The standout matchup of the day pits a former superteam against one that always had designs on the status but never quite got it. Both sides are shadows of their former selves, seemingly stuck in permanent transitions, but with both sets of fans having good reasons to hope for better days ahead. The winner today will book their ticket to Antwerp – the question is, can the loser bounce back in the upset-ridden lower bracket?
Time may still be on their side, and there are mitigating factors, but it’s the faces and the sounds in the studio that betray the state of this G2 squad, not the deficiencies in the server. The comms are all over the place and it’s been a long while since we’ve seen NiKo this tilted when the game is beginning to go against him.
In terms of long-term projects, this roster is fairly new, but they still haven’t managed to build on their impressive run at Katowice (let’s just forget about what happened at the Pro League), which itself was also somewhat downgraded later down the line once we got to see just how shaken the CIS players are about what is going on in the world. There’s little to suggest that this team could challenge a top-form Na’Vi side, and whatever discernible identity Aleksib is going for, it still hasn’t emerged yet.
For now, these players are definitely stuck with each other. Not only has it been too short a time to consider any shakeups, there are also no logical roster changes for them to make in case of a shock elimination at the RMR. One of the favorites is now guaranteed to miss out based on how the brackets are shaping up: on an individual level, G2 are miles above Astralis, but with this lack of cohesion, who’s to say they’ll come out on top? They are only slight favorites for the match based on the odds. They should also be the favorites against anyone but NIP in the 2-2 bracket should it come to that, but their qualification is not at all guaranteed.
Aleksib is a brand-new signing, just like m0NESY, who is also extremely young. NiKo is the star player and there is no one who could replace him, and huNter-’s turned out to be much more than just a little brother: a solid anchor and a reliable fragger on a team where he could easily fade into the background in CS:GO matches. That leaves JACKZ, but any thoughts of removing him would fall into the usual fallacy of removing the support player and then pulling a surprised Pikachu face when the team balance goes out of whack.
This squad needs to keep pressing ahead. There is no alternative. The clock is ticking. What we’ve seen so far is simply not good enough.
So what’s up with the Danes? It was clear very early on that the Lucky project was doomed to fail. The player didn’t have enough impact and lacked the trust of his teammates. What’s the point of an AWPer when the IGL would rather have the scoped rifle for himself (having little experience with the weapon at the highest levels of play)? Clearly, not much, hence the introduction of farlig.
Though he hasn’t set the world on fire either, he does just enough for blameF to frag out, which seems to be the main win condition of this squad nowadays – a far cry from the world-beater Astralis side whose tactic seemed to be three steps ahead of everyone else’s. Notably, their T-sides are awful nowadays, even in a CT-tilted metagame where the M4A1-S is our new overlord.
Of the two teams in the headline matchup, Astralis seems the more likely to “pull off” the incredible upset and miss out on the qualification spots. In a direct matchup against NIP, ENCE or Entropiq for all the marbles, would you really pick this squad to make it through in the best-of-three series?
There is slow and tangible improvement to see here but the legacy of the previous Astralis lineup weighs heavily on this roster, most notably gla1ve. It’s getting tougher to tell just where the magic came from at this point, as neither Astralis nor the zonic-coached Vitality are doing particularly well, and dev1ce is also far away from, well, everything right now. Some of the poor individual plays seem like attempts to grasp at the glorious past and the clutches that all went the right way: perhaps it would all be a bit easier if the team that won everything would set its sights a little lower for now. The pieces are there for a competitive playoffs-level team – but the consistency is sorely missing for now.
Photo credit: Josip Brtan for HLTV