StarSeries & i-League: A few s1mple lessons we learned
With the end of StarSeries & i-League Season 7 finals from Shanghai came the answer to many questions plaguing the CSGO community, in theory at least. Na’Vi, Fnatic and even MIBR gave definitive responses to queries about their ability to operate at the top level, not always the ones they would have liked, meaning the lessons we can learn depend entirely on how much of an asterisk you put on events held in China, which probably depends on who is paying you if you’re talent.
With no Astralis or Liquid present, StarSeries did have a slightly tier-two feel to it, and that was reflected in other aspects we will get to later. Some felt it was the top two’s loss to not go, but equally you could argue that the event threw up enough surprises, including Fnatic making the final, to suggest there is far greater variance when travelling such distances. When you consider the health issues the likes of dev1ce and Twistzz have also suffered of late, it doesn’t hurt the claims of being the best for those teams that much, and events in China have already been shown to throw up some ‘janky’ results at WESG and so on.
This remains an issue for any event held down in that part of the world, and that could also be seen in the talent hires, with some of the big names you’d expect at a Major not in attendance. The lack of Moses and Machine did not hurt the broadcast though, and the new SPUNJ/Sadokist casting duo brought a refreshing change to what we had become used to, with the Aussie analyst proving his undoubted talent and bringing his skill to the casting desk, much to the delight of the fans.
The final weekend saw Na’Vi come into the play-offs as favourites, and most of the was down to the way young s1mple was playing. The Ukrainian is so good at CSGO that it’s got to the point we are becoming desensitised to his brilliance, almost taking it for granted, so when he fails to convert an impossible 1 v X situation we criticise, rather than being amazed he made it possible at all. Fortunately for the greatest to ever do it, he was getting a bit of help at this tournament, not just from electronic, but also IGL Zeus and the much-maligned Edward.
In fact, at times Zeus was leading the KAST ratings, and that should immediately be a sign to anyone still wondering how much store we can set by Na’Vi’s victory and level at this event. They didn’t face Liquid or the world’s best, but both ENCE and Renegades were on their side of the draw, and both were handled with relative ease, losing 2-1 in BO3 to the CIS mix. Having said that, Zeus’s impact in those series wasn’t massive, even if he played very well compared to his relative level, with s1mple and electronic carrying those series.
That meant the final came down to the new god versus some old deities of the CSGO pantheon, and the match up between s1mple and electronic on one side, and KRIMZ, JW and Brollan on the other looked mouth-watering, if the latter players could bring their best level and play as well as we know they can. Sadly, though, that wasn’t to be, at least not exactly, in the BO5 final that commenced early on Sunday morning for the European viewers.
The final conclusions
A best-of-five final seemed like a fantastic way to spend your Sunday, but the fans were forgetting that s1mple is a simple man, and family matters to him. With that in mind, the great one clearly decided to make sure we all got to spend some of God’s rest/media day with our families and Fnatic would be at the airport in plenty of time for their flights, and dominated the series alongside electronic and flamie, with Zeus and Edward chipping in where capable.
Prior to that series, twist had shown a very good level at the event, even picking up the AWP with some success, but the Swedish journeyman struggled against Na’Vi and his stats were not pretty at the end of the day. KRIMZ and Brollan were the leaders for Fnatic, and in that pairing the org have a great duo to build around if they are able to, with the young charger showing he is ready to join the ranks of future stars already making an impact at big events.
That isn’t the case for Fnatic, though, and we haven’t really learned if it is for Na’Vi either. When Edward finishes the event with a higher rating than the likes of coldzera, f0rest, GuardiaN or XANTARES, you know there was something anomalous going on to say the least, so we’ll have to reserve judgement, but you can only beat what is in front of you and Na’Vi did just that. Sadly, though, this result will probably be stacked alongside many others and filed in the column of ‘proof Zeus and Edward are not dead weight’, meaning that s1mple will still be stumped when he meets the real tier one, Liquid and Astralis.