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Lessons from ESEA LAN - Season 13

It was a long weekend, and up until the last minute, I had thought of attending in person. Instead, I was able to follow most of the action via Twitter (@RyuLAN_) and the Twitch.tv streams. It was an enjoyable weekend of matches, despite the NA teams not having the levels of success I was personally hoping for. Below are some of the things we learned from the event and related interviews.

Playtime matters

This is one that gets tossed up and then shot down on the forums as an "excuse" for why the North American teams are not quite at the level of the European teams. I'd state that it's actually a fact. If you don't believe the amount of time spent playing the game on a regular basis matters, I encourage you to listen to NiP's Friberg interview on HLTV.org.

He says about Virtus Pro "They're one of the few teams that actually plays a lot. I mean, they almost play as much as we do"... and then says "They (Virtus Pro) put in the hours to actually compete with us".

Playtime matters, period. Now let's move on to figuring out how to get more of it...

Europe's Average Teams are Better than the NA Average Teams

It's true, and I'm not afraid to say it. Team for team, the EU is better. Now, there are a handful of NA teams that CAN AND DO compete on the level of the world's best, but with those few exceptions, the NA scene has a lot of room to improve.

I could probably spend days dissecting WHY this is, but I'll tell you one of the major advantages the EU teams have over the NA teams-- nearly WEEKLY LAN EVENTS. Playing online and playing on LAN are much different, and the EU teams able to get together and play on LAN almost every weekend will maintain an advantage over the NA teams that only see 3-4 events a YEAR (2 of which are in Europe).

Bet on TCK in a "tck vs. <any number here>" sItuation

[T]he [C]lutch [K]ing, TCK. Winning 20+ clutch opportunities in a MONTH is pretty damn good. Winning 20+ clutch opportunities in a single weekend ON LAN is INSANE. It's hard to imagine the performance (and honestly, let down) Quantic Gaming would've had if tck had not been able to come up so huge, so consistently. The unofficial numbers showed he won:
  • 17 x 1v1 opportunities
  • 4 x 1v2 opportunities
  • 3 x 1v3 opportunities
  • 1 x 1v4 opportunity
And keep in mind, he wasn't doing this in ESEA pugs against random players or teams. He was doing this against some of the world's BEST teams and best players. Absolutely insane.

Reinforced that Decision Making > Aim

This seemed to be a theme throughout the LAN, though wasn't something readily commented on. It was clear that the North American teams and players had great aim. Maybe not on the same level of someone like ScreaM (though not many do), but still, world class aim.

And it didn't make a difference.

Time and time again, poor decision making cost teams (especially NA teams) big rounds. Sometimes it was standing in a poor position, sometimes it was peeking something that shouldn't be peeked, and other times it was watching the clock run out before getting anywhere near a bomb plant. These are a few examples that suck with me (sorry Quantic, but you guys were who I watched the most. Big fan though!)

  • QuanticGaming vs. VeryGames, T-side pistol round on Inferno. A 1v2 situation against ScreaM, where QG peeked and then RE-PEEKED, got killed, and lost the round with the bomb planted.
  • In the same map, 3 times Quantic lost the round due to expiration of the round timer while having a player advantage (2v1, 3v1)
  • On the next map, it happened again
  • Against NiP, it happened again
Those rounds added up in a big way, and they weren't lost because players missed shots. They were lost due to mental mistakes. The good news, though, is that these mistakes are usually easy to fix, and once fixed, the difference should be significant-- turning wins into blow outs, and possibly converting losses into victories.

Euros Troll Hard

If you're a Euro player, this may not be a shock to you. But watching the Twitch.tv chat this weekend, I was blown away at how many (and how hard) Euro fans trolled. Everything from the casters, to ESEA, to the American players, to the chat moderators. It was everything eSports shouldn't be.

And don't get me wrong, the American trolls were out in full force as well. But being an American, I've learned to expect that. I just wasn't expecting it to be mirrored from the Europeans.

Smoke Grenades and Flashbangs Were Used Brilliantly

It's something we've posted here before, but there really is a difference in how the average CS:GO player uses smoke/flash grenades, and how the pros use them. Watch one of the VODs on Inferno of Quantic Gaming and you'll see how they play bombsite B (and banana) on CT side.

First, tck (I think) smokes the end of banana from the CT spawn a few seconds into the round. That delays the Ts from pushing up banana, and allows the CTs to get into the desired positions. Next, CT #1 throws a smoke as the original fades, and then CT #2 does the same, as the smoke from CT #1 fades. A large portion of the round is now delayed, unless the Ts are gutsy and risk running through the smoke and into inevitable headshots.

On top of that, there were countless amounts of unique flash-off-the-wall popflashes (which allow no time to turn away from it before it goes off). If there's a few easy things you should watch and learn during streams of events like these, it's the placement of smokes and the bounces/angles/toss distances of flashbangs.

Fans Want a Return of Team 3D

This one doesn't need much of an explanation. Prior to the trolling, the buzz was all about the return of Team 3D on the twitch stream, the forums, etc. The fans want the return of 3D-- will it happen? With vets/legends like Rambo and KSharp actively involved in the happenings at the LAN, you'd think it's in the realm of possibilities.

Rambo Makes a Great, Informative Caster

Despite his mic volume being way too low, I really enjoyed listening to Rambo cast with Corey Dunn, and then later with KSharp. There's no doubt he knows the game, understands the strategies and everything that surrounds them, and it was obvious listening to him. I'm not sure if he has ANY interest in casting future events, or perhaps making a comeback to the player-side of Counter-Strike, but either way, guys like him are a great addition either way.

Team Dynamic has HUGE Potential

They put on a hell of a (LOOOOOOOONG) show against Quantic Gaming, and if one or two rounds had gone the other way, they would've been playing further into the tournament and could have battled it out with VG (or possibly even NiP) on Sunday. I'm a big fan of the current lineup, and while it felt like they got off to a slow start, they seemed to pick it up later in the tournament before coming up short against Quantic. n0thing and swag were both impressive, and I had not been able to watch them play on LAN much prior to the event. When that roster is fully in sync, I'd expect great things.

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