It's spring time and for any British esports enthusiast that means i-series time, for myself it means another weekend of long hours, little sleep and fake smiles for most of the folk in attendance, although I haven't smiled much yet; more on why later on. The i-series has been attracting more and more foreign teams in recent years with much of it down to their online qualifiers, this time round though the turn-out is rather weak, with only the two big French sides - VeryGames and Tt.Dragons - and another group of Gaelic folks with the potential to upset their big name countrymen. The fact they've secured the services of the best Britain has to offer gives them a timely boost ahead of their first international event together.
Other than those three sides it appears that the i-series has gone back to its roots, filled with mediocre mix-teams and a few mid-tier UK teams hoping to make a name for themselves by claiming a scalp or two. It's a shame really considering the build up to the tournament was filled with hope that we'd see the likes of mousesports, hot off the back of their CPH Games victory, and their rivals mTw, but ah well, that doesn't mean you guys won't be entertained by the likes of FMToxic, CRG, Rasta and more. In keeping with tradition I'll be giving you a run-down of the hopefuls and trying my best to predict their finish.
The team that I'm looking forward to watching more than any other is the recently dethroned VeryGames. For two years they occupied the top spot in our monthly rankings and for most of that period nobody could question it - they were the best. Last month though we witnessed something completely new as the side went crashing out of the Copenhagen Games in the 9-12th position amid gasps from the watching crowd. Responding positively to the set back will be vital if the team hope to retain their i-series crown, and they'll be facing some stiff opposition from their long time rivals Tt.Dragons, led by former VeryGames member Richard 'shox' Papillon.
Personally I still consider them to be up there with the very best and one poor event shouldn't be enough to crush a team which has built an empire over the past two years. The good news is that they will be without the decidedly average Michael 'mK' Zaidi for reasons you'll all be aware of now, instead they will be trying out their new addition to the squad, Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub. The young AWP player will have a lot of pressure on him to perform but the stage is set for him to show the world what he can do. I expect the reigning champions to at least reach the final, barring another disaster, once there it's anybodies game.
Player to watch: Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub - The 16 year old AWP player has been given his big break after just a year or so actually playing competitively. It's been a rapid rise to the top and he must be careful not to throw it away now that he's there, and with the world watching the pressure will certainly be on. If he can perform to the level he has done in the past he could be the ingredient VeryGames have been missing since the departure of SmithZz in December.
One of the top three teams in Europe Tt.Dragons will be aiming for gold this weekend, and given the pedigree of the team it seems a very likely possibility. Led by the former VeryGames star man Richard 'shox' Papillon the side will be eager to get one over their long time rivals and if they avoid each other in the bracket I foresee a pretty epic grand final between the two warring factions. Like VeryGames they had a rather disappointing outing at the Copenhagen Games but unlike VeryGames they will be coming into i-series with the same core five which will no doubt give them a boost.
Although they struggled slightly in Denmark they shouldn't have any problems making it through to the later stages of this event, unless they really do capitulate. With the AWP of SmithZz and the rifling ability of both shox and ScreaM they are as dangerous as they come but the only stumbling block seems to be a lack of cohesion in the team, which was apparent in Copenhagen. They seem to rely too much on the individual performances of their star men and if they aren't firing on all cylinders they tend to struggle. For that reason I believe VeryGames should be able to overcome them, but with the deadly trio on-form absolutely anything is possible.
Player to watch: Adil ´ScreaM´ Benrlitom - Although most of the watching crowd will have their eyes fixed on shox I'll be focused on the absolutely insane ScreaM. His aim is up there with his teammate but it's his unpredictability that makes him so difficult for teams to deal with, and so fun to watch. He'll either go mad and pick up 30 frags in a half or he'll cost his team innumerable rounds, but whatever ScreaM turns up you're guaranteed entertainment.
The reigning Epic LAN champions are coming into the event well practiced and ready to prove that they deserve the respect of the wider European community. The team have been through a rough patch recently having lost the talismanic Luke 'KritikaL' Green, however the departure of their former captain has allowed the team to knuckle down and put in the time required to push the very best, if rumours are to be believed. Made up of some of the most highly rated youngsters in the UK they have a team capable of causing a severe upset but it all comes down to their mentality on the day.
Without a natural leader they may struggle when up against some of the more well prepared teams in attendance but the length and amount of time they have played together should benefit them greatly. The team missed out on the Copenhagen Games despite being offered an invite because they felt they were under prepared, this time round things are different and with no real pressure the stage is set for a fairytale story line, expect them to be challenging for the podium at the very least.Player to watch: Phil 'Whindanski' Nicholas - The Irish youngster seems to have a hard time bedding into teams, especially when it's alongside his Scottish partners msk and NeiL. Despite this he has made a name for himself as one of the most talented players in the UK and has proven himself to be a consistently good player in a LAN environment. Expect him to be the catalyst of all great things to come from Toxic.
Weird one here and many of you will probably disagree but I consider these guys, especially on home soil, to be arguably the best of the Brits in attendance. The core of the team first came together under the BBoMM tag during an insane LAN which saw them reach the grand final - needing just one map to win the event - and lose in extraordinary fashion against the team they had defeated earlier, FMToxic. Since then they have represented a number of different organisations and although never quite reaching the same heights they did at their first event they have been impressive.
Since picking up Jake 'jakem' McCausland they have been much more serious about their practice schedule - the one thing that let the side down in the past given their attitude towards the game - and are now beginning to look like a team. Although their placing at the Copenhagen Games left the team disappointed their performance at the event was admirable, pushing both Fully Torqued and Anexis close. If they can achieve the same level of play this weekend they are in with a very good shout of reaching the podium.Player to watch: Jamie 'keita' Hall - The teams AWP'er has been around for a long time now but only recently has he began to receive the plaudits that should have come sooner. His performance at Epic LAN was fantastic and when he's on his game he can be a nightmare for teams to deal with. If Rasta are to have any chance this weekend he will need to be at his best.
I would normally have predicted these guys higher but given their complete lack of practice and almost mix-team mentality at the moment I can't see them doing too much damage. They shocked everyone with their performance back at i44 as they overcame FMToxic, eSahara and came very close to toppling CKRAS on their way to a third place finish but since then they've struggled to recreate that form. Various player changes haven't helped and that showed at the Copenhagen Games as the side - having boot camped for a week prior to the event - struggled throughout.
Rumours were rife that their AWP'er Ben 'b3n' Wood would be quitting the team after the display in Denmark but that all changed when Chris 'Bowzar' Bowey announced his departure, citing real life as his reason for quitting. To replace him they brought in his former mentor in Luke 'KritikaL' Green which should give the team some structure, however with no time to practice ahead of their attendance I just can't see them doing as well as many expect them to. A podium placing would be an extremely good finish but I'm going for 5/6th.Player to watch: Ben 'chanbOii' Chan - Mr.Consistent has been one of the best up and comers for a while but is yet to really set the world alight despite stints with Rasta Gaming, CRG and rumours of a possible mTw swoop. If his team are to challenge for the podium he will need to step up, if he does anything is possible.
I'll have to be completely honest here.. Apart from weber and binet I have absolutely no idea who these guys are, so I'm not really expecting much. They secured their spot in the tournament via the online qualifier having beaten the CPH Games champions mousesports, a pretty amazing feat if you forget that it was in an online tournament. LAN is different and with a reputation as "onliners" the pressure will really be on this weekend to perform, and with a lack of real experience at international events I just can't see it happening.
The one saving grace is the acquisition of Brandon 'weber' Weber, replacing Ithursarry "cyrilspwR" Cyril who is unable to attend (lol). The mTw man has heaps of experience despite his youthfulness and as one of the most highly rated players in the world he is capable of elevating the team well above their normal level. CS:S isn't a one man game though and as soon as they come up against some big-name sides I can see these guys being dumped.Player to watch: Brandon 'weber' Weber - He's the only player in the team who is actually good.
Stay with Cadred.org for coverage live from the event, brought to you by the usual suspects plus our Sennheiser Write Stuff winner Tom Newman.
|Michael Mcghee // Rickeh|
Posted 1 year ago: Fri, 04 May 2012 19:08:44 +0100
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