The Players to Watch in Flashpoint 2
Here is the list of players to watch going into Flashpoint 2.
The second season of Flashpoint has finally started, and while the league doesn't have all of the top teams in attendance, the event certainly brings a breath of fresh air to the Counter-Strike event calendar.
Here is the schedule for the first week of Flashpoint 2, for real this time.— Flashpoint (@Flashpoint) November 9, 2020
The schedule has been changed to avoid conflicts with other CS:GO events. We appreciate everyone's patience while we got our schedule nailed down. See you all tomorrow! #RushFragRepeat pic.twitter.com/IBSHd6F2tE
The second edition of Flashpoint has a new look, with all seven founding member teams having made significant roster changes in the interim. Furthermore, all the invited teams are different this time around, with the likes of BIG, Fnatic, and OG participating. Unlike nearly other events this year, Flashpoint's prize pool has remained unchanged despite the transition to online play. With a grand total of $1,000,000 up for grabs, the tournament thus becomes very significant in the CS:GO calendar. With so many new faces coming into Flashpoint 2, here's a list of the players to watch.
Cloud9 made headlines in September as it was revealed that Henry "HenryG" Greer would be taking over its CS:GO operations. The caster-turned-manager had set out to create a world-class team from scratch, giving C9 a new vision and direction for the future by creating the Colossus. While the likes of Özgür "woxic" Eker and Patrick "es3tag" Hansen are never to be underestimated, the C9 player who will surprise many in Flashpoint 2 is non-other than William "mezii" Merriman.
The Brit spent most of his career playing for domestic teams such as London Esports and Vexed Gaming before joining Team GamerLegion's multinational lineup in July, playing his first seasons of MDL under the German organization. There will be quite a bit of pressure on mezii's shoulders, given that he is the least experienced player on the Colossus. That said, he has both the skill and mindset to become a world-class player. With a 1.15 average rating, he has only had two below average events in his career. While he has always been his team's best performer, mezii never played roles traditionally reserved for stars and is set to continue on that path in Cloud9. He will be more of a supportive player for C9, showcasing his incredible grenade knowledge and closing out rounds as the clutch player, much like Astralis' Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth. While he isn't setting out to be the star on the Colossus, mezii will certainly shock those that have underestimated him as his place on the roster is more than justified.
One of the many organizations to have overhauled its roster, c0ntact Gaming is coming into Flashpoint 2 with a completely different approach. Having only retained the services of Rokas "EspiranTo" Milasauskas and Otto "ottoNd" Sihvo, c0ntact brought in a new in-game leader in the form of Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer and two new FPL talents in Rigon "rigoN" Gashi and Lotan "Spinx" Giladi. Unlike the previous iteration of c0ntact, this roster has played more official matches outside of Flashpoint, understanding the value of learning from real games rather than just scrimming.
Spinx is one of many Israeli players to rise to prominence in recent times, with countrymen Guy "anarkez" Trachtman plying his trade for Team Secret and Shahar "flameZ" Shushan recently joining Endpoint. While the 20-year-old has minimal team experience, he has showcased his immense potential countless times in FPL and is one of many mechanically gifted players to make a name through the hub. Results from PUG platforms should always be taken with a grain of salt, considering that team-based Counter-Strike is an entirely different beast, but Spinx's results with c0ntact thus far look promising. The team has lacked a consistent star in recent times, and while Spinx still has a long road ahead before becoming that pillar of consistency, the firepower he currently brings when he's feeling himself more than makes up for it.
Dignitas drew in a lot of hype at the start of the year as it re-entered Counter-Strike, signing the legendary former Ninjas in Pyjamas quartet of Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg, Adam "friberg" Friberg, and Richard "Xizt" Landström. While fans were excited to see the ex-NiP core reunite, many were skeptical, given that most of the players have already peaked in their careers. The player to complete the starting roster would be the upcoming Norwegian AWPer Håkon "hallzerk" Fjærli, the squad's young blood.
So far, hallzerk has been Dignitas' stand-out performer, averaging a 1.11 rating in 2020. Unfortunately, he missed out on the first season of Flashpoint, with DIG fielding Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács in his stead. Seemingly, the Curse of the Fifth Ninja didn't follow f0rest and co. to Dignitas, as hallzerk managed to secure his place on the team. Instead, DIG benched GeT_RiGhT and Xizt ahead of the event, bringing in two younger riflers while friberg takes over the team's leadership. With such big changes happening only weeks prior to Flashpoint 2, it's hard to deem Dignitas as favorites coming into the event. Still, hallzerk has proven time and time again that he can go toe to toe with some of the best AWPers on the block, as he will seek to do what he couldn't at the start of 2020 and spearhead his team's Flashpoint run.
Team Envy's roster has been a huge question mark for many ever since the creation of this international lineup in January. Envy has had very few appearances in 2020, with the team's last official match being in July. The team's best result came in the form of a 5th place finish at ESL One: Road to Rio, and sure enough, changes were imminent. In August, Envy parted ways with Ryan "ryann" Welsh and Kaleb "moose" Jayne, with Noah "Nifty" Francis becoming the sole North American on the roster. Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninic then transitioned from the coaching role to the active roster, with former Virtus.pro coach Jakub "kuben" Gurczyński stepping into his shoes. To complete the roster, Envy signed Thomas "Thomas" Utting from Endpoint, one of the most consistent riflers from the tier 2 European scene.
Thomas is the second Brit to make this list, but unlike the rest of Envy, he had a very busy 2020, having played 234 maps throughout the year. Much like his teammates Buğra "Calyx" Arkin and Michał "MICHU" Müller, Thomas is an excellent European rifler, with a 1.13 career average rating. His consistent firepower was instrumental to Endpoint's climb to the top 30, especially as he's the kind of player that performs best in high stakes games. This isn't his first foray into international waters either, as he played in multinational teams such as NoChance in the past. Prior to joining Envy, Thomas was juggling professional play and his university studies. Considering the damage he was able to do in the past, it'll be interesting to see just how far he can go now that Counter-Strike has his undivided attention.
Gen.G Esports has had a very up and down 2020, winning events such as DreamHack Open Anaheim 2020 and ESL One: Road to Rio 2020 while also having unsatisfactory runs at ESL One: Cologne 2020 Online and ESL Pro League Season 12 in recent months. The recent string of poor results lead to the loss of in-game leader Damian "daps" Steele and young star Sam "s0m" Oh, with the duo retiring and joining NRG Esports' VALORANT team. Ahead of Flashpoint 2, Gen.G announced that Xizt and Rasmus "kreaz" Johansson would be standing in for the event, though it remains unclear what the long-term vision of the roster looks like. While Timothy "autimatic" Ta, Kenneth "koosta" Suen, and Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand are all excellent players, it's hard to have high expectations for Gen.G coming into the tournament. While Xizt has plenty of experience under his belt, it seems as though koosta will be taking over leadership within the team as he was the co-caller during daps' tenure.
While the Swedish duo of Xizt and kreaz might not be a direct replacement for daps and s0m, Gen.G certainly hasn't lost too much firepower in the move. It's true that s0m was key in the team's early success, but his individual level began falling following Flashpoint 1. Deemed as one of the few underrated talents left in Sweden, kreaz has displayed immense skill and professionalism in FPL. The 22-year-old notably played for Syman Gaming in 2020, as the team transitioned from communicating in Russian to English in order to accommodate kreaz. Perhaps to be expected, the project wouldn't work out due to communication issues, which caused kreaz's form to drop off massively. The Swede would then ply his trade for the domestic side of Lilmix, where he would average a 1.16 rating during his brief tenure. He is notably the first player to receive FPL mentorship from Sergey "lmbt" Bezhanov in an attempt by Faceit to develop some of the most promising players in the hub. It's hard to gauge Gen.G's level going into Flashpoint, considering the team has gone through significant changes, but many will be surprised by the level of play of kreaz will be able to showcase.
At one point in time, MAD Lions looked to be the best Danish team as Astralis' performance began to drop. The team even managed to win the previous iteration of Flashpoint, partially thanks to otherworldly performances from Lucas "Bubzkji" Andersen. However, the team hit a bump in the road and eventually parted ways with Bubkji, which was a massive hit on the squad's overall firepower. MAD Lions then went international, bringing in Paweł "innocent" Mocek to complete the starting lineup, but results were unsurprisingly still lackluster. The team once again recently made roster changes, replacing innocent and Asger "AcilioN" Larsen with Ismail "refrezh" Ali and Rasmus "HooXi" Nielsen. While MAD Lions hadn't had many official appearances in recent times, the new-look roster has found decent success in the Betway Nine to Five 5 and Elisa Invitational 2.
While refrezh has looked very good since joining MAD Lions, the team's undeniable consistent star has been non-other than Frederik "acoR" Gyldstrand. It's somewhat surprising that it took so long for acoR to be noticed, considering the Danish scene lacked solid AWPers at the top level for years. In fact, acoR played for North Academy in 2017, and while he wasn't the primary AWPer for the team, as that role was assigned to Daniel "mertz" Mertz, it's still shocking that he flew under the radar for so long. When North's primary squad needed a new sniper, mertz was promoted, but things didn't work out in the long run, and acoR was interestingly never considered for the position afterward. It wasn't until he joined Tricked Esports that acoR would become one of the hottest prospects in Denmark, as the world what stunned by his incredible mechanical skill. The 23-year-old possesses some of the cleanest movement in the pro scene, can AWP and rifle with the best, and has incredibly efficient utility usage, meaning that he finds a lot of impact in rounds where he's not getting kills. While he wasn't the hard-carry for MAD Lions in Flashpoint 1, he will certainly look to defend the title as this new iteration of MAD Lions looks to be on the rise once again.
MIBR has had an incredibly shaky year, and as a result, the organization's management decided to make drastic changes to the roster. Following the benching of the legendary core of Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Fernando "fer" Alvarenga, and Epitácio "TACO" de Melo, MIBR has signed three stand-ins for the end of 2020. The new MIBR was then sent to Europe in order to bootcamp for the upcoming events and has already participated in BLAST Premier Fall Series 2020, managing a win over FURIA Esports and even taking a map off of Astralis and G2 Esports. For a team with three stand-ins, a new in-game leader, and minimal practice, this MIBR roster has already achieved more than most would give it credit for.
Right now, the stand-out player for MIBR is undoubtedly Alencar "trk" Rossato, having averaged a 1.13 rating at BLAST. It's great to see trk finally playing well in MIBR, as he was one of the most exciting upcoming Brazilian players to watch during his tenure with Team One. It felt as though trk was fit into the wrong roles under FalleN's leadership, thus making more room for the rest of the old roster. Under Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe, trk is finally put into more star roles, which allow him to showcase his full potential. He's finally being given some space to perform, and perform he has. MIBR has already shown more promise with this roster than the prior, and with trk finally playing like his old self, there's no telling just how much damage this team will do in Flashpoint 2.
BIG has been one of the most impressive teams this year, winning DreamHack Open Leipzig 2020 and a plethora of online events. Due to the nature of online play, there hasn't been a clearcut #1 team throughout the entire year. Still, BIG is certainly one of the best, mostly due to the team's very Astralis-esque style of play, which is very calculated and utility-focused. BIG has innovated a lot throughout 2020, whether it be through utility usage, unconventional setups and crossfires, or impressive plays executed to perfection. A huge part of BIG's success this year has been due to its AWPer, Florian "syrsoN" Rische.
BIG wanted to sign syrsoN years back, but the opportunity never happened during the 24-year-old's tenure in ALTERNATE aTTaX. In 2018, the team instead looked abroad in the interim, picking up British talent Owen "smooya" Butterfield and finding decent success. In January 2019, BIG once again missed out on signing syrsoN as the AWPer instead joined Sprout, with BIG then looking internally to fill the AWPing position, as Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz began wielding the big green. The stars would finally align for BIG and syrsoN in 2020, and with him on the team, BIG is finally living up to the potential it has always had. With a 1.16 average rating in 2020, syrsoN is proving that he can not only hold his own but actually excel at the top level. He's very untraditional in his playstyle, with 75.13% of his kills recorded on the AWP or SSG 08 in 2020. In fact, the AK-47 is only his 7th most used weapon this year. While it may be unconventional to see an AWPer favor sniper rifles so heavily, BIG has made it work in its setups and makes sure that syrsoN can wield his weapon of choice as much as possible. He's always a great AWPer, but when syrsoN is feeling himself, he can entirely dominate the server.
Fnatic is very strange, in the sense that the team can have incredible highs but struggles to reach them consistently. Fnatic last made a roster change in January 2020 when it resigned Maikil "Golden" Selim as its in-game leader. The team managed to reach the #1 spot on HLTV's world ranking in April but currently sits just outside of the top 10. During Fnatic's moments of brilliance, you still see some of the madness shine through, in typical Fnatic fashion. While young Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin is usually considered the star player for his team, one of the old guard still shines brightly to this day; Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson.
At 26-years-old, KRIMZ is the oldest player on this list. The Swede was once deemed one of the if not the best player in the world, around the time of Fnatic's 2015 dominance. To this day, he has maintained impressive individual form, appearing in HLTV's top 20 for 2015, 2018, and 2019. He isn't a star player in the traditional sense, as that role is often reserved for Brollan, but KRIMZ is always capable of rolling back the years and showing the world he's still one of the most consistent riflers in Sweden. He is the pillar of consistency Fnatic so desperately relies on, and compared to the teams Fnatic is used to facing, the level of play at Flashpoint 2 is much lower. The team should look to capitalize on that fact in order to start its climb back to the top.
OG has felt very underwhelming since the team's inception in late 2019. While the squad had a good showing at the recent BLAST Premier Fall and IEM New York Online 2020, the rest of the year has felt rather lackluster results-wise, especially considering how good the roster is on paper. Between Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt, Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, Valdemar "valde" Bjørn, and even Issa "ISSAA" Murad, there's a huge wealth of experience on OG. The roster was deliberately built that way, bringing in Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski as a lesser-experienced yet very promising AWPer to complete the lineup.
While everyone on OG is capable of popping off at any given moment, mantuu has been the team's consistent source of firepower. Much like syrsoN, mantuu is also an ALTERNATE aTTaX alumni and had only played for German-speaking teams prior to joining OG. He impressed many while under ALTERNATE aTTaX's banner, helping his former team win many domestic German events while putting up incredibly high statistics. Given his dual Polish-British nationality, mantuu became an exciting prospect ahead of joining OG, due to the fact that he could easily speak English in a multinational lineup. He has shown a lot of promise in OG thus far and has been instrumental to his team's upwards trajectory. To continue the upwards trajectory, it will be imperial for OG to have a deep run at Flashpoint 2.
Virtus.pro decided to return to its roots in late 2019 by signing a CIS team, opting to acquire the services of the majority-Kazakh of AVANGAR. The squad had a string of very good results at the end of the year, notably reaching the Grand Finals of the StarLadder Berlin Major 2019. Going into the New Year, however, leadership issues began arising in the squad. Dzhami "Jame" Ali, Alexey "qikert" Golubev, and Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev played hot potato with the IGL role, and Timur "buster" Tulepov eventually benched himself due to symptoms of burnout. To complete the active lineup, VP would end up signing Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis, pro100's Latvian superstar. The squad would immediately win the BLAST Premier CIS Cup, and managed a few deep runs, but the team was still visibly struggling with leadership issues.
Following the buster's return to the active lineup and the end of the CS:GO player break, VP is finally looking good once more. The key player to thank for VP's recent rebound in form is non-other than YEKINDAR. The 21-year-old has put up monstrous numbers in the past few events and was one of the key components in VP's Flashpoint qualification process. Over the 48 maps played in the past month, he has averaged a mindblowing 1.23 rating. YEKINDAR has unleashed his true self, and while he's notorious for having a very aggressive playstyle, the Latvian isn't as one-dimensional as some may think. YEKINDAR is incredibly mechanically gifted, and he can certainly out-aim his opposition, but he also possesses excellent game sense. With buster taking over the secondary AWP on CT sides, YEKINDAR has been able to focus solely on rifling, which is partially why he has averaged a 64.5% headshot percentage in the past month. While VP still has many things to figure out if the team wants to win Flashpoint 2, YEKINDAR's stellar performances paired with the overall good form in the recent past suggest good things to come.
In 2019, forZe was regarded as the next big team to hail from the CIS region. While that sentiment might not be shared anymore, with the team's performance dropping off slightly coming into the online era, forZe has managed to find relative stability by staying within the HLTV top 30. The Russians certainly haven't had the best year, but given that forZe has been the most active team in 2020, with 341 maps on record, maintaining a decent level of consistency online is actually quite impressive. Though forZe notably struggled in RMR events, the team has found success in the various weeks of Eden Arena: Malta Vibes, with wins over the likes of Dignitas, North, and MAD Lions.
Through forZe's 341 maps this year, Evgeny "FL1T" Lebedev has averaged an impressive 1.16 rating, second only to Bogdan "xsepower" Chernikov, the team's AWPer. FL1T certainly embodies the notorious CIS aggression, but his mechanical skills allow him to get away with ridiculous plays. Furthermore, he has shown great versatility as a rifler, as he can entry, lurk, and even win out clutches regularly. While there's no doubt that xsepower is an excellent AWPer, FL1T is forZe's X factor. Much like TYLOO's Haowen "somebody" Xu, FL1T has a unique approach to the game and how he wants to play out rounds. A player with that kind of attribute is hard to come by, and they can easily win your team games single-handedly. FL1T has a very high skill ceiling, and for someone who has been playing professionally for just over two years, he's able to peak at an impressively frequent rate. There's no doubt that he will be forZe's secret weapon in the case of a deep run in Flashpoint 2.