A brief delve into one of the premier players in UK University Counter-Strike with Enigma of the Lancaster Bombers
Having dropped only three maps throughout 2018 Lancaster entered the upper bracket final of NUEL’s most recent season as considerable favourites to reach the offline finals. The series opener would be Mirage and following an underwhelming Terrorist half the Bombers were staring down the barrel of defeat, in possession of just 4 rounds to Teesside’s 14. Here, despite Vegeta’s inspired efforts Enigma rose to the occasion, laying down multi-kill round after multi-kill round Enigma’s positioning and timely utility usage punished Teesside’s disjointed executes. Scoring 35 kills in regulation he hauled Lancaster to victory in overtime and albeit only a single map these qualities are staples of Enigma’s game. Amidst our scene of undersung stars his disciplined and intellectual play is striking in it’s refinement contrasted against the inexperience and overzealous actions that hinders fellow squads, for it is this Bomber whose methodology defines Lancaster’s style and success over any other.
Years gone past
The Winter season of 2016 would mark the first foray of Lancaster’s modern core onto the NUEL servers. Yet, with one notable absentee in the shape of Callum “Enigma” Merrill. Entering the fray for the subsequent Spring season Enigma’s squad quickly began to make waves, snatching a second place in his inaugural season. Despite experiencing an hiccup offline defeat to York, Enigma and company swiftly bounced back claiming the lineup’s maiden win during NUEL’s smaller Summer tournament.
With the next academic year fast approaching Lancaster were in prime position to solidify their position afoot the top of the scene. Before long York’s Fragsoc invitational would have Enigma’s side quashing concerns surrounding their ability in an offline setting, beating out Warwick in a tight grand final to clinch his first LAN title. Rounding out 2017 Lancaster would survive a scare at the final hurdle, narrowly overcoming Bath to take victory in NUEL’s Winter championship and establishing themselves as comfortably the team to beat entering the new year.
Needle in a haystack
Alongside teammate Tobz, the Counter-Terrorist side has Enigma allotted the freedom to approach his positions as he pleases. Manning rotator spots across all maps with connector on Mirage and B rotator on Inferno standing out as his most prolific positions. Over on the Terrorist side Enigma will most commonly be found towards the back of the pack, best emphasizing his aptitude in late round situations. However, in Lancaster’s absence of a rigid system there is considerable variance in Enigma’s role come the executes, even on occasion taking up the mantle of lead entry.
A particular strong suit for Enigma alongside fellow Bomber Exparilis is shrewd utility usage on the Counter-Terrorist side. KotN 2018’s first qualifier would have Lancaster and Warwick rematching for a place at the offline finals, with Inferno as the decider. Here this duo’s utility placement caused immense problems for their opponents; spearheading his team to victory Enigma showcased how his more reactionary use of CT nades penalises teams for applying inadequate map pressure into late execution. Similarly, Enigma understands the importance of correctly counternading executes, this being a considerable component towards Teesside allowing the aforementioned match to slip through their fingers.
Across both sides of the map Enigma prioritises minimising the likelihood of giving up the initial kill. Whilst playing T, Enigma is well aware of early round CT aggressions in his default positions and almost every round you’ll see him drop utility early hampering the potential of an audacious entry on him. Discipline is the name of the game for Enigma on the defensive side, always conscious of the areas that he can be picked off from, on Mirage being constantly mindful of the picking potential coming from palace throughout the round. Rarely overfacing on the CT side Enigma sets the standard for which the rest of his squad follows, with it being extremely unusual that this Bomber will give up a cheap entry.
Adaptation is a linchpin to consistently strong performances within Counter-Strike, and individually Enigma is no stranger to this buzzword. Coming into the second map of this year’s KotN offline final Lancaster’s backs were firmly against the wall; their opponents yet to be taken close by any team on Train in recent memory. Opening up on the CT side Enigma quickly picked up on Warwick’s approach, adjusting his utility usage and positioning accordingly he exploited their predictability. Despite making some impactful plays on Terrorist side it was ultimately in vein, with an unfortunate 1v1 loss likely still haunting him. Enigma finished this map rock bottom of the scoreboard, yet, with respect to his style and skill set he did essentially everything he could to hold Lancaster in this final.
With regards to the weapons, there is no doubt that Enigma is one of the most versatile players within the University scene. Enigma’s mechanical skill comes to fruition on pistol rounds, his USP being a particular strength consistently netting him two plus kills. Enigma’s pistol finesse surfaced in NUEL’s Spring final, clinically capitalising on his team’s bait setup and scoring the opening three kills of the series. Although it may be uncommon to see him AWPing, this Bomber is more than capable of wielding the big green within this peer group. The scenarios in which he’ll take up the weapon often appear instigated through frustration. However, to the contrary this year’s Roses match versus York saw Enigma break his regular mold applying AWP pressure onto B short and catching his opponents totally off guard.
For me, late round scenarios and especially after-plants is where Enigma shines the most, possessing near flawless awareness of the correct application of aggression or passivity. When a man down in such situations Enigma is proactive in trying to force one on one engagements, and here through leaning on mechanical capability he succeeds in an overwhelming number of cases. The third and final map of the NUEL Spring final would feature a standout round from Enigma including a 1v2 clutch in the Inferno A site with just an MP9, claiming Lancaster an extremely unlikely round in which they invested next to nothing. Meanwhile, in advantageous scenarios he reins it in, playing off his teammates and the bomb to efficiently close out the round. It is a rarity for Enigma to over-commit in late round situations, but defeat in the Spring offline final brought some very uncharacteristic decisions far removed from his usual discipline, in addition to some mechanical misplays perhaps the pressure had got the better of him.
With Enigma’s teammates in Tobz and Oak graduating this year alongside uncertainty surrounding their participation in NUEL’s Summer tournament, 2018’s Roses varsity match between Lancaster and York may have been the final outing for Enigma within UK University Counter-Strike, with it undoubtedly being a substantial loss to the scene should we not witness him nor his teammates competing again.
Enigma is not a player without flaws, nevertheless within this sphere his positives long outweigh such pitfalls, placing him head and shoulders above the norm. Wielding such a comprehensive basis of fundamentals, under the correct guidance Enigma could flourish into a very complete player finding heightened success in the wider domain. Standing as a refreshing pillar of sophistication amongst a sea of inexperience this has been the tale of Callum Merrill, NUEL’s Enigma.
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