CS:GO

Stuchiu’s Standpoint: CSGO Buy and Sell Post-Malmo

by Stephen Chiu

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This is the post-DreamHack Masters Malmo edition Buy and Sell for CS:GO. Imagine for a moment that each team was a stock, and we have to buy low and sell high. In other words, buy teams whose stocks are lower than expected value and will produce a better return when they put in better results at future tournaments. Likewise, sell stocks of teams that have hit their maximum potential and that will drop off.


BUY:

Natus Vincere

Roster:

  • Egor "flamie" Vasilev
  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • Denis ‘electronic” Sharipov
  • Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov
  • Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs
  • Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy (COACH)

StarLadder
StarLadder
Na'Vi superstar s1mple at StarLadder major

Na`Vi is the easiest team to buy into right now. Their performance at DreamHack Masters Malmo answered a lot of potential questions I had for the team. The first and biggest was the style of play they were going to go for. Whether it was going to have leftover influences from Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko, a structured B1ad3 style, or a loose style.

I personally favored the loose style as Na`Vi have four highly skilled players. This is what we saw in Malmo. All of the players were given a lot of freedom to do what they want. What particularly excites me about this squad is how B1ad3 envisions it. In a HLTV interview he says,

“The thing is, the most important part of the system is to give a lot of freedom to all our players at specific moments of the game. They play like 60% structured and 30-40% with freedom, which changes from opponent to opponent because we need to change our playstyle based on that.”

This squad has a very aggressive mindset and likes to create individual plays. If B1ad3 can succeed in having them analyze situations in a similar manner (ala what Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo did for LG/SK in 2016), then this team should be incredible.

Outside of the system, I saw other positive elements. Na`Vi’s default should have three ongoing threats at any given moment. With electronic, GuardiaN, and Boombl4 in the center and s1mple/flamie on the wings, Na`Vi have an insane pick potential in any scenario. S1mple and electronic are both flexible enough to play in the pack or on the wings and this could change the makeup of any default they run. Another boon of this free system is that GuardiaN seems to be in better form now than when he was on FaZe.

Finally, the progression of the team is really fast. They haven’t had much time to practice, they’ve scrapped most of the Zeus style and playbook, s1mple has changed roles, and they got a top four placement. If this team hits their potential, they can give Liquid a run for their money in firepower. Overall, I see them breaking into the top four by early 2020.


Vitality

Roster:

  • Dan “apEX” Madesclaire
  • Cedric “RpK” Guipouy
  • Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut
  • Alex “ALEX” McMeekin
  • Richard “shox” Papillon
  • Remy “XTQZZZ” Quoniam (COACH)

DreamHack
DreamHack
Vitality during their grand finals run at DH Malmo

This may seem like a strange buy considering they just got second at DreamHack Masters Malmo, but hear me out. I’m buying them on the premise that Team Liquid, Astralis, and Evil Geniuses are the top three teams in the world and that Vitality will replace one of them at the top.

If you look at the games at DreamHack Malmo, Vitality’s tactics and CT-side are largely unchanged from when Nathan “NBK” Schmitt was playing. Shox has largely taken on the same roles that NBK had in the team, so this is a direct upgrade role for role. For now there are no internal schisms that will make them re-haul their internal communications like they had to do at the Major.

As that’s the case, it’s reasonable to believe that Vitality will continue their mid-2019 level of consistency. During that period they were the second best team in the world, but couldn’t yet top Team Liquid. 

Since the player break, Liquid have dropped off their level of form while ZywOo seems to have gotten even stronger than before. As that’s the case, it’s possible for Vitality to upset Liquid in that direct head-to-head. What’s more, Vitality may not even have to directly beat them as other teams can upset Liquid, most notably Astralis.

If you compare Vitality to Astralis head-to-head, I believe Vitality have the upper-hand in terms of the map pool. So while Astralis have had a resurgence since their Major victory, Vitality should be favored in that matchup. The only real question mark is EG, but we still don’t know what EG’s average day will look like.

Finally, the addition of Shox has added extra impact. Shox hasn’t resurrected his all-time form, but he is having Andreas “Xyp9x” Hojsleth levels of impact. If shox can consistently get his 1v1s and impact rounds, that should be enough to raise Vitality’s world rankings. 

All things considered, Vitality are in good condition to be a top 2-3 team in the world.

Mousesports

Roster:

  • Chris “chrisJ” de Jong
  • Robin “ropz” Kool
  • Finn “Karrigan” Andersen
  • Ozgur “woxic” Eker
  • David “frozen” Cernansky
  • Coach: Allan “Rejin” Petersen

DreamHack
DreamHack
Mousesports made the quarterfinals of DH Malmo before falling to Vitality

Mouz is one of the hardest teams to rate right now. Depending on where you stand, you can either buy into their potential or sell it off. If you’re look at their positives, Mouz are on the very cusp of breaking into elite status. At the Berlin Major, they lost to Liquid in two epic overtime games in the group stages. The same thing happened again in Malmo where they lost to Vitality in the quarterfinals. At the same event, they beat EG in a bo3 in the loser’s bracket.

In terms of tactics, the team continues to find new and different ways to enable their young stars. For instance, they’ve started incorporating ropz into more aggressive duel scenarios on Dust2. Woxic has started to come into his own and karrigan has been a legit fragger in big series. He was their best player in the Liquid series and a good player in the Vitality series. Beyond that, Mouz seem close to having a seven map pool and can utilize it to great effect with Karrigan at the helm.

If you’re looking to sell them off, you only need to look at their results. While they play amazing games, beat elite teams, and have close series, they haven't made deep runs into tournaments. It’s been a notable pattern, the most egregious being Mouz’s loss at V4 to Virtus.Pro. 

Mouz’s firepower is polarized their young three stars. While each have great potential, we still don’t know when they will break through, become stars, and win the big clutch moments that swings series. Thus far Mouz have been on the other side of the equation.

All things considered though, I recommend a buy. From my standpoint, one of two things happens. Either the young Mouz stars break through like what the Liquid/EG stars did or they make a potential roster change. Mouz have a history of being good with their roster changes, so if they did make the change, I’d feel confident that with Karrigan as the leader they won’t lose any ground if it did happen. As both scenarios pay off, I think you should buy into Mouz.


SELL:

AVANGAR

Roster:

  • Timur “buster” Tulepov
  • Alexey “qikert” Golubev
  • Dzhami “Jame” Ali
  • Sanjar “SANJI” Kuliev
  • Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev
  • Dastan Akbayev (COACH)

RFRSH Ent.
RFRSH Ent.
AVANGAR victorious at BLAST Moscow

AVANGAR was an easy sell to me. They made it to the finals of the StarLadder Berlin Major and won BLAST Moscow. The Major run was a good achievement, but the BLAST Moscow run was less impressive. BLAST Moscow was a bunch of bo1s against teams like Ninjas in Pyjamas, MiBR, ENCE, and Na`Vi with Zeus. The finals was between AVANGAR and forZe. 

On the other hand, AVANGAR’s Major run was good. They beat Renegades and Liquid in bo1s. They then beat G2, Vitality, and Renegades to make it to the finals. The problem for me though is that the circumstances of the Major aren’t repeatable. The major came after the player break which randomized the form of the players. Liquid weren’t nearly as good as they were after the break as they were before for instance. In addition to that, AVANGAR was one of the least studied teams in the field. They had just made a player change before and hadn’t attended any massive LANs. The only one they did go to before the Major was EMF CS:GO World Invitational where they lost 1-3 to FURIA.

Once top teams start studying AVANGAR and figuring out their playstyle, it will be a lot harder for AVANGAR to get these kinds of results. AVANGAR have a fairly set way of playing and nothing about the team tells me that they will adapt and evolve like the other top teams do from tournament to tournament. While AVANGAR has some good players like buster, qikert, and Jame, having skilled players isn’t enough to get to finals or win them.

Overall, I think AVANGAR will hover around 9-15 on the world rankings.

FURIA eSports

Roster:

  • Yuri “yuurih” Gomes
  • Andrei “arT” Piovezan
  • Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo
  • Kaike “KSCERATO” Cerato
  • Henrique “HEN1” Teles
  • Nicholas “guerri” Nogueria (COACH)

StarLadder
StarLadder
FURIA struggled in the Challengers stage of the StarLadder Berlin major

FURIA are already declining from the heights they reached in mid-2019. When I look at this team, I compare them to the Vega Squadron squad that had Nikolay “mir” Bityukov and Leonid “chooper” Vishnyakov or the TyLoo lineup that got top four at IEM Sydney 2018.

FURIA has good firepower. Their most consistent players are yuurih and KSCERRATO. FURIA adding in HEN1 over Rinaldo “ableJ” Moda should increase their firepower even further and raise their ceiling. However like Vega and TyLoo, there is a stylistic limit to the CS that FURIA play. FURIA’s style of play is analogous to the davai style of CIS Dota. Everyone goes all-in on their individual plays and the cohesion of the squad is generated from all five players having a similar mindset

This kind of play is exciting to watch, but limited in scope. What’s more, FURIA’s style of play isn’t a paradigm shift or a revolution. It’s possible that a stylistic team could become a world beater, but in order to do so they need to break the meta in some way (like what Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer did with LDLC). FURIA’s fun to watch, but they aren’t at that level. As that’s the case, the more FURIA play this style, the better their opponents will get to adapting and countering it. 

So even though the firepower is better than before, FURIA’s style has will cap their growth. While this sounds like a criticism of FURIA, I actually applaud FURIA for running this style. It is the style that will get FURIA their best results possible given their lineup. They don’t have the experience, personnel, or team to play like Astralis, Liquid, or Vitality. 

However that also means that their best results would come during their first debut into the international scene when no one realized how they play. As the months go on, they will decline in results. FURIA should continue to be a dangerous upset team, but their overall results will diminish.

ENCE

Roster:

  • Aleksi “allu” Jalli
  • Jere “sergej” Salo
  • Jani “Aerial” Jussila
  • Sami “xseveN” Laasanen
  • Miikka “suNny” Kemppi
  • Coach: Slaava “Twista” Rasanen

DreamHack
DreamHack
ENCE during their DH Malmo run, which ended with a crushing defeat against FURIA

Things have been hard on ENCE since the removal of Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen. They attended three events in a row: BLAST Moscow, ESL New York, and DreamHack Malmo. They had bad results at all three. They got fifth at Moscow, lost in the groups at ESL New York, and FURIA eliminated them at Malmo.

While these are all terrible results, they have to be considered in context. ENCE had just made a roster change and should have had no time to prepare. This was compounded by constant traveling, jet lag, and pressure of wanting to perform without Aleksib.

For all of those reasons, I don’t judge ENCE that harshly for these results. In fact, these results are largely tertiary reasons as to why I’m selling ENCE. There are two reasons why I’m selling ENCE. The first is that there are too many good teams on the rise for me to believe that the ENCE I saw could raise their level and match them any time soon. We currently have Liquid, Astralis, EG, Vitality, Fnatic, Na`Vi, and Mouz all hovering at the top.

The ENCE I saw likely don’t have time to figure out all of their problems to become good enough to fight teams on that level. The secondary reason is because there are too many factors that need to go ENCE’s way for them to regain that level.

The past Aleksib lineup had great tactics, teamplay, and a strong mentality. Aleksib was creating cohesive halves that controlled the pace of the game. The executes and hits stacked on top of each other and created a symphony of tactics that made me rank Aleksib as the best tactical leader of 2019. I saw none of that in the past three events for ENCE.

Outside of the tactics, the strong mentality has disappeared. ENCE in mid-2019 had to be beat. They never lost the game due to their own nerves. ENCE always forced their opponent to elevate their level to win. ENCE often made rallies from behind and put the pressure on the enemy. Conversely, ENCE without Aleksib falls apart when they are in the lead and haven’t shown the same grit or composure in similar scenarios.

In terms of firepower, this roster is better on paper than the last one. The problem though is that suNny needs time to get back into his peak form as he was out of the game for a long time. What’s more, that isn’t a guaranteed thing considering that he was slumping at the end part of Mouz. On top of that, Allu becoming the in-game leader will affect his AWPing. When ENCE was a top three team in the world, Allu was a top 10-15 player in the world. That will likely drop now that he has to split his attention to leading as well.

The only counter-point I can see right now is that ENCE have time to really prep and build up their game. If Twista can fix all their problems in that downtime, then it’s possible for ENCE to comeback.

All things considered though, I have to recommend selling on ENCE.