3 storylines from the SL i-League Group Stage

VG.CyberZen’s star player and AWPer Bin “Savage” Liu

The first time we really got a glimpse of what the Chinese teams were capable of in CS:GO was back in April during DreamHack Masters Malmö 2016, where they pulled off one of the biggest upsets in CS:GO history.

The then-Luminosity Gaming squad, hot off their Major win at MLG Major Championship: Columbus, were eliminated by TyLoo after they lost 1-2 during a group stage decider match.

Now, at SL i-League Season 2, it’s not just TyLoo making waves internationally as VG.CyberZen have finally crossed the border and have pulled off some upsets of their own.

TyLoo defeated Natus Vincere 16-10, while VG.CyberZen defeated Virtus.pro 16-7, both results were huge upsets in their own right and played a hand in both Na`Vi and VP’s eventual elimination from the tournament. It was a result no analyst would have called heading into the tournament.

Im impressed by the result from the chinese teams. 2 of the best teams in the world on mirage got beaten by Tyloo and VG. #Impressed

— Finn Andersen (@karriganCSGO) September 8, 2016

Sadly, this was as far as Asia’s campaign went in SL i-League. The other Asian team, MVP Project, were eliminated immediately, having only taken 12 rounds across two maps. In the decider matches, TyLoo lost 1-2 to Astralis and VG.CyberZen were swept 0-2 by Team EnVyUs — eliminating both Chinese teams from the group stage.

It’s not the underdog result many would have wanted, but they were performances that still warrant attention. We’ve been aware of the potential of Chinese CS:GO since Malmö, but given the region’s lack of international opportunities, it’s worth reiterating.

None of the remaining 2016 big events (EL, EPL, ESL One, EPICENTER, ECS) have the possibility for an Asian team to qualify/participate

— Petar Milovanovic (@Tgwri1s) September 8, 2016

There is a glimmer of hope going forward, as details for IEM Season XI Oakland are sparse, but tournament organizers have hinted at an Asian qualifier.

@Tgwri1s is Oakland not big in your book? Stay tuned for our qualifier announcement in the next weeks!

— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) September 8, 2016

s1mple, the Misplaced Star

Natus Vincere’s young Ukrainian upstart Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev

When you’re a Top 2 team in the world, you refresh your roster with the highest profile player (for good reason) in the scene and your premier LAN debut is on home soil — yet you bomb out in the group stage, disappointing is not a strong enough word.

GG @astralisgg ,worst performance for me again. rip

— Oleksandr Kostyliev (@s1mpleO) September 8, 2016

s1mple is a notoriously hot-headed player, but with that came an unmatched prowess in-game. You can’t take one without the other, but that was a risk Team Liquid took when they acquired the player. s1mple’s time on Liquid was marred by constant internal issues and roster instability, but their results spoke for themselves.

s1mple coming into Na`Vi was the scenario that would fix that issue, or at least that was the theory. The player’s hot-headed nature would be super-ceded by his utmost respect for the Na`Vi players and they would gain an explosive player without the attitude that came with it. For the most part this has been true, with s1mple’s attitude getting shut down on-stream during matches.

LOL Edward aint taking shit

— Olof Kajbjer (@olofmCS) September 8, 2016

But that obedience seems to have stifled his confidence and ability to perform.

s1mple has been the star player on his previous teams — whether they liked it or not — but his place in Na`Vi is completely different. Not only has he been put on a more supportive role in-game, but out-of-game he’s no longer a dominant voice. This looks to be a new, more obedient s1mple, but this is not the s1mple we’ve come to adore.

Regardless of the reasons or speculations, s1mple’s numbers speak volumes. He averaged a 0.73 HLTV player rating across Na`Vi’s two maps, making him the sixth lowest-rated player of the tournament so far.

Heroes Rising

Heroic’s in-game leader Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer

Heroic as an organization has only been around for about two weeks, but they’ve already taken a Championship and a podium finish in two LAN events. Granted neither events were particularly significant, but they did feature top-tier talent.

At Northern Arena Toronto, they topped their group over Winterfox and a revitalized Selfless Gaming, and took down OpTic Gaming 2-1 in the quarterfinals. Heroic lost a close best-of-three against Cloud9 2-1, but easily won the third place match 2-0 over Echo Fox.

Prior to the team’s North American debut, they won the Danish event, Power-LAN 2016, by defeating Astralis 2-1 in the semifinals and defeating Team Dignitas 2-1 in the Grand Finals.

Heroic’s victory there was a strong indication of their standing in the Danish CS:GO scene, something that the Heroic and Astralis players bantered about before their matchup in the groups for the SL i-League Season 2 LAN Finals.

We are playing vs. the best team in Denmark @heroicgg later today in the @cssltv tournament. Going to be interesting :>

— Finn Andersen (@karriganCSGO) September 7, 2016

We are playing vs. the best team in Denmark @astralisgg later today in the @cssltv tournament. Going to be interesting :>

— Lukas Rossander (@gla1ve_csgo) September 7, 2016

Heroic went on to defeat Astralis 16-13, as well as TyLoo 16-13, to take the top seed of Group C. And going into the SL i-League playoffs, Heroic will be challenged again by a Danish squad, Team Dignitas. If Heroic prove the victors again, their place among the Danes would be solidified and they would make a big statement as far as their global standing.

Not bad for a team that was full of Danish rejects.

Dennis “Tarmanydyn” Gonzales is a news editor for theScore esports who enjoys whiskey, D&D and first-picking Abaddon Slardar Clinkz Medusa Oracle a P90 my Souvenir Negev. You can follow him on Twitter.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.