No matter how bad someone wants to take it away from you, the fact remains that it belongs to you. The current title of CPL Champion belongs to 3D and everyone attending the coming event will be looking to take it away from them, but as of now it is still theirs to keep. With the problems 3D has had in the past 6 months since their original win, everyone has suddenly become a doubter of the ability they once displayed dominating everyone to win their first CPL. Can they make it two in a row? That could depend on if they can regain that composure and skill of old.
A simple comparison between two matches ago reveals a lot. Only a month ago at KillerLAN 3D lost to TEC on the same map, de_dust2, on which they gained their famous win over GoL to take the title; and it was clear that a little rust had formed on the crown of 3D. In their first loss to an American team at a major LAN event, 3D showed hints of their old flair but still weren’t anywhere near as sharp as they had been. The biggest place this can be seen is on the CT side, where 3D attacked and pursued TEC, often trying to flank and go for cheap kills. Against GoL, none of this happened. 3D was very passive, waiting for GoL to commit to an attack before responding.
In the right picture you can see that on their CT side against TEC, 3D attacked Long A and didn’t really cover catwalk effectively at all. In the lower picture on the left you can see the same strats against GoL but the guys in Bombsite A played exactly the opposite, controlling catwalk and taking out any aggressive rushes while allowing guys to approach on Long A. This is probably the most preferred way of playing Bombsite A. By rushing Long A you expose your flank to a hard catwalk rush and you also leave those guys rushing a long ways away from the other bombsite. Playing catwalk allows the team to keep closer to the center of the map and respond to bombsite B faster, along with adjusting to Long A rushes and calling for backup, backup that would be ineffective if the players were pushed up.
After evaluating the differences between the CT halves I then turned my attention to the T sides. The differences weren’t that noticeable. The attention to the bombsites was pretty much the same, with solid bombsite B rushes and a few well-placed, well-timed rushes to Bombsite A. The key difference really ended up being out of 3D’s control as Icesalmon, Mudaly, and Elude, J.Gilbert, both came up clutch in two different rounds. Those rounds changed the map from a possible 10-2 score for 3D to 7-5 3D. Those rounds, one save round that TEC would have had to do if Mudaly hadn’t won a round, decided the match by giving TEC enough of an edge to come back and tie it and force an overtime where they won the match.
The other map that 3D lost to TEC at KillerLAN was de_inferno, and here again we see sloppy play on the defensive side by 3D. I feel confident they should come better prepared as that will be the key for them on both of these maps. Against GoL, 3D managed to pull off a great save round win as T, allowing them to turn the tables on a GoL team that took the pistol round from them. This was in stark contrast to the TEC match, where 3D lost a round in which TEC was saving. TEC was able to rush and catch 3D unprepared, rallying on a 0-2 deficit to come back and win the rest of the rounds, ending the half 10-2. In the GoL match, 3D was very decisive on where they wanted to attack, hitting hard and normally getting a plant very fast. Their execution of quick timed strats was perfect and compared to Team9 they really didn’t need to feel out the other team. Their quick entries didn’t allow teams to set up stacks or good positions and their awesome aim basically devastated GoL in those initial exchanges. They didn’t do this against TEC, where they played very passively and seemed to take more of a Team9 approach that didn’t suit them very well at all.
The CT side against TEC looked solid enough, but the damage done on T side was too great to overcome. One thing that was obvious from watching the CT side was the annoyance with Kane, Cannon, as he was on his own in the secondary bombsite while the remaining four 3D members played the primary bombsite. It proves they didn’t doubt his skill as that was an important part of the base strat and TEC did attack there twice, but it does make one wonder if no one really wanted to play with him over there. Steel, Gueorguiev, played swingman effectively though, reaching the secondary site pretty quickly for backup.
From two maps they lost on to arguably their best match map is a pretty tough transition. When I look at 3D’s overhead on de_nuke it’s almost scary looking at Moto, Geffon, and Bullseye, Morgan, playing ramp. Those two really dominated in CAL-I at those positions and it will sure eliminate 1/3 of the map to any attacks by the T team. In the screenshot Kane is playing upper bombsite but at CPL, Ksharp, Miller, should take over that role with similar positions being held by the rest of the team, Rambo, Kim, outside and Gueorguiev. Kim’s position outside is key for CPL as he really makes things happen for them. With most teams staying away from ramp room due to Geffon/Morgan and Miller playing upper bombsite, teams like to challenge Kim outside and he’ll need to have a big game if they want to play well. Against GX in this KillerLAN match they gave up the upper bombsite first round allowing GX to plant and setup a defense. It was a bad idea for 3D who was unable to retake the site from GX. It’s tough to give up a site but guarding upper bombsite first round with USP’s is really difficult in those close quarters, especially if the Ts get a good spawn. 3D will need to work on retaking the bombsite with pistols if they hope to be more effective on the first round. Once 3D settled down after their save rounds they got into a groove and really looked untouchable with good teamwork in ramp room and solid coverage of upper bombsite.
A split rush into the upper bombsite from outside and main choke worked well on T pistol round. They were very successful hitting ramp, really clearing it out and doing a lot of damage to GX there but didn’t have as much success in upper bombsite. This could have been just against GX but the flashbang work by 3D didn’t seem as clean as it should have been and didn’t effectively blind people in that upper site. They should have that fixed for CPL though so expect them to be more effective.
The final map, de_train, was the Semifinals match for the Winners’ Bracket where 3D took on Forsaken. Communications became key here as 3D didn’t come into the match prepared and Geffon was calling strats to open the round. Some of the players didn’t get them figured out and his plan for a quick hitting diversion in middle and then delayed rush of lower bombsite turned into a mess that Forsaken capitalized on. 3D really needs to have the communication level that Team9 enjoys to be successful. If Geffon can’t command the respect and attention of his teammates to execute the strats, they are in a lot of trouble. That’s why this team really seems inconsistent to those who don’t pay attention to their pre-LAN routines. Clikarena and WCG both seem to show that the 3D attending wasn’t prepared for the event they were at, whether due to proper bootcamping or adjusting to the different rules being played. This team is built to win at CPL and it’s obvious that they train and practice for that event, so everyone will have to keep an eye on them early on in the tournament to see how they are playing. The rest of the T side of de_train turned out fine as a three-prong attack’two ladder, two middle and one alley’ seemed to be the favorite attack pattern for 3D. They hit upper bombsite about 80% of the match and only seemed to hit lower when they felt Forsaken was starting to cheat guys up into that site.
On CT side we saw the timeless tradition of Kim playing high ramp in lower bombsite, joined by Cannon. Kim has been playing Counter-Strike since the beginning and as long as I can remember I have always seen him play high ramp in lower bombsite. It’s very interesting to watch a player with that much experience in one spot play it so well; it’s really a treat to see a player like that in a position they know so much about. In the upper site Gueorguiev watched alley while Morgan watched ladder. Geffon played middle and often played it very close. I think his spot was a little too risky and if Forsaken had been a little smarter they would have waited for Geffon to push and pick him off. That’s one flaw I see in his game; if a team waits on him he will get impatient and look to push. He’ll need to be more patient at CPL especially against a team like Team9 who will wait out most of the round for him to push and then attack that opening.
3D’s true keys will be preparation and communication. They need to get used to playing with each other on LAN and have all of their strats and plays setup for all the maps they will be playing. Their quick hitting style on offense can work very well and maybe one of the best ways to score rounds in Counter-Strike but they will need to show a bit more patience if they want to compete against the slower, more tactical teams at CPL. Their #1 seed should give them a nice run into the Quarterfinals and maybe even the Semifinals. Those early matches will still be important as they will need to put on a show and play well to prove to themselves that they are the team to beat at the event. Confidence can go a long way for 3D and they’ll need it if they want to keep everyone from taking their title as CPL Champion.