In defence of SPUNJ, and analysts everywhere

Yesterday evening, SK Gaming beat Team Liquid in Kiev. A few months ago, the only way you could start an article like that would be if the game were the grand finals, as SK beating Liquid seemed as natural as Kim Kardashian advising the Trump administration on matters of importance, but since then things have gone downhill for the team that used to be number one, making their victory over the North American org something of a surprise.

In the post-match interview with the ever-entertaining Pala, Stewie2k, or Stew as he currently calls himself, decided to call out the casters and analysts who had predicted his team to lose for ‘not believing in them’, triggering a volcanic reaction from both YNK and especially SPUNJ, which you can see below. Admittedly it was late in the evening for the desk, who were coming to the end of a long shift, but you can tell this is still a subject that genuinely bothers the Australian and his colleague.

The reaction from most of the community was that Stewie had somehow baited the reaction, with the implication being that he was not really serious or bothered about the predictions, but we aren’t so convinced by that. Stewie is a famously combative person and player, as it’s fair to say he joined a team with a history of getting fired up at their opposition, critics, people on twitter and even just players on other teams after a few beers.

In reality, this SK team has been engaging with criticism for a few weeks now, and it clearly bothers them. In a recent episode of By The Numbers Thorin talks about the fact SK players were tweeting at him twenty minutes before a game began, ‘getting baited’, in his own words. We’ve seen members of the team react on social media before too, during their time as the best in the world, and we know that the likes of coldzera take criticism as a personal attack they can use for motivation.

SK baited

With all that in mind, it seems way more likely that Stewie and his team mates were the ones baited into the argument, despite the casters not actually intending to do anything other than their jobs, as SPUNJ pointed out. The reaction from the team shows a real lack of mental fortitude, but also might speak to a wider problem in SK, and the reason they are failing to live up to their potential, a lack of proper motivation.

SK were on top of the world for the best part of two years, with coldzera the best player in the world for most of that time. Now, we live in a world where the best player in the world is not on a team that looks capable of winning titles (s1mple), and the top in terms of team play is contested between favourites Astralis and a combination of FaZe, Mousesports and whoever else gets themselves together that week.

In the post game interview mentioned earlier, Stewie also spoke of the team being more motivated playing against TACO, their former team mate, than they were in other games, as well as his own ‘storyline’ against TL. For players of the quality of coldzera or fer, this might be a factor every day, but for a long time it was not important really as they could just win on the basis of their talent and team play.

Reading between the lines, it genuinely seems like a group of players that has been to majors, and most of them have won majors, need to get themselves fired up using twitter banter and perceived fights with former team mates. There equally seems to be a real lack of focus in terms of creating the sort of team environment that would lead to success, and without FalleN to crack the whip as team leader that factor may have been exacerbated.

As for SPUNJ, he was definitely tired, but equally was just doing his job, as he so eloquently pointed out, and it is pretty hilarious to see major-winning players get so upset about analysts analysing information. For Stew and his crew, the advice is simple, keep doing what you did against Liquid and you’ll soon be on the right side of the predictions again, in your own minds. But don’t shoot the messenger, especially when the message is about your own lack of success.