Competing Tuesdays at 7pm on twitch.tv/thenuel for a chance to win a VIP trip to ESL One Cologne, we will now take a look at the next 8 teams in the NUEL’s CS:GO Varsity Division.
Gaining an informative insight from the captains of the teams, we will discuss the strengths and potential weaknesses of each team, as well as taking a guess at who I think may be the winners of the Spring split at the end.
First off we start with Portsmouth who have 5 star players on their team look to frag their way to the final. Talking with captain Benzki they do “rely on skill a lot of the time”, however due to social commitments they’re often left unable to field their full strength roster – this being one of the reasons they are left to play in such a freeform style. Hoping to field their full roster, Benzki is more than confident that they can win the tournament outright, claiming that he’s on another level compared to players such as Ric0, Exparalis and Fades.
Moving onto the Shuffley Boys who have maintained a position in the top 10 for many consecutive seasons, I talked to captain Zelan and asked him how being a veteran of the university scene helped him mould his team. In his response he told me about how he “played under the IGL [Tobz] from one of the greatest NUEL teams [Lancaster Bombers]” has given him the ability to lead the Southampton forward and more importantly “help my team stay calm and how to play as a team rather than 5 individuals.” Not fully confident in his calling he explained to me that in high pressure situations his ability to lead the team can suffer and that this is his main point of focus for their team to win.
Another team that wants to implement more structure to their team is Swansea Storm Green. Losing nohj, one of their key players and IGL, they look for new direction. The person to lead that is captain Fettis, speaking with him he “hopes to bring a bit more structure and practice” to the team. The newcomer to the lineup is eNzoo but in no means is he going to be the weak link, coming in and consistently top fragging in their matches. Looking ahead at the Varsity Division, Fettis is hopeful to make a top 4 finish, but believes that they can secure a top 8 at least.
DMUr Nudes are a team that come from a university with a pedigree of being one of the best in university Counter-Strike history and captain Mini says “it feels great knowing we’ve brought DMU back up to the top, as a team we’re very confident in ourselves reaching top 8.” Leading on from this he believes that on the right day they can win the tournament and one way to help improve those chances is to carry on practicing and developing as a team as they do already. Seeking revenge on Warwick Stretchyboiz we will see if they can take it all the way, as a team that sneaks by the radar of other teams, I believe they can get a few upset wins in their pocket.
Hertfordshire Gold have put in a lot of work to develop their team this year. Talking to captain 3eak he shares similar thoughts, moving into the top 16 he considers themselves a top 10 team but “I [3eak] think we’ve got a long way to go to get past the teams above us.” A respectable approach from their leader should help avoid mistakes caused by arrogance, which is quite uncommon in the UK scene in general. As a team that perhaps lack the individual mechanical skill to compete with some of the other teams it is good to hear that the players have been putting in the hours and grinding to improve, especially Kytsunei who has putting in “so many hours… he could be a really big performer in our important matches.” Coming in as a dangerous underdog, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Hertfordshire Gold take down some of the bigger teams due to their nice diverse map pool and other key factors that make them a great team to watch.
Having started out in group 2, we have Reading 0th Team, a team that certainly shouldn’t be underestimated says captain jwma who feels they can make a run in the top 16 if they “are all feeling it on the day.” A lackluster approach it seems like and the potential for them to get knocked down by some more experienced teams is quite high, however they made it into top 16 for a reason and so teams should be careful around them. Especially if their star player v0re is fragging out in the games.
The only other team battling it out starting in group 2 is Put it in my Aston, who feel like a top 8 finish is within their sights. Pugging their matches, the players just play for fun boasting a relaxed playstyle could help them out with the mental side of playing if the game is getting tough. But to be able to contend with some of these teams that practice and build up a lot of team synergy is going to be tough for Aston and so their top 16 run looks bleak.
Last but certainly not least is Bath A who finished last season in 2nd place, boasting a great performance all season but failed to meet expectations losing 0-3 to Warwick Stretchyboiz in the finals. Looking to bounce back this season, captain Mystery is “pretty confident we can beat any team on a good day.” Having reached the finals another time, previously losing out to Lancaster Bomber, they’re hungry to claim a finals they’ve been waiting so long for. Containing a strong roster of individual players, ric0 is hailed by many universities as one of the strongest players, we will see if they can dominate their way to another finals and perhaps win their first.To conclude, there are many fresh faces and many old faces in the Spring season of the NUEL’s Varsity Division. To not predict Warwick Stretchyboiz to win the final would be somewhat foolish as their presence has raised the bar for all of the other teams if they ever want to compete for the title.
However I do see myself leaning towards Oxford Brookes Vipers who have all their bases covered and keep impressing me. Having watched them beat the Stretchyboiz 16-2 in their first encounter I’ve been curious to see how far they could go. Failing to make it during the Winter season, I feel the experience they’ve gained is invaluable and could drive them to winning this season.