Who is Lake, M80's gamble on homegrown talent?

Replacing malbsMd is a tough task, but someone's gotta do it.

Earlier this off-season, G2 nabbed M80's star rifler, Mario "malbsMd" Samayoa, removing one of North America's top players from the region. It was the most bitter pill for M80 to swallow. Reeling from the shock loss of IGL Marcus "maNkz" Kjeldsen earlier this season, it looked like M80 had finally settled into a stable five and were beginning to pick up results. Now, the rug has been pulled from under them.

Replacing malbsMd is a tough task, but it's exactly what M80 were charged with. After much consideration, M80 have gambled on the young Mason "Lake" Sanderson of Carpe Diem to take malbsMd's position on the team. malbsMd's shoes are tough to fill, but M80 believe in Lake to do just that.

It's easy to see why Lake would move to M80. Not only is he joining a top-three team in North America, he finally joins an organization that can pay him to play full-time. He will develop under Elias "s1n" Stein's European system and he'll be flanked by some of North America's top players. But, why did M80 spring for Lake? What did they see in the 19 year old player that justified his spot on the team as compared to other, more veteran NA players?

We spoke with Lake's now former coach, Ashlynn "Valkenn" Brady and former IGL Jack "micro" Ryan to find out, along with swimming through his stats and positions to discover why M80 went for this potential diamond in the rough.

Lake is an honest to goodness entry, and not only that, he's one of the most prolific in North America. He tops nearly all the charts relating to entrying, with one of the strongest multikill rates off the back of those entries in ESL Challenger League North America.

ECL may not be the most competitive tournament in the world, but it gives us a good sense of the types of players M80 would have looked through to find Lake. Plus, Lake's former team, Carpe Diem, ended in the bottom half of the most recent season, so one can hardly say he was carried to good results.

Lake boasts a strong opening duel attempt rate (29.9%), though could use some work on his T-side conversions (40.0%). He finished the season with the second highest multikill rate (22.1%), rounds with kill rate (52.8%), and Impact rating (1.46) of all entries. There's really only one cause for concern; malbsMd led all those categories.

micro, Lake's IGL on Carpe Diem, noted the comparison, saying he could see why M80 springed for the youngster considering his stylistic similarities to malbsMd, though believes there's still room to grow for Lake. "There's times where he does things solo. He'll be halfway up the ramp on A Vertigo and kill two people, but we can't react off of it because we're still in a B/Mid default."

Next we see if Lake fits exactly into malbsMd's positions, or if there will need to be some jostling around.

For the most part, Lake will slot into M80 without a hitch. As micro says, "Lake and malbs have very similar heat maps," which Valkenn corroborates. Entries play with the pack, so it's not positions that Lake needs to learn, but rather chemistry with his fellow map control players s1n and Fritz "slaxz-" Dietrich. Playing on domestic squads his whole, albeit short, career, it's tough to say if Lake will absorb s1n's European style easily.

M80's T-side works heavily based on, in micro's words, "a million fucking flashes and then malbs running at you," along with an entire plan built on his entries. "At these higher levels, you need to have a more complete game plan, like an extra level of security just by being doubled up and having natural trade potential."

Lake has got the running at the enemies part down, it's that second layer which Carpe Diem lacked. micro recalls telling Lake once, "You can be as aggressive as you want. You can do whatever you want. All I need you to do is just don't take the 50/50 duel. Whether it's you simply asking for a flash or I'm right next to you and you just want to swing and I play your trade, as long as we have that second layer, then we're good."

Valkenn concurs, saying "His independence can be a double-edged sword at times [...] Tiny individual missteps that unfortunately lead to bigger consequences". Lake improved upon his decision making throughout ECL S47, but making the step to M80 will be a brutal challenge, with top-level opponents eager to capitalize off mindless mistakes.

Lake played similar positions to malbsMd on CT-side, nearly always the most active spot on the map. Valkenn described his CT style quite plainly: "He is not afraid to get in your face and make you feel the pressure".

It will be interesting to note whether Lake retains all his active positions or if Swisher will retake some of his old rotation roles from prior teams.

There is, of course, the small hiccup that Lake will need to pick up Anubis. With only two officials on the map in 2024 recorded by HLTV, it's unlikely he has the high-level reps necessary to be up to speed on Anubis. That will be one of the challenges for M80 to work through before Lake's debut at the Esports World Cup 2024 in just a few weeks.

Integrating a new player is never an easy feat, but it looks like M80 have given themselves the best possible chance with Lake. A hyper-aggressive entry who has the skill to back up his confidence, Lake checked box after box for M80.

Both coach and IGL attested Lake's dedication to growing himself as a player and aiding the team in their development, constantly reviewing his demos and bringing new, small-scale ideas to the table. When asked about his biggest strength, Valkenn spoke about his creativity and passion.

Mason spent a lot of time watching demos, reviewing/critiquing his own decision making, and coming up with new plays he could incorporate into our game plan that would raise his impact for the team. It was usually smaller picture things but he was very determined to try and bridge the gaps we had during this last season of ECL.

This next step for Lake will be the most ramifying one of his career. From playing on domestic squads with nothing to compete for other than ECL to an international team carrying the banner of North American Counter-Strike to over half a dozen European events, M80 will be a clear change of pace for the youngster.

Lake faces a nearly insurmountable task of replicating malbsMd's output, but will have "a ton more help than I could ever give," said micro. With the full weight of M80 behind him and some of North America's best stars around him, perhaps M80 can polish this potential diamond in the rough.

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#1(With 5 replies)
July 10, 2024 07:32PM
I am Lake, M80's gamble on homegrown talent.
#2(With 4 replies)
July 14, 2024 01:54PM
Real Talk Will I’m stoked for Lake to show the world Malbs is very replaceable and even a weak Link
#3(With 3 replies)
July 15, 2024 11:55AM
that is simply untrue
#4(With 2 replies)
July 15, 2024 05:15PM
Malbs barely gave a shoutout to M80 and praised Something named Donk and his TeamOne experience in the interview. Having watched M80 day 2 at ESL Challenger Atlanta it will be a pleasure seeing M80 do well and NA use its own talent for better or worse. G2 gets enough glazing and freebies to playoffs it’s not enough GStew gave them their first Cs2 trophy they had to poach a Guatamalian Rifler that played 5 LANs and only broke even at EPL G2 Mafia once again wins
#5(With 1 replies)
July 15, 2024 10:47PM
sounds like you just have a really weird personal slight against malbs lol
#6(With 0 replies)
July 15, 2024 11:21PM
Not even true I’ve been a big supporter since day one for a year...but Good Luck M80’s Lake!

I’m glad Donk and TeamOne helped him w G2
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