that one would realistically expect them to – mostly the NA sides. Adding insult to injury, Titan have not only lost recently on cache to Dignitas but also fallen in a BO3 versus fellow strugglers HellRaisers.
On paper, this Titan side has what it takes to reach the final – as the pre-French mixup Titan side did at Gfinity G3. However, who knows which Titan might show up next weekend in London?
My prediction: 6th.
Player to watch: kennyS.
Natus Vincere – Na’Vi are regarded as many as the best CIS team in CS:GO at the moment. They have a perfect mix of experience, consisting of 1.6 legends IGL Zeus with Edward and of course youth, recently recruiting one of Russia’s best upcoming rifle talents in Flamie. GuardiaN is one of the most consistent AWPers in the game and argued by many to be on par in his ability with KennyS.
As far as current form is concerned, Natus Vincere have looked solid. If they can get their VETOs on point and avoid playing maps they aren’t familiar with, then I honestly think they could sneak in to the semi finals. They are one of the best teams on de_dust2 in the CS:GO circuit at the moment and as with most CIS teams, are very solid on Mirage. Their inferno is also very strong and we’ve seen them on several occasions in the past push teams like NiP, EnVyUs & TSM straight to the wire.
Na’Vi also have a great record when it comes to being the overdog.
Let’s also not forget how strong Na’Vi looked at the recent ESL Pro League finals, finishing 1st and winning $15,000. Finishing above Titan, TSM, EnVyUs & Virtus.pro.
My prediction: 5th.
Player to watch: GuardiaN.
Virtus.pro – The Virtus.plow need no introduction. Admittedly my favourite team (sorry NiP!), the Polish powerhouse are mostly known for being the first ever side to win a CS:GO major on home soil – namely Katowice 2014.
There isn’t much to say about these guys to be honest, recently their form has been steady. Online, beating the teams you’d expect them to beat and losing to the teams you’d expect a potential upset to occur against such as NiP & Fnatic.
They do unfortunately have a poor habit of very often getting complacent against sides they underestimate – gaining the name Virtus.throw – but fortunately for the Poles when it comes to LAN they are a stronger unit and as a result I expect them to do well. Last time round, they topped their group and finished 3rd place. Losing only to the Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The introduction of the ex-Golden Five legend in Kuben to assist Neo with in-game calls was a key part to Virtus.pro’s transition in form early on in the year when they were going through a bumpy phase similar to that of EnVyUs right now and I think this will be another steady event for Virtus.pro. Do they have enough quality to win it? Of course they do, however it’s difficult to see how they’re going to be able to square up against the likes of Fnatic.
My prediction: 4th.
Player to watch: Snax.
Cloud9 – As mentioned earlier, Cloud9 dropped Semphis & Shahzam in favour of Skadoodle and fREAKAZOiD. Last time round, at the last Gfinity event, they finished 4th. However we must bear in mind how significantly less stacked the previous event was as opposed to the quality of teams this time round.
There’s no point in me talking about Skadoodle & fREAK specifically here, as we spoke about them above. On paper though, does this new line-up look stronger? In my opinion, it does. However I’m not expecting Cloud9 to do significantly well this event and I doubt they're going to be too worked up about ensuring they do so. They’ll most likely just look to use this event as a platform to try and flex their muscles (I’m looking at you here fREAKAZOiD) and see how well they can do with minimal practice against some of the world’s best. A learning curve, more than anything.
We’ve only seen this new Cloud9 line-up play once together and that was a win versus Liquid on Overpass, which wasn’t exactly convincing. But, we can only assume that they have been practicing and that they may perhaps be focusing on perfecting a small pool of maps going in to the event.
My prediction: 7th.
Player to watch: Skadoodle.
Team Liquid – Unfortunately, Liquid have failed to live up to the hype which surrounded them when they were initially picked up by their organisation – not in the North American scene nor in the more developed European scene. Losing twice to the new Aussies on the European scene – Immunity – Liquid really have failed to convince me that they have what it takes to be competing on an international level and I think the analysts on the FACEIT desk made it clear why.
They will also be playing this event with flowsicK as a stand-in, which I can only imagine will destabilise them even further. I hate to sound mean, but I really can’t see Liquid upsetting the odds.
My prediction: 10th.
Player to watch: nitr0.
Vox Eminor – Diggity. But seriously, I’m looking forward to seeing how Vox Eminor will do. They obviously haven’t looked the strongest team in their region recently, failing to top the Oceania region, finishing behind both Immunity and The Chiefs to qualify for the FACEIT 2015 finals after replacing the outgoing topguN with Yam who was signed from rivals Immunity. That aside however, they are big fan favourites due to their upbeat personalities – SPUNJ in particular – and everyone loves to see an underdog win, right?
Regretably, I have to be realistic in my predictions when I say that I’m not sure they will have what it takes to deal significant damage to the top European teams nor this new Cloud9 line-up. However, I do believe they have what it takes to possibly do well versus Liquid and Immunity should their paths cross.
My prediction: 9th.
Player to watch: AZR.
Team Immunity – I said a few months ago that I always would’ve liked to see how well Immunity would do on an international stage, particularly as I felt there wasn’t much between them and Vox Eminor who were handed few opportunities.
I was over the moon to see them top Oceania to qualify for FACEIT and they didn’t disappoint. They looked shaky on inferno against Liquid and even though their performances on Cache & Mirage were very close, what was important was they proved in my opinion that Australian teams are improving and should be taken as seriously as at least teams from the NA scene from now on – which is a huge step in the right direction for those from down under.
Practice makes perfect and to see teams like Vox & Immunity get invited to more smaller European tournaments is great. Each one is a learning experience and the opportunities these guys get, the better they will become.
Immunity this time round won’t have jet lag as an excuse either as they’ve apparently been staying in France after FACEIT LAN and been practicing against European teams. Both them and Vox will also most likely have a small rivalry going on between the two of them, eager to see who performs better to prove they are the better Australian side.
My prediction: 8th.
Player to watch: Rickeh.
KYAN1TE’s Final Predictions:
1st – Fnatic
2nd – Ninjas in Pyjamas
3rd – EnVyUs
4th – Virtus.pro
5th – Natus Vincere
6th – Titan
7th – Cloud9
8th – Team Immunity
9th – Vox Eminor
10th – Team Liquid