American CSGO needs more Steel
Gushing articles about the depth and strength of Danish Counter-Strike are pretty much the norm in 2018, and rightly so, but there is another nation currently churning out the young stars on a regular basis. Not Brazil, France or Sweden, but the United States of America.
Sadly, though, for the young Americans, there is a genuine dearth of quality leadership options from that part of the world, with one exception, who comes with his own heavy caveats.
To set the scene, right now the North American continent has not only the most talented player to ever come out of that CSGO scene in Twistzz, but a plethora of amazing players to boast about. Liquid have NAF and EliGE, Cloud 9 have autimatic and Rush, MIBR have Stewie and Tarik, and the lesser orgs are pretty stacked, too. The likes of Brehze, Nathe, Wardell, Sick, Yay and Nifty are all doing work at the moment, along with a fair few others on the way to that level, which is enough to put a lot of other scenes to shame.
The amount of young talent has been commented on by many big names already, as you can see above. However, where Denmark has gla1ve and karrigan, Brazil has FalleN and Sweden has… Ikea, there is a lack of top end in-game leaders in the NA scene. In fairness, this is an issue that has plagued most of CSGO for the past 12 months or so, but it’s far more obvious when you combine it with the outrageous talent NA has produced, as the potential of the players is plain for all to see.
Some, such as Cloud 9, eventually gave up after being "abandoned", depending on your point of view, and went the European route, but it’s not as though that continent has a massive number of top-class leaders. However, the advantage those in EU and maybe Brazil enjoy is that of the example, with men like gla1ve and FalleN to look up to, while NA doesn’t even have a father figure or leader.
However, there is such an individual but he is blacklisted. A renegade, some kind of outlaw, and definitely not Mr T. Banned for his part in a heist only one man escaped, Josh ‘Steel’ Nissan now leads a group of like-minded cast-offs, playing under the Ghost Gaming banner, and it’s going to be a real struggle in future to not refer to them as the A-Team of CSGO now we’ve made this connection…
Add Steel to strengthen
Most know the story of the iBuyPower team that threw a game for skins and then were subsequently banned for life from all Valve events. Well, four of them were, while Skadoodle managed to avoid the disciplinary action on the slightly questionable basis he’d never received his payment for throwing, despite the fact the ban was for throwing and not receiving skins, something he had clearly been involved in.
That is all ancient history now, of course, with Skadoodle in retirement having won a major, and the other four consigned to fairly sad existences. Some, such as AZK and swag, really seemed to struggle to motivate themselves to believe there was ever a route back, and when the ESL decision to unban them came it was clear their time as elite players had probably come and gone, as it also has for DaZeD. However, Steel has stayed in CSGO by hook or by crook, and proven himself the most enduring from a playing point of view, too.
When he couldn’t play, Steel decided to work first as an observer, and then as desk talent, and it’s fair to say his time in the first position was a revelation. His understanding of the way the game pans out and evolves from moment to moment allowed him to provide viewers with an incredible overview of not just the action, but the way it had unfolded too, and the content he produces, as well as his brief moments as an analyst have revealed a mind as sharp as it is disinterested in the hurt feelings of Frenchmen.
Sadly, to this day Valve have done as much work to allow him back as they have to release Half Life 3, and it doesn’t look as though clemency is coming in the near future, which doesn’t just suck for Steel. Teams such as NRG, Cloud 9 and even Liquid could benefit massively from a leader as smart as he is, and it’s hard to see how a team as laden with talent as the latter would really lose from swapping out nitr0 for a more cerebral IGL with slightly less fragging power.
With how things are, though, it would be tough to include him knowing he can’t go to a major, and that is robbing a lot of players of their chance to learn from a mind that has much to offer. The boys on Ghost Gaming have great potential, but even they will one day have to chose between loyalty to that project and the chance to win CSGO’s World Cup, which sucks.
As has been said so many times, the answer to this conundrum is obvious, and Valve have the power to solve the problem with one short message saying the players are no longer banned. That such an intelligent company in other areas should fall so short in understanding the message they send by just ignoring the issue is baffling, and slightly tragic for an American scene that could really do with an injection of Steel at this stage.
Image credit: Steel