Aside from a small bit of brilliance from FaZe and Mouz from time to time, an international roster has never solidified itself in its own era.

17:00, 09 Jan 2020

There has never been a true era of dominance from an international team in CSGO. Yes, it’s true that FaZe Clan were the best team in the world for a bit, but their ‘era’ was marred by a failure to convert performances into trophies in the big moments. mousesports, similarly, even when they’ve been around the top, have been plagued by inconsistencies. Despite this, more and more teams are going for the international dream - coL becoming one of the latest with two Danes, a Bulgarian and two North Americans, for example.

Theoretically, international teams should dominate top level of any competitive craft. Increasing the pool of players one can choose from should bring you a better chance of finding the best players. For example, if you have the choice of all the best Swedish players, you could build a really good team. If you have the choice of all the best Danish, Brazilian, American and French players as well, you can get a seriously stacked team - and this holds true in traditional sports, and even other esports.

The best European team in League of Legends is G2, a team of two Danish, a Croatian, a Slovenian and a Polish player. Though they were unable to win the World Championship, the Worlds final was literally the only best of five series they lost in 2019 - with many teams praising their synergy and sheer amount of raw skill as the main factors. That obviously is a fringe case, but the best team in the world will ALWAYS be a fringe case. Any team can have skill, any can have synergy - very few can have both.

Going international gives you a bigger chance at getting the skill required to be great, with a, potentially, lower chance of hitting the synergy threshold, while domestic teams are the opposite.

That’s why international teams can be so volatile - despite the sheer amount of talent on an international team, the clashing cultures, languages and backgrounds can make it extremely hard for the players to be a singularity in the server. Only choosing from players of a certain region, country, language etc. will reduce the chances of a culture clash, but at the cost of potentially taking a ‘weaker’ player to suit the culture of the team.

mousesports win @ ESL Pro League | Image via ESL

This suggests that the median international team would likely be weaker than the median domestic team, because the only thing that makes international teams is the sheer quality of players, and I think this rings true in Counter-Strike. MiBR, new FaZe, old old G2 - teams like this do not work. They don’t have the synergy and communication of similar level teams and don’t have the skill to overcome it.

But what about the top level? Theoretically, the ceiling of an international team is higher, unless by some miracle the best five players (or at least the five best in each ‘role’) were all from the same country. This theoretical ceiling is the dream that many orgs are chasing, but whether or not it is achievable is yet to be proven.

The ceiling is higher IF it’s possible to find that synergy in an international team in CSGO, and in other esports and even in football, it’s shown that it almost certainly should be. If Mohamed Salah of Egypt, James Milner of Yorkshire and Roberto Firmino of Brazil can be on the best football team in the world (and trust me, it hurts to say that), there’s no reason Swedish and French players can’t be great teammates.

But, there is an argument that communication - instant, precise communication - is more important in CS:GO than in nearly any sport or esport. While League does need communication and a lot of it, the fact that the game itself doesn’t even have voice comms in solo-queue is proof enough that you don’t need to be quite as precise and quick.

Personally, I don’t think that’s a reasonable excuse. Most international teams speak English, and as an Englishman I can tell you that most people who learn English as a second language speak it as well, if not better than, most of my fellow countrymen. While going from one language to another might be difficult if you’ve only communicated in one your whole life, it seems to me that spending time talking in that language to your teammates will dissolve that issue within a few months.

I think the future is international. In the pursuit of greatness, one must put aside worries of tradition, of risk, and go all-in on trying to do something brilliant. Yes, you might be the best French team - but imagine how good you could be if you had some of the best Danes too.

Football started out with every team having local players, and now the best teams in the world have players from all over the place. As football evolved, the teams became more multicultural in the pursuit of becoming even better. Though it seems counter-intuitive seeing Astralis and EG at the top with mostly homogenous teams and claim that the future is being more like FaZe Clan, I ask you to imagine if you could find a way to put Brehze on Astralis.

Top level competition is about finding small edges to improve, and Astralis have shown that there were big edges not being exploited with nutrition, exercise and practice - so we cannot discount the idea of international teams being the future. And anyway, it’s a lot more fun to speculate roster moves when anyone can go anywhere, right?

Image via Blast Pro Series
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