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March 20, 2023

There’s one week left of Pro League, but we’re getting into the bit where it gets really exciting. This is what we deserve for having to watch Group C, in fairness.

NA vs Astralis: The Rematch

Illustration by ANDYJ. Source: Astralis

Astralis used to be a name to strike fear into every NA team. With the exception of OpTic for one event in 2016, their mechanical style crushed NA team after NA team. Cloud9 barely got a round, and we don’t need to remind you of the narratives against Liquid.

NA are weaker now than they were then, but so are Astralis. So would that narrative prevail?

ATK were the first Americans to rock up, with a European import included of course. They smashed the Danes 16-8 on Mirage, abusing Xyp9x and gla1ve on B time and time again — before their uber-talented Macedonian ringer CacaNito decided he could abuse the A players too.

On Inferno they barely let up, storming into a 13-7 lead on the favoured T side.

What followed was familiar to any seasoned CS:GO fan: NA shoving Astralis up against the wall, before device and company ducked under the choke hold and laid them to rest.

The comeback was inevitable, especially after ATK bottled a 5v3 post-plant on the B bombsite in round 30. You can usually win 2v4 post-plants with ease on Inferno, so losing a 5v3? That’s embarrassing at best.

Astralis’ lower bracket gauntlet run continued as they dispatched of Spirit — a “top 5” team, according to some — to put themselves one win away from playoffs.

It was finally clicking into gear. But Liquid pulled the gear stick out of the car.

device, gla1ve, and Xyp9x had been 13-0 since 2018 on Nuke against EliGE, NAF, and nitr0 but that record meant less than nothing when they couldn’t even put up a fight, losing 16-8 on their own pick.

Mirage was next, the map that Astralis had looked so weak on ever since adding blameF and k0nfig in 2021. It was a punish pick, and boy did Liquid punish.

blameF sat behind the boxes every single T round, device was whiffing sitters, and gla1ve couldn’t put together a mid-round for his life. Astralis’ previously mighty system mustered just one gun round all T side, as they slumped from 11-5 up to a 16-12 loss.

This is not the old Astralis; it’s not even 2015 TSM. Farming NA was as crucial to Astralis’ identity as the nade damage, the PR statements, or saving in 3v3 post-plants. Losing that just shows how much they have lost themselves.


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Evil Geniuses hit F5

We wanted to title this story ‘Evil Geniuses hit refrezh’, but given the stories that have come out about how they treat their LoL players, you might have taken it too literally.

It’s fair to say the last year has been disappointing for EG, but the first step to change is… well, changing. You can’t change your results, your atmosphere, your standing in the community without wholesale change, and that appears to begin with the playing staff.

One might wonder why it wouldn’t be those at the top with the power, but then one would be cascaded with the realisation that that is just how the world works, sadly.

HexT appears to be the first out of Evil Geniuses (which probably actually consists of a demotion to one of the other EG teams), with outbound Sprout gamer refrezh joining their ranks, according to Blix, and

Evil Geniuses have finally realised that there was no point in signing 15 mediocre North American players if they wanted to maintain their standing as more than a laughing stock, and picked up… well, the guy who got kicked from Sprout. But, it’s not all bad.

refrezh is relatively young but still experienced, has shown flashes of a very high level but not consistently, and does bring with him the ability to secondary call. He’s played on very good teams, and now should have a chance to shine in better roles.

At least, in theory. They will still let Brehze stink up the place, most probably.

Of course, this could all change. As Ryan mentions in the Dust2 article, there is only a verbal agreement - and that’s as valuable as the paper it’s not written on.

It’s a step in the right direction, but the journey is long and arduous.


Big org, bigger impact

Illustration by NovaH Source: Team Spirit

Spirit has announced their entry into female CS with a roster that’s equally promising and different for the org.

They are the latest big org to join the ESL Impact league, by bringing in the promising ex-MVP roster. But why now? Season 3 has already started.

Well, we read the HLTV interview, and apparently,  Spirit wanted to join Impact a year ago but it never worked out. So to make up for lost time, they’ve been monitoring female CS for a few months and decided picking up the MVP roster was the right call vs. build themselves.

You’re probably thinking “MVP must be the next CIS wonders if a CIS org like Spirit signed them”. Wrong. Weirdly, the team they signed is actually an EU mix.

They might not be from CIS but could still be the next wonders: Just a few days ago they showed some teeth against reigning champions Nigma Galaxy and one day later they managed to take a map off Astralis fe. Solid debut and no wonder Spirit saw potential.

Spirit isn’t alone in its investment in Impact. We’ve seen several top organizations join the League recently and G2 even returned despite abandoning female CS once before. ESL has shown the difference infrastructure can make to building a scene. With Spirit joining, 11 out of 12 EU Impact teams are signed to major orgs.

The more orgs that sign on womens teams, the more money comes into play. And being able to pay players means they have time to practice and put in the scrim work without worrying about finances. This means more players are able to commit to the game which keeps the player pool healthy and increases the skill level.

We for one are excited. It’s raised our Spirits (not sorry).

Spirit FE consists of:

  • 🇰🇬 Jammie
  • 🇨🇿 Tynka
  • 🇸🇰 xia
  • 🇧🇪 Moraltis
  • 🇺🇦 suns1de
  • 🇷🇺 Nevar (Coach)

A forZe to be reckoned with

Just as everyone expected, a big CIS team won Group D.

While Spirit were dumped out by Astralis in an elimination game, having lost to NAVI, it was forZe who took top dog spot in the group.

Jerry’s jolly men were left with just ENCE to beat, after having announced themselves as the best team from their region with wins over NAVI and Spirit, and they beat ENCE with confidence.

An absolute punishment on Overpass preceded a more measured victory on Anubis, as Jerry once more proved himself to be one of most consistently impressive IGLs not only in his region, but potentially the world.

Spirit toppled Team Liquid 2-0, but were then brought crashing down by NAVI and, as mentioned earlier, Astralis, leaving them out of playoff contention. A similar wrath was brought upon Rare Atom, who despite a headline-grabbing win over Liquid failed to capitalise on a map one win over NAVI.

Liquid did not take so kindly to Rare Atom’s plucky upset win, and drilled Rare Atom into the ground in two maps.

That leaves forZe, ENCE, NAVI and Liquid as the four teams making it through.

The bracket has been drawn, too, with a mouthwatering list of games to come. Alright, not all of them are stand-outs - we might skip G2 vs Movistar or NAVI vs 00NATION, but it does promise to throw up some corkers.

Heroic await the winner from the NAVI/00NATION/Outsiders love triangle, with either CIS team posing a threat to the Danes. forZe will have one of FURIA, FaZe or fnatic (much like our exam results, too many F’s there) aiming to stop their progression into the semis.

paiN or Liquid will play MOUZ, with the winner of that meeting Cloud9, and Vitality will duke it out with either G2, ENCE or Movistar.

We’re in week 5 of Pro League, but this one really does promise to be bangin’.


Witness the oppression inherent to the system!

🐦💙 Now this is what twitter is for

  • We think Elliott might be on to something, because after he tweeted about Spirit’s unfair ranking he mysteriously… kept tweeting. Nevermind. He’s alive people, no need to panic.
  • You know a sponsor database ruffles some feathers when the tweet about it gets deleted. Either that, or the original creator realised it wasn’t ready for release, in which case: sorry.

🌊 Even Flow

📺 EPL tomfoolery


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