The recent acquisition of IGL Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz by Team Liquid was a massive roster move, seemingly coming out of nowhere. During his time on OpTic Gaming, stanislaw saw a lot of success, winning Northern Arena Montreal and ELEAGUE Season 2. It was stunning to see him leave one of the few North American CS:GO squad capable of deep tournament runs to join a struggling team like Liquid. For Liquid, however, stanislaw is exactly the player they need, due to their constant issues with in-game leadership. But issues with strong leadership aren’t unique to Liquid. Without a strong pool of IGLs to draw from and standard roster instability, leadership issues continue to plague the NA CS:GO scene.
Good Teams Need Good Leadership
Despite their victory at ESL Pro League Season 4, Cloud9 is another North American team in need of a qualified in-game leader. The current IGL for the team is their young star Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. Aside from their impressive EPL S4 victory, C9 has struggled to achieve meaningful results at any event since or take best-of-three series wins over top tier teams. Part of the problem for Cloud9, which has translated into poor showings at events, is their lack of developed tactics or cohesive strategies.
As an IGL, Stewie2k organizes the team around his own skill and playmaking. Cloud9 is based around the duo of Stewie2k and Timothy “autimatic” Ta, with the team relying on the fragging power and playmaking of both players to lead them to victory. But when Cloud9 go up against the best teams, their individual skill isn’t enough to propel them to victory. In other words, they have the same problems as G2 Esports did in 2016. Interestingly, both Cloud9 and G2 won premier tournaments in 2016, but each team’s reliance on two incredibly talented core players meant that good results were few and far between.
OpTic Gaming had a great run towards the end of 2016, but they have been devastated by the loss of stanislaw. Since he left the lineup, OpTic has picked up Liquid’s former IGL, Spencer “Hiko” Martin, as well as coach Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu.
Both Hiko and peacemaker have been part of successful lineups. However, while on Liquid, Hiko struggled to get his team in line as the IGL. Despite the talent at his disposal, Hiko could never effectively direct the efforts of his teammates. peacemaker has also had success as a coach, previously for Tempo Storm and Liquid. It’s worth noting that he has also been removed from every team he’s played on or coached.
Lack of New Player Development
The IGL for the new Misfits lineup is Sean “seang@res” Gares. seang@res has long been considered NA’s best IGL, but this hasn’t exactly been the case for a long time. Without any meaningful results to his name, Sean’s reputation is still living off of Cloud9’s success during the summer of 2015. Since then, seang@res hasn’t come even remotely close to success. While Rick Fox had high hopes for his CS:GO team, Echo Fox was one of the most disappointing lineups in North America. Sean’s current lineup on Misfits doesn’t seem particularly threatening either.
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Counter Logic Gaming picked up Pujan “FNS” Mehta after IGL James “hazed” Cobb stepped down. FNS had served as CLG’s in-game leader in the past but was removed because of his poor play. Truth be told, CLG found more success without him. FNS played for Team Solo Mid after leaving CLG–another North American CS:GO lineup that ultimately remained a nonfactor. Unfortunately, the current iteration of CLG is just as bad, and will likely need massive changes before delivering results. FNS is not the answer, but the fact that CLG picked him up at all is an illustration of how North America’s lack of leadership has neutered the development of the region’s Counter-Strike scene.
Damian “daps” Steele has been considered a decent IGL in the past, but there’s nothing he can do with the current NRG Esports lineup. Daps has provided lower tier teams with a useful tactical framework, but he hasn’t done anything with a top-tier lineup. In fact, daps has often been removed right before a team starts to claw their way up the rankings.
With these players in mind, it’s clear that stanislaw is currently the best IGL in NA, and he’ll have to prove his worth on Liquid. If stanislaw can’t make good use of the talent on his new lineup, then Team Liquid will need to think about cutting their losses and starting from scratch. In the coming months, we’ll also find out just how valuable stanislaw was to OpTic–and whether or not Hiko is able to find his groove as an IGL. NA is in dire needs of good leaders, but there doesn’t seem to be anything on the horizon.