North America's Path to Success Lies Through Failure
For most of Counter Strike Global Offensive’s history the region of North America has largely been ridiculed by a large portion of the fanbase. Teams from North America would attend tournament after tournament only to produce no results other than an occasional trip into the playoff bracket. The year of 2016 started off on a different tone than any other year, with CLG making the playoff bracket of Gameshow cup and securing a top 10 spot in Thoorin’s ranking, and continued to surprise. At the conclusion of the year the North American region had managed to amass a plethora of impressive results including but not limited to: two international titles, a top four placing at the major, and a top 2 placing at the major.
Despite these results, ones that far surpass any results from the region in any other year, the North American region still is performing at a level that is far below its potential output. While there is currently one combination of players performing at a high level, the Optic gaming roster, there still remains a combination of players who could perform at a higher level than their teams currently are.
The players that I am speaking of are largely the players who make up the rosters of Cloud 9 and Team Liquid. The players on those teams have at times shown that they possess the ability to perform at a level that can take them deep, or even potentially win tier one tournaments. Yet despite their latent skill these teams are underperforming to a ridiculous level, with Cloud 9 failing to make the major and Team Liquid’s failing to generate any notable placing other than their semifinal finish at ESL One New York back in October. What I posit is that the key to creating that second North American team which can compete on the international stage is through the failure and subsequent breakdown of the current iterations of Cloud 9 and Team Liquid, which could then kick off a shuffle which could generate the next international contender to come out of North America.
Strong Players in the Wrong Spots
One of the biggest reasons that Cloud 9 and Team Liquid are viewed as the top dogs in North America is the strong personnel that they both possess. Boasting players like Elige, Nitro, Skadoodle, and more it feels like these two teams already have the personnel in order to compete at the highest level of Counter Strike. Problem is that these teams only work at the theoretical level, once placed into the server it becomes clear that some of these high powered players simply can not perform at their full potential due to the role clashes that are present within their teams.
The most prominent example of this has been Cloud 9’s Skadoodle, once feared as the most fearsome AWPer in North America and perhaps even the best AWP in the world he now possesses a reputation akin to a toothless tiger. According to Dazed, North America’s most famous In Game Leader, Skadoodle needs a strong authoritarian voice in order to guide him around so that his strong mechanics can actually affect the rest of the server, for without that voice Skadoodle tends to remain static on maps, a fact which most of the scene has come to exploit. Problem is that on the current iteration of Cloud 9 there is no such strong voice, the current leader of the team is Stewie2k, a relative newcomer to the scene, and even by his own admission the team is led by committee. As such, Skadoodle’s play on the server has been heavily diminished, and what was once one of the greatest awpers in the world finds himself mocked by most of the community.
What I believe is that the solution to the ails of these underperforming players lies through the path most often traveled. The fact of the matter is that in the greatest teams the way the roles are set up and mesh allows the players to effectively elevate each other's play, but the fact of the matter is that the opposite is occurring on Team Liquid and Cloud 9, the roles of the players are effectively hindering other highly skilled players from performing at their potential. The key to improving these two teams is to blow them up, and to shuffle around the players until a combination can be found that meshes well and allows the players to elevate each other’s play. By placing these players into a new setting, with the correct roles for them, there is a higher chance that some of them can elevate their game back to the level that made them so famous.
The current time period, with all the failings of Team Liquid and Cloud 9 internationally, makes it seem like the necessary fuse has been set in order for an explosive shuffle to take place. While it still remains unclear whether or not such a shuffle will actually take place the current ecosystem of North American Counter Strike has already made it clear that some sort of change needs to take place at the top level.
Images courtesy of HLTV.