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Different teams with similar traits

By T 'lurppis' K
Apr 25, 2011 21:52

Imagelurppis reflects on the different lineups he played together with as hoorai/69N-28E/Roccat and considers the strengths and weaknesses which led to their overall level of success.

FI hoorai, FI 69N-28E and FI Roccat were always teams with the potential to beat any single one of the top teams in any given match, at times even win some tournaments, but also teams that, at least I felt, could never live up to their true potential. In this article I will go over some of the reasons why I feel like we could never win a major tournament and what were some of the mistakes we made over the years as a team.

The different lineups:

July 2006 to Feb 2007 (FI hoorai/69N-28E)
-lurppis, naSu, ruuit, contE and toNnpa
Feb 2007 to Aug 2007 (FI 69N-28E/Roccat)
-lurppis, naSu, ruuit, contE and natu
Aug 2007 to April 2008 (FI Roccat)
-lurppis, naSu, ruuit, contE and plastE
April 2008 to May 2008 (FI Roccat)
-lurppis, naSu, ruuit, contE and tihOp

Different styles and different variations

One interesting thing to notice is that apart from the group stage matches where we simply blew weaker teams away, the hoorai of 2006 did not use the AWP at all – not on any side of any map. It was an interesting move and probably wouldn't work anymore in 2011's CS, but back then I felt like our team could be the most effective as a unit if we were simply five good riflers and, as results proved, it was working wonders for us back then. It also helped us stay more consistent. I have always felt like it's very hard to be consistent with the big green unless you have a player who is a full time AWPer and basically uses it whenever possible, on if not all, then at least most sides of all maps. Another thing to consider was the fact we didn't really have any AWPers in the lineup; although ruuit and contE became known a couple of years down the road as solid AWPers as well, back then neither had really excelled with the gun, at least in tournaments.

The third major factor was mostly a combination of the first two; since we didn't have any real AWPers and didn't feel like it was necessary to use the gun on most halves, it would have been a risky move to simply use it for one or two halves of the map, as it is still a very expensive gun. Imagine buying your sniper the gun five times a half compared to buying an M4A1 five times; the difference in price is over $8,000, which can really add up in close matches at LAN tournaments.

ImageIf you compare those three teams, in hoorai (see 'Classic teams: hoorai/69N-28E') we had our most consistent run where apart from a sloppy result at GameGune, after just barely over a week of practice, we placed top 3 in each of the events we attended and won two qualifiers for the events, playing what I would consider the best CS we ever played as a team. The major reason for this was the fact our players hadn't had any real success internationally before, and not only was everyone more open to following our game plan and actually doing what I felt like was needed to win tournaments, but also teams weren't as aware of our playing style as a team or as individual players.

In hoorai we played very well as a team, we had a good mixture of players, with naSu and ruuit being the aggressive entry fraggers, toNppa being the backup, me calling the strats and contE being the lurker. We were very motivated to practice, put in a lot of effort before tournaments and most importantly, when we practiced, we played seriously. I think the fact we weren't receiving salary for playing CS also played a pretty fair role, as from what I can tell most CS players have a tendency to get a lot lazier when it comes to practicing and keeping up their skill after getting to the point where you get paid to play the game.

By 2007 teams were definitely catching on to our playing style and early on in the year our biggest problem was adapting back to playing with my brother. We had attended CPL Nordic and CPL Winter (as well as a one week long bootcamp in Dallas) with barrack playing instead of him, so we had changed a lot of our strats around and the adjustment back to normal wasn't as easy as we had thought it would be. Eventually toNppa ended up getting replaced by natu due to missing practice for a week or so before shgOpen and then ruining a by now notorious round (at least in our team) against FI in an IEM qualifier, where if he had just listened to us and held down the defuse we would have qualified for the finals at CeBIT instead of dropping out against the Finns.

In the 69N-28E team with natu we relied way more on individual skill, good communication and then the basic strats that let us execute all of it. We definitely weren't anywhere near as prepared or well practiced, but we still made it work fairly well. I think a really big part of that pug [pick-up game] style working in this lineup was the fact natu was a really good communicator, so we could run our best strats a lot, work off defaults and then we were really good at winning the close rounds once we got there, thanks to our existing teamwork and the good comms.

ImageWith plastE in the lineup things obviously changed and it took us a while to figure out what exactly to do. He was definitely more skilled than natu was, but as we know skill isn't everything in CS. Our communication and teamwork definitely went down at first, but once we got things settled I actually felt like we were playing better CS with plastE around the time of NGL ONE and IEM finals, than we did in 2007 when we had a bunch of success. I think the main reason for us improving was the fact we lost a couple of tournaments and everyone agreed that we couldn't go on as we had before, and we couldn't expect results without practice, so we were finally able to get at least decent practice in online as well.

The honeymoon

Things started off well for us with natu as we had the most productive bootcamp of my CS career in Germany prior to SEC, where we played an insane amount of CS everyday and kept it serious the entire time. At SEC we had an interesting loss vs UK Goldbrick where contE and naSu decided they were bad enough that they could play with each other's mice for fun and it wouldn't make a difference (which I'm not sure if it did) but we ended up somehow losing to them in our first match of the tournament, dropping us to lower bracket. We had a good run beating a bunch of good teams like DE mouz, FR emuLate and DK NoA, but finally fell to our hardest opponent of 2007, de_dust2 (PL PGS was the team).

Two weeks later we had our biggest international success of the year, winning the NGL ONE finals over SE fnatic and DK NoA. Not much to be said there, I felt like we were the best team at the event and just managed to play to our potential. This skyrocketed our confidence while our problems with practice started getting worse and worse, and we managed to win Assembly Winter and ASUS Spring with barely any practice as a team due to some personal reasons. We bootcamped at IOS before WSVG Louisville, and won that event easily over SE SK as well.

The fall

We had very high expectations heading to Paris for ESWC and made it through the first two group stages despite dropping maps against DE aTTaX and PL PGS. I still remember us sitting by one of the mini stages as they were drawing the single elimination brackets, and the only team we did not want to play in the entire tournament was fnatic. Needless to say, we drew SE fnatic. I remember all of us getting really annoyed at our luck and probably swearing a little bit as it happened, and some of the crowd that had formed giving us weird looks. We went up 12-3 against SE fnatic as CTs on nuke, then somehow lost the map in overtime, broke a few headsets and were never the same team again. I guess all of our confidence was just shot from there, and I remember we didn't even try at all on Inferno. To be fair, we were expecting to win nuke and train and SE fnatic to win inferno anyway, but losing the first map really killed that lineup.

ImageA few drunken nights in Paris and a week or two later at GameGune, we beat SE SK early on but lost to FR emuLate despite coming back from a 1-8 deficit as terrorists on dust2 to a 12-11 lead as CTs, but we lost a 4v2 and with that the match. We beat a couple of weaker teams in the lower bracket but eventually played FI, who we went up against 14-8 and 15-9 easily. At that point ruuit and contE literally refused to adjust to the one strat they were running every round to beat us, and we ended up losing in over time. Although we went onto win the Finnish WCG qualifier 2-0 against FI, that lineup was basically done the second we lost that match in Bilbao.

The 4v2 against the Frenchies was a perfect example of ruuit's play; he got 2-3 HUGE frags by pushing out of long A aggressively, but unfortunately that wasn't enough, and where he could have fallen back to give us a safe 4v2, he instead continued pushing, died and we ended up losing the round. Obviously a 3v2 is by no means ruuit's fault, but it's a good example of how he used to play.

Overall with natu we relied a lot on a few overused strats as he was unable to practice a lot of the time, and to be fair, even when we did practice, our practice was so unserious and worthless that actually almost got kicked out of the IRC channel top teams use to find praccs. Most of us played a ton of CS outside of our team though, so our individual skills were at a good level and with the added routine from natu we made it work, but once we ran into problems people were once again quick to point fingers.

The plastE era

ImageNext up in the list of promotions was plastE, who had become the most skilled player in our rival team. We had our second terrible failure at WCG with this team. We had contemplated losing against the Belgians on purpose in our group to avoid playing PL PGS in the first round of single elimination (which is funny because everyone was going nuts in the forums/comments about us being terrible for playing a 16-14 game against them) but ended up deciding to play it safe because it wasn't the last match in our group. After beating Neo & co we had basically guaranteed ourselves a spot in the finals in our eyes (as fnatic was out), and it seemed like it was going to happen after we went from 0-4 to a 16-4 win in the first map of our quarter final against the Ukrainians of UA A-gaming.

I remember we didn't even bother talking about the second map during our smoke break as they had seemed so weak we didn't think we would even have to use any of our better strats, but underestimating them cost us and we ended the first half 8-7 or so and then lost out in the second half.

The third map is the biggest joke of my CS career as we struggled early on but went into overtime (where we eventually lost), only after Thierry “common sense” French-Canadian admin (no idea what his last name is) decided to forget about all the WCG rules that the Nordic reps brought up to him, which clearly stated what he was doing was against the rules, but he decided to remove a round from us anyways (or it would have ended 16-14). One of the UA A-gaming players had lagged out for a round in the first half, during a 3v1 for us. The rules stated that if more than three players dropped/lagged out then the round would be replayed but if less than three then it would count as it was. His call, which ignored that rule, was easily the most ridiculous admin decision of my CS career.

ImageTwo weeks later in Los Angeles we had a solid showing placing third behind SE fnatic and SE SK (beating NO MYM, KR eSTRO & BR mibr), but once again we were unable to finish a game against walle & co, this time losing a 14-11 lead as terrorists on train and ending up third after an overtime loss. Next year at the NGL ONE finals we played the second best CS in this team's history, having close matches but grinding them out until the very end, where we once again came up short. We lost to SE fnatic 1-2, beat both DE mouz and DE aTTax 2-1 and faced SE fnatic in the grand final. We won the first BO3 2-0, and then lost the deciding one 1-2, after giving up a 14-13 lead in the last map.

The rest of 2008 up until the point I was the one to go was pretty meaningless, we had some bad tournaments and lost matches we should have won, but the most interesting fact was how plastE ended up getting cut for tihOp. I truly do believe, no offense to anyone involved, that the only reason we ended up making that player change (and I think it was the worst change we ever made simply because we had the five best players that also fit well together in Finland) was the fact we were all extremely drunk after two days of drinking in Dnipropetrovsk and tihOp came up to us to talk about it, and I guess in our very drunken state it just felt like a good idea. It wasn't finalized until a day or two later of course, but we were so disappointed with that result we simply didn't care.

The Digifest lineup

Comparing all of that to our recent lineup we played with at Digifest three weeks ago seems pretty straight forward. Everyone's grown up a little and we definitely have less problems as a group, and I think that actually transfers over to in-game fairly well. Everyone was more open to doing things and not anywhere near as hardheaded as in the past. We hardly put in any practice heading into the event, definitely having played under 10 maps as a team with that lineup and I think most (if not all) of us had under 20 hours in STEAM for two weeks as well. I think one major factor of why we won in Tallinn was our giant psychological edge over the other Finns. Even though we had been getting raped online, we always had an extremely good track record against Finns (never losing a map on Finnish soil and only dropping two maps to Logitech abroad over 4-5 years) and I believe FI munkka and FI both came into the matches feeling very uncertain of how they would do against us.

The problems of the team

ImageOur single biggest problem has obviously always been closing matches. As hoorai it was the SE NiP loss in the WCG semi finals in Monza. We won inferno easily, had a decent lead on dust2 that should have been enough to win the Bo3 2-0 if it hadn't have been for zet's 1v3 win, and then gave up a 14-11 lead on train. I think I will always remember how losing that match felt, and being alone with SE NiP in the bus on our way back to the hotel felt pretty much like torture. I don't think any of us really spoke about that match after, we were all extremely disappointed over basically throwing $30k guaranteed and a WCG finals spot away, in our first of many matches where we were unable to close when it really mattered.

As Roccat we fell first to the SE SK featuring Robban & walle in similar fashion to WCG, as we went up 14-12 as terrorists on train at the IEM II Los Angeles Global Challenge but then ran into their stacked inner site (I remember contE really wanting to change the strat I had called in that match against SK simply because we ran that at WCG and lost, and we ended up doing a slow inner strat instead) and lost in overtime. A few months later we were in the NGL ONE finals and after winning the first BO3 coming from the LB against SE fnatic 2-0, we were up 14-13 with 1-1 in maps in the deciding set and ended up losing out, 14-16.

Another problem, which didn't really exist in 2006, was motivation. In 2006 we put in a lot of practice online without bootcamping, but somehow it all changed for the worse. I don't really know what caused it to this date, but we were simply unable to put in any serious practice for a very long time. It sounds ridiculous to anyone reading I'm sure, but for all of 2007 when we had our biggest wins, apart from the two bootcamps our main preparation for all those events were ClanBase matches and uyR cups (especially the latter). Later with plastE on the team things got a little better, but only a little.

Strats wise, apart from what I will get to last, the problem with practice really hurt as well. We were unable to put in serious practice for months, so we obviously weren't going to be able to change our playing style enough to be really unpredictable and I think after a certain period of time teams really caught onto our style too much. I never thought this was a big problem against teams like PL PGS or SE fnatic who played fast, but slower tempo teams like DE mouz and DE aTTaX learned how to counter us very effectively by just watching out for our aggressive play.

Lastly, as we got better and had more wins, peoples egos definitely grew. It wasn't even necessarily about egos I guess, but two people especially on the team got extremely hard headed about in-game stuff. It would be damn near impossible to get contE to be one of the guys rushing out and dying in a fake or to be the first ones up in a rush, as he had simply decided he wasn't going to be involved in any CT side pushes or other risky activities that involved going to places where you might die.

ImageOur best player by far, ruuit, also had some trouble containing himself at times. At first it worked out great because he was one of the most individually skilled players out there, but as people learned to counter his playing style he kept dying more and more for no reason, a good example being a match against JAEGARN at CPL Nordic where he got picked off at least six times trying to pick the middle doors on dust2 with an AWP. The same thing happened against some weak local team at Intel Challenge Cup, where we lost the first half 1-14 after ruuit tried picking middle probably at least 7-8 times, and then lost the match 14-16 (landing us in the harder group where we lost vs. FI & DE aTTaX)

(Photographs copyright of fragbite, and their respective authors)



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