Published on ESEA in 2008.
Disclaimer: We decided on this debate topic before EG replaced evolution with Nepo so keep in mind we are discussing the previous EG line-up.
The first and most obvious point to be made is that in the few scenarios where EG and X3o have met in the past on LAN, albeit under different team names, is where EG’s position as the US #1 team was forged. From there a couple of high profile upsets in the right sized tournaments and EG had the domestic top dog spot locked up for a time. Why is that and how do the two teams compare?
EG’s style when successful is an explosive high intensity approach to the game. Where other teams will spend more time feeling teams out or reacting to their opposition one major plus in EG’s game is that they take the game to their opponents and play as though they weren’t a top 20 range team facing off against a top 5-10. That mixture of confidence and raw potential is in large part what carried EG to their most highlighted international wins. Against the other US teams they can get it done in LAN when it counts and against the international teams their style is abrasive enough to mean the element of surprise and one or two players going off can bag them a victory against practically anyone on the right day. This has only been solidified in my mind by the ESWC performance where EG took in a player who in line with that style and wasn’t a high impact player individually. As a result their compromised style floundered against a range of opponents.
X3o on the other hand managed to pick up some upsets of their own at ESWC. That might look to the casual observer like a reason to doubt my theory that X3o’s style works against a certain level of opponents but in the key matches or rounds the other team’s vastly superior personnel and experience means X3o can’t get over the hump. Grinding out victories is all well and good but if you can’t close the deal in the match that means the most of all then succeeding consistently at the international level is going to be difficult to say the least. X3o’s play so far has shown a very specific level they have reached but can’t move beyond. EG on the other hand while less consistent have a greater performance range, whether that means getting rolled in humiliating fashion or overpowering one of the world’s elite teams.
The key to these styles is the players in both rosters, their makeup dictates which style will be successful for their team. X3o’s roster is filled with team players and based largely off chemistry and preparation. That’s great and in a perfect world every team would have that foundation. Their problem when it comes to being the undisputed US #1 or a good international team is that the ebb and flow of their game suffers when they need one or two players to do something spectacular to cease a victory. CS is often a game of runs as in an NBA game, teams build up momentum and ride it until their opponents break their control and make a run of their own. Just as in an NBA game though the teams which are considered elite all have those key star players who can take over the decisive moments of a game. People who can get you guarunteed points where running a strat which worked against 10 CEVO-P teams suddenly becomes a lot more daunting when f0rest is waiting around the corner with a colt.
If X3o’s players can develop into world class individual players then this entire argument may one day become moot but for now EG’s style and personnel gives them more potential, even if they can’t always capitalize on it. As long as they continue to recruit explosive players who can catch fire at the right times they will be capable of some big wins, which sadly is all any American team can reasonably hope for in the directly forseeable future.
While EG may have beaten x3o on LAN in the past (“under different team names”) their most recent competition at the x3o Championships ended with a victory for x3o. Although EG managed to overcome them in the past, I am not concerned with the past. Right now, x3o is the better team and they proved it at x3o.
Now, Thorin’s analysis of EG’s explosive and unpredictable play is pretty accurate. They do bring a certain surprise to their opponents who don’t expect them to be so bold. Their ability to do that has now passed, as teams will no longer underestimate them. There’s something about beating Fnatic that will put a team on their opponents’ radars. To become a better team, EG needs to find a way to combine their individual abilities and work as a team. They DO have potential, but right now that is all they have. Good for them, I’ll give them all the potential in the world.
I can tell you why x3o is better than EG, through Thorin’s comparison. EG, being either hot or cold, either wins big or loses big. Thorin seems to think that x3o’s strategy of grinding out matches even against better teams is a weak strategy. The fact of the matter is that by doing this x3o gives themselves the possibility of winning their matches. You can tell after 10 rounds whether or not EG is going to win a match, in fact the players of EG themselves probably know after 10 rounds whether they are hot enough to win or too cold to put anything together. But x3o gives themselves a chance towards the end of the match to take it all… and even though they have come out on the losing side, there will be big games in the future when they come out on the winning side. That is the mark of a good team, no matter how many times they get close and lose they still fight back to get close and eventually win a match.
This level that x3o has “reached but can’t move beyond” is much higher than that of the level EG is at. In fact, it may even be at the level as many of the top teams in the world. All they need is a little bit of push to get them over that last hurdle and into the winner’s circle. In fact, one quote by EG manager Alex Garfield really told me why this team won’t be as good as x3o. Discussing why EG picked up hostile, Garfield said “he wanted five players all capable of playing at an extremely fast pace while making quick decisions.” (quote retrieved from an article on GotFrag) A team playing at an extremely fast pace has never been effective over long periods of time against any competition. There have been teams much more talented both individually and as a unit than EG, and none of them could do it. History seems to be repeating itself, and I feel like declaring EG as the model for the #1 team in the US will merely send us back to primitive strategy and tactics.