Aleksib has replicated the tactical style that once made him internationally renowned in ENCE.

20:00, 26 Feb 2020

It has been three months since Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen joined OG and helped found the new lineup. Their new lineup included: Aleksib, Nathan “NBK” Schmitt, Valdemar “valde” Bjorn, Issa “ISSAA” Murad, and Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski. While the squad had plenty of talent, it needed a tactical leader who could bring it all together. The team still has a ways to go before becoming a contender, but Aleksib has replicated the tactical style in CS:GO that once made him internationally renowned in ENCE.

Questions Surrounding Aleksib’s Time at ENCE

ENCE’s decision to kick Aleksib from the roster remains one of the most controversial to this day. In mid-2019, ENCE were a championship-contending team and the primary reason for their success was the system and tactics that seemed to emanate from Aleksib. ENCE apparently disagreed with that sentiment as they benched Aleksib and had Aleksi “Allu” Jalli take over the leadership roles. What’s more, Jani “Aerial” Jussila went further as he told HLTV, “With Aleksib we just tried to play default and did the same executes all over again, so that's how it's different with allu - always trying something new.”

Given the trajectories of the two teams, it’s easy to say, with hindsight, that ENCE were misguided. However, there were legitimate questions as ENCE’s rise to power not only coincided with Aleksib, but also their coach Slaava “Twista” Rasanen. Without an ear inside of the team, it was hard to know how much credit Aleksib deserved in creating and calling the ENCE machine.

Even if we did give Aleksib credit for guiding ENCE (in mid-2019, I thought he was the best leader in the game), it was hard to know how that would transpose onto an international squad. Each of the international players comes from a different CS cultural heritage so getting all of them on the same page without conflict is a massive task.

OG’s Basic Foundations

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of Aleksib’s tactics, we need to look at the structural foundation of the team. The team’s firepower comes from their three stars: Valde, ISSAA, and mantuu. While they are the star plays, they aren’t necessarily polarizing players. The system and tactics aren’t altars to enable their superstardom, like how Vitality play around Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut.

Instead, each plays a role within their system. Valde and mantuu have specified roles on the T-side. Valde is the wing player and plays the lurker. Mantuu is the AWPer. ISSAA’s roles are a bit more mixed as he can play the wing and secondary lurker on Train, or help Aleksib take map control as an entry fragger on Dust2. Aleksib plays the hard entry-fragger as he is usually the first to go in. Finally, NBK plays the fill role. He can be a lurker on inferno, or help take map control on Mirage.

The CT-side is largely map dependent, except for mantuu who is the AWPer. Valde plays a variety of spots, ramp on Nuke, rotator on Dust2, small-site anchor, or connector on Mirage, A testament to how versatile his skillset is. ISSAA is usually put in higher fragging positions, Aleksib is put into first contact positions, and NBK, once again, fills out whatever roles they need. The CT-roles seem to be a work in progress as they swapped Valde from playing yard to playing ramp before their BLAST group stages.

Outside of the in-game roles, communication has been a key issue for the team. NBK expounded on this problem as he told HLTV, “The problem is that when you have too many ideas it gets chaotic and when you play Counter-Strike you have to be 100% into something. So what we want to do is clarify everything.”

For now, the team has settled for a dictatorship approach. NBK said in the same interview, “Aleksi is leading us through everything and when a mid-round call is made we follow the mid-round call, period. That clarity helps us put one foot in front of the other. After that we can advance, once we have the basics, and go one step further.”

Aleksib CSGO
Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen during his time with ENCE.

Aleksib’s Tactics

Now that we have a better understanding of OG’s foundations, it’s time to look at Aleksib’s tactics. During Aleksib’s time on ENCE, the team became famous for fast-paced aggressive executes, controlling the tempo of the map, and grinding down the enemy with a flurry of well-chosen tactics across the half.

Those characteristics have disappeared from ENCE’s team since Aleksib was kicked. While it has only been three months, Aleksib’s tactical flair is once again shining through, this time on an international lineup. The two games that give the best showing of this are the EG games at BLAST Premier, specifically Nuke and Dust2.

Nuke

The Nuke game had a bit of everything. Aleksib used a change of pace as he went for a slow round in the 20th. The team traded utility with EG the entire round, before hitting the site in the last moments of the round. He then followed it up with fast yard nades, and four players rushing down secret. This forced an early rotation from Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz down cents, which Aleksib flanked as he quickly went down vents to get him from behind. The move won the round. Aleksib then showed his versatility with different variations of off-the-yard nades.

In the 23rd round, he had the team do a massive yard take instead of going down Secret and EG’s lackluster individualistic defence died to OG’s trading potential. On the 28th, he then faked the fast yard presence before going for a contact play on the upper site. In the final round, he re-used the fast hit on lower with four players going down Secret and Aleksib going down vents.

What’s interesting about the 30th round is that EG made adjustments as Stanislaw was prepared for Aleksib’s flank and Tarik “tarik” Celik moved his position to spam the bomb from above. However, the hit seemed prepared to deal with these deviations as stanislaw was quickly traded and when Tarik went for the spam from above, NBK opened the door and mowed him down.

Dust2

Dust2 was a similar story in showing Aleksib’s tactical genius. In the 21st round, OG used a long take where they smoked the initial-molly and then pop flashed through. This move bisected the typical EG defence as they had Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov hold the angle while Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte played towards blue. CeRq was blinded by the pop flash and had to move back and this left Brehze in a losing 1v2.

To deal with losing long, EG moved CeRq to short to get info and made a rotation to B, where they stopped OG’s hit later in the round. While OG lost the round, they won the war. Their fast-long take was a phantom threat that EG had to consider for the rest of the half and EG’s initial rotation here was something that Aleksib kept in the back of his mind for the half.

In the 23rd round, EG committed three players to long instead of two, so when their initial molly died down at B tunnels, OG rushed B and won the round. Later on in the half, OG were able to take control of mid doors and short early on in every round as well.

OG Esports CSGO

In the 27th round, OG used a brilliant execute that bisected the typical Dust2 long defence. Usually, the CT-side has a rifler on the site, the AWPer at car, and a player holding long. When OG hit the site, they used three mollies: one on goose, one on the site, and one on car. The mollies on goose and site forced tarik out into the open where he was going to be traded. At the same time, they pop-flashed CeRq out of position which gave Aleksib the space and time to rush him down. This left Aleksib in a favorable 1v1 duel and the rest of his team in a 4v1 against tarik. These types of executes and tactical movements were a hallmark of Aleksib’s ENCE squad, and were a recurrent theme throughout OG’s run at BLAST.

In the 30th round, we see Aleksib make an adjustment to his long take. This time, OG had NBK lurk lower tunnels as they intuited that the reason EG could make the rotation to B was because someone made an aggressive solo push towards middle in the 4v5. The prediction worked as NBK killed CeRq at short.

Aleksib showed his ability to adjust again in overtime. In the third round of overtime, OG used the long take again, but this time, they had NBK run towards blue and then use his smoke to hide himself. With Valde supporting him, the two of them stalled for time while the other three players rushed short to flank the players at long.

Overall Patterns of Aleksib’s Tactical Calling

While we could go over all of the maps that Aleksib called at BLAST, these two maps are sufficient to explain the overall properties of Aleksib’s tactics. Aleksib likes using fast-paced tactics, but the tactics are often well-refined with good micro-details. His execution in the 27th round on Dust2 isolated the defence. While I didn’t go over it here, his takes of banana perfectly countered everything that EG tried.

Beyond those micro-details, is his ability to grind out halves and make adjustments both pre-planned and on the fly. On the Nuke map, he used the same fast hit on lower twice in 23rd and 30th round. It’s unlikely that he could have accounted for how stanislaw and tarik were going to adapt to the hit, but the overall tactical already had answers built into it. He also showed his ability to read and adjust his tactics on the fly with his fast long takes against EG on Dust2.

Finally, Aleksib is a leader that can create a centre of tactical gravity on a map. He can force the enemy team to focus on a specific area and then use that to break holes in their defence through positioning, timing, or an adjustment.

Aleksib has proven that his tactics are just as effective for an international squad as they were for an all Finnish team. As of now, OG still has a few holes in their game. Their solution to communication problems seems like a short-term fix, and they will need to find a way to let everyone have input into the game. Their comms are, sometimes, the most notable example being the 23rd round against G2 on Nuke. In that round, mantuu had control of lower and blocked G2 off with a smoke, but OG decided to rotate Valde lower anyway. In terms of firepower, they don’t have an ascendant superstar yet.

They will eventually need to expand their map pool to also play either Vertigo or Overpass. Their consistency still remains uncertain considering that they’ve lost their map pick ⅞ times on LAN. Even so, the tactics of Aleksib are a strong foundation and will be the cornerstone of their success moving forward.

 

Images via BLAST.

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