Team Immunity and missing a piece of the OCE CS:GO puzzle

Max Melit Columnist

By , Max Melit is a Roar Expert

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    For most teams within the OCE CS:GO space, victory in the top echelons of domestic play is an unreachable goal.

    There are a very clearly defined group of top teams, and everyone not in that chosen elite are forced to wait patiently for these top sides to either slip up in-game, or explode through roster/organisational changes outside of it.

    In the moment at least, it’s pretty clear who’s on top and who’s not. However, within this top percentile of play, Immunity lies alone as a team with the potential to challenge Tainted Minds/Chiefs for the number one spot but has been failing to do so, as most recently seen in their performance at the CGPL LAN in Adelaide.

    Immunity has had oscillating results both online and offline, suggesting that their spot among OCE’s best isn’t as firmly set as the organisation’s pedigree would have you believe. This begs the obvious question, why?

    Ignoring any possible out-of-game problems, one of the key issues that see’s Immunity stumble at multiple hurdles is their lack of consistent stars, and of firepower relative to the skill level of their peers.

    Back in August of 2016, we saw Immunity announce the roster of James, Gratisfaction, BURNRUOK, Destiny, with their coach gazR ‘standing in’ for what would be a three month period. With this new roster and a gap in the top end of the scene left by Winterfox moving overseas, Immunity would go on to be the constantly challenging force behind the top roster at the time – Athletico (now Tainted Minds).

    Counter Strike: Global Offensiv

    Destiny, Burn and Gratisfaction were the fragging core, going to toe-to-toe with OCE’s best. Burn was able to flaunt a dominance on teams with lower-skilled duellers, Destiny could grind away enemies T-sides with his excellent CT site play, gratisfaction was the volatile third star and James’s excellent T-side calls operating behind it all.

    With a strong, consistent fragging core that had interval flashes of brilliance from gratisfaction/burn, Immunity was always a dangerous threat and at times were nearly able to take the top spot from Athletico.

    However, with the removal of both gazR and Destiny, and the addition of erkaSt and MoeyCQ, this fragging core dynamic/star dynamic has shifted entirely, and at the start at least, this shift was seemingly for the better. After impressive stand-in performances with Athletico, erkaSt was given an opportunity to play with a top team and the resources to invest more time into CS.

    Almost immediately upon his arrival, we saw erkaSt drop ridiculous stats in domestic competition and when playing with his quietly brazen team-orientated confidence he dismantled domestic opposition with ease. His unique passive playstyle combined with an in-game intelligence few can match makes him impossible to touch with the infamous aggressiveness that many players in the region utilise.

    While erkaSt however, could, and still occasionally does single handily win a half or game for his team, the support around his star power has been inconsistent, and these dominating performances have been cropping up less and less.

    Gratisfaction is in theory erkaSt’s co-star, but fails to have the consistency that this position might suggest. The secondary or co-star needs to be able to pick up the slack when the primary star falters or in a best case scenario, tag-team with the star to completely overwhelm the opposition. Gratisfaction has the complimentary explosive playstyle to erkaSt’s intelligent passivity, and the skill to back it up; however, he lacks what Immunity needs most, consistency.

    Burn already fills out the third star role fine, occasionally going off and pushing the roster over the line if he’s feeling it. Gratisfaction’s job, especially as the AWPer needs to be one more concerned with finding impact frags round-to-round and half-to-half. The blueprint of a great two man fragging core is there, Gratisfaction just needs to gain more experience and maturity in-game, and importanlly learn when NOT to make his random stints of aggression in a game.

    This isn’t easy when his AWP is often given to Moey in certain situations, and the young Kiwi is forced onto a rifle. While Moey’s experience means that he can work picks from surprising angles, his raw skill is clearly not up to the levels of other top players in the scene, and it shows especially in duels on CT side. What’s more, this takes valuable time away from Gratisfaction, time that could spent honing his abillity to hit his innatley high skill ceiling with more regularity.

    The problem of consistency and firepower is massively amplified when erkaSt and Gratisfaction are both not having good games. With only the sage hand of MoeyCQ, the relentless aggression of Burn, and solid to middling fragging of James outside of this two, Immunity struggles greatly in terms of firepower against other top teams. In other eras of OCE play, this wouldn’t have posed a massive problem. Traditionally, we can see the likes of Burn and Moey beat out top sides, and history has shown that throughout 2014-16. However, the current period is not like any other.

    The influx of money and LAN opportunities that has graced the scene in the last six months has culminated in the top end of the scene having rosters stacked with talent. Chiefs, Tainted Minds, and Avant Garde are the three sides that would arguably be ranked above iM, and each of them boast 3-4 players who can carry their team over the line on a good day. In fact, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say all five members on Chiefs at this moment could become a win condition for their team when they have their confidence.

    Needless to say, to succeed in this era, teams need to be able to duel successfully, and duel frequently on nearly every position of the map.

    The one thing that Immunity does have going for them that other teams can’t necessarily boast to the same degree, is a dedicated caller who operates a clearly defined, and generally very succesful tactical system with lower tiered firepower. James’s calling, especially on T-side, allows iM to play greater than the sum of their parts when people aren’t in form and sees them regularly play close matches against other top sides. A system alone, however, is clearly not enough to win key series if his stars can’t frag.

    If Immunity wants to find success and return to their perennial top spot on the OCE CS:GO heap, they need more raw firepower and consistency, ideally from a younger player who can be moulded into James’s system. Something easier said than done in the current climate. Many of the players on teams like Dark Sided, Athletico and SYF Gaming, possess these qualities and could be potentially avenues to go down, if team politics and personalities are willing to come together.

    Whether the bolstering of Immunity’s firepower comes through a roster change to their star players, a change to the structure around these stars, or simply reworking roles/styles in the team to try out new positions, the point is, something has to change.

    One of the most storied organisations in Australia has a name value that attracts the scenes top talent but also puts pressure on the team itself to perform and hold up this expectation. The question now isn’t what’s happening to Immunity, but whether they’re willing to make the moves necessary to return to the top.

    Edited 11/4: Paragraph on James’s calling for clarity