Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The State of The North American Scene

Hiko's future will have a great impact on the NA scene

The North American Scene has had a good deal of changes take place recently in its Counter-Strike lineups. There has been the departure of Spencer 'Hiko' Martin from Cloud9's active roster, the cutting and reinstatement of Sam 'DaZed' Marine by iBuyPower, the forming of the team Torqued by Josh 'Steel' Nissan and the roster shuffle over at Denial, just to name some of the big changes in the scene. Now that the North American qualifiers for MLG Aspen have concluded, and we've died down a little for the holidays, I wanted to take some time and reflect on the state of the North American Scene at the moment. The qualifiers produced some unlikely results and have raised some good questions on who is the best in the land.

1. iBuyPower
Dazed's IBP reign top of the North American Scene
Even with the recent roster changes, I still believe that iBuyPower is the top North American Team. The raw fragging power of Braztion 'swag' Pierce, Tyler 'Skadoodle' Latham and Hiko, coupled with the intelligent strats of DaZed and the often unmentioned but always essential support/clutch play by Keven 'AZK' Lariviere, iBuyPower doesn't really have an equal in the scene. I think once they get their plays together and their chemistry going, they will be the force to reckon with on the continent. They did lose to Tarik 'Tarik' Celik's MouseSpaz in the MLG Aspen qualifiers, which was a total surprise, but I do not think an online victory, even one that decisive, can be counted on as evidence for how things will play out on LAN. MLG Aspen is going to be interesting, to say the least.

2. MouseSpaz

reltuC's MouseSpaz surprised a lot of people recently

That the MLG Aspen Qualifiers were surprising would be an understatement. MouseSpaz came out and destroyed every one, and put on a show of such force, that they rocketed to the top of a lot of people's teams to watch list. Peter 'ptr' Gurney in particular put on an impressive display, both leading in the team in the IGL role and fragging like mad, leading MS to a 2-0 victory over iBP. I can't put them over iBP on these online results alone, but if they continue to impress, North America has a third powerhouse team that I didn't even see coming.

3. cloud9
ShahZam has some big shoes to fill on Cloud9

It was a close tie between Cloud9 and MouseSpaz, but due to the shaky results before the swapping of Hiko for Shahzeb 'ShahZam' Khan and the unpredictability that the new roster has, Cloud9 come in at number three for me in the North American Scene. ShahZam could really impress us, I think he has that level of skill. However, how well he performs is yet to be truly tested. He's looked good on the streams that I've watched of him, but those are hardly an indication of how well a player will perform internationally. However, Cloud9 was sorely missing structured roles with Hiko, so the adding of ShahZam could allow the players to fill the same roles every game and shine in them. ShahZam taking over AWP duties will allow Sean 'sgears' Gears to never have to worry about AWPing ever again, and allow him and Kory 'Semphis' Friesen to call with less to worry about. A good AWP opens up so much of the map on T side, as Titan and iBP will tell you as well. A strong T side will hugely benefit cloud9, and could make take them to the semi finals in the next big major.

4. Denial

Can NAF-FLY lead Denial to a top spot?

Denial has been relegated to the B team in the NA scene for the last several months, which is not a bad thing by any means. They have been nipping at the heels of C9 and iBP constantly, and taking and dropping players whenever it works for them. But they had a really strong showing at ESEA LAN, and even after losing ShahZam and gaining Nick 'Nitr0' Cannella, I think Denial are the strongest team in NA that is lurking in the shadows. Keith 'NAF-FLY' Markovic in particular really impressed me at ESEA and he is only 17 years old. With Eric 'adreN' Hoag coming in for Denial, with the raw fragging of NAF and Nitro, Denial have the ability to come from the underdog position and take some maps off of some top European teams. I don't think they have the ability to beat NiP or Fnatic right now, but I think they could give teams like PENTA, Wizards or KaBuM a good run for their money.

5. Torqued

steel can fully shape Torqued and make it his own
Last but not least, is John 'steel' Nissan's Torqued. I think that they are probably tied with Mythic in terms of this number 5 spot, but just knowing how sharp steel is, I have to give it to Torqued here. Mythic did just add Todd 'anger' Williams, and Erik 'fl0m' Flom's is a sick aimer, but steel is probably the smartest person playing CS right now, and I think his frustrations and bad luck get in his way. I think he can be a bit unprofessional at time (you can't be calling out other pros for cheating) but I think he has a great mind for CS. Even though Mohammed 'Moe" Assad can be toxic at times (which he will need to scale back if he ever wants to be a top contender) I think Torqued can make a name for themselves. Of all the teams on here, they have the biggest skill gap between themselves and the team above them, but hey, all of these teams had to start somewhere, right?

All photo and link credit to HLTV.org. The real heroes of the CS Scene

1 comment:

Sarah said...

The NA scene will never be as strong as EU as long as they're still using those weak CSGO crosshairs. They need to step up their crosshair game!