A Year of Up’s, Down’s and Gloves.

Been away and not had a chance to play CS:GO, the newly crowned eSports game of the year? You might have missed a few things. It seems this year, Valve (also an eSports industry winner) has taken their gloves off, heh, gloves… I’ll explain later.


So, whose year has it been? Whose year has it been not…Or something…


There have been lots of changes in the last 12 months and boy has there been some ups and downs, coaches being limited, player formed associations, Tmartin and the gambling palava and much more. What sums up 2016 for me, is CS:GO giants NIP returning to form and winning trophies, to then fall down emphatically to minnows Vega Squadron 16-2 and not even qualify for the next E-league Major.


It’s also been a year where the game itself has changed somewhat. We have seen some fantastic updates this year that, yes, a little buggy, have all been awesome steps in the right direction.


The sound is new, all of the ‘pew pew’ noises have undergone an overhaul, the new USP-S sounds sweeter than sugar on your Frosties. There has been the introduction of HRTF, refined virtual surround sound for stereo, which is awesome, a little processor intensive but a positive move. The only bad sound for me is the strange ‘low ammo click’. I mean I accept that CS:GO is an Esport, it’s not a military simulator, but do we really need a low battery / ammo warning?

There have been lots of map updates, lots of bug fixes, making CS:GO ever so more playable and there is of course, Newferno or Infernew or just a solid update to the classic Inferno. Will this see it comfortably sitting as a stable map for 2017’s professional calendar? Will this see Dust 2 revamped and taken out the map pool to receive a similar polish? Also a worthy note for Nuke which has been optimised and made wholly more playable, cheers Volvo.


There has also been the introduction of Prime Matchmaking to reduce chances of bumping into smurfs or hackers. How well it works is a mixed bag of opinion, shake it up and pull out a view. My experience has been good but not great, I’ll leave it there. There has also been the obligatory visual updates to models and oh yeah, we can buy gloves for about the same price as my mortgage repayment. Strictly for the lavish and stylish.

This year saw some great events. EPICENTER put on an impressive display with a real life Counterstrike theatre show, actual grown men rolling around and defusing bombs. It was almost as impressive as the stage and the action within, with Dignitas eventually taking home the gold.

Turner’s E-League joined the scene in 2016 bringing a new standard to production, with glossy studios, tv screening at home or live at outlets and its ever repetitive earworm inducing soundtrack. CS:GO got the shine and it looked great.Their first season saw victory fall to Virtus Pro with an eye watering 400k prize booty. The second season saw a similar swag get delivered to OpTic. Next year looks to be shiny bright too with the first E-League Major kicking off in January.


ESL, Dreamhack, MLG, Starladder and the usual suspects had great events on the whole, some may have been marred by poor production like ESL’s Pro League Final in Brazil and events like Dreamhack Bucharest suffered from poor crowd behaviour. However, they all had top-value performances,whether it was s1mple’s gun chucking or Coldzera’s jumping AWP magic, the quality was really in the players.


Who had a good year then? Well, it started out in Fnatic’s favour, then in the middle it was all about SK/Luminosity and Virtus.Pro and towards the end it was, well, anyone’s game with Astralis, OpTic, Gambit, Cloud9, Na’Vi and Dignitas all touting successes. But if I had to pick three that had a good year, I’d go for these guys:


The old guard have now been together unchanged for over three years and in this year have just signed a new contract which keeps them with the bear emblem until 2020. That in its own right is an incredible achievement for the players and eSports on the whole. Not only this though, they won, convincingly, the first season of E-League, Dreamhack and others with some notable seconds to Dignitas at EPICENTER and Na’Vi at ESL New York. Together and unchanged for years and looking like that for the distant future, getting old and having families, yet still whipping the young lads, I’d say they had a good year, yes sir.

OpTic Gaming

Another E-league season winner, another top pick, not just this though, OpTic in my opinion pipped the rest of the NA scene to be recognised as the top of the crop.Winning Northern Arena, AMC and Road to Vegas, as well as decent finishes elsewhere, saw them rise above Cloud9 and Liquid to be one of the best on that side of the pond. Their true calibre kicked in towards the end of 2016, so let’s hope they hit next year running fast and hold the mantle high for NA CS:GO. Could the divide between NA and EU shrink further in 2017?

SK Gaming

Undoubtedly it was their year. Winning the hearts of their nation and further afield the Brazilians (and Fox) took on the best, and won. They won countless events, were exciting to watch and were, well, cool. There was the odd incident on twitter, like where Cold fell out with step-in Shoowtime but that is water under the bridge now. They did also have some very strange results, namely getting 16-0’d to Renegades, but overall they were consistent, sporting, classy and entertaining. With the departure of one of their key players Fnx, who was known for being an undisciplined talent, let’s see how 2017 shapes up.


Ok, great for those guys but who had a duff year? In my opinion these guys didn’t quite cut the mustard:


Well, I don’t think any other team had a worse year than Echofox. Touted as an all-star lineup of new and old legends, huge financial backing from the ex-NBA star Rick Fox and strategic stability from Sean Gares, should have set this team up to be fisty cuffing with the likes of Liquid and Co. as a top flight NA team. However, it all came crashing down for Echofox who got destroyed in matches against EU competition who didn’t even register them as a threat. Meme’s ahoy. They didn’t seem too stable in house either with ShaZam often openly disgruntled on twitter or streams. They formed in 2016 and disbanded in 2016, winning nothing notable, and achieved being a meme more than a team: http://gamingmeme.com/neo-about-echo-fox/


Not sure who sent them, but pretty sure it wasn’t god. Controversial, as we all really want to love GODSENT and want them to succeed. However, this year they really haven’t. Having the much better half of the fnatic / GODSENT trade with JW, flusha, KRiMZ joining Pronax, we thought we might have a new Swedish powerhouse on our hands, look out Fnatic, look out NiP. We were wrong. I appreciate a team takes a while to gel and set up but with various backs and forths and KRiMZ eventually going back to Fnatic, it looks like GODSENT are just not there yet. Let’s hope we see these stars shine bright in 2017.


It certainly isn’t as bad for Mouseports as it is for Echofox or even to a degree GODSENT, but they have had a year that was, well just not theirs, with ChrisJ on form, new prodigies joining then leaving and NiKo, who is touted as one of the best, an enigma like S1mple or Dev1ce just not performing to that level and getting frustrated with it. Mousesports were in a rut, they are a team that should contend and win, not always but more times than not, and this year they have seemed like a group- stage team, a team that no one fears, a team that’s just not pieced together right. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2017 sees yet more shuffling in the ranks of mousesports lineup.
Well, those are my thoughts, agree, disagree or even agree to disagree. But I think we can all admit that 2016 was a fantastic year for CS:GO and if the ball keeps rolling like this 2017 will be bigger and better still!

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Gaming since monitors were deep dished and beige was a cool colour, writer and procrastinator of all things CSGO.

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