The last day or two have been kind of crazy in European Counterstrike, mainly due to the fact there were a couple of registration deadlines teams had to finalise their rosters for, so it seems like a good time to round up some of the biggest moves. We’ve seen one of the top four make a change nobody predicted, a legend finally fall on his sword, and Optic pick up one of the world’s most exciting players, who everyone was convinced would be on a Major contender by now…
Optic – we should start with the Green Wall, as they have made the most waves in the last few weeks. Known as one of, if not the world’s best Call of Duty org, Optic have struggled to make a serious impact in CS, but are working their way up. Selling Magisk to Astralis to replace him with k0nfig seems like an upgrade, even with the latter being in poor form, and while they didn’t want to let Mixwell go there is potential in the lineup.
Stanislaw has the abilty to be a top in-game leader, ShahZaM is on the rise and cajunB will hopefully be able to get back to rifling after a long period being bad in North. Gade is an unknown quantity, but this is still a better five than they finished the year with.
Astralis – due to the way recording and uploading videos works, there was a moment in the recent By The Numbers podcast where Thorin basically said that if Kjaerbye went to North and k0nfig to Astralis, he was convinced something fishy was going on, just as k0nfig was probably finalising his deal with Optic. His reasoning for that was that the move made too much sense, as the latter seemed an upgrade on the former, so we can put those conspiracy theories to bed.
Instead, the theoretically best side in Denmark signed a former North guy, who apparently cost them $150k from Optic, and pretty much underwhelmed everyone. Magisk has the ability to be a great for sure, but Astralis will need to prove this lineup works, as the initial reaction from many was that it doesn’t seem much of an upgrade on the server at least.
New stars and the end of an era
North – there are a couple of things North needed to do, and one of them was to get the AWP into some more capable hands. Without being able to judge, the noise around Mertz seems pretty positive, and Kjaerbye is rejoining an IGL he used to thrive under too. The problem seems to be that aizy is immune to being cut, benched, whatever you want to call it, and over the last few months (or maybe years) he has been abject in his awfulness.
There is still much confusion about why k0nfig was cut and then sold, even if his form had fallen off over recent times, and the SK Copenhagen team will need to work hard to show this is a roster move that makes sense. Like a few others around them, North earn Major-winning money from their org, and need to show at least the potential to do that in the next six months or so.
Virtus.pro – one move happened for VP, which you’d think means their transition will be far easier than that of Optic or North, but the reality is that is was a big move. TaZ, one of the Golden Five of Polish CS, has finally left the side after what was basically a year of them all playing badly. While it makes no sense to pin all their problems on the former IGL, looking through the team does show how limited VP’s options for a kick really were.
In terms of Snax and Byali, both are young enough that you would expect further peaks from them, and that makes them safe. Pasha has shown glimpses of his ability, and is likewise not quite as grizzled as Taz, and while Neo is arguably a dead weight at times he probably has more innate natural ability than his departed brother. What will be interesting is how they adjust mentally to the loss of their natural leader, a factor few have considered, but one that could be devastating if it isn’t properly considered.
As for his replacement, MICHU is no rookie, but equally he's not a Ropz-level talent at this point, at least in the eyes of many. Given he's on trial, rather than officially signed up, it still remains to be seen if MICHU is the answer, but few folk in esports have had bigger boots to fill down the years.
Check out part two of our roundup, to see the other moves that could change 2018 for the teams involved.
Image credits: Astralis, North, Optic