The playstyle transformation’s that could define a Chiefs OCE CS:GO era

Max Melit Columnist

By , Max Melit is a Roar Expert

Tagged:
 , , , , , , , , ,

1 Have your say

    The Chiefs esports CSGO team. (Source: CyberGamer Australia)

    Over the back half of 2016, many of the formerly great Australian CS:GO rosters were in flux.

    In this time of roster uncertainty and experimentation, Athletico (now Tainted Minds) managed to take the mantle of best team in Australia, dominating the domestic competition.

    Now, as we’ve gone in and out of the first quarter of 2017, it’s clear that this is no longer the case. Chiefs ESC have emerged as the new Kings in the OCE CS:GO space, and they have the results and pieces to define an era.

    Simply going down the list of the Chiefs results over the course of their 2017 campaign so-far gives all the evidence required to award them the OCE CS:GO crown. Results however, never tell the full story of a teams rise to the top – especially in the case of Chiefs.

    So with this in mind, it’s worth looking at how the Chiefs core has evolved since they formed in August of 2016, and specifically at the playstyle and positional changes that has made them the best team in OCE.

    With tucks and Lightstep being the two guiding members of this roster, the young talents of INS, malta, and Alistair were recruited to join the more experienced pairing. Although INS had shown potential early on, and Alistair had a clear affinity for creating opportunities out of nothing, the young three-man fragging core was by no means a ‘well rounded’ set of players upon arrival.

    They each had their faults, with in-game maturity being a generally lacking trait across the board. Lightstep has a history however, as an in-game leader, of being someone who can mould inexperienced talent and successfully integrate individual stars into a side. His work with Ofnu, zewsy, BURN and Dexter in the previous Chiefs roster shows just that.

    Initially though, Lightstep’s calling style was far more loose than what you might expect given their current form. Having to largely rely on fairly free T-rounds and flashes of brilliance from their burgeoning talents to win games, the Chiefs roster had some relatively mediocre performances. While the side clearly had talent and potential, in key qualifiers, talent alone was not going to be enough to get them over the line.

    With this in mind, the roster decided to let tucks take over calling responsibilities from Lightstep a week before the ESL ANZ Championship S2 Finals at PAX. This move didn’t drastically change the style of Chiefs due to tucks having a similar, loose T approach, but it clearly gave Lightstep more confidence on the AWP. Round-to-round Lightstep won more opening duels than we’d normally expect, and it was clear he felt more comfortable not having to call and AWP at the same time.

    In saying that, at PAX, Chiefs still fell to Athletico 3-1 in the final, and although in some aspects Chiefs looked stronger, as the duel count between Infrequent and Lightstep shows, further systemic change was required.

    So, following a harrowing 2-0 to Risky Gaming at the ASUS ROG Masters and only having a month absence as IGL, Lightstep took back up calling responsibilities, with tucks slowly moving towards the primary AWP role. This time around though, the team wanted to focus on tactics and structure, jettisoning the puggy style that had caused them headaches in the past.

    Chiefs ESC Win CGPL 10 esports

    This key transition around December of 2016 would be one of the major turning points to propel this line-up to the number one spot in Australia.

    With a month break over the new year to drill their new tactical approach, the Chiefs roster came well prepared as 2017 kicked off. Playing in a more structured system, all four fragging members of the side found form.

    Malta quickly became one of the best small site players in the region, consistently finding frags and always working to obtain small advantages for his team. INS does some of his best work on T-side, often coming into sites late and working crucial angles to secure bomb plants and trade key frags.

    With INS and Malta providing a solid base, both alistair and tucks have more freedom to play more aggressively across the map and occasionally work individually from the team. In double AWP set-ups this is especially prevalent, with both tucks and alistair being able to control massive portions of the map with their confident play.

    While they were dominating online play domestically though, behind-the-scenes Lightstep was struggling to find the large bodies of time required to improve as a caller. As an outsider looking in, during this period there was seemingly no issue in-game due to Lightstep’s pre-existing bank of experience and strategies, and the high level of skill between his four-man fragging core. As other teams quickly began to

    As other teams quickly began to improve, however, the need to keep things fresh became more prevalent. This saw tucks once again take up the mantle of IGL, with the intent to maintain the tactical system developed under Lightstep’s tenure.

    This left Lightstep, positionally, in an unfortunate state of limbo. His efficacy as a primary AWPer had already being tried and tested, and with tucks performing at a high level in the role, there was no clear advantage to having Lightstep in the side just as a rifler, especially given the availability and willingness of other, more talented riflers to join the side. So in late March, Lightstep was swapped for pecks from SYF Gaming.

    Chiefs, now with the weakest fragging link replaced by a fundamentally solid aimer, the young players more matured in-game, and refining their structured approach with more aggression, look better than ever.

    All five players are capable of becoming the win condition on a good day, and have – as scene veteran forge tweeted – a monopoly over the scene’s top talent. Although the roster change saw them forced to use a stand-in at the ESEA-P S24 playoffs where they lost to Athletico in the round-of-8, and they’ve had recent troubles in ZEN League, overall, the first stint of 2017 has been theirs to claim.

    A laundry list of top placings include: 16-0 in the regular season of ESEA Premier, 5-2-0 (win/draw/loss) in CGPL S10 round robing, and first place at the CGPL LAN. At the moment at least, no team in OCE can come close to their bank of results and in-game dominance.

    Historical ‘eras’ of OCE CS:GO dominance are more staggered than the eras in international play due to the lower amount of LAN opportunity present in Australia. If Chiefs can continue their high level of success, and navigate the looming OCE shuffle successfully however, then the next couple of months could see them usher in a domestic era of their own.