Cologne Preview: Ancient and Quick Hits - Part 6
In the first two parts of this Cologne preview, I explored why Gambit are the best team in the world, then part three looked at Na'Vi, whether or not Heroic could make the jump to LAN was part four, and part five took a closer look at G2, OG, and BIG.
In this preview, let's round things off with some lingering thoughts I had. Although this will be the most scattershot of the previews, join me as I take a glance at Ancient, and give some quick thoughts on some of the remaining teams at Cologne.
Ancient has just entered the map pool. There is no established meta as multiple teams are trying to figure out what is the most effective way to play the map based on the personnel they have. So I'll just give my general observations on this map that you should keep in mind.
The two most tightly contested areas are B-main and middle. There isn't a standard T-side meta on the map, so teams are defaulting to their comfort style. Na`Vi play the map like Mirage. They take control of the map, insert some lurkers and try to play off of the individual skill. Gambit use their typical tactics and mid-round plays. They open with a two man sh1ro action, read the map, take control of an area and then play off their wing lurk entries on either side of the map. G2 usually play 1a-1m-3b or 4-1.
FaZe has a higher emphasis on mid-control. They like inserting twistzz as a lurker before hitting either the A or B site. This emphasis also comes out on their CT-side as they do mid-round CT-side flanks to hit the more standard 1-1-3 setups.
On the CT-side, teams are playing 1a-2m-2b or 1a-1m-3b with one or two dedicated rotators. It's mostly what you'd expect from most teams. Na`Vi like to go for individual fights early on in B-main. G2 go for their typical solid CT-defense that emphasizes trading and mid-round two man pushes. They sometimes open with AWP funnelling, where they smoke off A halls and B-main early while leaving mid-connector open. By doing this they hope that the teams run into amanek's AWP where he can get the initial pick and put G2 in a 5v4 situation. One final note is that FaZe are messing around with low utility openings. They open with a two man mid-control and have broky hold one of the two sites (usually B, as it's the most popular now). The rationale seems to be that if the T-side rushes into the site, broky will get one kill, fall back, and FaZe are in a good 5v4 situation with full utility. On the flip side, if FaZe take map control early, then they get to save their smokes for the final 30 seconds of the round, which gives them a much easier defence at the end.
We’ll first take a look at some of the skill stacks of the event. The teams in this category are: Mouz, Liquid, coL, and EG are the skill stacks headed into this tournament.
Mouz: They were on an absolute heater at Flashpoint Season 3. I don’t think it will happen again, though. I’m not a huge numbers guy, but I’ll record their numbers at the event:
Robin "ropz" Kool: 1.30
David "frozen" Cernansky: 1.35
Aurimas "Bymas" Pipiras: 1.10
Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand: 1.12
Christopher "dexter" Nong: 1.18
I’ve never seen any team get those numbers consistently over a longer period of time, I doubt it’ll start now.
Liquid: Theoretically, their individual skill rivals Na`Vi. But they haven’t played any recent events so I’m in the dark about how well they’ll do.
coL: They live and die off their individual skill. Hopefully that should give them a boost on LAN.
EG: The departure of Ethan “Ethan” Arnold and benching of Tarik “tarik” Celik essentially broke the supportive structure of the squad. EG now rely purely on individual skill. The problem with EG is that they’ve largely failed to harness the skill they have. The only player who is closer to their previous level is Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov. Outside of that, the structure is a mess, and they’ve shifted Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte out of a few roles, which could explain his current slump.
I thought EG was going to go downhill quickly as Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz has largely failed to build a solid foundation, but getting Damian “daps” Steele as coach does give me hope that they can figure it out. Though a part of me wonders if tarik will try to somehow kick daps for stanislaw just out of sheer habit.
FaZe: You may have wondered why I didn’t include FaZe in the skill stack, but it’s hard for me to call them one. If we’re going off of recent form, they don’t have the numbers or firepower to make me put them at the same level. If we are looking at the historical names, the closest superstar they have is Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken who hasn’t been nearly as effective when he was a superstar on Liquid. Perhaps I’m reading it wrong, has less actualized firepower than when Finn “Karrigan” Andersen first joined FaZe at the end of 2016.
Vitality: There is always a chance with Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut in the server, but I feel like something needs to change either strategically, tactically, or individually. Vitality made their resurgence after Alex "ALEX" McMeekin left by having ZywOo play more entry and shox reaching a good level of form. If Vitality don't have a secondary star, I don't see them going very far, even when ZywOo goes God mode.
Astralis: Their tactics are still good, but they lack firepower to give them the punch they need. Things could go well for them if they can use their vast LAN experience to outsmart other teams.
NiP: For me, NiP are a wildcard team similar to OG. Bjorn "THREAT" Pers’s tactics and Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz’s AWP gives them a shot at upsetting some of the better teams like Mouz or G2. If NiP run into Heroic, they could go deep as they have a good matchup against them. Overall, NiP is a good team, but they don't have a legitimate second star to match up with dev1ce and become a world contender.
Virtus.Pro: They will play the exact same way they always have, but Mareks "YEKINDAR" Galinskis is no longer killing everything in sight and creating the space that Dzhami "Jame" Ali needs to excel. They are still a top 10 team, but I'm not confident that they can upset better teams.
FURIA: They will W as they always have, but you just don't know how they will W at the enemy. Aways a fun team to watch, but they still haven’t found a quality replacement for Henrique "HEN1" Teles. Like Virtus.Pro, FURIA are a solid top 10 team. Unlike Virtus.Pro, I have confidence that FURIA could upset one of the higher ranked teams. Either way, one of the most fun squads to watch.