BHOP make a beeline for demotion: Season Recap
It's no secret that North American Counter-Strike is not in a good spot with a lack of teams on the top level and a mass exodus of professional players from the scene. That's why Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz's return to the stage after a brief pause following his departure from Evil Geniuses was hailed with great adulation. Fans have been clamoring for more experienced players to return to the domestic scene and build up developing players' talents. Thus, stanislaw's arrival to ESL Challenger League under the Disconnected banner turned heads and brought a promising sign to the region.
stanislaw's last foray in Challenger League was all the way back in 2015 in Season 18 with Tempo Storm. Since then, he had moved onto bigger and better things, but now he returns to the tournament where he first made his mark on the region. Starting Season 40, he took the spot of Ex-Detonate ,forming Disconnected with former Detonate players David "Delta9" Shafer, Jacob "SPERMY" Younan, Andrew "Ghostii" Kehler, and former ChocoCheck substitute Ali "phantom" Sachs.
From the get-go, this line-up was quite quizzical as Delta9 and Ghostii were the only players with recent ECL/Premier League experience. SPERMY had not been seen on such a prominent stage, with his latest appearance being Season 35 Advanced playoffs. Phantom, on the other hand, had only really been a substitute for ChocoCheck and was not playing full-time on any team.
The season started incredibly poorly, with the hyped team not even taking a single map in their first three matches. In fact, stanislaw's project couldn't put together 16 rounds total in any of those matches. Of note, stanislaw, not known for his fragging capabilities, led the team on the scoreboard in each of those games. Quickly the team recognized it needed a change, so a shift from phantom and Ghostii to Silas "silas" Marrufo and Brody "BeaKie" Kelly was in order.
The team finally won their first map against Eros with the new line-up, but ultimately fell short resulting in their fourth straight loss in ECL. The bad news did not last forever though, as after that game, the Disconnected roster received a new name, BHOP. The Esports Gaming Community Center in Vernon Hills, Illinois would be sponsoring the team and lending it's name to the project as they competed in ECL and other endeavors.
Unfortunately, the season's conclusion was similar to it's beginning. With only three matches left, BHOP buckled under the pressure of the Brazilian powerhouses oNe and MIBR. However, in the last game of the season, stanislaw's curated roster finally put one together and defeated X13, who themselves were only sitting on one win in the season.
Their cumulative 1-6 record put BHOP in relegation, with their victory over X13 being the only result saving them from straight demotion into the Advanced division. Interspersed with the Challenger League season was the North American RMR Open Qualifiers, where the best teams in the region faced off for a chance to go to Romania and face international competition. Unfortunately for BHOP though, they were not able to make it to even the second days of these events, getting stuck in the Round of 32 for both qualifiers.
It's no question that this is not where stanislaw hoped to be three months into the season. A 2-1 loss to third place Advanced team Philadelphia Liberty brings them one loss away from relegation to Advanced next season. To refrain from sugar-coating it, BHOP's performance has simply been abysmal this season. One of the most storied North American IGLs should not be drowning in the shallow end of ESL Challenger League. The question we should all be asking is: Why? Why is stanislaw's project not panning out?
We do not need to look hard for an answer to this question, thankfully. Last week, stanislaw announced that Delta9 would depart from the team. Along with that announcement, he gave his thought process behind the change and future of the team. At first, the project was casual for him, just a way to play CS:GO with friends and not seriously compete in any tournament. He revealed that he was not in-game leading for the majority of the season, and would gradually transition back into the role in the coming weeks. He is now ready to compete seriously, looking for a permanent player to take Delta9's spot as well as a coach for BHOP.
It was a bit stunning to think that the best players stanislaw could come up with are a substitute and and some sub-Challenger League players, so his justification of playing with friends checks out. Hopefully, the ability to be led by such a North American legend now taking the game seriously will attract some incredible talent to stanislaw that he'll be able to utilize in the coming seasons.
As they currently sit one loss away from relegation to Advanced, it'll take a lot of effort for stanislaw to stay in the upper eschelon of NA CS. On the other hand, BHOP only stands one win away from securing their spot in ECL for another season. Many historic players who got a taste of the top never managed to return to those peaks; think Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, or Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg. Stanislaw has shown he can still frag, at least in Challenger League. We still have yet to see whether or not he can still lead, or if he has the mindset to make the grueling grind to the top once again.