It is with great shame that I admit you're seeing the second iteration of this post. The first is sitting, nearly completed, on my computer. In my infinite wisdom, I decided not to transfer that file to my laptop, which I took with me for my holiday travels. My attention to detail is stunning.
It's even worse because there’s so much to talk about! I’m recapping my most Surprising Performances from the CGS World Finals, but I’ve also got Most Dominating and Unsung Heroes coming up. There's also this small tournament called the CPL going on. (Two years ago, "small" would have been obvious sarcasm. Now? Even I'm not sure if I was being sarcastic.) And of course, I'm sure somebody said something stupid on a forum and it will drive me into a posting frenzy (aZn, I’m looking at you).
I’ll probably even post on Christmas day in a desperate attempt to avoid interacting with my extended family. If my words sound strained in the next couple days, you know why.
But that’s all in the future. For now, we have the most surprising players and matches from the CGS World Finals.
Honorable Mentions (No Particular Order):
Birmingham CS:S – For their utter domination (3-0, +4.67 rounds per match). The only thing holding them back from the top-10 is that their players have a history of being on top teams.
Carolina CS:S –They were 4-0, and got Carolina an average of 5.25 rounds per match. That means a DoA player could get shut-out 5-0, and Carolina (on average) would still win. That’s impressive.
Vanessa in the Itagaki Challenge – She looked tentative during the match, and most people expected a closer win for Offbeat, or even a Vanessa victory. The 2-5 result was pretty unexpected.
THE TACTICAL beating Offbeat Ninja – We’ll have more on Offbeat coming up, but by the time THE TACTICAL from the Berlin Allianz beat him, Offbeat was already proven mortal by losing to Tetra during the Individual Finals. It’s hard to be shocked by something when it happens twice in two days.
10. XFX vs. coL Exhibition Match
Did this match remind anybody else of the Pro Bowl?
You have the established veterans that have nothing to gain by winning (compLexity). There’s no monetary reward, and there isn’t even pride on the line because the match means absolutely nothing. It’s a microscopic step above losing in practice.
Then you have the first-timers trying to make their mark (XFX). They have everything to prove, most notably that they belong. Who cares if Tom Brady and Randy Moss aren’t really trying? If you’re a first-time Pro Bowl Cornerback that can pick off a pass and return it for a TD on national television, it’s a huge boost in exposure. People remember your name, and when the popularity contest (aka the voting process) comes around next year, guess whose name sticks out a bit more?
It was pretty obvious from the start that coL didn’t really care, and XFX was going all-out. XFX players and managers were yelling and screaming after every round they won. The CGS could have recorded their reactions and broadcast it as the last match of the World Finals, and they would have fit right in. In fact, they were probably more vocal than Chicago during their Finals victory.
Meanwhile, for coL, I’m not sure anybody talked the whole match. The normally motivational Jason Lake wore a small path on the stage from pacing back and forth, but didn’t try too hard to pump up the troops. There was none of the screaming or cheering after big rounds. It was the polar opposite of XFX.
Don’t get me wrong, I think they were still trying, but there was no sense of urgency. It’s not that surprising that XFX won.
Then again, they’re still complexity, and I don’t think many people were betting on XFX to win. So it deserves a spot on the list, even if the game itself had nothing on the line.
9. David “Olander” Olander-Presson, Berlin Allianz, Source
This could be a case of “the pond” interfering with a player’s recognition. I find it hard to believe that people in the UK Source scene, who see Olander play on a consistent basis, would find his play at the CGS World Finals surprising. It’d be like somebody that follows the US Source scene being shocked that Devour was pretty good. It’s obvious that both players are stars when you see them once or twice.
Still, I felt he was worth mentioning because his play was so dominant at times. On offense he struggled a little bit from what I remember, but that could be due to the fact that Inferno was played half the time, and everybody struggles on T side of Inferno.
When he was on defense, though, the only word that comes to mind is “wow”. He was a beast, to put it simply. If he got one kill in a round, it was a bad performance. He usually got two or three frags bunched together, totally destroying the opponent’s strat. It was a great performance, and one of the reasons Berlin’s Source team was able to make a huge comeback against the Mexico City Furia.
8. Chris “ChrisyB” Bullard, London Mint, FIFA
He certainly wasn’t the first victim of the changing face of eSports, but he might be the most prominent. As eSports becomes more popular, each win becomes more valuable. On a stage like the World Finals, you simply have to be prepared for your opponent.
In his match against Nicholas “Peekay” DePalmer (more on him later), it was obvious who was more prepared. Peekay won the information game, and it wasn’t even close. He studied his opponent’s play in earlier matches, learned his tendencies, and developed a strategy designed specifically to beat him. Anybody else think that’s a large reason why a player that amassed a 1-11 record during the regular season of Region 1 could beat the #1 pick of the European Draft, a highly regarded FIFA player?
The times are changing. Don’t get left behind.
7. Wilson “Tetra” Chia, Singapore Sword, DoA Male
Some players struggled in the spotlight, but Tetra wasn’t one of them. He took down Ryan “Offbeat Ninja” Ward, who is apparently good enough to have two nicknames – the second being “Mr. CGS”. Offbeat was heavily favored going into the DoA Male Individual Tournament, but Tetra came away with the trophy.
From watching the match, it seemed like his strategy had two key components: launches and humility. He continually threw Offbeat into the air, which allowed him to score combos as Ward slowly came back to Earth. I only hope that Offbeat got some frequent flier miles for his troubles.
Of course, after every round win, his manager would go progressively more nuts, while Tetra would just smile sheepishly like it was all luck. He was the only one that felt that way, though. He simply outplayed Offbeat during the match. I don’t know if I’d take him over Ward in a best-of-five series, but he got it done against a heavily-favored opponent, and he did it in style.
6. Sonny “sOnNy” Tran, Carolina Core, CS:Source
Ask ten people who Carolina’s best Source player is, and you’ll hear “Devour” nine times out of ten. The last person will say something snarky like “Samdemic” or “Chammalina Core”, which mean the same thing.
But he wasn’t their best player during the CGS World Finals. Sonny was just as dominating in his best moments, and he was more consistent. Devour disappeared during the Semi-Finals match, which didn't kill the Core thanks (in part) to Sonny’s play. The rest of the team did well in spurts, but Tran was a huge reason why Carolina’s team played as well as it did, and I don’t think anybody outside of Carolina expected them to play well if Devour wasn’t carrying them.
5. Volodymyr “Chud1k” Nedoviz, Stockholm Magnetik, FIFA
He’s one of my new favorite players, if only for the ridiculously cool name. You don't meet many people named Volodymyr, but it would be even better if he was royalty so we could call him Lord Volodymyr. Even without that, think of the other possibilities! We could call him V-ned (like A-Rod), Volo, Lody, Nedo, Voloviz. You don’t see many people with two v’s and a z in their name. We need to get somebody on this. Chud1k just doesn't do it for me.
Unfortunately, his play in the World Finals didn’t do much for me, either. He looked excellent in his first match against Sydney, but he promptly ran into Andrew “Anomaly” Brock, who we’ll be talking about a little later. His 1-4 loss to Brock was stunning. There’s no way a 4-1 victory is fluky. He just got outplayed, and considering Brock’s record during the Region 1 regular season (1-8 against people other than Peekay), it was a shocking upset.
4. Ryan “Offbeat Ninja” Ward, Carolina Core, DoA Male
Here’s what Offbeat did during his biggest matches in the CGS:
Itagaki Challenge: 5-2 Win over Vanessa
Individual Finals: 3-5 Loss to Tetra
Semi-Finals: 2-5 Loss to THE TACTICAL
Finals: 1-5 Loss to Blackmamba
For those of you scoring at home, that’s one round in the Semi-Finals and Finals for every hit that A-Rod gets in his yearly postseason appearance. Not good.
When we call a player the “anchor” of a team, we mean that when the seas get rough, that person keeps you stabilized. Unfortunately, sometimes a player can just be deadweight like an anchor. Your team is moving along swimmingly, and all of a sudden the anchor is sabotaging your forward movement. For instance, we could call Jamie Lynn Spears the anchor for abstinence.
Offbeat was the good kind of anchor for the Region 1 regular season and the start of the CGS World Finals. And he’ll probably get back to that next season. But during some of the most important matches, he was the bad kind of anchor.
3. Stockholm Magnetik losing 9-34 to Chicago
When you set a record for the most feeble offense in history, you’re going to end up on a list or two like this. It’s not totally their fault considering Chicago looks like a combination of the New England Patriots and the 1985 Chicago Bears. And the only difference between Stockholm’s performance and Carolina’s respectable showing in the Finals was Source. The Core’s team won big, and Stockholm’s Source team got rolled. The rest of the games were equally lopsided.
Still, nine points! Nine Freakin Points! And one of those was guaranteed, because you can’t get shut out in PGR.
That’s all I have to say about that.
2. Berlin’s Comeback against Mexico City
Mexico City was up 17-11 going into the last game in their match against the Berlin Allianz. All they need to do was escape CS:Source with a 7-11 loss and they’d advance to the next round. A 6-12 loss would result in a tie. And after a 4-14 debacle, they were heading home.
What makes it worse is the match was on Inferno, which is so CT-sided that you can usually bank on 5 rounds on defense. It’s like betting on Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, or Britney Spears to do something crazy on New Year’s Eve. It’s a mortal lock.
But somehow, Mexico City just couldn’t hold it together. They’d get a pick, and lose the round. Olander would destroy their whole strats at the B site. nordQvist was picking them with ease. It was a complete disaster. You could feel the game slipping away from Mexico City, and nobody stepped up.
The whole audience was in shock, to say nothing of the players and managers. When you completely surprise the people rooting for you, including your GM, you get a guaranteed spot on the “Most Surprising” list.
1. US FIFA Players
I mentioned Andrew “Anomaly” Brock and Nicholas “Peekay” DePalmer in the earlier FIFA matches, and they have to be the clear number one. Nobody else even came close.
If you exclude matches against each other, they were 2-16 during the Regular Season. I’m a big fan of looking at numbers and trying to see a counter-argument, like “Team A wasn’t that bad, despite their record, because … “. I’m pretty sure that no matter how you look at 2-16, you end up with “bad”. You might end up with various shades of it, but you can only sugarcoat it so much.
Thankfully, “bad” isn’t a permanent condition. People learn and get better. Or they take performance enhancing drugs. And although Anomaly was wearing a size ten hat and got into a fight with a mirror because he thought somebody was looking at him funny, they obviously worked hard to improve.
Of the two, Anomaly was the better player. He was 3-0 with a 9-3 Goals For/Against split, and he defeated Peekay 2-1 in the Finals. That was actually his closest match, even though he was up 2-0 for a large portion of the game.
Peekay wasn’t quite as good. He went 1-2 in matches, excluding the loss to Anomaly. One of those was an overtime loss, and one was the overtime win against ChrisyB. Given his record and reputation, it was still a huge shock despite the less than sterling record. Let’s face it, most people viewed Peekay’s unfailing confidence the same way you’d view a third grade classmate’s promise of becoming President someday – provided that classmate ate paste, was considered mildly retarded, and had a tenuous grasp on the English language. Now imagine your surprise when that came true.
(For democrats, that might hit a little close to home.)
The only thing more improbable than Anomaly and Peekay playing well would have been Peekay and Carolina being cheered. Actually, the only thing more improbable would be me posting more than twice a week.
Prepare yourselves for more surprises!