Where can this G2 roster go in 2021?

18:00, 08 Feb 2021

After a well-deserved Winter break, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) scene is firing up again, with the BLAST Premier Spring Groups acting as some of the first high-quality competitions in the new year taking place. It’s an opportunity for champions of old and contenders of new to show what they are made of in 2021. G2, a team that received a significant facelift in late November 2020, is looking to get the ball rolling, banking on the added firepower that their new signing Nikola "NiKo" Kovac has brought to the team.

“Compared to how we were at the BLAST Global Finals and how we started off, I think we are like four to five hundred per cent better than we were on an individual note” said in-game leader of G2, Nemanja "nexa" Isakovic in an interview with GGRecon. An often addressed issue within the scene, especially for top teams, is the amount of games that every team has to play in the COVID-imposed online era the scene is going through. Too many matches, too little time for sufficient preparation, with few moments in the year-long CS:GO calendar to really thoroughly rethink the toolkit. Because of those circumstances, every year the post-winter break meta is highly interesting, pitting revitalised tactics, strategies, and spirits against each other on the server. G2 is in a similar situation according to nexa and he is looking forward to the new challenges.

He said: “We didn’t really have much time to practice with NiKo" last year when he joined. We were playing events after events and then we had the break. Right after the break we came into a boot camp so we had like five days before BLAST so we were not really going in-depth [...] We put a bandaid on it, hoping that it’ll get us through this first event and then we actually have a few weeks to prepare. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way but now that we had time to actually set some things in place, you know, put up some ground rules how we want to play and put some structure in it, it’s looking way better.”

The aforementioned scarcity of time is both an explanation of his own team’s improvements as well as a sufficient reason as to why top teams like Astralis are currently underperforming says nexa, elaborating that some teams got later out of the Winter break than others, stating that things should be back to normal. For his own team, he shared that his team is more interested in the building of their foundations as a team right now with a constant upwards trajectory, valuing consistency over one-off victories.

He said: “I’m not sure where it’s going to go in the first few months. I think we still have a lot to work on and improve if we want to be [the] consistently best. I think you might see us win an event or two, it’s completely possible with the firepower that we have. But that’s not what we want, we really want to achieve this consistency to be in the top 4 for a long period of time. I wouldn’t expect this to happen in the first half of the season but I can definitely see it happening towards the later stages after the summer break.”

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Adding further complications on top of a stacked calendar in unforeseeable environments because of COVID-19, Counter-Strike developer Valve added their own fair share of volatility to the scene. In a blog post regarding the rules around sponsored major events, Valve has once again reinforced their stance against the active participation of coaches during an on-going match, also clamping down on the number of players a team may use as a substitute during any given match. For the coaching changes, the developer had reacted to an investigation by the Esports Integrity Commission which had brought forth hundreds of instances of a spectator bug exploit by coaching staff around the Counter-Strike scene which had given teams unfair advantages during active play.

Some parts of the CS:GO community had interpreted those decisions by Valve to be heavy-handed, forcing the change of many successful and fair-playing teams in the process. G2’s in-game leader agreed, stating that “I think it’s a little bit extreme to just paint it white and black, and to just restrict all the coaches who have done nothing wrong and basically, I would even say, endanger their positions. [...] If you can never use the coach inside the game or anything then the whole job becomes less meaningful than it was before. Honestly for me, it’s a pretty bad move from Valve. [...] For us in G2, we’re not super dependant on our coach but it’s always nice to have this sixth man behind you who can help you out when you’re down and being there for the team spirit.”

Nexa says that he fears for the importance of the position by taking tools away from the coaches, stating that coaches have become an integral part of professional Counter-Strike, with the greatest of them able to turn entire teams around upon their arrival. 

You will be able to see nexa and G2 face off against the North American team Evil Geniuses tonight at 18:30 for the BLAST Premier Spring Groups.

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