Some players just fly slightly below the radar for various reasons. They may come from a country far, far away. They might play unpopular roles. Or they may simply be new to the scene. But they all have one thing in common: the potential to surprise at premier events. These are where the five yielders of AKs, M4s and AWPs you should watch more closely as we head into Intel Extreme Masters Chicago 2018 on Nov 10-11. Get your tickets for the bout in the Windy City now!
Australia – A new hope
Before signing with Renegades in September of this year, Jay “liazz” Tregillgas has been clan hopping in the outback, turning every team he joined into the best the country had to offer: Athletico, Tainted Minds, Kings Gaming Club and ORDER. It was only natural for Renegades to approach and sign Australia’s top talent. From Australia to America and straight into EPL, where he has had a phenomenal start with his new teammates. Individually however, liazz’s transition into the world’s elite league has been a bit bumpy, which of course is to be expected when facing NA’s best.
Not only is the competition at this level stronger than in his domestic scene, liazz also has to get used to playing new roles in Renegades. Used to being solely the star player, he now takes the rather ungrateful spots formerly occupied by USTILO, a process of reorientation that surely impacts his individual performance. Alongside liazz, Renegades brought in another Australian talent onboard in Gratisfaction so the team has probably still not developed its full final identity, which means they will only get better from here on out. Once liazz gets used to the new surroundings, we can expect to see him pick heads all over the world as well, maybe already starting at IEM Chicago next month.
NRG’s silent assassin
Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte is often overlooked in NRG’s rise to NA’s top. The conversation usually circles around Fugly, nathE and of course CeRq, the Bulgarian AWP beast. Daps is responsible for IGLing, meaning his individual stats will vary almost per definition of the role whereas Brehze seems to get none of the credit. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as the young rifler is integral to the team’s success.
A short while ago, he played a major role in NRG’s semi-finals run at StarSeries i-League Season 6 with huge individual performances. At ESL One New York Brehze wrecked FaZe and G2 almost singlehandedly and his start into EPL has been solid as well. His HLTV LAN rating throughout 2018 stands at 1.12, which is phenomenal and we can look forward to watching Brehze develop into an even more impactful player in his still young career.
A new stew?
Can eUnited's Michael “dapr” Gulino become NA’s new Stewie2k? Many of his traits are reminiscent of the time when Stew first exploded onto the CS:GO scene. Both are creative, headstrong and confident in their abilities. Though it’s highly unlikely dapr will be able to replicate stew’s unprecedented rise to stardom, he does have the potential to go far.
This is dapr’s first season in Pro League, after having qualified through MDL, where Michael absolutely dominated the opposition. As for so many players before him, however, the transition into Pro League has been rough. The headshots are instant, the decision making is on another level and mistakes are mercilessly punished. Of course dapr had solid performances already, the main problem is always consistency when playing against the best, and after an adjustment period, dapr, still only 19 years of age, might just become his own version of a Stewie2k.
The return of Casper “cadiaN” Moller
The AWPing IGL has finally returned to Denmark after two years in the old US of A. As always, it’s both sad and exciting. Sad for Rogue, a team that improved tremendously under his leadership, but exciting because we’ll get to watch what he can do with a group of deathly Danes by his side at North. cadiaN has been at the helm of CS:GO in 2014 already, when he played for Reason Gaming and Copenhagen Wolves. He then fell into irrelevancy and now crawled his way back to where he always belonged: a top Danish side.
He’s taking over the IGL role previously held by MSL, a figurehead in North, which means all eyes will be on him. cadiaN can be a very impactful IGL, often taking over games with his fragging abilities and his solid AWP. His decision-making is normally on point, and he’s had a great start into EPL with North. It’ll be exciting to see if North can finally reach their ambition with cadiaN as captain, or if cries for MSL’s return begin to emerge.
Throughout his entire career, Johannes “nex” Maget has suffered from the LAN disease. A disease that causes players to lose their ability when they move from the comfort of their homes into the cold, terrifying surroundings of a LAN event. It may start out as just one bad game, but it can quickly turn into something much more devastating. Suddenly the voice in your head becomes louder, you begin to doubt your skill and you end up in a self-fulfilling prophecy where insecurity and doubt actually make you perform worse.
Gladly, those tims seem to be over for nex. In 2018 he has been one of BIG’s most impactful players both on- and offline, and his newfound confidence on LAN has paved the way for BIG’s success, not the least during their upset Grand Finals appearance in Cologne. It’s not early in nex’s career anymore, but at 26 years of age he seems to have finally found his place of comfort and who knows to what level that might propel him.
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