While Swedish teams have traditionally been dominant forces, 2017 has been the worst year in Swedish CS:GO history. All you have to do is look at the number of significant tournament wins by Swedish teams.
|Year||Number of big tournament wins|
*As you can see, Swedish teams have won even less big events than in 2012, where there were almost no significant events.
CS:GO has traditionally been dominated by Swedish teams, with the two most dominant teams in the history of the game being Swedish. 2012 and 2013 was dominated by NiP, while Fnatic took over in late 2014 going all the way into early 2016 with their new lineup.
While the great Swedish teams have never been very tactical, they all played a looser style based on skill and team play. Some of the later iterations of NiP and the reunited Fnatic of early 2017 tried this type of style with very little success, and some critical issues have made them unable to reach their former glory.
The Lack of Superstars
While the Swedish scene has plenty of star players, there is a lack of the superstar player who can put the team on his back and carry them to victory. Sweden had this in the past with players like Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer, both of whom are far away from their top form.
Sweden has plenty of stars, including the likes of Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg, Jesper “JW” Wecksell and Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson. But none of them are at the level of the absolute top players in the world like Marcelo “Coldzera” David, Nikola “NiKo” Kovac and Nicolai “Device” Reedtz. Something that all the best teams throughout history have in common is that they’ve all had a superstar who was able to consistently put up significant numbers and get their team over the finish line.
Where Are the Leaders?
The best Swedish teams in history have never relied on a very tactical style of play, which becomes evident when you look at their in-game leaders. The likes of Richard “Xizt” Landström and Markus “Pronax” Wallsten had their own style that has worked out for them, but they didn’t rely much on set executions and the tactical style of play that we see from teams like Astralis. The Fnatic lineup of late 2015 and early 2016 didn’t even have a traditional in-game leader with Robin “Flusha” Rönnquist taking up the role.
Nowadays Sweden lacks leadership. Xizt is still the leader of NiP, but with GeT_RiGhT and f0rest not being able to reach their former level, the loose style of Xizt often doesn’t work. Fnatic has brought in Maikil “Golden” Selim to lead them, but he has yet to prove that he can lead a team to championships in a LAN environment. If you look at a similar scene, in the form of the Danish, several leaders are among the best in the world. In Sweden, you struggle to name one. Having a tactical style can often be a way to compensate for the lack of star power in a squad, but when you have neither, the teams are naturally going to struggle.
Resistance to Change
The Swedish scene has often seemed resistant to give new talent a chance. While you are naturally not going to make changes while on top, it’s been an issue for Swedish teams that they stick together for too long. The prime example of this has been NiP. Even though NiP has now given the change to Fredrik “REZ” Sterner and William “Draken” Sundin, they didn’t change the core four of Adam “Friberg” Friberg, Xizt, f0rest and GeT_RiGhT until this year.
That’s in spite of the team performing way below what you would expect from a squad of their caliber. With the benefit of hindsight you could even argue that Fnatic going back to their old lineup at the beginning of 2017 was a waste of time.
Time for a Superteam?
The Swedish scene is undoubtedly on a better track than it was at the beginning of the year. Giving a chance to young players like Draken, REZ, and Golden is going to be a necessary process to find out who will rise to the occasion. But the hierarchy within the scene seems to be another issue. If we once again look at the Danish scene, it’s evident that Astralis is the best team, North is the second-best team, Heroic is the third-best team, etc.
With a hierarchy like that, talent naturally rises through the scene and may eventually end up playing among the very best. In Sweden, the hierarchy is not very clear. While NiP may be ranked the highest at the moment because of their win at IEM Oakland, the team doesn’t seem to be at a stage where they can recruit players directly from Fnatic.
While we have yet to see a lot of the new Fnatic on LAN, neither team seems to be able to contend at the top on a consistent basis. If you were able to combine the players from NiP, Fnatic and perhaps a free agent like Dennis “Dennis” Edman, there is still enough talent in the Swedish scene to be able to form a team that can consistently be among the top five in the world. If the Swedish teams stick to the same rosters they have at the moment, it’s going to continue to be difficult for them in 2018.