Final LAN of 2016 is now firmly upon us. With plenty to chew into, this could have the potential to be the upset central that we saw last year at insomnia56. There are plenty of teams, mixes, and big names in the UK in appearance and of course, with £5,000 up for grabs along with the final chunk of the £20,000 prize pool of UK Masters, there certainly is a lot for everyone to enjoy this weekend, it of course means I have to do the dreaded preview.
At the time of writing this, there are 41 teams signed up to the Battlefy website, and it should be noted that everyone has been informed of the ultimatum from Jon “ViciousHorizion” Kelly who now works for Multiplay’s Esports Division, who has stated that teams have till Thursday 8th December to sign up and get assured a seeding. Last iSeries saw 54 teams participate at a Winter LAN, which is the biggest attendance we’ve seen from the CS community for Winter LAN events. The question will be, can this year see similar numbers or has the game finally grown to it’s pinnacle in the UK?
Currently, we know that Team Endpoint & fm-eSports have confirmed that they will be in attendance through winning their spots in the Offline Finals of the UK Masters, this also means they skip the group stage at the event of the main tournament and will join teams in the Elimination Bracket. However skim reading the participant list, there is a variety of good and decent teams in attendance including third placers at the last epic.LAN in October, Dog Gaming. The epic.NINETEEN Champions will also be at insomnia59, looking to capitalise on their confidence from winning that LAN. Last year’s Winter iSeries Champions, Team CeX are at LAN, along with Dragon Esports, Team XENEX and newly acquired London Lynx.
It’s setting up to be a cracking finale of the year. With that all said and done, here is my preview of the final LAN of the year in usual fashion.
Immi, MightyMAX, Esio, Luzuh, Jesp
One of two potential teams here that can and should win insomnia59 this weekend. Despite their lineup only being confirmed officially in the last few weeks with the addition of Jesp to the lineup, Team Endpoint look like the real deal. Of course, it should be easy to figure out that the core 3 players have played together for in and around 2 years now, under numerous names, like Choke Gaming, fm-eSports, AYE, etc.
Online, Endpoint’s form gives us an interesting picture, they struggled in ESEA Premier this season, finishing with a 5 – 11 W/L record. One of the more impressive wins in that league came up against ALTERNATE aTTaX with a 16:9 win on de_overpass. They also managed Top 4 in UK Masters, and then went on to secure their finals place by beating fm-eSports over two maps in the Upper Bracket Final over the recent weekend.
Of course, Endpoint did fly out to China in October over the course of epic.NINETEEN Weekend. Out there, Endpoint had a pretty miserable experience in terms of games anyway, where they only managed one map across the series where they had squared up to Russian & Chinese teams. Endpoint managed to place themselves as the second best team there at that event, because fm-eSports managed two map wins, whilst CAZ eSports just couldn’t muster any.
This side coupled with fm-eSports will be the two sides to beat this weekend, if anyone wants to really claim the insomnia59 crown. The unfortunate thing for most of us, is we will only see them in action at the UK Masters Finals before they head into the Elimination Bracket. As proven last iSeries, it doesn’t give you a great barometer of how the teams look in the early stages, as both fm-eSports and CAZ eSports struggled to get through their early Elimination rounds. Endpoint will be hoping they avoid any unneccesary setbacks early on in the Elimination stages.
Predicted Finish: Champions (bold, I know).
nEiLZiNHo, robiin, Puls3, Jenko, stan1ey
As I said in my Endpoint overview, fm-eSports are the other side who potentially champions elect here at insomnia59. The lineup on paper is probably the strongest team here with the ace in the hole being Jenko, and whether he can continue to perform at a high level. This side, has some interesting characters in it, I simply cannot get used to seeing Neil without his usual wingman, Phil in the lineup. However, he has two real stars on his lineup including both Robiin, & Puls3. Meanwhile, the upcoming talent of Jenko is in this team, and the old stalwart of Stanley who has been around the block for many years now. It’s a good blend of experience, and youth.
fm-eSports played really consistently over the course of the UK Masters season, (and if Multiplay kept their website upto date, we could see the impact they made), but Jon “ViciousHorizion” Kelly, who currently works as League Ops for Multiplay, believes that fm-eSports are basically the only team who can win this event combined with UK Masters. He is probably right, but I hedge my bets with Ian and co for good reason, they took a 2:0 win over fm-eSports last weekend in the UK Masters playoffs. Whilst of course, you could point out that fm were simply holding back prior to LAN, or even in Adam “adamxoxo” Rotherham’s case, online results never really tell the full story, it was still a win.
This side does have a lot going for it though, and personally I’d not be surprised if they did end up doing the double this weekend, with a win in the UK Masters and then winning insomnia59 itself. If anything, form proves they should go on to win this event, but that Endpoint result does leave me questioning whether they quite have that conviction to win. We shall see how this pans out.
Predicted Finish: Champions at best, Runners Up at worst.
jakem, MCK, Dream, roma, ozzy
This team has an interesting lineup. Formed of several members from previous Infused rosters, and featuring a former United Estonia player, led by Jake “jakem” McCausland, they are an interesting blend. You will notice a recurring theme throughout this entire preview, which is the fact I will use the word “potential” a lot. The reason why I use that word is because everytime I seem to make a bold prediction, or say this team will flop, or do well, I always seem to get it incredibly wrong. So much so, that people literally tell me this on Twitter and how I should just give up writing.
Every team has potential, because we never see these teams last long enough to develop a thorough storyline of events. I’ve gone back to my insomnia58 Final Standings post, and you notice, not one single team has kept the same lineup, which means it becomes incredibly frustrating to predict accurately what every team is able to do from one event to the next. This team is of no exception, it has some incredibly talented players in the lineup, and an incredibly experienced in game leader of Jakem. The side can do really well, and could potentially challenge (if not topple) one of the two favourites at this event.
UK Masters Playoffs last weekend, saw CAZ lose to Team Endpoint quite convincingly over two maps, before beating Team CeX over three maps, and then getting thrashed by fm-eSports over two maps. It shows to me anyway, that this side whilst on paper is capable of beating those two teams (Endpoint/fm), they just simply cannot seem to find the answer on how to beat them. They are still ahead of the majority of teams here at the event, and will probably end up being third at the event.
- Please note: As of 8:30pm, CAZ eSports announced two roster changes, whilst this doesn’t affect my prediction so much, it does affect my few paragraphs of writing. We are unsure currently as to who both Brandon “Weber” Weber & James “Kryptix” Affleck have replaced, but we will continue to find out this information. As we are unsure, I simply cannot afford the time to re-write an entire section based on a last minute swap.
Predicted Finish: A respectable third place.
Team Giving It
Boaster, cybah, Zeo, jadamm, logzii
This is probably the strangest lineup I have ever seen in my time writing previews and observing LANs in some form or fashion. A talented lineup and one that features star studded player Boaster in the lineup, this glorified mix team will have all kinds of upset potential. Be it, the good kind, or the kind where teams just suddenly flop. I simply don’t know how to feel about this side, but I’ve given them a slot in my Top 8, mostly because logzii was part of a side that came fourth at last iSeries, Zeo is incredibly talented, and Boaster is one of those players who can turn a game on it’s head.
I don’t believe they are a team, and therefore their online results are really lacking here, but this potential side can upset the cart so to speak. People will flame me for keeping these guys up this high, and will argue that much better teams are out there, but if there is one thing I’ve learnt over the last 10 years in the UK CS community, is not to rule out these mixes coming in and storming the shit out of a tournament.
Whether this mix can perform is probably the biggest question, and whilst my usual detractors will be on my back about including this mix team, it should be noted that mixes in recent times tend to do better than some of the actual teams I haven’t included in this list. As always it’s up for debate, this is a preview, it is a prediction of what could happen, not what will happen. I am no Mystic Meg unfortunately.
Predicted Finish: Top 4 at best, but could crash out of groups at worst.
Shaney, pickles, Danceyzx, JT, Peggyyyy
This is where things traditionally get tricky for anyone to predict, those teams that look pretty respectable on paper, but sometimes don’t really materialise into world beaters, and the rest of the UK Scene that seems to have trouble in overcoming some of the bigger names in the scene. I’ll be honest, this is kind of a blind pick for me here with Team XENEX, they have some rather talented players in this team, with both JT & Peggyyyy who have both shown that they can really pull out some pretty impressive performances to topple Gods. However the factor for me here is Pickles, he’s a lovely guy, and over the last year has shown incredible growth in his own personal career. The issue can be much of a mental factor than your playing ability, and I’ve not seen enough from Pickles to say that this guy can be a LAN winner (yet).
You may berate me of my choice of singling out a potential weak link of any side, but Shaney offers up a consistent factor, whilst Danceyzx can be someone of a rebel and do what it takes to win a match. Pickles hasn’t discovered his X Factor yet, so it gives him the necessary spring board to actually discover it this LAN. I may get it wildly wrong, and he may over perform and carry XENEX to a brilliant upset, but for me, Counter-Strike is just as much a mental game as it is an ability game. This could be his time to shine.
Just for some additional context though, Team XENEX have contended in ESEA Open Division and opted to stay away from the UK Only division, they finished with a 12 – 4 W/L record in the league, and have made it to playoffs. However XENEX crashed out of the playoffs, with a 16:8 (and a map forfeit) loss against Ground Zero, apparently this was due to another official that clashed at that time. So who knows what could have happened in that match?
Predicted Finish: Top 6 at best, 13th – 16th at worst.
skuxz, bmagic, kplus, nukeddog, wafu
The current reigning champions of epic.LAN head to iSeries this weekend, in the knowledge that whilst the field at epic.NINETEEN was weaker than anticipated, they managed to find the confidence and structure to beat everyone there at LAN. Bulldog have participated in ESEA Main this season and finished with 7 wins and 9 losses which meant they missed out on the playoffs. Their online form leaves a lot to be desired, but being in Main gave them a real stern test of things to come.
This side may not have the firepower to cope with all the big guns at insomnia59, and could potentially see them get smashed elsewhere, but if they can keep their heads up, remain firm and perhaps not give certain sides the respect factor, you may see these guys really give an impressive run at LAN. They need that stride of confidence and no bullshit attitude to make some headway against some of the better players and teams here at this event.
Predicted Finish: At best, Top 6, at worst, down in 13th – 16th.
Resu, Thomas, CINDER, smooya, Brody
The team that took insomnia56 by storm, but have never really reached those heights since this time last year. Since that weekend at the NEC in December 2015, they have changed roster around four times, and tumbled out at their worst position last LAN event in 13th – 16th. Basically their former lineups really haven’t worked at all. Going into this weekend, there is some glimmer of hope, they finished 4th in UK Masters, and managed to secure a place in the playoffs before being beaten by fm-eSports & then CAZ eSports in the lower bracket, both of which were over three maps. There is every hope they can repeat a surprising run here at this event.
With smooya in the lineup, who is known for being a little hot headed in the scene, there could be some feisty explosions in this lineup. It should also be very much noted, that Thomas had recently announced over Twitter that he had left the lineup before LAN, but would continue to go to LAN with them. You could say this could be a mix team, but that is an excuse that many seem to clamour to every single LAN in the run up after a few disagreements.
I know smooya is probably the standout player in this lineup, however if there is anyone who has proven themselves over the course of 2015 & 2016, it would be CINDER, he practically carried one of the former lineups through the ESL UK Premiership Spring Season earlier this year with stats so far ahead of most players in the league. When he is on, he can cause any amount of damage to any side they face. Smooya remains to be the kennyS of the UK Scene, showing flashes of brilliance, but often taking a lot of effort and time to get that point.
Team CeX finished with 12:4 record in the UK ESEA Open division, and have since then got to the playoff final and had beaten Team uFrag quite convincingly over two maps en route to the final.
Predicted Finish: Top 4 at best, 13th – 16th at worst.
Majorleemessedup, Trouble, Snakey, AhB, Isaac
One of the bigger underdogs I’m picking here. I know this could upset people such as SpeedyG & Adamxoxo, but London Lynx look like a side who could potentially cause upsets here there and everywhere. Something they actually managed to get themselves into the UK Masters league season, and whilst they didn’t technically do as well as they had hoped, the result was, they had been picked up by an organisation.
With a fully fledged organisation backing them, they have the potential to do some wonderful things here at the NEC this weekend. This side has the potential to be good enough to hit the heights of Top 8, but on that flip side of the coin, I would also say they could easily flop, burn in a fire along with ROCCAT, and crash out of group stages!
I must admit, over the years, I have enjoyed players such as Trouble & Isaac playing CS. They have often gone unnoticed by the majority of UK players, but they are some seriously talented players who on their day can really frag hard and cause problems for opponents. On the online results side though, London Lynx have participated in ESEA Intermediate, they cruised to a 13 – 3 W/L record and secured a spot in the playoffs. They did really well there, and got to the Semi-Finals before being beaten by French side 5Aces eSport over three maps.
Predicted Finish: Top 8 at best, collapse in the group stages at worst.
There are far too many teams to list for one single article, so there maybe a smaller compact preview on the underdogs before the tournament gets underway tomorrow afternoon. Stay tuned for that part, where I will list teams such as Rasta.gg, Dragon Esports, Team uFrag and a few others.
Make sure you stay tuned to UKCSGO.com for all your latest news, coverage, and results from insomnia59. Give the UKCSGO Facebook page a like, and the UKCSGO Twitter bio a follow. We will be at the NEC this weekend, to bring you all the latest, so stay with us!