October 28, 2021
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The PGL Stockholm Major has already started, and as the event reaches the end of its opening stage, we’ve seen a couple of surprises already. However, some of the biggest surprises related to this Major so far go back to the end IEM Fall. That’s back when Complexity, FNATIC and OG, three prime organizations that invested considerably in their Counter-Strike: Global Offensive rosters over the past couple of years failed to qualify for the first Major in over two years.

However, Counter-Strike – and the esports industry – never stops. While missing the Major is a big disappointment, these organizations have, hopefully, started to look forward to the post-PGL Stockholm Major season. Some news related to the future of the three aforementioned teams have already been shared, but for most of them, their future is uncertain, or at the very least, worth discussing. So, while the Major’s New Challengers stage still is going, let’s take a quick break and take a look at the three teams that failed to accomplish their biggest objective of the whole year.

COMPLEXITY – fall of a juggernaut

Complexity didn't expect such results back in the formation of its European squad

Complexity’s legacy in Counter-Strike is legendary. While one could spend a good afternoon talking about the team and its legendary rosters, it suffices to say that Complexity has never achieved the same success in CSGO than they did in the original Counter-Strike. Having hosted North American teams for the good part of its campaign in Global Offensive, for much of it Complexity’s teams failed to reach the top of that region’s scene, never mind the global scene.

This was supposed to change back in 2019. In a tweet that is quoted to this day, the organization’s CEO, Jason Lake, said that the organization wouldn’t tolerate the results of its last North American team. Instead, Complexity would build a ‘juggernaut’ composed by tier 1 players.

Fast forward to today, Complexity’s CSGO squad is a complete mess of a team. From some questionable management decisions to pure bad luck, Complexity has suffered a lot ever since 2019. This team shined in various moments in the past, of course. Some examples are their win at BLAST Premier Spring 2020 Europe Finals and their recent run in ESL Pro League Season XIV. Unfortunately, the team for a reason or another never managed to consistently perform as a juggernaut.

ROAD TO THE MAJOR

In the past months, Complexity was hit by a series of unfortunate events. Back in December, their AWPer, Valentin “poizon” Vasilev was hospitalized, and the team had to complete their 2020 season playing with stand-ins. The AWPer would only return to the active line-up in April, but besides a good overall result in ESL Pro League Season XIII and winning Spring Sweet Spring 3, the team finished last in IEM Cologne 2021, one of the most important events of the year, just behind the Major itself.

After Cologne, Complexity announced a key roster change while the player break was on. The team benched Will “RUSH” Wierzba and in his place, Patrick “es3tag” Hansen was brought in. Unfortunately, the team wouldn’t be able to star their new player as they wanted, as their star player, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, was injured and had to leave the roster for indetermined time. Even then, Complexity did well in their first tournament with es3tag, reaching the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season XIV and even giving a might looking Vitality a run for their money in their best-of-three game.

ALL PIECES FALLING DOWN

poizon left after Complexity failed to qualify to PGL Stockholm.

Complexity result in EPL Season XIV reassured fans. Surely, if they played this well with a stand-in, when k0nfig returned, Complexity could see one of its strongest iterations yet. If only it was this simple.

The team led by Benjamin “blameF” Bremer failed to reach the top placings in BLAST Premier Fall Groups and got eliminated after getting completely demolished by FaZe Clan, but then the team still did well when considering that it was their first tournament with a new stand-in, Marcelo “coldzera” David. The real bad news, though, would come after the Spring Groups, in IEM Fall. Complexity got demolished in the event’s group stage, and besides Endpoint, the team lost to all of their opponents.

Failing to qualify to the PGL Stockholm Major, Complexity headed to another tournament, as they hoped for a spot in BLAST Fall Finals through the Showdown. However, once again Complexity was quickly eliminated in its second game of the event. Immediately after, the team announced that their then injured star, k0nfig, would be leaving the team.

After losing two maps with a 0 – 16 score in less than two months, failing to qualify to the Stockholm Major and a series of mixed results, Complexity announced the departure of poizon, their AWPer. The squad played one final event, using veteran Finnish AWPer, Aleksi “allu” Jalli, as a last-minute stand-in, but the team was quickly eliminated by ENCE.

REBUILD

The most recent news we have about Complexity’s CSGO division is that they won’t attend DH Open November anymore. This hopefully means that the squad will finally take a much-needed break. Now it’s time to rest, and start rebuilding the juggernaut Complexity was supposed to be. Missing PGL Stockholm was disappointing, but it’s no use crying over spilled milk.

While it’s hard to predict what Complexity does next, they will have plenty of time to decide. Their schedule is open, and the only event booked for now is set to start in March. We certainly won’t be hearing news until the Major ends, though. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to know that the organization management is already exploring their options.

Recently, EXTREMUM benched their mostly Australian roster, and there’s some key pieces there that could help Complexity rebuild, such as Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad. Rumours have also surfaced that Astralis is interested in selling Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen, which could be another interesting piece to bring.

Of course, what fans hope the most is that Complexity finally gets a good leader. While blameF is an outstanding player, blameF has yet to prove himself as a capable leader. Someone like Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen could be an option worth investigating, at least.

Complexity’s future is uncertain, but we can only a better – a much better – year is waiting for them in 2022. Until then, it’s up to the team’s management and players to start getting the right pieces to build a team they believe on.

FNATIC – maybe third time is the charm?

ALEX and mezii couldn't bring FNATIC to the Stockholm Major

FNATIC had a rough year in CSGO so far to say the least. While failing to qualify for a Major for the second time in a row was a serious blow, the then Swedish team had a serious streak of blows before it in 2021. This led FNATIC to do two key roster changes during this year’s player break.

These changes were made back in early August, when the organization brought in Alex “ALEX” McMeekin and William “mezii” Merriman. They replaced their then in-game leader, Maikil “Golden” Kunda Selim, and their veteran player Jesper “JW” Wecksell.

The first event FNATIC attended with this team saw FNATIC looking very strong. Unfortunately, the team failed to repeat that level of performance afterwards. After failing to qualify to BLAST Fall Showdown and struggling for a spot in IEM Fall, red flags were raised.

THE SHORTEST HONEY MOON COMES TO AN END

While red flags were already raised, expectations for FNATIC in IEM Fall were high. While FNATIC was placed in a stacked group along with FaZe and NiP, after what they had shown in EPL Season 14 there were plenty of reasons to believe that the squad could at the very least book a third-place spot.

Unfortunately, FNATIC proved that their run at ESL Pro League Season 14 was nothing but a fluke. As soon as IEM Fall started, it was possible to see that this team was struggling on almost every level of the game. In their opening game against FaZe, the Swedes had an horrendous T-side, and were quickly defeated.

In the following matches of the event’s group stage, FNATIC kept disappointing. Their closest match was against the weakest team of their group on the paper, and even then, FNATIC lost. After losing five out of their five group stage BO1s, FNATIC was out of contention for the Stockholm Major.

UNDER A NEW FLAG

After failing in IEM Fall 2021, FNATIC announced that their AWPer, Jack “Jackinho” Ström Mattsson, would be leaving the team. For a short stint, FNATIC played with Owen “smooya” Butterfield. After that, they tried FNATIC’s Rising AWPer, Iulian ‘regali’ Harjău, but that was short-lived as the team was eliminated in their first game during Elisa Invitational Fall with him.

After EIF, FNATIC went back on smooya. Now with a three-month trial for the AWPer, FNATIC is now a mostly English team. The squad has also played their first matches together, and so far, so good. The English AWPer did an incredible campaign in IEM Winter Closed Qualifier. Now, smooya and the rest of the team is heading to DreamHack Open November next, and expectations are high.

FNATIC might have missed the Stockholm Major, and their new roster with the smooya has yet to be proven. However, the signs that we might be seeing the dawn of a new era for the legendary brand, now under a new country flag, are there.

OG – never living up

OG has always struggled plenty to live up to the expectations built around them. Led by Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen since its creation, OG has been a team who many expected to consistently be one of the elite teams in the global CSGO scene. This didn’t become a reality until now, though.

More recently, though, this inconsistency, which can be pointed to a variety of reasons, has been plaguing the team more frequently. Ultimately, it led to them missing the PGL Stockholm Major.

Before IEM Fall: Europe, OG had impressed many in ESL Pro League Season XIV. The team managed to finish in 3 – 4th place then, and it was a great result, especially considering that just before the player break OG disappointed massively in IEM Cologne.

WHEN IT ALL WENT WRONG

Before IEM Fall, OG went to the BLAST Fall Groups. There, the team finished in last place after losing to Natus Vincere and FaZe. However, expectations were still high for this team. After all, the BLAST event was too close to IEM Fall, and OG’s result there could just mean that the team was instead focusing on the more important tournament.

After the Fall Groups, it was finally time for OG to head for IEM Fall. Alongside with Vitality, OG was expected to top out their group, and initially, everything seemed to go in Aleksib’s way. Things turned around, however, in the last game of the group stage. In their matchup against MAD Lions, OG was surprised by their opponents. The squad lost the game, which resulted in OG finishing in third place of their group.

Hope was still alive for OG, though. In the 9 – 12th place decider bracket, OG could still get a spot in the Major as long as they won their opening match of the bracket against FaZe. Unfortunately for Aleksib and his boys, Finn “karrigan” Andersen side proved to be the stronger one that day. With that loss, OG was out of contention for PGL Stockholm.

UNCLEAR ISSUES

OG didn't made to Stockholm

Both Complexity and FNATIC – especially the latter – have (or had) clearer issues than OG. For Aleksib’s team, it’s hard to blame one or two players.

If we go through recent statistics, then we can see that OG struggles more on T-side than they should. However, that alone doesn’t make clear what is behind OG issue. Then we have the team’s map pool which needs to be worked on. Now, are these faults enough to pinpoint the issue? No.

Some might be blaming the issues on Aleksib each time OG disappoints, but it’s unfair to ignore the fact that these events occur alongside with underperformances. In IEM Cologne, it was Shahar “flameZ” Shushan and Mateusz “mantuu” Wilczewski. More recently in IEM Fall, it was Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså who played below his standards. Even then, we can’t just blame one of these players either.

OG’s situation is one that only the team itself can work on. This squad had one major objective this year, and they failed to accomplish it. Just like Complexity, this means that the organization will have some extra time to think about what’s next.

While roster changes aren’t necessarily in the way, we will be only watching OG again during IEM Winter. This means that if the management team wishes, they could use this time to trial possible solutions.

THE MAJOR GOES ON

Complexity, FNATIC and OG among so many other teams missed the PGL Stockholm Major. Just as for the teams playing in said event, though, life goes on. At the end of the day, we can just hope that better days are in store for them.

In any case, it’s time to get back our attention to the Major. With the New Challengers stage coming to an end soon, we will be finally seeing the Legends joining the competition. This means that from here, the Major will only get more interesting and Stockholm is heating up.

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@mjunior