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StewieSK – A Gringo amongst Brazilians

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Cloud9 drafted Stewie right out of rankS in 2016. The predominant consensus among pundits and even players was that the young kid with the cheeky smile and attitude was just another pug-star. That his reckless play in and around smokes wouldn’t work against seasoned pros. That the potential reward of picking someone so completely untested against the world’s best didn’t warrant the risk.

Oh boy were they wrong. Not only did Stewie show right from the start that he belonged among NA’s elite, but through his likeable, light-hearted persona, he also brought back that long lost positive energy.

At the time, Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert was IGLing for C9 - a role he never felt comfortable in and it showed. While Stewie2K already excelled individually, the team looked disorganized and results were lacklustre.

So young Stew did, what young Stew had to do. He took matters into his own hands, taking away the reins from n0thing and becoming the team’s IGL himself.

A testament to his character and his confineless belief in himself. We’re talking about an 18-year-old kid with zero experience leading a team, who’s not even one year into his professional career. Only seen as a fragger up to that point, Stewie demonstrated his in depth understanding of the game as well, and soon thereafter led Cloud9 and North America to its very first tier-one tournament victory in a decade at the ESL Pro League Finals Season 4 in São Paolo against none other than his new team, SK Gaming.

Today, Stewie2K is a well-rounded, complete player. Strong with rifles and on the AWP. He doesn’t shy away from taking over responsibility, he keeps his cool under pressure and thrives when things get hectic in late round situations.

He of course also is a Major winner. In January, he and his boys from Cloud9 became the first NA team in CS:GO history to achieve that feat after winning the ELEAGUE Major.

It was an unlikely but magnificent run to glory in Boston. A run so overwhelming, that Cloud9’s shortcomings in the following months were too much to handle and ultimately made this move possible.

SK Gaming too has been struggling in recent months to live up to their clearly defined and unforgiving goal – to be #1 in the world – nothing else counts.

So what can we expect from StewieSK? What should we expect? With all the risks this move entails, the answer is easy – greatness.

How is the new team going to overcome the language barrier? It takes time to override years of conditioned habits. In this case, the players will have to get used to making call outs in English instead of Portuguese. In top-tier Counter-Strike every split second counts towards winning or losing. That could be the split second boltz needs to remember the English name of an area on the map in a late round 2v2 with Stewie.

Stewie stylistically is the opposite of TACO, which makes you wonder how the roles within SK will be distributed. The most obvious choice would be to allocate boltz into an even more passive, supportive role. Or to take away some of fer’s aggression, which in the past already proved to be a bad idea when SK had an identity crisis with felps and fer in the line-up.

All eyes are on Stewie again. Every bad game he plays will be scrutinized, every questionable decision he makes, condemned. He has shown he can handle pressure well in the past, but this will be a different kind of beast. Under Cloud9’s banner, the performance pressure wasn’t even comparable to SK’s aspirations. When you play alongside someone like coldzera, you better not slack.

In addition, SK has to find answers to all of these questions asap. With only 5 wins out of 14 matches in ESL Pro League Season 7, their chances of making the playoffs are still possible, but dim. Losses are no longer an option if they want to compete in Dallas, which I’m sure they do.

Their overall skill has improved with this move, but as we know it’s not always about more skill. Team dynamic is just as important.

Ultimately, no one knows how this move will pan out, but I’m a believer for one simple reason - FalleN. Time and again Counter-Strike’s godfather made the tough, often criticized decisions, and invariably he proved he knows better.

Vamo que vamo, SK Gaming!

Tune into the stream here to watch chrisJ & Co. battle for a spot in the offline finals in Dallas. If you want to watch the season finals, you can purchase tickets here.

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