The roster gets benched.
Founded in 2018, Illuminar Gaming has spent the past two years trying to build the perfect Polish lineup. That roster included the addition of Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski who was once the main act AWPer for Virtus.pro. Despite Illuminar putting their focus towards a dominant roster, the team hasn’t won an A-Tier event since 2019. An outcome like that could easily kill the org over time and scare away tons of investors. The roster looked good based on stats, but the team is mainly focused on the players as individuals rather than as a group. Illuminar is no longer a powerhouse in Europe, meaning their roster will make its way to the dreaded transfer list. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) players know that being benched is almost like the chopping block of esports.
Even though a majority of the team is made up of fairly small players, Snax, on the other hand, is a well-known prodigy. Back in the day, he was a force to be reckoned with; now he’s struggling to find his inner skill to compete at a high level. Even though that shouldn’t take away from his successful career in Counter-Strike, people are only focused on modern day Snax. In 2014, he was a determined rookie who won his first Major with a team he would stick with for nearly six years. Now he’s hopping between teams looking for a new org to call home.
A BLAND START FOR ILLUMINAR GAMING
Illuminar began their run in February of 2018 just to lose event after event. They mostly powered through C-Tier qualifiers along with a total of three matchups. Their first taste of cash was in the Road to GG League Stage One Quarterfinals. The tournament was made up of eight different teams including Codewise Unicorns and PRIDE Academy. Illuminar outperformed Valkiria with a 2-0 sweep but eventually fell short to Codewise in the Semifinals. While the event only brought in two hundred dollars, Illuminar began to show some long awaited skill sets. Following their fourth-place finish at Road to GG was stage two of the same event.
Road to GG hosted another tournament which included some even bigger teams like x-kom and ALSEN. Despite losing to a bunch of academy lineups, Illuminar somehow managed to beat out x-kom 2-0 in the grand finals. Not only did they crush their opponents near the end of the tournament but they didn’t lose a single match leading up to it. Illuminar’s last event of their debut year was at the Good Game League finals.
There they faced eleven different teams along with hotshot orgs such as Windigo Gaming, PACT, and Team Kinguin. Sadly Illuminar fell short in their final event of the year after getting slaughtered by Valiance on mirage. All of that hard work in their first year of competing came down to only two grand in earnings. While fans started to steer away from the org, Illuminar suddenly popped off in their 2019 season.
PRESSURE TO PERFORM
After an upsetting performance in their first year of playing, Illuminar decided enough was enough. They signed on a roster from x-kom after benching their previous lineup from 2018. After acquiring a brand new group of players, Illuminar hit six figures in tournament earnings like it was nothing. It seemed like all they needed was a roster willing to fight their battles and do whatever it took to win. Illuminar hit the jackpot at Games Clash Masters in September of 2019. The event had a prize pool that peaked at a hundred grand and included huge names like FURIA Esports, BIG, and DreamEaters.
Illumninar definitely played their hearts out at the event from dusk till dawn. They beat AGO by a total of three rounds in their opening match which lead to an intense stage against FURIA. They beat the Brazilian gods by just two rounds after clutching up in the tie-breaker faceoff. In the semifinals, Illuminar pulled through against Aristocracy which led to a 3-0 sweep against Sprout in the finals. Illuminar finally became a worthy opponent after two years of sweat and tears throughout multiple stressful events. Near the end of 2019, Illuminar hit a homerun and began to round the bases after placing first at ESL Mistrzostwa Polski.
NEW FACES AND SHORT VISITS
Following their outstanding season, Illuminar called up a free agent who was supposed to be their secret weapon. Snax joined the crew in April of 2020 after leaving Virtus.pro for good. The Polish AWPer had a Major title and multiple achievements under his belt. Snax being a ten-year veteran meant he had a lot of knowledge to pass on to his future teammates. While that didn’t exactly work out for Illuminar, he wasn’t the only player to blame. The team as a whole just wasn’t performing at a pace which Illuminar was used to. After a year of online events, Illuminar’s profits sank by a total of sixty percent. Because of this inconvenience, the Polish org was forced to bench their roster and mark them as free agents.
Images via Illuminar Gaming | Liquipedia