There are so many events going on right now that it would be easy to miss Games Clash Masters in Poland, an eight-team LAN featuring many of the usual suspects from the second tier of the CS:GO scene. It was an interesting follow-up for the recent DreamHack Open event in Montreal and marked may very well mark the demarcation point for the rise and fall of certain teams if recent trends hold on.
The ones that weren’t there
It’s important to note that the final field of the event was formed after a set of teams opted not to participate due to the busy tournament schedule. It would have been interesting to see HellRaisers in an event of this kind and whether Imperial could have continued to impress after pushing ENCE to the limit at Montreal. Interestingly enough, none of the directly invited teams were Polish, though the closed qualifiers were understandably chock-full of them: Kinguin and AGO both had to work for their spot here, similarly to minnows x-kom Team and PACT.
Fragsters were the last-minute replacement for Imperial, and while most of the casual fans probably haven’t heard of this side, they’ve been posting fairly impressive results in the DreamHack Open circuit recently, reaching the semi-finals both in Austin and Valencia. They comfortably topped their group here as well before going out to Kinguin with two close map losses: in a way, their good performance is yet another sign of the Danish scene’s incredible depth.
There’s a bunch of teams that definitely have a high enough ceiling to potentially compete with the big boys but their floor is really more akin to a basement. Heroic are definitely one of these sides: to put things in perspective, they’ve made it further at DreamHack Masters Stockholm than at the open circuit event a week later. It’s not like they were just shoved in there because of the roster’s Swedish component either: their path led through the qualifier, defeating Space Soldiers, the team that stopped them at the semi-finals of DreamHack Open Austin in the summer. Nevertheless, they would finish at the bottom of their group in Montreal without winning a single map, only to turn up now in Poland and thrash the whole place. Let’s just say they are not a safe team to bet on, even if friberg and mertz topped the HLTV stats chart: they certainly have the skill to push ahead from here but they always seemed to lack the consistency needed to do so.
Red Reserve are a similar story in many ways, though one has to wonder how large an impact their departure from the GODSENT organization had on the side. Perhaps their last impressive showing came at the European minors, pushing NiP to the limit and knocking out Team Kinguin: since then, they’ve failed to post any sort of a good result and now they’ve resorted to a roster change, getting rid of twist. The ex-Fnatic player was replaced by a Norwegian player named Radifaction on a temporary basis, and the stand-in didn’t exactly make a great impression, even under these challenging circumstances. Still, it’s tough to see how they could break out from the current tier they find themselves in as there are quite a few other teams – mostly Polish, actually – that are much more impressive at this level.
It’s perhaps understandable that this primarily Polish event gave us a lot of information about the domestic scene. While Virtus.pro was not a part of the tournament because they were busy getting pulverized in Istanbul – and one has to wonder where they would have even fallen on the domestic ladder –, the main pretenders were there in the form of AGO and Kinguin, both continuing the trajectory they’ve been on since the end of the player break.
Additionally, we’ve had a bunch of lesser-known Polish sides at the ebent from the closed qualifiers. The aforementioned x-kom team made no mark whatsoever, losing to a Red Reserve side with a stand-in before getting decimated by AGO in the elimination match. On the other hand, PACT had a pretty good crack at it, losing to Heroic by the closest of margins in the winners’ match and pushing Kinguin to the limit as well in the decider, winning the first map and almost managing to snatch Train away as well. They would also manage to get 13 rounds on Nuke before bowing out. It’s tough to tell how much this had to do with the volatile nature of the domestic matchups, but they’ve given a god account of themselves considering they’ve ran into both of the eventual finalists.
Kinguin’s second-place finish marks the continuation of their impressive run of form as of late: TaZ and co. made an unexpected run to the final of the ZOTAC Cup Masters before winning DreamHack Montreal, pushing aside AGO on the way. While the two Polish pretenders didn’t get to meet here – Furlan and co. got obliterated by Heroic, which is yet another sign that they are a step behind Kinguin domestically –, it seems like there’s a new sheriff in town, at least as far as the country is concerned.