Ranking NA's performances
Despite the still low number of teams representing our region in tier one competitions, North America is seeing a growth in competitiveness outside the great continent and ESL Pro League season 16 is the most recent symptom of that.
With only three teams representing North America, compared to four from the CIS region, two from Brazil, and 15 from Europe, NA was able to have two teams playing in the playoffs, which in percentage, is only second to what the CIS teams have done.
After the bitter grand final yesterday, Dust2.us is evaluating the overall performances of the North American teams at ESL Pro League season 16.
Complexity - 7/10
The young squad started the campaign with an impressive 2-1 over Astralis where the players showed a lot of maturity and resilience, a sign of things to come. That win was followed by a clean sweep against the French from HEET. Things were looking good for Complexity and the playoffs were very close until they lost two in a row against Heroic and MOUZ. With life on the line in the final game against ENCE, the USA boys Michael "Grim" Wince and Ricky "floppy" Kemery, stepped up and played one of the best series on the group stage, with 1.43 and 1.30 ratings, respectively.
The playoff run was cut short, but it was natural, as Complexity faced the #1 team in the world, FaZe. Regardless, the European mix and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken had to fight hard in order not to get 2-0'd by the Americans, as Grim, once again, shone like a superstar. In the end, Complexity got knocked out by FaZe, but not after making everyone believe for a few hours that they could just do it.
As previously mentioned, the team is showing signs of great maturity and resilience. The addition of Håkon "hallzerk" Fjærli brought a new life into the roster and it is very clear that the team's performance is rising as the new AWPer is settling in. The IEM Road to Rio Americas RMR will be an even bigger challenge than the ESL Pro League for Complexity, as the team played season 16 with no expectations and is now going into the RMR as one of the favorites to qualify for the Major. Only time will tell the real value of this roster, but the future should be good for the young squad.
Evil Geniuses - 6/10
Evil Geniuses started the group stage with two straight 2-0 losses against Cloud9 and Liquid and it looked like it was going to be another winless season. That was until EG won 2-0 against Eternal Fire and then won 2-0 again versus Movistar Riders. EG finally had gotten a win in an ESL Pro League event since March 2021 and were now on the verge of making the playoffs. For that, they had to beat FURIA 2-0, which didn't happen, and went the other way around instead. For a brief moment in time, there was a chance that EG would finally be able to make it to playoffs, especially with a roster that many seemed to doubt from the onset.
The squad is starting to show signs of improvement after the changes but it is still too early to take any kind of conclusions. Evil Geniuses won against teams of similar level and that is always a positive symptom of the changes, but that is it. No alarms, but no surprises either.
Liquid - 8/10
The group stage could have been a piece of cake for Liquid and Captain America, but a terrible series against Eternal Fire and a not-so-good one against FURIA meant Liquid were close to not even making the playoffs. The team closed the group's games with a 2-0 against Cloud9 to qualify. The playoffs saw Liquid take on Fnatic, then MOUZ, and Cloud9, before losing to Vitality in the grand final.
It was repeatedly said that Liquid worked under a "Mareks "YEKINDAR" Gaļinskis go kill" system. That might have been true for the group stage, as YEKINDAR top fragged in all wins, but the same can't be said for the playoffs. If the Latvian entry toned it down a bit, Josh "oSee" Ohm, Johnathan "EliGE" Jablonowski, Keith 'NAF' Markovic, and Nick 'nitr0' Cannella toned it up.
It is safe to say oSee was the worst player for Liquid during the group stage, but during the playoffs he was the key to unlocking multiple map wins. EliGE, despite a silent grand final, was as reliable as ever in the other series. NAF and nitr0, the less talked about players of the roster, shone in different ways than their piers. NAF was able to hang back when things were going well and turn up when the team needed him. nitr0 has been able to maintain a high level of shot-calling despite 1.5 years of absence.
All in all, Liquid is looking strong for the IEM Rio major and will be considered top dogs to take the first Brazilian major, should the RMR go according to the plan.
It's safe to say that North America is back to compete against the top teams of Counter-Strike. ESL Pro League season 16 showed everyone that NA is still alive and, after some more events, might be able to win some titles.