These five teams have shown immense growth and are trending upwards in the Counter Strike scene in 2018.
Not many people would predict the immediate success of Team Liquid during CS_Summit 2. Their newest addition Keith "NAF" Markovic has made a very positive impact already and was even crowned HLTV.org’s MVP for CS_Summit 2. Keep in mind, this is a Team Liquid with minimal practice and preparation, so imagining them with proper preparation will be extremely dangerous. While I do not expect all the other teams on the list to consistently make playoffs immediately, I can see Team Liquid rising to challenge Cloud 9for the best team in North America and top five abroad. Starseries Season 4 will be the first test international test for Team Liquid followed by IEM Katowice, and I expect Wilton "zews" prado to have his men prepared.
OpTic’s new roster turned has turned some heads. Some are suggesting that it is considerably weaker than the last two incarnations, but the roles in this team are better defined. OpTic does have more potential then the last team and in theory have a better chance to succeed because of a real in game leader (IGL) in Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz. Their problems will most likely lie in unrealistic expectations and communication barriers plaguing the team for their first couple of events. OpTic does have something to look forward to though, between star players Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke and Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan, they have enough firepower and support to become a top 10 team internationally.
Their showing at CS_Summit 2 was respectable but also unexpected at the same time. They need more than Joshua “Steel” Nissan to show up, and their star players were not performing that their expected level at this event. The most important X-factor for Torqued is Kenneth "koosta" Suen. The 21 year old AWPer rose to the top of North America but has had a not so gentle fall from grace. If anyone can solve his clear confidence and consistency problem it would be steel.
Torqued is the ideal environment for a player like him to maintain relevance, but not have nearly as many consequences for poor performance like he did in CLG and Team Liquid. Expecting this team to be a top ESL Pro League team mid 2018 is unrealistic, but expecting them to contend for qualification into ESL Pro League is not unreasonable. The main issue for Torqued is that they are still unable to compete in some major events because of having Steel, swag, and AZK but they will have other chances to prove their qualities.
Make no mistake, AVANGAR was one win away from qualifying to the major but they at least won the Farmskins Championship to qualify for IEM Katowice. They beat both Mousesports, Space Soldiers and AGO to win their first event with top 20 teams in attendance, but the event was held online. AVANGAR went from a team that nobody knew, to qualifying for one of the most prestigious events in Counter Strike history. The growth both during the Boston Major and after is something to be admired and with chances to prove themselves at the very top is hard to come by.
AGO is like AVANGAR, but AGO has proved a lot more prior to the major. Unfortunately they failed to qualify due to the stacked EU Minor, but AGO did not have one stand out finish prior to their Mountain Dew League win, but they won multiple small events and showed signs of improvement. As of now, they are on the verge of qualifying for larger events, but seem to narrowly miss out. The good news is that all signs point to them being able to attend larger events down the road. While the team is still fairly unknown to most people outside of Poland, AGO is starting to make waves. With the fall of Virtus.Pro it would not be unreasonable to predict them being the best Polish team sometime this year. The future is bright, but they still have some work to do.
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