Which UK CS:GO players should you be watching?
Casters Jacky and Snodz tell us about the top players and teams who will be competing in the ESL Premiership.
It’s a big weekend for UK CS:GO as four top teams – Epsilon, Radix, Xenex and Vexed – battle it out in the ESL Premiership final. According to caster Alex ‘Snodz’ Byfield, Epsilon are the hot favourites and will be well worth watching. “They’re one of the top 30 teams in the world, with one of the best UK players by far on their roster in Smooya. He could basically solo carry the finals if he wanted to.”
But can Smooya or any other players break out of the Premiership to compete in the Pro League and major tournaments like The FaceIt Major, which is coming to Wembley in September? Snodz, together with fellow caster Jack ‘Jacky’ Peters, told us about some of the top talents that we should be watching.
Epsilon preparing players to go pro
Snodz: Epsilon has found its niche as an academy – what they do is build and foster talent, and then sell these players on for six-figure numbers to bigger organisations. Rez, Draken, Disco Doplan… all these players have been through and churned out by Epsilon. They’ve sold Disco Doplan and FreddieB to Godsent, Rez and Draken to NIP. There’s a lot of great players who have made it through to the highest level through Epsilon. They now have [UK player] Smooya –lots of international teams are trying to grab him as he is such as hot prospect.
Jacky: With the UK scene, the talent we’ve seen hasn’t really breached the EU market. We’ve had players like Surreal and Dephh that have been shipped out to NA, had a pretty good stint and then towards the end [some] have returned. Surreal is back in the UK, but Dephh is still out there with Complexity – he’s had a two-year contract so that’s been pretty good to see.
The rise of the UK coaches
Jacky: Recently, though, it’s been about the rise of the UK coaches – we recently saw Ian ‘Immi’ Hardy step down. He was a huge player for Endpoint and one of the big brains of the scene. He hung up the mouse and has moved over to the US to coach NRG, and they have been absolutely crushing it right now. Just recently they picked up a 2-0 over SK and they have been dominating the scene. It’s a 15-0 win streak, where they have just been picking up map win after map win.
Snodz: They had something ludicrous like 35 wins out of the last 40 matches – Immi’s had a crazy impact on this roster and it’s surprising because he came from the UK scene, but they still respect him as one of their own.
The players to watch
Jacky: In terms of someone who looks like they could have a lot of firepower in the later stages, the one for me has got to be Ardiis. This guy had quite a big fanbase behind him because he is quite funny, but he’s incredible at CS. He basically came out of nowhere, appearing in the Premiership last year, breaking in through the online qualifiers to get his debut. After that everyone wanted him.
Snodz: For Epsilon, you have to highlight Smooya. Vexed, I’d put my eyes upon Ozzy – he is one of the most highly skilled players in the Premiership, definitely a talent. From Xenex, look at Shane – he was one of the driving forces when they beat Wind and Rain; he’s been putting in so much effort of late, grinding out all the hours. And from Radix we have to highlight Ardiis.
Can these players and teams make it to the next level?
Snodz: It’s hard to say – The Epsilon roster have three UK players on the roster – Surreal, Jenko and Smooya. The issue is: is there longevity in that roster? I don’t know. All these organisations are trying to hunt down Smooya right now as he’s such a hot prospect, so does he stay in that roster or does he get picked up by another team?
In terms of Endpoint, Vexed, they all went to Copenhagen games and none of the teams made it out of the group stages there. I feel like we have another year to wait. These teams have so much more to go… It's maybe another nine to 12 months before we see a UK team in the top 30, apart from Epsilon.