The relatively under-hyped Gfinity CS:GO invitational is silently flying under the ‘excitement radar’ – most fans either don’t care enough about the teams present to tune in or struggle to with agree the unique format that Gfinity have adopted – these reasons could not be more superficial. Not only will the Gfinity Invitational present some great Counter-Strike, but also a rare opportunity to watch untested teams in the best-of-five format.
The first thing to note about this tournament is that there are only four teams present: GODSENT, Epsilon, Mousesports, and EnVyUs. This combined with the single-elimination best-of-five bracket, is identical to Gfinity’s wildly popular Champions of Champions tournament held at the exact same time last year.
However, unlike the previous iteration of this format, the teams in attendance are by no means ‘Champions of Champions’. Rather, they are four teams that have their own major team flaws and tumultuous storylines that accompany them heading to Birmingham. These flaws are by no means an indicator or precursor to suggest bad Counter-Strike though, they add to the potential for a very balanced tournament line-up that could have some insane upsets and almost certainly shake up momentum for some teams, headed into the packed tournament schedule that the end of the year brings.
GODSENT are predicted to benefit in the short-term from the paradigm-shifting Swedish shuffle roster swap, gaining a lifetime of veteran experience and reuniting the core of a once indomitable tactical roster. GODSENT should have been able to pick up right where they left off in 2013, yet their first outing as a squad at the StarLadder StarSeries Season 2 Finals was as disappointing as it was eye-opening for the Swedish side.
A lack of aggressive entrying, combined with a general confidence slump in taking duels resulted in the side being knocked out of groups as a deafening silence dampened any previous hype. This is not to say they are doomed to fail, rather they are the probable favourites to win this tournament, but their performance at StarLadder makes this a tentative prediction based on their experience, as opposed to one based on concrete form. In a similar, downwards slope to GODSENT is the fan-favourite ‘Boys in Blue’ French roster of EnVyUs.
Chalking up one of the worst years on record for the EnVyUs core, the risky addition of DEVIL has bought nothing but a compounding lack of results for the once great French side. Although vintage rounds, halves, and occasionally whole games come in inconsistent bursts to keep fans and admirers hooked on the possibility of a revival, the individually star-studded roster has failed to survive the tooth, fang, and claw of the wild that is the outside of the top-ten Counter-Strike.
Both GODSENT and EnVyUs, although not coming into the invitational with the same hype as the names on the roster alone should warrant, have a key advantage over both Epsilon and Mousesports. Experience.
Although many will perhaps-fairly dismiss Epsilon as a bottom of the barrel online side, the same apologists that hype Disco Doplan and Draken in online play, will forget their surprising performances on LAN over the last three months. At Dreamhack Summer, they beat the Oskar iteration of the Hellraisers roster, before losing to NiP in a nail-biting Bo3 series that had them at 14, and 13 rounds in both games – something GODSENT has failed to do in recent memory.
After Dreamhack, they went on to place second at Asus ROG Summer, beating many forgotten lower tier dark horses like ENCE (with allu) and Escape gaming. Although they will be outmatched in both the skill and experience department against EnVyUs, don’t be surprised to see a cheeky Nuke or Mirage map pick go in favour of the Swedish side.
As their first LAN since the addition of the Czech sniper Oskar, mousesports are bringing an unprecedentedly hyped roster. Considering how long super-star Niko has been in his transcendent form, it will be interesting to see how he not only performs after an extended off-season, but also how he fairs in sharing the limelight with former Hellraisers’ star Oskar. Both players share the Sisyphean grind of carrying their teams beyond the sum of their parts through insane individual prowess and being at the apex of their powers. Whether or not they will be able to relieve the strains of carrying from each other shoulders and work through a different grind in a Bo5 against GODSENT, remains to be seen.
Regardless of the preconceived notions of a tournament containing only four teams and not having traditional big stream draw names like Virtus.pro, SK Gaming, or Ninjas in Pyjamas – the Gfinity invitational, set to begin on September 23rd will provide fans with an opportunity to appreciate a different and refreshing dynamic of competitive Counter-Strike.