NA's Youngsters: Where Are They Now? - Part 1
North America has seen plenty of youngsters emerge through FPL and Rank S. Many of these players have developed fantastic careers in CS:GO.
Counter-Strike is incredibly rich in both history and notable figures. The likes of Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, once youngsters themselves, paved the way for future generations to flourish. In North America, most new players have made names for themselves by grinding Faceit and ESEA , managing to reach FPL and Rank S. Many young players have popped up in the last few years, but not all of them have had the same career path following their emergence in the public eye.
Sam "s0m" Oh is a highly recognizable name who first broke onto the scene in 2018. Like many youngsters, s0m rose to fame by streaming Rank S and FPL. His energetic personality and incredible mechanical skills made him stand out as he pugged alongside the likes of Tarik "tarik" Celik and other established pros. He was eventually signed by Complexity Gaming as a streamer and even played a few seasons of MDL with Test Takers and Old Guys Club. In 2019, s0m would sign his first professional contract as a player with Team Envy. While he didn't win any trophies with the boys in blue, he did gain invaluable experience by playing team-based CS at a professional level. Sam got the opportunity to join Gen.G Esports at the end of 2019, thus playing under Damian "daps" Steele's leadership. The Canadian is renowned for scouting and developing talents and s0m has been no exception to that rule. To the surprise of many, Gen.G was able to win DreamHack Open Anaheim 2020, one of the last LAN events of the year, with s0m finishing the event as the second-highest rated player. There's no denying that s0m has matured a lot over the past few years. Gen.G's form seems to be inconsistent, but s0m is in a great place to develop as a player and further his career.
Similarly to s0m, Tyson "TenZ" Ngo made a name for himself through streaming Rank S and FPL PUGs. TenZ, perhaps not unlike Michael "shroud" Grzesiek, is like a cyborg: he's able to hit incredible shots but doesn't usually have crazy reactions, it's just another day in the office for him. He also participated in a few seasons of MDL with Freedom35, Test Takers and Bad News Bears, but his time as a professional CS:GO player was quite limited. He signed for Cloud9 in 2019, also playing under daps' leadership, but the C9 roster couldn't live up to the expectations and TenZ was benched a few months into his tenure. He continued playing CS as a streamer for the North American organization until the launch of Riot Games' VALORANT. Since the new FPS' official release, TenZ has transitioned into a VALORANT player for Cloud9 and is arguably one of North America's best. His mastery of the Operator on Jett is rivaled only by Team SoloMid's Matthew "Wardell" Yu. The pair is currently defining the game's meta, making TenZ one of the most influential players. While Cloud9 is yet to win a significant title in VALORANT, TenZ is an invaluable piece of that roster and his spot at the top is secured.
Owen "oBo" Schlatter is probably NA's most promising CS:GO player. The age-old story of emerging through third-party platforms is also true for oBo, but his skill is unmatched by any of his peers. Much like mousesports' Robin "ropz" Kool, oBo was a blank slate with little to no bad habits. Complexity Gaming picked him up in the middle of 2019 and oBo has already attended numerous international events under the Dallas-based organization's banner. Following his first-ever Major, StarLadder Berlin Major 2019, Complexity performed a colossal roster overhaul, but oBo's exceptional talent secured him a spot within the new "Juggernaut" roster. Playing for one of North America's most prestigious organizations and under the leadership of Benjamin "blameF" Bremer, oBo is in a fantastic position, especially considering his age. Currently ranked #7 on HLTV's world ranking, Complexity has looked fantastic this year, partly thanks to oBo.
Jason "neptune" Tran emerged from the depths of NA in 2017 when the roster of Bee's Money Crew signed with Ghost Gaming. His willingness to play challenging and unwanted positions immediately made him stand out. Given his age at the time, many were surprised by his maturity and eagerness to learn. Young neptune was fortunate enough to play alongside Joshua "steel" Nissan, a veteran of the scene and one of the key members who has developed talent in NA. Not only has neptune played multiple seasons of MDL, he also participated in ESL Pro League, making him a very experienced player at such a young age. Jason was recently seen competing in small VALORANT tournaments and is suspected of joining Morning Light's roster.
Collin "wrath" McSweegan has been a staple name in the lower tier of NA CS. Mostly known for his stints with Rogue, Team BlackOut and Team Singularity, wrath showed plenty of potential as an emerging entry fragger in the scene. He recently competed in Season 34 of MDL with ex-Morning Light as the team lost its sponsor. Alongside the roster's core, wrath was able to preserve the MDL spot and is set to compete with the team under the new moniker of Secret Club.
Zechrie "XotiC" Elshani appeared in the public eye at the end of 2017 when he played in Counter Logic Gaming Academy. XotiC then signed for Splyce in 2018, managing to perform incredibly well online as the team's AWPer. Despite XotiC's individual form, Splyce placed 11th in EPL Season 7 and the team was set to play the relegation matches in Leicester, UK. This would mark the first scandal surrounding XotiC as he didn't have a passport and couldn't travel to LAN. The squad managed to find a substitute and preserve the EPL spot, but the organization dropped the roster. XotiC parted ways with ex-Splyce and eventually linked up with cantwinalan with whom he managed to win Season 29 of MDL. Once again, however, the youngster couldn't attend the LAN Final held in Dallas. Following this second scandal, XotiC went inactive until 2020 when he resurfaced under the alias of "v1king". Currently, he's the substitute for Rebirth Esports, a team participating in the upcoming MDL season. A lot of XotiC's past is shrouded in mystery and his secretive return to the scene under a new nickname certainly doesn't bode well for his reputation. XotiC was very promising in the past; a statement about what happened in 2018 might incentivize the community to be more receptive about his return.
Anthony "gMd" Guimond has become a name synonymous with French-Canadian Counter-Strike. He notably played with FRENCH CANADIANS and District 7 before eventually linking up with Rogue and Spacestaion Gaming. He spent the later parts of his career with LiViD Gaming before moving over to VALORANT, where he is now signed to Gen.G Esports. Gen.G's full French-Canadian lineup has looked strong since the official launch of the game. While TSM, Sentinels and T1 are continuously disputing the title of NA's best VALORANT team, Gen.G are themselves a top 3 team. Guimond is an integral part of the team's firepower and has plenty of experience under his belt, allowing him to keep up with his teammates.
Bienvenu to our new VALORANT team!🇨🇦🇫🇷— Gen.G Esports (@GenG) May 4, 2020
We are excited to announce that the French Canadians will make our roster! #TigerNation give the Kings of the North a warm welcome! So, who's ready to see them compete?👀
@_PLAYERR1@huynh_cs@MkaeLcs@Guiiimond@effysgo#GenG #WeAreGenG pic.twitter.com/uDBmKnv6mK
While s0m, TenZ and oBo are huge names within the scene, many more young guns have made names for themselves in the past few years. Make sure to catch the rest in Part 2 to find out more about NA's youngsters.