2017 CSGO review

This has been an incredible year for CSGO. We’ve seen new teams win unexpectedly and the usual top tier teams scoop their fair share of the spoils. Roster changes have happened to fix team performance or simply because a change needed to be made outside of the game. The competitive circuit is going to expand in 2018 with more tournaments and a lot more traveling to LANs for some of the top teams, it will be interesting to see how they will handle the increased pressure. We hope you enjoy ESP’s 2017 CSGO review, starting with some epic moments.

Epic moments of 2017

Here are some of the big moments of 2017, we have a poll running on Twitter, we’d love to see your vote on which was the best.

An in-depth look at CSGO in 2017

In many ways, 2017 was simply a continuation of 2016 in that it was a year that was dominated by SK Gaming. Spattered across 2017, SK claimed 10 first place titles at LAN events. Certainly, the Brazilian squad had low times throughout the year, such as a 5-8 placing at the PGL Major in Kraków, Poland. However, these low points were never long; the team led by FalleN was always quick to bounce back to reclaim their placing as #1 in the world at that given time.

Now looking back on the year as a whole, very few (if any) arguments can be made for SK not to be considered the best team in the world. Claims that they are the best team in the history of the game can also be strongly supported. While they cannot claim to have an 87-0 record of dominance like the NiP of 2013 can, the competition in the CSGO scene has never been more fierce. SK’s current dominance is done in the presence of the absolute powerhouse of Faze Clan; a burgeoning Danish scene; and the Americas growing in prominence in CSGO. We are in an era where the top 20 teams in the world can compete with one another — it’s no longer a competition between a top 4 like the days of old.

Roster Changes

A significant reason behind this increase in competition is in large part due to the spreading of talent through roster changes. We began to see a mix of seasoned veterans mingling with the upcoming young stars in a potent blend. These changes were something even SK were not immune to. Coming off of a brief dip in performance at the end of 2016, SK swapped fnx for felps from Immortals in February of 2017. This influx of young talent into SK saw them rise again and claim several titles going into the summer. Following their early exit from the Kraków Major, SK saw a wide range of results that were both good and bad. In October, felps stepped down from the main roster to go inactive while boltz was brought in. Instantly, SK was back on top and look utterly dominant.

The availability of boltz to join the roster stems from another significant storyline in the Brazilian CSGO scene: the decline of the Immortals. On the coattails of the successes of SK Gaming, the Brazilian CSGO exploded onto the forefront and were able to put together another strong squad in the form of the Immortals. While they were not as dominant as SK (no one was), they were certainly in the top 10 for much of 2017, including a grand final finish in Kraków and finishing ahead of their Brazilian compatriots. The squad of boltz, steel, LUCAS1, HEN1, and kNgV- were looking strong.

September, what a month

In September things took a sudden change for the worse due to issues arising outside of the game. Having booked their spot in the playoffs at Dreamhack Montreal, kNgV-, HEN1, and LUCAS1 failed to show up on time for their matches twice. Included in this was also a forfeit of their first game in the grand finals. In the controversy and social media storm that followed, kNgV- sent a death threat to CLG captain FNS. kNgV, was subsequently suspended from Immortals and was barred from playing. The following few weeks, kNgV- played in an official match despite this suspension at the behest of the twins, HEN1 and LUCAS1. For disobeying the suspension, all 3 were subsequently removed by the Immortals organization, at the cost of their berth at the major spot (which are given based on having 3 out of 5 of the participating players, not by the organization). Steel and boltz, at no fault of their own, were now left marooned on a team that was struggling to find suitable replacements. Eventually, both found new homes — for boltz that would be SK Gaming.

Having a roster dissolve in such a dramatic way is a bit of an anomaly, and is not indicative of the scene as a whole, nor the Brazilian CSGO community. Perhaps what is telling is the region-based nature of the scene, with teams from any given region shuffling amongst themselves. Like the Brazilian scene, the North American, Danish, Swedish, and French communities all had their own shuffles. The North American Cloud9 team brought in RUSH and tarik, reolacing shroud and n0thing in August. North, hailing from Denmark, had their own shuffle of players when they benched Magisk and brought on valde from Heroic. As a continuation from the previous year, the Swedes tried to find their form again with perpetual roster changes between fnatic and GODSENT, as well as NiP bringing in two young players from Epsilon. The French saw a major swap of players between G2 and Team EnVyUs as well.

Roster changes are a constant in the CSGO scene, and sometimes they can be done successfully, such as for G2 who has had a string of fairly good results with their new squad. However, it can also be a detriment to that region’s performance, as seen by the swap of players by fnatic and GODSENT. Other times it can be a dramatic explosion of controversy, exemplified by the Immortals case. On the whole, it can be said that shuffling players is healthy for the scene. It allows for a spreading of ideas on how the game should be played between peers and a synthesis of veteran wisdom and the influx of new ideas from the young upstarts.

Major/Premier class tournament results

Classification Tournament Date Prize Winner Runner-up
Major DreamHack Leipzig 2017 Jan-2017 $100,000 F3 BIG
Premier ELEAGUE ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 Jan-2017 $1,000,000 Astralis VP
Premier DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 Feb-2017 $450,000 VP SK
Premier Intel Extreme Masters XI – World Championship Mar-2017 $250,000 Astralis FaZe
Major The Summit cs_summit Apr-2017 $150,000 SK Gambit
Major DreamHack Austin 2017 Apr-2017 $100,000 Gambit IMT
Premier StarLadder i-League Season 3 Apr-2017 $300,000 FaZe Astralis
Major DreamHack Tours 2017 May-2017 $100,000 G2 HR
Premier ESL Pro League Season 5 – Finals May-2017 $750,000 G2 North
Premier ESL One: New York 2017 May-2017 $250,000 FaZe Liquid
Premier Intel Extreme Masters XII – Sydney May-2017 $200,000 SK FaZe
Premier ESL Pro League Season 5 – North America May-2017 $125,000 SK Liquid
Premier ESL Pro League Season 5 – Europe May-2017 $125,000 North G2
Major DreamHack Summer 2017 Jun-2017 $100,000 SK Fnatic
Major Adrenaline Cyber League 2017 Jun-2017 $100,000 VP Na`Vi
Premier ECS Season 3 – Finals Jun-2017 $660,000 SK FaZe
Major DreamHack Atlanta 2017 Jul-2017 $100,000 Envy Heroic
Major DreamHack Valencia 2017 Jul-2017 $100,000 NiP Red
Premier PGL Major Kraków 2017 Jul-2017 $1,000,000 Gambit IMT
Premier ESL ESL One: Cologne 2017 Jul-2017 $250,000 SK C9
Premier DreamHack Masters Malmö 2017 Aug-2017 $250,000 G2 North
Major DreamHack Montreal 2017 Sep-2017 $100,000 North IMT
Premier ELEAGUE ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 Sep-2017 $1,000,000 FaZe Astralis
Premier ESG Tour Mykonos 2017 Sep-2017 $240,562 mouz Liquid
Major ECS Season 4 – Europe Oct-2017 Fnatic FaZe
Major ECS Season 4 – North America Oct-2017 C9 OpTic
Major Gfinity Elite Series – Season 2 Oct-2017 $116,000 nV.A Epsilon
Major DreamHack Denver 2017 Oct-2017 $100,000 C9 BIG
Major eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE Asia CS:GO 2017 Oct-2017 $99,000 Flash Eclipse
Premier EPICENTER 2017 Oct-2017 $490,000 SK VP
Major BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen 2017 Nov-2017 $250,000 SK Astralis
Major StarLadder i-League Invitational #2 Nov-2017 $150,000 RNG VP
Major iBUYPOWER Masters 2017 Nov-2017 $100,000 C9 RNG
Premier Intel Extreme Masters XII – Oakland Nov-2017 $300,000 NiP FaZe
Premier ESL Pro League Season 6 – North America Nov-2017 $125,000 OpTic SK
Premier ESL Pro League Season 6 – Europe Nov-2017 $125,000 Fnatic North
Major ROG Masters 2017 Dec-2017 $235,000 Gambit TyLoo
Major DreamHack Winter 2017 Dec-2017 $100,000 Na`Vi mouz
Premier ESL Pro League Season 6 – Finals Dec-2017 $750,000 SK FaZe

Dreamhack Astro Open Winter 2017 #DHW17 team highlights

DreamHack Astro Open winter is almost here, here are some key points for some of the teams competing in the tournament.

BIG replaces Fnatic

Fnatic withdrew from the tournament. Although not the powerhouse they once were, Fnatic will be missed by the fans at DreamHack Winter; they won the first ever CSGO Major in 2013 at DreamHack Open Winter with the legendary team of JW, flusha, znajder, Devilwalk & pronax.

BIG is currently ranked 21 and has leapfrogged into this competition due to Fnatic’s withdrawal. BIG placed 2nd in DreamHack Open Denver this year, losing 16-13 on cache (their pick) and 16-6 on C9’s pick, train. Overall, they are ranked 21st by HLTV. They’re quite far behind the top 16/17 teams.

EnVyUs replaces Team Liquid

zews could not get a visa (he replaced stanislaw) and are replaced by EnVyUs who won DreamHack Atlanta this year and had some decent placements in 2017. They’re currently ranked 13th in HLTV rankings, although they’re far behind the top 8 teams.

Na’Vi have a small change in the roster with electronic replacing seized. Their performance has been relatively erratic this year. This has been a bit of a bumpy ride for the team. In August, Guardian left for FaZe and Zeus came in from Gambit after winning the PGL Major in Krakow.

For two and a half months the team tried to gel until seized was replaced with electronic in October, so this is quite a new team. Watching s1mple is always enjoyable, but there are high expectations for Na’Vi to do better than they’ve been doing, lest they slip away into obscurity.

Gambit Esports

Gambit has a solid team, but the reality is that they’re at the low end of the top 10 teams in CSGO. fitch is on trial, and a good performance here might see that trial extended. hobbit was formally signed in August about two weeks after the team won PGL Major Krakow.

They have a new coach, and the team is stable. Last year at DreamHack Winter, HObbit was a rookie but still managed to pick up the tournament MVP at his first premier competition. Expectations are high for a repeat performance this year, on the whole team too.

mousesports

mousesports are sitting just out the top 10, but the gap between the guys at the top SK and FaZe, and the rest is gargantuan, however, every tournament win helps. They won ESG Tour in Mykonos, showing up in total pro mode, leaving with 120K USD and no sun tan, beating Team Liquid 3-2 in the final. suNny and oskar steamrolled the three maps they won on cobble, train and nuke with suNny was excellent on Mirage, one of the two maps they dropped to Team Liquid.

Who do you think will win DreamHack Astro Open Winter?

Tell us what you think on Twitter @esportspools and don’t forget to come back and bet In-Play on the event!

 

Proving Grounds: DreamLeague Season 8

DreamLeague Season 8 finals, the next Major in this year’s circuit of Valve-backed DotA 2 events, is set to take place between December 1st-3rd in Jönköping, Sweden. With a duration of just 3 days, Dreamleague is set to be an intense sprint of a tournament. The 8 participating teams earned their spots after an extensive and arduous set of qualifiers running over several weeks.

The Teams at DreamLeague Season 8

Team Secret / Virtus.pro / Team Liquid / Newbee

Natus Vincere / Fnatic / Evil Geniuses / Infamous

Proven Teams

Of the eight teams participating, Team Secret, Virtus.pro, Team Liquid, and Newbee have all established themselves as the best teams in the scene. Each team boasts a strong mix of seasoned veterans and relatively new young talent, which has resulted in a plethora of consistent and strong results in this newest DotA 2 season. These four teams are the favorites going into Dreamleague Season 8.

Teams with something to prove

The remaining four teams in Natus Vincere, Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, and Infamous come into this event with something to prove. Unlike the other four teams, this batch has not cemented themselves in the upper echelons of the best teams in the world. While they all have the potential to be, it is still to be seen whether they can live up to that potential. DreamLeague Season 8 is the ultimate stage for these teams to establish themselves among the best.

Natus Vincere

As an organization, Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) has an incredible legacy behind it, with the first International Title and an extended period of dominance in DotA 2’s early years. However, in recent times, the various squads under Na’Vi, always built around their star player Dendi, has been plagued with mediocrity. Ultimately, this recent period of weak results has been keeping the current iteration of the team under widespread skepticism by the community, despite their strong performances recently. A high placement at DreamLeague would be sure to make the statement “Na’Vi is back!”.

Fnatic

In recent years, Fnatic has also struggled to show strong form while cycling through a number of rosters. Since the beginning of the season, with the acquisition of EternalEnVy and Xcalibur, the team has had abysmal results. Of the few wins they managed to achieve, even fewer looked convincing. However, with the recent swap of Abed for Xcalibur, Fnatic could have the boost they need to become a mainstay in the DotA 2 scene.

Evil Geniuses

Perhaps it is surprising to see the American squad classified as having something to prove. EG has had streaks of success over the past few years, including an International win in 2015. However the most recent bottom-placement at The International 7 as well as losing one of their star players in zai, EG looks out of sync. Since the season’s start, they have failed to achieve any significant placement at any LAN. Still, the EG team certainly has the tools to make it back on top, especially with Fear returning to captain the team.

Infamous

Like the region they hail from, this team of Peruvians has not had much history of success on the international scene despite having a lot of talent. Suffering from roster instability and inconsistent performances, the players on Infamous have had a taste of the international big stage but not of winning there. Expectations going into DreamLeague Season 8 for this team are probably quite low. However, with the young talent that this team possesses, they certainly have the tools to make an underdog run.

Who do you think will win DreamLeague?

Tell us what you think on Twitter @esportspools and don’t forget to come back and bet In-Play on the event!

Blast Pro Series: a closer look at Astralis without dev1ce

Blast Pro Series 2017

Dev1ce has been ill since IEM Oakland, and Dennis will replace him for the Blast Pro Series. First of all, we hope dev1ce feels better soon, he’s one of ESP’s favorite players to watch and a great player all around. Good luck man! Dennis will be most likely be picking up dev1ce’s AWP during Blast Pro Series.

So how much of an impact will dev1ce’s absence have on Astralis and what are their chances of succeeding in the tournament?

Let’s have a look at the maps and opponents for throughout the five rounds. Here’s a map win rate. Generally speaking, if statistics were extrapolated, the conditions stayed the same as before and everything remained a constant, the team who’s bar is over the 50% mark would win. Sort of… not really, but kinda.

Astralis map win rate, versus other teams,, historical data.

Astralis vs. SK Gaming on inferno

This is not one of dev1ce’s best maps, so if Dennis can perform any better here, then he has a chance to improve Astralis’ chance.

That’s not to say it’s all on dev1ce. Kjaerbye is not his best here either, and if Astralis catch a break on CT pistol round, it might change the outcome of the game.

ESP Prediction: SK Gaming with a comfortable win.

ESP predicts that SK will win

Astralis vs. Ninjas In Pyjamas on overpass

dev1ce performs slightly below his best on overpass, so again, it’s down to whatever Dennis can bring to the table here. This is also not Xyp9x’s best map, so a positive change in the norm from how he plays here might make a difference. All in all, this is a really solid map for Astralis, but the substituted player and understanding Astralis’ play-style and strategy may impact it significantly.

Kjaerbye and gla1ve are absolute beasts on this map.

ESP Prediction: Ninjas are on form, but this is a massive map for Astralis, so we think Astralis will take this.

ESP predicts that Astralis will win

Astralis vs. North on overpass

Check out above. It’s all about Dennis being an integral part, Xyp9x improving and kjaerbye and gla1ve being monsters. That said, North are coordinated, and this is a colossal map for them. Aizy has been shut down a lot on by Astralis on Overpass in the past, but overall the team performs well against Astralis at full strength.

ESP Prediction: North win. They’re too good on overpass.

ESP predicts that North will win

Astralis vs. G2 Esports on overpass

The whole G2 team needs to step up to the level of NBK on this map. If they could get near the success that NBK has had on overpass, then this would help G2 immensely. This is still a big map for Astralis, even without dev1ce this will be a tough one to win.

ESP Prediction: G2 will win this. They are a coordinated team, they’ve had time to practice, and small performance increases from shox and kennyS will have a huge impact on the game.

ESP predicts that G2 will win

Astralis vs. FaZe Clan on inferno

Dev1ce is statistically below his average on inferno, so Dennis might have a shot at changing the outcome here. The kicker is they’re playing FaZe, and this is their second best map. Kjaerbye also runs cold on this map, way below his overall performance on other maps, so this tied with the fact that they can not get their CT strategy working means that Astralis have to work together, get lucky and hope they catch FaZe on a bad day. If they can break down FaZe T side, they have a shot.

ESP Prediction: FaZe will win it. They are just too STRONK!

ESP predicts that FaZe will win

Thorin’s exclusive pool for Blast Pro Series

Join Thorin’s exclusive pool! We have a free skin pool for Blast Pro Series. Make your predictions and win some prizes, it’s free to enter, enter here!

Blast pro Series: Thorin's Exclusive Pool

Get well doon dev1ce!

IEM Oakland 2017, CSGO Semifinal analysis

IEM Oakland 2017

The stage is set at IEM Oakland 2017 as SK Gaming, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Cloud9, and Faze Clan will face off in the semifinals. While none of these teams are strangers to the big stage, each will have something to prove. Common across all the teams are a recent slew of roster changes and a wide range of results, both good and bad.

This is an analysis of the upcoming semi-final at IEM Oakland, between Cloud9 vs FaZe and NiP vs SK. Epic shoutout to statshark.gg for the analysis.

IEM Oakland 2017 – Semifinal 1 – Cloud9 vs FaZe

Cloud9

Over the years, excitement for the next North American hope has come and gone as the region continues to look for a team be able to compete with the best. Some teams have made a splash but never for too long. This iteration of Cloud9 — with the acquisition of tarik and RUSH as replacements for shroud and n0thing — is a squad that shows incredible promise to finally bring the North American counter-strike scene to the forefront. After a brief set of poor results, this new squad is starting to look well-meshed and cohesive, and certainly not lacking in firepower. At ELEAGUE they dropped out in the semifinals after an incredibly close match against Astralis. Following that, Cloud9 claimed back to back titles on home soil at Dreamhack Denver 2017 and iBUYPOWER 2017.

The big stage at IEM Oakland 2017 will mean a lot for the North Americans. Not only will it be another playoff run for them on home turf, but it will be one of the best opportunities for them to cement themselves as one of the best teams not just in their region, but the world.

Faze Clan

On paper, the roster of Faze Clan is one of the most powerful the scene has ever seen. The team is studded with 4 superstars in rain, NiKo, GuardiaN and olofmeister, and aided by a proven leader and mastermind in karrigan. The raw firepower on this team alone is enough to intimidate opponents. At events like ESL One: New York and ELEAGUE Premier Finals, the team met their expectations by totally dismantling their opponents at these events. They looked unbeatable. However, at other events Faze failed to bring strong results: an absolutely dismal last-place finish at the previous Major along with a 5-6th placement at EPICENTER 2017.

For Faze, there is no doubt of their potential to sit atop the CSGO scene. Still, the polarizing results in the past few months have shed some doubts as to whether or not they will be able to be consistently as strong as they are capable of being. A victory on the stage as prestigious as IEM Oakland is a step towards maintaining the dominance that they have previously displayed

Map Picks & Bans

Picks

These are the past picks from the current rosters:

 cloud9 map picks  FaZe Clan map picks
Most likely to pick

  • Mirage
  • Train
  • Inferno

Least likely to pick

  • Cobble
  • Overpass
Most likely to pick

  • Overpass
  • Inferno
  • Mirage

Least likely to pick

  • Cache
  • Nuke

Common map picks

Both teams like to pick mirage & inferno.

Bans

These are the past bans (vetoes) from the current rosters:

 Cloud9 map bans   FaZe Clan map bans
Most likely to ban

  • Nuke
  • Overpass

Least likely to ban

  • Mirage
  • Train
Most likely to ban

  • Cobble
  • Train
  • Nuke

Least likely to ban

  • Mirage
  • Overpass

Common map bans

Both teams like to ban nuke. All day, all night. No nuke for you.

Possible map picks/bans

Here’s an educated guess, based on respective teams banning their weaker maps and opting to keep their best maps in rotation:

Cloud9 vs FaZe Clan map picks and bans

Map win probabilities

FaZe have a 60% probability of winning overall, with their lowest chance of winning on Train. Train is a good candidate for a map ban (see above) leaving FaZe unaffected if it’s put into play. Overpass and Inferno have very high win probabilities for FaZe, with a 68% and 88% chance respectively. On Mirage the probability is close with a slight edge for FaZe at 53%.

Cloud9 vs FaZe Clan map win probabilities

Player performance

Cloud 9 player performance

Cloud9 player performance by map

If we get to see inferno, Mirage and Cache picked (see possible map picks/bans above), then there will have to be significant performance increases from certain players, as described below:

On inferno

tarik and autimatic lead the way on this map. If they can step up their game they can carry a regular performance by Skadoodle (AWP) and Stewie2K but a win on this map would require tarik, autimatic and Stewie2K to hit their shots.

On mirage

Mirage is a strong map for the team with a balanced number of frags throughout the team. A lower average number of frags from autimatic and tarik could make a big difference in winning and losing this map.

On cache

RUSH carries so hard here with autimatic’s average hitting RUSH’s low number of frags. If tarik can get a bit lucky and get to his peak level of around 19/19 frags on cache it could make a big difference.

FaZe player performance

FaZe Clan player performance by map

On inferno

FaZe only needs to turn in an average performance on Inferno, which means C9 will need each player to go above and possibly beyond their historical stats. Key players here are rain and Guardian (AWP) and if they have a better than average game they could carry the team to a map win.

On mirage

On mirage, GuardiaN olofmeister and NiKo carry karrigan a bit here in average frags. karrigan’s role in setting up is more crucial on this map than frags so it isn’t a good indicator of performance. The three players mentioned before don’t have that luxury.

On cache

NiKo is a hard frag carry here. Without him, cache wouldn’t be a good map for FaZe. As before, with an epic setup from karrigan, rain, olofmeister and Guardian will do the rest.

Map breakdown

Cloud9 vs FaZe map and pistol performance

Cloud9 map and pistol performance

FaZe Clan map and pistol performance

On inferno

FaZe have a statistical likelihood to dominate both CT and T pistol rounds based on previous data.

On mirage

Cloud9 have over 60% win rate on mirage, with almost 50% success rate on CT pistol rounds and 38% on T pistol rounds. FaZe have a 70% win rate, and 60% CT pistol round average and just over 40% of T pistol rounds won, matching up with Cloud9.

On cache

With the current roster, C9 has the best stat on T pistol rounds on cache, however, this is very likely to be unsustainable. Their mCT pistol rounds are 50/50 and so is their win rate. Contrasting this to FaZe, they underperform slightly with FaZe having over 60% win rate and just under 60% CT pistol rounds won and just over 40% T side pistol rounds won.

Z-score of the heat matrices

Z-scores are useful for comparing Individual scores from different data sets and we can use it to standardize scores somewhat. These graphs show particular player ratings within the team. The dashed line is the group mean, to the left of the dashed line is below the standard deviation of the mean and to the right of the dashed line is above the standard deviation of the mean.

Overall, maps appearing at the top are the best team maps, inside each map shows the individual player performance of the map.

The analysis here explains the situation if see Inferno, Mirage and Cache picked.

Cloud9 heat matrix

Cloud9 map heat matrix

On inferno

Apart from pistol rounds on for C9 on inferno, every other outcome looks bleak.

On cache

Cache is C9’s second-worst map statistically. If they’re bullied into it then the outcome may be just as bleak as that of inferno. T side performance (including T side pistol round win rate), Skadoodle and RUSH and autimatic are great here, they would need a bit of luck on CT side and for tarik to get luckier with his performance to get the win here.

On mirage

Mirage is C9’s second best map. An improvement to T side pistol round might not have a huge affect on the map outcome, but it could set the stage for subsequent economical advantage if the team performance is good. Individual increase in performance by RUSH and Stewie2K could help C9 secure a win here.

FaZe heat matrix

FaZe Clan map heat matrix

On inferno

Inferno is FaZe’s second best map despite a poor individual performance from NiKo and a subpar performance by olofmeister. Their T side win rate is epic, including the side pistol rounds and rain is a god on this map. If NiKo and olofmeister can perform better here then FaZe will take this map comfortably.

On cache

Cache is where FaZe needs to put a bit more work into. They are better as CT here than T and both their CT and T pistol rounds here are subpar. NiKo carries them on this map and olofmeister and karrigan carry their weight but could step up and make this a more successful map for FaZe. GuardiaN has not had a luck AWPing on cache.

On mirage

This is FaZe’s third-best map with excellent performances by GuardiaN and olofmeister, on the other end of the spectrum rain and karrigan are below the mean although as stated before, karrigan’s utility on mirage is fantastic. With an improvement in T side play, T pistol and CT pistol, FaZe should easily win this map should it be picked.

IEM Oakland 2017 – Semifinal 1 -NiP vs SK

SK Gaming

With recent rankings placing SK Gaming as the number one team in the world, they perhaps would be the most confident going up against the Swedish squad Ninjas in Pyjamas. However a look at the recent history of the team, there are still some uncertainties.

Following their string of first place finishes in the summer (Dreamhack Summer 2017; ECS Finals Season 3; ESL Cologne), the Brazilian team entered a slump with multiple bottom placings at important events. They failed to get past their ELEAGUE Premier group, as well as a quarter-final knockout of the last major. Ultimately this led to a roster change with felps moving to the bench and former member boltz joining the main squad. The first showing of this new roster was incredibly successful — a 1st place trophy from EPICENTER 2017. Still, early successes of new rosters are usually met with mild suspicions. Is it a honeymoon phase? Was it just a fluke? A win at IEM Oakland with boltz on the squad would certainly settle those answers in emphatic ways.

Ninjas In Pyjamas

Those following the CSGO scene since its inception will know the storied history of this Swedish team. Perhaps one of the most dominant teams in the game’s history, NIP have their eyes set on a return to the echelons of the world’s best. Newer followers of the scene and unfamiliar with NIP’s past are only seeing a relatively weak team — a shell of their former selves.

For the past 6 months (and longer), NIP has failed to bring strong results in almost any of the events they have attended. The Swedish team failed to qualify for the previous major in Poland and are set to miss the upcoming one in Boston as well. In other events, the ninjas have failed to make a mark, commonly failing to make it past the quarterfinals or even out of groups.

In part, these poor results are from NIP trying to find the right teammates for their core of GeT_RiGhT, f0rest and Xizt by cycling through a number of players over the past few years. The recent acquisitions of REZ and draken, however, is giving the team signs of life. With a surprising performance during the group stages of IEM Oakland and seeding themselves into the semifinals, the Ninjas in Pyjamas will look to dispel any ideas that this is a fluke. A win at this event would mean that perhaps the Swedes are finally on a trajectory back towards the top.

Map Picks & Bans

Picks

These are the past picks from the current rosters, note, boltz is new on the SK roster and we’re only looking at data since he joined:

 Ninjas in Pyjamas map picks  SK Gaming map picks
Most likely to pick

  • Cache
  • Train
  • Nuke

Least likely to pick

  • Mirage
  • Overpass
Most likely to pick

  • Mirage
  • Overpass

Least likely to pick

  • Not enough data available

Common map picks

Currently, there are no common map picks.

Bans

These are the past bans (vetoes) from the current rosters:

 Ninjas in Pyjamas map bans  SK Gaming map bans
Most likely to ban

  • Cobble
  • Inferno

Least likely to ban

  • Cache
  • Nuke
  • Train
Most likely to ban

  • Nuke
  • Cache

Least likely to ban

  • Train
  • Mirage
  • Inferno

Common map bans

Currently, there are no common picks.

Possible map picks/bans

This will be tough since we don’t have a lot of game data on the new SK since boltz joined. Here’s an educated guess, based on respective teams banning their weaker maps and opting to keep their best maps in rotation:

Ninjas in Pyjamas vs SK Gaming map picks and bans

Map win probabilities

Ninjas in Pyjamas vs SK Gaming map win probabilities

SK has a 60% probability of winning overall, with their lowest chance of winning on Train. There is a very low sample set of data here due to the recent change in SK’s roster, but they have statistical edges on all maps and overall.

Player performance

NiP player performance

Ninjas in Pyjamas player performance

If we get to see mirage, train and overpass picked (see possible map picks/bans above), then there will have to be significant performance increases from certain players, as described below:

On mirage

This is a pretty even team performance with draken being the player who cannot drop form. A strong performance from REZ and Xizt might make a big difference here for the ninjas.

On train

Again, REZ and Xizt could up their game and make a big difference, this time f0rest’s performance must be consistent to provide NiP with a win. This is NiP’s best map, so a could performance here is required to secure a map win in this B03.

On overpass

NiP’s second best map is overpass and also where f0rest picks up most his frags. REZ has had some good games on overpass and if he’s on form and GeT_RiGhT also elevates his game, then NiP have a good chance to win it.

SK player performance

SK Gaming player performance

The low amount of sample data makes it hard to comment here, but let’s give it a go!

On mirage

If we see SK on mirage, we’d expect them to perform as well as they have done previously. Being their second best map, coldzera and FalleN (AWP) are stars. New guy boltz has the potential to do well as he fits in with his new team. If he manages to do this and raises the game of TACO, then SK have a fantastic chance to win this map should it be played.

On train

With the new roster, this is where SK has not performed well, although it is early days with boltz. TACO has played some great games on train with this new roster, but he’s also ventured into the other end of that spectrum. For SK to win this, it would need TACO to get more frags and stay alive more than he has done.

On overpass

This is SK’s best map with this roster despite the new guy needing to step it up to the level of his new teammates. On this map and this new roster, coldzera has had a massive swing in frags, as low as 8 and as high as mid 30’s, so a good game from him would make a huge difference in getting the win for SK. TACO again has had some great games and some abysmal games and if he stays alive and ups his kill count then SK will be hard to beat on overpass.

Map breakdown

NiP vs SK map and pistol performance

Ninjas in Pyjamas map and pistol performanceSK Gaming map and pistol performance

On mirage

SK have are close to hitting 80% win rates on this map and on the CT pistol round and winning 50% of the T pistol rounds. Stack that against NiP, who are winning around 40% here and have a decent CT pistol round stat of around 60%. If they can perform better on the T side pistol round it could be a game changer.

On train

SK have won all of their T side pistol rounds on train with the addition of boltz. They have a good CT round win rate matched by the map win rate of around 65%.

On overpass

The low sample data beast strikes again and we’re not going to get into this too much apart from saying SK is the best team in the world on overpass until they lose any side’s pistol round or the map itself!

Z-score of the heat matrices

See previous explanation of Z-score.

The analysis here explains the situation if see mirage train and overpass are picked.

NiP heat matrix

Ninjas in Pyjamas map heat matrix

On mirage

This is NiP’s second-worst map. Get_RiGhT, f0rest and REZ need to pick up their game a lot to secure a win for NiP and if this map isn’t banned by NiP then these three players will need to perform well to give NiP a chance.

On train

This is NiP’s best map. Xizt is amazing here and the rest of the team are consistent. Their pistol rounds are virtually flawless and their control of T side play makes this their best map.

On overpass

NiP’s second best map. So mirage is a bit of a gamble to not veto, but as long as NiP keep train and overpass in play they can do well. Here, everyone performs above and beyond, with standout play from Xizt, f0rest and draken. Their T side play is not as honed as on train, but they are well above average on pistol round sand T and CT control.

SK heat matrix

SK Gaming map heat matrix

On mirage

SK’s second best map. Fallen and bolts are cold as ice here, but luckily fer is a god on this map and combined with good performances from coldzera, SK are hot on T side control and comfortable on the CT side. They have an incredible pistol round win stat on both sides.

On train

The train is leaving the station here and SK isn’t on it. TACO and coldzera’s stats are colder than a well-digger’s backside, with the new roster (with boltz) at least. Equally cold is their T side control, leading to an overall below par map win rate.

On overpass

This is SK’s best map. If we think of a train track traveling on an overpass then SK is on this train (that was a bit of a stretch!) FalleN and boltz are surprisingly mediocre on this map based on recent data, luckily fer is on fire and cold performs well above average. SK control of both sides is excellent, better so on the T side and they consistently win the pistol rounds on overpass.

So who will make it to the final?

It’s difficult to see Cloud9 coming out of a Bo3 as the victor versus FaZe Clan. ESP believes that FaZe will win.

Similarly, SK Gaming even with new player boltz is statistically strong in the few matches they have played and ESP believes that SK Gaming will emerge victorious from this Bo3 semi-final at IEM Oakland 2017.

The data above backs all of this up, but anything can happen in CSGO! Bet live while the game is happening at ESP!