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Meet the Teams: Final 16 CS:GO – Part 1

The NUEL’s Spring CS:GO University Championship has spent three hard fought weeks looking to find their top 16 teams to enter into the Varsity Division. They’ll battle it out on Tuesdays at 7pm on twitch.tv/thenuel. All of the teams are looking to be crowned the Spring 2019 champions and take the top prize of a VIP trip to ESL One Cologne.

This season has seen some of most intense and competitive Counter-Strike in university esports history, with teams constantly improving and building that teamwork to become a more cohesive unit. We’ll take a look at 8 of the teams and see how they think the Varsity Division will go down and we’ll have a look at the other 8 in the next article.

Warwick Stretchyboiz are undeniably the best team to have competed in the NUEL, with three consecutive season wins to their name. Speaking to m_fx, their ingame leader and captain, we get an insight heading into the Varsity Division.

Starting out strong and going undefeated in the qualification stage, Warwick Stretchyboiz know they’re the clear favourites to win the NUEL for a 4th time. Stepping into the top 16, they are keeping an eye out for long standing rivals Lancaster Quackheads and strong newcomers Swansea Storm Green, who play like they’ve been together for a long time, having the strong ability to “change their setup between series to adapt to the way we [Warwick Stretchyboiz] played”. m_fx also gives credit to their coach, Allan, who’s “coaching ability far exceeds what’s necessary to dominate the university scene.” Allan becomes the cherry on top for the Stretchyboiz, showing a perfect balance of individual skill, solid fundamentals and critical analysis.

Oxford Brookes Vipers is a team looking to burst out onto the University scene, OBV have certainly caught the attention of the teams around them after dominating Warwick Stretchyboiz 16-2 last season. Building upon the foundations, they bolster their roster by bringing in more new talent, fielding a team of 8 players.  To lead the fragging power they have Yura, “one of the best players in the UK, let alone the NUEL” speaking to Asteria they’ve “bonded well outside of their game… enabling the team to act as and think as one cohesive unit.” This mentality alongside their raw ability leaves them in a strong position to contest the reigning champions.

Another team that looks to flaunt their skill are Swan Patrol, a team that contains four UK Pro League players definitely puts them above most teams in terms of raw fragging power; speaking to captain Tink he shares the same thoughts, but recognises that this could be one of their weaknesses. Revealing that the team doesn’t practice, he feels this may leave them at a disadvantage against more regimented teams like Warwick Stretchyboiz. Where in their matchup used “slow defaults and execute heavy map control against us” catching them off guard “but in a brawl they stand very little chance.”

Making a return after a small break, we see Lancaster Quackheads and some NUEL veterans return. Tobz, Exparallis and Enigma are all 2x winners of the NUEL, being the ‘ones to beat’ before Warwick Stretchyboiz took the throne. Boasting some impressive fraggers, the individual skill of the Lancaster players make them one of the hardest teams to beat, but recent roster changes leave the team in a bit of disarray. Captain Tobz has told us that “We may struggle in the short term due to a lack of familiarity… but we’re planning to get some good practice sessions in soon.” Whilst they work hard on improving their teamwork and synergy, will they be able to solidify their game before the first match?

Sussexistential Crisis are a team who are harder to beat than their name is to pronounce. Coming off the back of 3rd place finish last season, we got some insight from captain Manta who shows us what a core that has been playing NUEL for 3 years together can do when it comes to teamwork and chemistry. This also adds to their strong mentality looking to play the game one round at a time, having grinded back comebacks twice this season so far, even going so far as finishing a game 31-29. However after recent changes to the lineup Manta says that the team no longer practices or even pugs, looking a bit lost this season we can see why they go down so early on in games. This does not deter their spirit to win, “we [Sussexistential Crisis] can beat most of the teams” but I for one can see them making a very strong run in the Varsity Division if they can find the spark to ignite the team’s passion to play again.

To have a single team from your university make it into the Varsity Division is difficult enough, but having two is even harder. So credit must be given to Wag1 it’s Warwick who have played well beating out tough opponents to make it here, speaking to captain Somewhat he informs us that this couldn’t have been possible without himself and teammate Jdez who managed to drop 37 kills in regulation time. Somewhat also tells me what it’s like to be a top 16 team from Warwick with the Stretchyboiz as a big brother: “Teams under rate us simply because we are a second team but in reality that means nothing in terms of skill.” Upon asking whether he felt that knowing the Stretchyboiz so well would give them an advantage, he replied with “we do know them very well but I think that is just the same the other way so it’s not much advantage for us over other teams.” They head into the Varsity Division with a ‘one game at a time’ mentality, aiming to grind to a top 5 finish or higher.

UEA ConcreteStrike laid the foundations of a strong team last season, cementing themselves in a solid 16th place. Talking to the captain, darg0n, he tells us how his team is feeling for the coming weeks. He wants to seek revenge on Oxford Brookes Vipers who caused them two defeats in the qualification stage. One of the linchpins to do this is CHNewman who has been hailed as their star player as well as ingame leader and key to their victories. Looking ahead “Anything less than the final will be a shock”,  so moving forward we can only wait and see how this team performs but in my opinion they shouldn’t be underestimated.

University of West England’s own Ego Frags pulled out a surprising performance to many, besting Bath A on Inferno during the qualification period. As well as just narrowly losing to Sussexistential Crisis in a quintuple overtime game and to Lancaster Quackheads in a triple overtime game as well. Unfortunate for Ego Frags but this gives them the experience of having dealt with these devastating losses which should help them learn and grow as a team. Speaking with Tw1rl he showed confidence in the team but highlighted key problems that they face this year, being the lack of practice and having two player on placement. Even with these difficulties they fear no team, especially Warwick Stretchyboiz. Tw1rl can be quoted saying One thing I can tell you is that if we get to play against Warwick, it’s going to be an easy win for us, as we are not worried to play vs them at all.” A good mindset is key to winning games, however talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk, so we can only see how the team will do.

– Jon Chia (@Jon_Chia)

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