Published on SK Gaming in November of 2009.
Millenium are of course the big name in this group. The team who currently sit at the top of the French scene placed 3rd at Dreamhack Summer beating DTS, SoA and EG.US along the way. The other teams lack any placings worth mentioning outside of their domestic scenes. This group may well deserve to be labeled the easiest group as even the most high profile name within it is not really on the radar of the casual fan or one who only follows the occasional major event.
Thorin’s predictions: Millenium will take first place in this group, despite the weakened French scene of the last year or so this is not a group which should see them struggle. AEON.gamesense should take second, the three non-French teams have a fair amount of parity but my gut tells me the Singaporeans will edge it out.
Binteh’s predictions: I think this is probably going to be one of those boring groups to watch. I believe Millenium will be placed first based on their recent performance in their EM4, and more precisely, versus H2k. However, French teams have always been considerably better online than on LAN so I’m hoping for a few upsets.
As for the second spot, I’m torn between 4Glory and AEON. I think 4Glory has more experience at playing in WCG due to there appearamce in 2006 and 2007, however, purely on prejudice I think AEON from Singapore might have a better chance, Asians are always dangerous due to their insane reactions and aim. Also, AEON consists of a few players from TitaNs who placed 4th at IEF this year, so I think they have a pretty good shot.
wNv Teamwork CN
fnatic are the best team in CS and could well be the best team of all time. They come into this event with a ridiculous number of big tournament victories this year and are rightly considered the favourites for the gold. wNv.cn scored an upset over Mouz, which admittedly looks less impressive after the German Dubai debacle, and more impressively made it to the final of IEF. Firegamers are Brazil’s best CS team and contain all the talent, minus cogu and bit1, we have come to expect from mibr teams. Their only problem is they were being beaten to the punch at qualifiers by their old side. Now they are finally here at a major they’ll be looking to prove they can score a top placing without the illustrious mibr backing behind their names.
Thorin’s predictions: This group is very difficult to figure out when one looks at the specific matchups and which map they will take place on. Despite the current trend of people going crazy over Chinese teams I think Firegamers are a better side and are capable of playing better against the bigger teams. As I mentioned though this group will come down to matchups. Firegamers have to play wNv.cn on dust2 which is a map wNv are very strong on as Mouz found out at the GCC and TyLoo at IEF. As a result I see wNv.cn taking Firegamers in that matchup. fnatic should take wNv.cn on nuke, however, so the significant matchup for this group becomes fnatic vs. Firegamers on train.
This a very intriguing scenario as while I of course have to go with fnatic since they can be godlike on train at times I would give Firegamers as good as a 30% chance of winning that match. Anyone wondering why need only look at some of the games the mibr teams most of these Firegamers come from played on train at the major events of the last couple of years. These guys can get seriously hot and bring back games against any level of opposition. I think the ‘fnatic do badly in group stages’ meme is very tired and played out at this point. More like fnatic do badly in best of one scenarios early in the morning on the other side of the world and against teams for whom that one map is the equivalent of the game of their lives in importance.
Binteh’s predictions: I have to say I like the look of group B. Firegamers have been shouted about in Brazil and I think this is their chance to prove themselves. Unfortunatly I don’t think they’re going to be able to beat wNv or fnatic at this tournament and that they are going to be stuck with a dissapointing 3rd spot in the group. Fnatic I think, of course, are going to be top of their group. I don’t believe they’ll achieve this easily as they always have a rough start in group stages but it is highly achievable by them.
As for second spot on the group I’d put my money on wNv. They played exceptionally well at IEF this year and are a very strong team. The match that’s going to be played on stage (wNv vs. fnatic) will definitly be interesting to watch. I believe both of these teams will make it through, but that one game will be the decider as to who is seeded first and second.
mTw.dk were the best CS team in 2008 and looked set to be the best of all time. Then 2009 came along and results dropped enough to see their most famous player leave the team for inactivity. Now an mTw.dk with two completely new players looks to prove itself all over again, giving you a kind of NoA 2007 flashback feeling. Power Gaming proved themselves Finland’s finest by beating Astralis and then firmly cemented that status by taking Astralis’ two best players to make a Finnish dream team of sorts.
Virtus.Pro have always been the dark horse to pull upsets in big tournaments but surprisingly rarely actually manage it and at this event will be playing with groove who is better known in recent years as k23’s coach. Prior to the lineup change they won a Ukranian Arbalet Cup, placed 2nd at the LCI SuperCup and narrowly missed the playoffs in Dubai.
Thorin’s predictions: It may seem like heresy to some but I think Power Gaming is the best team in this group. Not because Power Gaming has been playing at some exceptionally high level but because they have the best five man lineup in this group and they will be hungry for a top placing since almost the entire team is set to leave CS for their military service next year so this event is one of their last chances at a big CS placing. ruuit is one of the best CS players of all time while plastE and naSu can play at the same level as any elite level player when they are on their games. This team is dangerous and their lack of months of practice may even work to their favour if they get that finnish pug style of CS heated up when things get tough.
mTw.dk have a lot of questions surrounding them in my mind. Firstly the legendary mTw.dk you are thinking of only existed when whiMp joined that team. You don’t replace guys who were in the top 10 players of all time and mTw.dk are faced with doing exactly that. Not only do we not know how good their new lineup is but they have also looked sketchy in the recent qualifiers they’ve competed in, winning narrow games over the 2nd and 3rd best Danish teams. That doesn’t inspire a massive amount of confidence in me.
That said I think they caught a break when diNGo lost his mind and departed from Virtus.Pro days before the event was set to start. groove is a decent player but the Virtus lineups he was a part of performed notoriously poorly. Had diNGo still been there I might have picked Virtus to take 2nd in the group as nuke is a difficult map for teams like mTw who are newly formed. In light of that roster change though I’ll take mTw.dk to make it through. Their dust2 game against Power Gaming will of course be the highlight of the group so Sunde better have that AWP warmed up and ready. Power vs. Virtus on tuscan could throw a spanner in the works but that map could just as easily work against Virtus so there’s no point anticipating an upset which by definition is not expected.
- Power Gaming
Binteh’s predictions: I am really excited to see Power gaming in Group C, their line up is absolutely insane and I’m really hoping to see them perform well. Purely on hopes, I’d like to have them seeded 1st of their group, on the other hand, mTw and Virtus.pro aren’t exactly opponents to be underestimated either. I think it’s a shame because I would like to see all three (PG, mTw and virtus) pass to the playoffs instead of one of the teams in Group A or E.
I’m not quite sure what to think of mTw recently, although they have shown good results this year, I haven’t seen them perform as well as they did back in 2008 but I believe they will pull it through. As for Virtus.pro, I know that they’re a good team but I’m not sure that they’re up to shape to beat mTw or Power Gaming, even if they recently won the Arbalet Cup Ukraine, which, to be fair, I think they won with a lot of luck.
- Power Gaming
H2k Gaming were one of the more exciting teams to emerge from Swedish CS for the first three quarters of 2009. Then they lost their two best players and now have replaced them with a legend in SpawN and a solid name in zneel. Duskbin are better known as RS-gaming but not all that known regardless. Does anyone know who the other two teams are? Does anyone care?
Thorin’s predictions: If Millenium got the easiest group then this one was a contender for the title for sure. The H2k Gaming which won this WCG spot might have been a solid dark horse pick to steal a medal but this H2k is very different from that one. SpawN is as yet entirely unproven in his current form against the top teams on LAN and zneel’s game can be solid but is not as explosive as that of face or kHRYSTAL. That said who are they really facing? If H2k don’t take the top spot then their problems run deeper than even this skeptic had aniticpated. Duskbin to take second just because the other two names mean nothing to me.
- H2k Gaming
Binteh’s predictions: I had clever things line up to say about H2k Gaming and their group, however, I took a look at their opponents and directly saw that there was no point even discussing it. H2k Gaming is probably going to have an extremely easy time with this one and I hope they use these matches as a good warm up for the playoffs. Unfortunately, apart from representing their country at WCG, I don’t think the team from Georgia and Bangladesh is going to be doing much there. As for DuskBin (or RS-Gaming), I reckon they might do a couple of nice things and reach the playoffs, but I don’t think they’ll be getting far in them.
- H2k Gaming
k23 placed 5th-6th at EM Dubai and gave losses to Mouz and SK Gaming in the process. They recently removed two of their players to make way for their old captain and some new up and coming talent though. esq.wind won the Korean qualifier but made no noise at the IEF Grand Finals. TeG are known as the best team to ever come from Romania but as yet that has not meant much for their international placings beyond a lone 4th at the 2003 WCG when they had one of the easiest bracket runs in the history of the event.
Thorin’s predictions: k23 should take this group, their roster shakeup not necessarily being a bad thing when one considers beAST has always been one of the better players from their country. esq.wind had an interest factor for me prior to IEF since they have ex-eSTRO ace ari playing for them and they beat WeMade Fox to qualify for this event. Those factors should have set them up to maybe surprise some teams but at IEF they really did next to nothing and were put away by teams I expected them to be competitive with. Still there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take second in this group. TeG have been known to win a few games at WCG events but it’s tough to give results from many years ago much credit. Even the fact esq and k23 face off on inferno, a map eSTRO/WeMade Fox have convinced us Korean players have a special knack for, it seems quite unlikely this group will see upsets at the top.
Binteh’s predictions: This is probably one of those groups that I won’t be wasting my SK Betting Credits on for the simple reason that I have no clue what’s going to happen as I barely have ever watched any of those four teams. However, I remember K23 beating SK in the EM4, and if they can do that, then I’m sure they can reach the top of their group. I don’t think Macedonia or Romania are going to be able to show much either in this group, I’m not sure why, I just have a hunch. By elimination, I’d say esq.wind have a chance of passing to the playoffs in the second seed.
tp.uSports won the Russian WCG qualifier over Virtus.Pro and recentlty took in ex-Virtus star HEL1 to improve their lineup on paper. Turmoil were the second best American team after taking 3rd at GameGune Mexico and then 2nd at the WCG qualifier but losing thoMz hurts them somewhat. Mousesports have one of the great names in CS but their lineup on paper is nothing for teams to shake in their boots over.
Thorin’s predictions: I think this group is going to surprise a lot of people. Mouz have very little credibility in my eyes. German teams playing with stand-ins or as mixes have done notoriously poorly at WCG events and I don’t see this being the event to break that cycle. What’s more if you think of the players being replaced and who is doing the replacing it paints a poor picture for Mouz. gob b is integral to all of the Mouz success of the last two years yet is out of the picture here. cash may not have been playing great but it’s tough to see a Blizzard who hasn’t been in a major competition in years playing better than him.
CMAX.gg deserve to be the favourites for this event, their recent roster change only strengthens them in my eyes. They face Mouz on dust2 and when you consider the problems the real Mouz had against wNv.cn and TyLoo in Chengdu on the map as well as k23 in Dubai this looks like a great spot for the Russians to take a victory. They will face Turmoil on tuscan which is a tough match to call but since I think tp.uSports are the more solid team overall I’ll take them to win that game and the group.
Turmoil are my pick to surprise in this group, in part because Mouz have the potential to be really average and also because this Turmoil team is no joke. They made a fool of themselves at the recent ESEA-I LAN finals and they lost their second best player, thoMz, to coL but I still feel like they have what it takes to finish 2nd here. evolution went the other way from coL in the thoMz trade and while it is hard to see him matching the impact that player had here I could see his AWP getting going and making this still a quality team. More importantly they play Mouz on nuke so if Mouz is anything but solid Turmoil have a very winnable game on their hands. It’s about them being decisive and taking it to Mouz so teamplay becomes a factor.
Binteh’s predictions: I think I will enjoy watching CMAX.gg (or ex-tp.uSports) as they recently took on HEL1 who is a good player and will fit in well in the team I believe, I don’t believe they will make it through to the playoffs though. Mousesports I think will make it in the top 2 of the group but perhaps only seeded 2nd. They recently replaced a few of their players and I don’t think they’ve had much practise together as a team, or at least, not enough to finish top of the group “easily”. As for Turmoil, I generally don’t watch many of the games from America, I just know we’re waiting on an American team to make a world impact on the gaming scene (ESWC 2003 to 2006 style), I just don’t think it’s Turmoil.
I actually would have prefered complexity to show up, but too bad for them.
AGAiN are one of the best Counter-Strike teams of all time and their exploits as PGS and MYM are well known by now. That their recent 4th in Dubai is considered an underperformance speaks volumes. TyLoo are the upset masters of China it seems as from e-Stars on they have been showing Western teams they can take anyone on one map. Their 4th at the GCC had them beating Mouz and losing narrowly to SK.
Thorin’s predictions: AGAiN are a top 5 all time CS team in my eyes and the fact they retain that lineup and one of the top 2 all time players means they will likely always be at worst a dark horse to take a top placing in my book. This group is not going to pose problems for the Poles as they will smash all the teams you’ve barely heard of to progress. What is going to be interesting is seeing the TyLoo-AGAiN dust2 clash. TyLoo can work some magic on that map but then so can the Poles. Just ask mTw.dk what it’s like facing an on form Polish terrorist side on that map, their game at the EM III finals probably still has the Danes waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I’ll take the Poles to win the dust2 game as well and take the group outright.
Binteh’s predictions: I feel so sorry for team AGAiN (ex-vitriolic-ex-Wicked-ex-MYM.pl). I think they are all very talented players but the streak of bad luck must have an affect on their mood, and thus, their performance. I’m really hoping that they perform well and show the world that they are worthy of a stable organisation so that they can finally settle in and concentrate on the game. TyLoo has shown very promising results in Asia, however, Asian teams never seem to perform as well in Europe as they do back home in Asia, perhaps they’re missing the fans’ motivation they get back home. This is why I’d have to say that they will perform well, but perhaps not well enough for 1st seeding. I also believe that HiNet-UMX will show us a few nice rounds and shots, but I don’t think it’s going to be enough to beat the Polish kings and the crazy Chinese.
Team EG US
EG.US are the best North American team, despite their recent 3rd at the ESEA-I finals. Their win at GameGune Mexico coupled with taking SK to overtime on train were enough to suggest American CS was alive again. Hellraisers are the best Ukranian team and names like Edward and markeloff have been exciting fans for a couple of years now.
Thorin’s predictions: Another surprise group for me, but only in the order of the teams progressing. Hellraisers and EG will both be making it out of the group but it’ll be in that order I think. While tuscan is the map the two will face off on, and may slightly favour EG, Hellraisers are the better team on paper and in terms of performance right now I think. They have explosive players like Edward and markeloff who can really do some damage and so I think they can matchup skillwise to EG and take them chemistry-wise.
EG not having lurppis in-game is a huge disadvantage for them I think as like most of the good tacticians out there him doing his part of the strategy every round is key to making it work. tuBBy is replacing him yet has zero experience at major international LANs and so could be a complete bust for all we know.
Don’t expect anything from the other teams in this group.
Binteh’s predictions: Well, this group is like giving a gift to Team EG. I don’t think they could have hoped for a better group, same story for Hellraisers. I’m pretty sure both teams are sitting at home comfortably right now, thinking about their tactics for the playoffs as they’re not thinking of breaking a sweat in the group stage. It’s a bit harsh to say but I don’t think Pakistan, India or the united Arab Emirates have the slightest chance in passing the group stages, solely because I don’t think any of them have the experience in participating in such tournaments or even on LAN against any European or American team.
As for the top 2 seedings, I’m actually hesitating. Team EG is a very powerful team, however, Hellraisers are most definitly not to be underestimated as they have shown extremely promising results in the last few months only and I don’t think EG will be prepared for them, thinking it’s another easy group stage game.
- Team EG