ImpressioN to Captain New Asian Superteam
ImpressioN has been revealed as the captain of the new Asian superteam being assembled by NG Esports.
Anthony "ImpressioN" Lim, who had been plying his trade for Big Time Regal Gaming for the past year and a half, was announced as the captain for NG Esports' new Counter-Strike team. The Singaporean will be leading an international group of Asian players under the Thai organization, hoping to take Asia to the world stage.
A new project
The move comes following the in-game leader's departure from BTRG, as he cited multiple contract breaches by the Chinese organization. Being the only Mandarin-speaking member of the team, ImpressioN would act as the intermediary between his players and the organization, only adding to his duties as the in-game leader and as a player. Having to, in his own words, "juggle [his] workload à la Cirque du Soleil," ImpressioN was relieved by the addition of coach Piyangoon "MYM" Kitisin. However, he still felt as though the stress had been taking its toll on his mental, physical, and emotional well-being. With contractual breaches being unresolved for nearly three months, ImpressioN decided to void his contract and begin his search for a new home following a brief but much-needed break.
NG Esports, which has previously housed amateur Thai teams, recently received new investment and has the ambitious goal of creating a roster which will compete at the highest level in Asia. While Zhuo "advent" Liang is generally regarded as the best IGL in the region, ImpressioN is undeniably the best English-speaking captain in Asia. He was able to lead the international BTRG roster to moderate levels of success and has attended many overseas events in the past with B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape. Currently, ImpressioN is the only officially announced member of NG's new roster, as the organization plans to reveal more information about the team in October.
A superteam in Asia, is it possible?
This won't come as a surprise to many, but English isn't very commonly spoken in Asia, at least not when compared to Europe. While mixed-nationality teams have become somewhat standard in EU, following the creation of the initial Team Kinguin roster in 2015, this is still very far from the case in Asia. There have been attempts to bring players from different Asian countries together in the past, such as 5Power Gaming, Lucid Dream, Paper Rex, and so on, but it's reasonable to say that BTRG was the most successful roster to date.
As a concept, an international superteam is supposed to bring together some of the best players to have ever touched the game. Regardless of differences in culture and language, these players are unified by their love and passion for the game. The likes of FaZe Clan and mousesports serve as fantastic examples of successful international superteams, but building the equivalent in Asia is a much more challenging task; the pool of English-speaking players in Asia is much smaller than other regions. With that said, many of Asia's strongest players do speak English, and a competitive superteam could definitely be in the cards if the right pieces are brought together. With ImpressioN being the in-game leader, the team will be looking for an AWPer as well as a plethora of different riflers. To identify the most likely candidates, let's look at each country individually and see what players would be available.
A few years ago, more Koreans would have been considered for the job, but Hyun-Pyo "XigN" Lee is the only remaining Korean in Counter-Strike. Having been a great teammate to ImpressioN in BTRG, it's rather likely that XigN follows the captain to his new team as he was a crucial part of the international team's success. Even during the glory days of Korean CS:GO, XigN was undoubtedly the best rifler within his scene, and he is a welcome addition to any Asian superteam.
When it comes to Indonesia, Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand's name immediately comes to mind, often touted as the best Asian player. As such, BnTeT was recruited by Gen.G Esports at the end of 2019, and it feels improbable that NG would be able to buy him out, or even convince him to go back to Asia. Kevin "xccurate" Susanto also played alongside ImpressioN in BTRG and is regarded as one of the best AWPers in the region. The core of ImpressioN, xccurate, and XigN has dealt massive damage in the past and could definitely do so again. The last Indonesian player that could be a great addition is non-other than xccurate's little brother, Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto. That said, f0rsakeN is still very young. He lacks the experience required to be on a top team, and he recently signed with Paper Rex, so it's unlikely he joins NG Esports.
Many of ImpressioN's fellow countrymen are also possibilities, with the likes of Nevin "splashske" Aw and Leslie "Bobosaur" Soen on Huat Zai or Benedict "Benkai" Tan, who is also of Paper Rex. With their shared experience on B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape, all of his fellow Singaporeans could be attractive prospects to ImpressioN, but the question needs to be asked whether or not they could compete at the top level in Asia? Realistically, it comes down to what level of ambition this new roster has and if anyone else in Singapore can reach that level.
Another interesting prospect from Paper Rex is Khalish "d4v41" Rusyaidee, who could be a great addition as a hybrid player or even as a primary AWPer. The other likely Malaysian addition could come in the form of Andrew "kaze" Khong, but stealing away ViCi Gaming's star player could prove to be quite the difficult task. If xccurate is indeed part of the roster, it would also feel rather redundant to bring in kaze, but securing the services of either sniper is borderline essential in the quest to dominate Asia.
Having been on TYLOO's bench for most of the year, Wing Hei "Freeman" Cheung could be an exciting addition to NG's new roster considering his proven performances against international opposition and consistent firepower. While he could potentially have a massive buyout, it seems unlikely that TYLOO wouldn't be willing to part ways with the Hongkonger given that he's been sat on the bench for a solid chunk of the year. It's very unclear where Freeman ends up, but if it isn't on NG, it would be interesting to see him back on ViCi at some point in the near future.
Having had quite the surge in performance in 2020, ImpressioN may be looking towards the Mongolian scene to fill up a few slots in his new squad. The most exciting addition would be that of Erdenetsogt "erkaSt" Gantulga who played at the top level in Australia for quite a few years. He put up great numbers against a lot of international opposition and has done incredibly well since moving back to Mongolia at the end of last year. Two of erkaSt's current TIGER teammates could also be considered for the superteam, as both Gan-Erdene "dobu" Batbold and Batbayar "kabal" Bat-Enkh played for 5Power in the past. Another Mongolian name to throw in the mix is Temuulen "Zilkenberg" Battulga. He had played at a decent level in the past with The MongolZ and recently came back to the scene with AUGUST and Mazalaai following a few years spent studying in New Zealand, meaning that his English should be on par for participating in an international roster.
The last country which could potentially provide a few players for the superteam is Thailand. A likely candidate would be Kritthee "Geniuss" Sawatmuang, who was recently playing with ImpressioN in BTRG. With many Thai players retiring for VALORANT, the majority of your options come from Beyond Esports or ZIGMA. The likes of Patcharapon "NIFFY" Junman, Tuchpong "JUSTCAUSE" Pongthanadechakit, Warittorn "RoLEX" Kalanukarn, Maitri "MAIROLLS" Sukrob, or Phoomphat "qqGOD" Phojjanart could all be fantastic riflers. Even Kitsada "bnwGiggs" Pookarmroung, who was recently playing with Huat Zai, could be a solid entry fragger for the new roster.
The core of ImpressioN, XigN, and xccurate proved to be very successful in the past and could definitely work again. If NG Esports is able to pick up two other players, namely an entry fragger and a lurker, that both have a decent level of experience and firepower, then it'll have a roster which means business. This BTRG 2.0 could not only compete against the best teams in Asia but perhaps even against European and North American opposition once a return to LAN is possible. Regardless of what the roster looks like, it'll certainly be interesting to see ImpressioN play without the unnecessary stress and tension brought on by issues with his organization, especially considering how well he was playing at the end of his tenure with BTRG. With October just around the corner, fans won't have to wait too long before the official roster is revealed.