By: Trevor Schmidt
One constant for GX over the past few months, if it can be called that, has been roster turnoverï¿½never considered a part of success, and if anything quite the opposite at CPL. The biggest constant through the change has been the play of Method (Michael So), and the emergence of a new star, Keen (Bobby Aihama). Itï¿½s often surprising to see how much of an impact individual players can have on an entire team but in no case is it more obvious than in So’s.
ï¿½Method (So) is the most important player on the team, he is our strat caller so if heï¿½s not into the game then he doesnï¿½t call strats and we’re kinda confused and f**ked,ï¿½ said Aihama.
Letï¿½s get that out of the way early on as it’s very simple: this team is and always will be built on the play of its star player, So. Looking back at ESWC one statement could have explained GX to a ï¿½Tï¿½: as goes Method, so goes GX. Itï¿½s hard to break a strat down to something so simple as one player but with GX it often came down to that.
Nothing demonstrates this better than GXï¿½s match against 4K on de_nuke. GX started the match as T and things looked good for them early on with Aihama pulling out a clutch first round and going 8-1 over the first three rounds, allowing GX to get up to an early 3-0 lead. But the first gun round proved the beginning of a deadly habit. GX seemed to fall into the practice of not calling any strat, waiting in the middle choke outside of upper bombsite, as if hoping that 4K would attack them or they would somehow pick someone at ramp.
This started an endless cycle of lost gun rounds followed by quick ramp rushes on save rounds that lost them nine rounds in a row. Finally they managed to guess right on a buy round, catching 4K stacking upper and leaving only one man to spot ramp. An 11-4 deficit awaited the conclusion of the half. Confusion and lack of strat calling from So, who played poorly himself, really ended up costing them too many rounds to be effective on the T side.
Now while this isnï¿½t an ESWC wrap-up, we have here a perfect example of one of GXï¿½s major faults. Skill-wise they can play with anyone in the game, but strat-wise they are often not much better then a lower caliber CAL-I team on the Ts side. Aihamaï¿½s play saved them from a possible sweep of the entire half.
ï¿½I would definitely pick de_nuke as our weakest map, our T side is very disorganized; such a small space getting spammed and nadded from everywhere confuses us greatly.ï¿½
Things werenï¿½t all bad for GX as their CT side featured some very strong strats and with the play of So in ramp room they basically closed off 1/3 of the map to 4Kï¿½s attack. Aihama and Medias (Kim, who wonï¿½t be at CPL) played well in the upper bombsite but the key to their downfall, 11-16 (7-5 as CT), was the protection of outside. All the key rounds won by 4K came from outside attacks of upper bombsite. This is a bit surprising for a team with such dominating AWP play, especially from Nutz (Maldonado), Kye, So and Aihama.
As you can see in the picture Kye was in charge of guarding the outside but really he missed his shots too much to be effectiveï¿½although to be fair to him, it’s very hard to stop rushes of 3 or more people outside with an AWP. It probably would have been more effective to guard the outside with a player more suited for rifle play, similar to how Rambo (Kim) often plays for 3D.
CT side proves to be kind to GX on de_train, where they finish 10-5 against a solid Intensity team at ESWC. Outer trainyard is always the most difficult to defend because of quick rushes from Ts who spawn close with AWPs. GX often responded by stacking the outer trainyard, but Intensityï¿½s few wins actually came on these stacks. As you can see in the screenshot, Kim often rotated too quickly, leaving Maldonado alone in the inner trainyard but more importantly leaving GXï¿½s arguably two best players in relatively the same position, middle train for So and bomb train for Aihama. It would have been better to let these two players tear apart middle rushes and leave two players in the inner trainyard unless alley goes down.
While a 10-5 score would make most teams happy, GX will need to shoot for a much higher ratio at CPL, something closer to 9-10 for MR12 matches, because of their poor T play. Managing only 6 rounds, just enough to win, GX saw another poor performance from So but enough tough fought rounds won in the inner site, as seen in the overheard, to be successful.
They were utterly smashed on what most people consider the easiest strat, rushing middle on de_train. One trend we’ve noticed so far is that while GX is great with AWPs they are often best at T strats that donï¿½t require or even prefer AWPs. The AWP is such an exact weapon that without exact strats to match they are often a hindrance to a team that is built on reflexes even if they are looking to pick off players to be successful.
ï¿½Well we are getting demolished on T sides of almost every map; I think we have a lot of work to do there. Our CT side I think we can hold the same as of now,ï¿½ said Aihama.
One map where their T side was effective at ESWC was de_inferno where they really controlled and dominated the Brazilian team, mibr, whom they could see again at CPL. Their base strat is very similar to many CAL-I level teams, with one player watching/picking banana, for GX with an AWP, while two went hallway and two went middle working slowly. I would have to guess that about 70% of GXï¿½s attacks went into this primary bombsite. The secondary bombsite featured only some attacks when either GX hard rushed or re-diverted after they felt mibr had over-rotated to the primary site.
Often strats are made easy when two players are playing as well as Aihama and So were during that match. They combined for 46 frags while their three other teammates only managed 25 frags between them. Both of these players played the primary bombsite on the CT side, joined by Kye amd the swingman Kim. The real key was the great play of Maldonado, whose AWP proved strong enough to keep mibr from thinking about attacking the secondary site. He also combined that with good flanking, which he did in the screenshot. Aihama played the halls and did so very effectively but GX played more inside the primary bombsite, allowing So and Kye to play more of a support role for that important area.
From a strats point of view de_inferno looked like GXï¿½s most sound map, featuring solid, organized stratsï¿½but the one constant was that they were in solid control of the whole match. GXï¿½s main weakness has been playing from behind during a half. When they get behind they often lose organization and coordinationï¿½something they canï¿½t do if they hope to succeed at CPL. Even 3D, who won every match at the last CPL, has had to play from behind (see the finals match against GoL). The problem behind this weakness is the lack of true leadership for GX, with So calling the strats as of now.
ï¿½Itï¿½s hard for a player to concentrate on his game and call strats at the same time; not many people can do it,ï¿½ said Aihama.
Against zEx this weakness proved too much as they dropped behind in the first half as CT, 7-8, to lose 11-16 overall with a second half of 4-8 on the easier T side. CT score is quite promising for de_dust2 as most professional clans would be happy with a one-point deficit after such a tough side to the #3 ranked team in the world. GX could have done better though. Their bombsite B was where they lost all of their rounds but this wasnï¿½t even due to poor strats, just some missed shots by So and Kye on important gun rounds. They really could have put the pressure on zEx if they had shut down that bombsite but they allowed zEx to sneak out enough rounds to escape the half with a decent score.
Aihama and Kim played the middle catwalk well, leaving little room for the attacking zEx team, while Maldando played Long A with AWP again for much of the map. Maldando will guard any obvious AWP area on the CT side of most maps for GX. He is really their best AWP player and the most consistent with that gun which says a lot on a team with many gifted one-shot fraggers.
The T side was not so kind to GX, who at best looked disorganized and confused, if not downright bad. Initially most of their strats seemed directed to given areas but once players died things normally turned into a mess. This was compounded by the fact that GX couldnï¿½t get any entry kills. Almost 90% of the time GX would lose equal numbers if not more to players defending their entrance routes. This made it impossible to hold the bombsite against zEx members looking to retake it. You can see in the screenshot that GX often met well-defended CTs in areas they were unable to dislodge them from. They would also get taken out a lot by attacking sites in waves instead of together from different areas with bombsite A on de_dust2 being one of the most important timing attacks in all of professional CS.
GX will need to work on their timing on both sites if they are to put up a much more respectable score. Against less skilled teams GX will be able use its muscle, getting entry frags and hold superior numbers on the people looking to retake the site. But against top teams theyï¿½ll need to be more sound if they hope to be among the teams on the final day of the CPL.
Strats-wise its difficult to pick out one thing that this team needs to work on, but most of their CT strats are very solid with good placement of their two best players Aihama and So. If you havenï¿½t heard of Aihama, I encourage you to check out demos of CAL-I and ESWC from the past season, he is definitely a player of the future and should be key for GX at CPL. The ESWC team will be missing Medias (Kim), as heï¿½s not old enough, but a very veteran Dizza (Lee), will replace him, a former WEW 5th place member who should help their composure in matches they fall behind in. Still this team is Soï¿½s team, and if he doesnï¿½t play the way heï¿½s expected they have little chance of making the final day, but still a 6th place finish at ESWC, considering how So did play in their bigger matches, is promising. If So does play better at CPL watch out for GX and I do expect him to play much better.