Space Soldiers would always look like contenders at the European Minor for ELEAGUE Boston following their rise in form in 2017. Few predicted that they would make it through, not just over the likes of OpTic Gaming, but as winners of the entire event. The Turkish team regarded by many as ‘onliners’ were able to triumph on LAN in Bucharest.
LAN black hole
Results in big events had been rocky for Space Soldiers leading up to the minor. Despite beating eventual winners SK Gaming in their opening match, the team finished 12th-14th after then losing to old OpTic, Natus Vincere and Fnatic and being knocked out of ESL One: Cologne in July. A victory at ESEA Season 25 MDL Global Challenge in September was a flawless run, despite the competition being Kinguin, Flipsid3 Tactics and Grayhound. One big question was how well Space Soldiers really compete with the higher tier teams, especially at LAN tournaments, and the minor was the first step in potentially showing just how dangerous they might be.
Without a main, dedicated AWP player following the benching of DESPE, it is the star rifler power of Space Soldiers that gives them their firepower. XANTARES is definitely the most notable star of the Turkish side. With a 1.40 rating on HLTV, XANTARES is not a player you want to play against when he is on form. Calyx is also not to be underestimated, with a rating of 1.33 and a kill-death difference of +93 at the Minor, he performed better overall than XANTARES. In the final map of the game that gave Space Soldiers the minor spot, Calyx managed 40 kills alone. Paz and ngiN also played well in the minor with individual plays themselves, resulting in the entire team holding positive ratings overall at the event.
The path has been particularly interesting for their in-game leader, MAJ3R. MAJ3R’s initial CS:GO teams were French teams. From Imaginary Gaming to WARMAKER and then briefly back Imaginary Gaming, MAJ3R then joined Millenium. Many renowned French players now on Team EnVyUs and Team LDLC passed through the team, while the original roster from 2012 held shox and ScreaM. At the end of 2016, MAJ3R was taken on for a trial at Space Soldiers, the all-Turkish team rather than a familiar French roster. Within a year, in his first ever Minor, MAJ3R has led his team to the Main Qualifier with a good chance of going all the way to Boston.
With strong performances across the entire team at such a crucial LAN tournament, the old reputation of Space Soldiers might just be put behind them if they can also perform well at the Main Qualifier against the likes of FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Na'Vi and Cloud9. Considering their win against SK back in New York, anything is looking possible for Space Soldiers in Atlanta this January.
The hope of Turkish CS
The Turkish scene has suffered its drawbacks. Visa issues plaguing smaller players and organisations, trouble with internet connections and even investors unwilling to sponsor or put money into a game ‘about terrorists’, the victory for Space Soldiers will not only help bring further confidence to the team, but could also help the entire Turkish CS:GO scene and wider esports reception in Turkey. Further success and even reaching Legends status at one of the most prestigious events in CS could only help improve the image of the game and encourage others who might have been put off by previous issues.