Buster: “Mirage is our map, everyone in the CIS knows it”

Buster: “Mirage is our map, everyone in the CIS knows it”

After AVANGAR’s victory over Winstrike in the final of IEM Katowice CIS Minor 2019, Timur “Buster” Tulepov shared his first impressions after reaching the major and also said how a defeat in the group stage helped AVANGAR win in the playoffs.

The team from Kazakhstan lost only once this entire Minor and it was against the Winstrike team in the group stages. In the first playoff match AVANGAR defeated the struggling Gambit Esports line-up and moved on to winner’s final, where they battled it out against the previous Major Legends for the first spot in IEM Katowice 2019.

This will be the second Valve Major for AVANGAR. In their first attempt at ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 they finished 17th — just one win away from the New Legends Stage. Coincidentally, at the same Major Winstrike (then Quantum Bellator Fire) against all odds made it all the way to Top 8, earning themselves Legends status.

For AVANGAR and Timur “Buster” Tulepov this means a second chance to make their goals reality.

Congratulations! What were the first thoughts in your head after the victory?

We have already passed to this stage of the championship, so the emotions were not so bright. The most important thing is that we have a good team, and stickers, of course (laughs).

You are probably the calmest among all the teams. Even at the moment of victory. Is this temperament, or work on yourself?

This is our thing. That we are not a very emotional team.

Does this value help during matches? Especially against teams like Winstrike, who actively use emotional pumping?

It had no effect on us. It is difficult to explain, in principle, I cannot say that we indulge in emotions during matches.

The most memorable moment in this Minor?

As we took the round 2 against 4 twice with Jame. This was the brightest episode.

Why did you lose Winstrike in the group stage? 

We were not prepared properly. We thought that they would play in the old manner, without any changes, so we did not watch their games. Therefore, we were not ready for their game on Train, and besides, they themselves gave away a few key rounds.

That defeat, how did it change your preparation for this match?

It was a very important match, obviously. We gathered together and step by step demolished demos, positions, spreading grenades. Very well prepared. In principle, I cannot say that we changed something, rather, we were just ready, and Sai, our analyst, suggested something before the match.

So it happened, we knew absolutely everything that they did in the match.

Tell me about the preparation for the Minor. Winstrike, for example, celebrated the New Year together.

We flew home at the end of 2018, four days. Initially, they flew for visas, because they filed in Kiev, but a rally broke out there and we were canceled a multivisa only a week before traveling to Poland. Well, we flew home, at the same time we decided to relax with our families. They returned to Kiev just 10 days before the main day and were preparing until the last hour. Well, the New Year was celebrated home.

You trained against European teams. Can you compare the level of local teams and teams from the CIS?

We often play against tier-1 teams on scrims, we know everything that they do, we work out preparations against them. The most difficult is to play against teams from the CIS, because they know and understand very well how you play. Therefore, all sorts of online tournaments are so complicated. It is difficult to compare the level of the game in such conditions.

Now you are going back to the bootcamp, or what?

No, we will have another tournament in London, but then we will again stop at the bootcamp and we will prepare right up to the major.

On the second map in the final you had a great lead against Winstrike, but you lost from the score of 12:4. How?

We gave a very offensive eco-round when Qikert and I were killed in a house with Zeus. It was an unusually important round. And further, you know, as it did not go so well. We were moving incorrectly around the map and in the end several small errors led to the fact that we lost.

What did you talk about during the break between the second and third map?

Nothing like that, mostly listened to our analyst, who gave information on the third map. Mirage is our map, everyone in the CIS knows it.

Can you talk about the current state of esports in Kazakhstan?

We have a Federation of esports in Kazakhstan, but we do not have much contact with it. I don’t really know what they are doing now, but it’s already clear that they have taken on the WESG and are holding tournaments. Slowly developing.

Among the young teams, Syman Gaming can be named — it is a Kazakhstani organization, there is a player and a coach from Kazakhstan. Montegos and Se7en Esports are also teams from our country. These organizations are very young and will be able to show results in the future, but only if they come together at the bootcamp.

There is a tendency that teams like Runtime, Gambit — teams with a lot of experience on board, can’t go any further. Is this a generational change or is it just unlucky?

Every year, the “era” changes. Nowadays it’s really clear that young players show themselves much better. The same Magisk — he is only 20 years old. And about the defeat of the “old” … We need to prepare better. They have everything in their heads, they do not want to completely adapt to the new meta and try to do everything using the old methods, out of habit. They have a lot to learn from young players.

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The battle of the underdogs: four reasons to watch the Americas Minor

The battle of the underdogs: four reasons to watch the Americas Minor

On January 22–26 a new series of Minors will take over Katowice. This time, teams from America and Asia will be competing for Major slots. And here’s why you shouldn’t miss any of the action.

Brazil conquers North America

Just a year ago, even sophisticated Counter-Strike fans could hardly have named at least two Brazilian teams besides SK Gaming or 100Thieves. Now local teams began to slowly move to North America and create real competition there.

The year 2018 has become a landmark for the Brazilian scene — it has begun to actively declare itself. It’s hard to say why this happened. But tracking key milestones is easy. First, the team 100 Thieves breaks up, and its players fly away to perform at home, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo revives YeaH! Gaming and Immortals redeem the rights to the MIBR brand and seriously invest in Brazilian esports.

Apparently, infrastructure has finally begun to appear in the region, but there has always been a desire to express themselves among local players and teams. At the same time, organizations in the region are well aware that their players need to improve their level, and the United States for them is the best option for professional growth. FalleN proved it a long time ago.

Just think: only three teams from the USA will perform at Americas Minor Championship Katowice 2019, but four will represent Brazil! Moreover, they have real chances to get through to the Major — there are no obvious favorites, except NRG Esports, at the tournament. Moreover, the best-of-1 factor in opening matches cannot be ruled out — as is well known, it is always helpful for the underdogs.

Who can upset? The greatest chances of the two teams — INTZ eSports and Team One. The first moderately successfully plays in the ESL Pro League, and the second settled down in the division below — in the ESEA Premier. The teams gathered both experienced (ex-participants of 100 Thieves) and young players, and their desires are more than enough. Especially with Vito “kNgV-” Giuseppe , who seems to have finally taken hold of his mental state. Who knows, maybe his glorious history will begin from this Minor.

The question of life and death for Bravado

There is no doubt that the South African team of Bravado Gaming is now just praying for a minor. So far, the team has no means to settle in North America, and if they can’t collect the needed funds, the team will return home, where, for obvious reasons, it will not be able to develop.

To settle in the States at least temporarily, Bravado needs to raise $ 30,000 USD. Half of this amount is already there, but it’s impossible to get another $15,000 in the remaining five days, no matter how much pro players like apEX , tarik , FalleN and others want to help the South African team. The only chance is to get to the top 3 in this Minor. But this chance is not at all illusory.

In November, Bravado surprised everyone at DreamHack Winter 2018 : it’s no joke, the Africans left out of business OpTic Gaming, G2 Esports and Swedes from the x6tence Galaxy, only to lose against ENCE eSports in the final. The team has passed the test of battle, on the minor, the rivals will not be so serious, but the main thing is the moral component. Hopefully, the team will succeed. Would anyone refuse to see an African team on a major again?

What can karrigan show in Team Envy?

In June, Team Envy lost patience: after long torment of the French team, the organization closed the European CS:GO unit and temporarily left the discipline. After a couple of months of deliberation, the club decided to sign an American roster, which did not work right away. This is not surprising: the core of the team was the backbone of unsuccessful ex-Splyce and no less questions arose after signing Noa “Nifty” Francis and Josh “jdm64” Marzano — why did the team have two snipers?

Team Envy completely failed the ninth season of the ESL Pro League and ingloriously flew out of the DreamHack Open Atlanta 2018. At the same time, the question of the captain rose sharply: at the end of October, the main team left Corey “Semphis” Friesen. It seemed only a miracle could help the team. And apparently, it happened — on the eve of the New Year, the ex-leader of FaZe Clan Finn “karrigan” Andersen came to the team on loan.

Yes, Karrigan did not succeed in Astralis and FaZe, but these are top-level teams where they do not forgive mistakes. In Envy, everything should be simpler: the team has more modest goals, and there is no one to question the authority of Kerrigan in the composition.

The other day the Dane admitted: he did not want to stay at home and stream FPL, he felt that he wanted to lead the team. And Envy is perfect for him. He noted that the team has enough problems, but it is quite capable of winning the Major. But if Andersen had enough time to fix everything was a big question.

Does the drama at eUnited justify itself?

The second team from the USA — eUnited — is also very reeling. The history of this team over the past couple of months resembles an unfortunate tragicomedy.

In search of a better life, on November 1st, the club signed the captain of Swole Patrol of Austin “Cooper-” Abadir , who because of this even quarreled with his brother. The most ridiculous thing is that Cooper- did not come to replace someone: he became the sixth player of the team and did not play for it in tournaments — he waited for someone to leave. Here only eUnited could not decide who they should kick. A member of the team Caleb “moose” Jane told about this during Intel Extreme Masters XIII Chicago:

“I do not know who will leave. The only thing that is known for sure: Cooper- will play. All laid out at 110%, because no one wants to fly out of the team or become a substitute.”

At the end of November, it seemed clear: the team would leave Will “dazzLe” Lofman behind. But the story did not end there: in early January, the organization changed its mind, returned dazzLe, and transferred another player to the reserve — Skyler “Relyks” Weaver.

Cherry on the cake was a scandal with the coach of the team that erupted on Christmas Eve. EUnited terminated the contract with Jared “osorandom” Hartman, who sent the club designer some obscene photos. The girl announced it publicly six months later.

In what state eUnited will approach the tournament — is yet to be seen, but it is extremely interesting to watch them play, if only to understand whether the drama that has been accompanying the team lately brought any results.

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How Liquid beat Astralis in the first event of 2019

How Liquid beat Astralis in the first event of 2019

In the event marked by innumerable problems, delays and failures in the transmissions, the hosts fought their biggest hurdle in the final: Astralis, Liquid’s own tormentor throughout the year 2018.

Despite leading the series, Astralis could not stop the American side, seeing Liquid close the clash on two maps to one. Team Liquid is the great champion of iBUYPOWER Masters 2019.

The tournament marked the debut of Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip by Liquid, as well as the debut of Eric “adreN” Hoag in the team’s technical command, which makes Liquid’s achievement even more surprising.

We take a closer look at just how exactly they managed to do it.

Map 1: Inferno

Starting from the CT side, Astralis was six points in the lead, showing impeccable defensive solidity, always seeking the first elimination of the round.

Even Liquid, breaking the sequence of Danish rounds, always depending on individual clutches and plays, the American team soon underwent the economic reset, which culminated with Astralis closing the first half with the sonic score of 12 to 3.

In the second half, Astralis seemed even more unstoppable. After a Danish hit on the pistol in an advance towards bombsite A, the team also confirmed the anti-eco as well as the first gun round without giving any chance to the opponents.

With the score of fifteen to three in favor of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz and company, Liquid continued trying to take the first map of the series to the overtime. At the first opportunity to close the map, Liquid even held the Danish momentum, but in the sequence, even forced, Astralis closed the first map of the series in 16 to 4.

Map 2: Dust 2

Starting from the terrorist side, Team Liquid secured the pistol round after a split for bombsite B. In forced-buy, the Danes made a comeback and, in the sequence of their own, turned the match to five to one.

Liquid only returned to the board thanks to Keith “NAF” Markovic, who struck three opponents to prevent the redemption of bombsite A by Astralis. Soon, the Americans broke the opposing economy and turned the game to nine to five, allowing just one more Astralis point in the first half, which ended 9-6.

Turning to the CT side, Liquid started the second half better by securing the redemption of bombsite B. Soon, the Americans reached the score of fifteen to six. With map point breathing down their backs Astralis even managed to chase after the win, scoring five rounds in a row. Albeit that was not enough to stop the American side on their map-pick.

Even with some difficulty, Liquid managed to close the map in 16 to 11 and tie the series, taking the decision to the third map.

Map 3: Overpass

The third and final map of the decision seemed to be drawn for Astralis. The Danes started from the CT side, destroying Liquid to reach the seven round lead for themselves. The Americans seemed not to want another bitter second place event, reaching the fateful seven to one.

After suffering the economic downturn, Liquid returned to score thanks to three beautiful eliminations by Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, opening bombsite B. With the economy weakened, Liquid was able to recover, gaining three more points in a row, closing the half in 9 to 6 for the Astralis.

From CT, Liquid turned the game after six rounds in a row, after an overwhelming pistol play by Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, who struck three opponents to hold the bombsite A.

Astralis only returned to score after a forced with an excellent job of grenades for bombsite B. Even so, the Americans were not intimidated, putting three more points in the sequence, getting to the score of fifteen to ten thanks to Twistzz, that eliminated all the adversaries to guarantee the success in the defense.

Astralis even managed to stop Liquid from closing the series at the earliest opportunity, counting on three beautiful stunts of deviation.

Even so, Liquid was able to close the map in the next round, from 16 to 11, to become the grand champion of iBUYPOWER Masters 2019.

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S0tf1k: “We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles”

S0tf1k: “We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles”

Eight teams entered IEM Katowice CIS Minor to compete for $50,000 in prize money and two slots in the preliminary stage of IEM Katowice Major 2019. Before the Minor we talked with S0tf1k, captain of Team Spirit.

Team Spirit successfully overcame the hurdle of the death group. In the opening match of the tournament they overcame Nemiga Gaming from Belarus in a 34 round thriller. Although Syman Gaming surprised many by defeating Gambit Gaming in their first match they couldn’t keep up the momentum and fell behind Spirit, losing 2:0.

Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko and his team faced AVANGAR in the first semi-final game. The Russian team couldn’t find their game and were completely lost on both Overpass and Dust 2, losing both 16:6 and 16:5, respectively.

In a battle for survival Team Spirit will face off against another CIS giant in Gambit. With ticket to IEM Katowice Major 2019 on the line neither of the teams is going to give up the fight easily.

S0tF1k talked about their preparation for the tournament and their coach Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov helped them get here.

You were in Group A ( Gambit Esports, Syman Gaming, Nemiga Gaming, Team Spirit), what can you say about the group?

A strong enough group, though I guess all the teams in the minor are. I can not distinguish uncomfortable teams for us, since we have not played with anyone from the CIS recently.

How much did you prepare for this Minor?

10 days that we spent on the bootcamp.


What did you think of group B (AVANGAR , pro100 , Runtime .gg, Winstrike Team)?

I expected Avangar and someone from Runtime / Winstrike go through.

As you know, on CIS Minor Championship – Katowice 2019 has changed the system of the tournament, and now almost all matches will be played until two victories. Do you like this system and what will it change?

Yes, I like it, less randomness, experience decides more, for my team this is a plus.

How did you prepare for the upcoming minor, is there anything special, maybe you changed the approach to training, changed positions?

We prepared a couple of new rounds and combinations, we changed positions before qualifications. But even so everything is the same as always.

Recently the CIS Faceit League opened, do you think it will help young talents to get into esports?

Yes, it is wonderful that the CIS players have a league in which you can play every day and look after the young guys who are able to become the best in the world in the future, if directed correctly. So, without a doubt, this will help in the development of our region.

Team Spirit

You have a very interesting composition that has not changed at all since the founding of the organization, and for 2 years you have been able to sit firmly in the top 5 CIS teams, tell us the secret of your stability?

We have a coach, Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov, who solves many of our problems and helps us keep afloat. If not for him, the composition could be quite different.

What are the plans and goals for the team in 2019?

We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles.

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Solaar: “I am a very strict coach, but fair”

Solaar: “I am a very strict coach, but fair”

Eight teams fight it out in the CIS Minor for $50,000 dollars and two slots in the preliminary stage of IEM Katowice Major 2019. Before the minor, we talked to Aset “Solaar” Sembiev, head coach of the Syman Gaming team.

The young team had mixed results on the first day of the competition. Syman overcame the heavy favorites Gambit Gaming in the opening match but followed up with a 2:0 defeat against Team Spirit. Their next match will be against the winners of Gambit/Nemiga match-up for the final ticket to the playoffs.

Before the event, we talked to Aset “Solaar” Sembiev, head coach of Syman Gaming about the preparation for the most important event of their careers.

Tell us a little about the preparation of the team, how long you trained, what did you change in the training process?

For Sayman this is the first minor. Preparation was 12 days after the New Year holidays. We were in Moscow, played in the Winstrike Arena. In the training process, nothing much changed, except for the regime.

What do you say about the group “A”, in which you fell, is it easier or more difficult than group “B”?

There are no lighter or stronger groups in this minor, as there are no walk-through teams, but it’s natural not to mention the absence of the Kenzor. We are very sympathetic to the Pro100. Perhaps this factor will affect the balance of power in group “B”. [The interview was taken before Kenzor had recovered]


What do you think, who from group “B” will move on?

From group “B”, I think it will be Avangar and Runtime will come out.

Are you still based in Minsk? You have a multinational team, is it easy to get together and train away from home, and how long are your bootcamps?

We were based in Minsk for 9 months. In November, we moved to Kiev, unfortunately, due to political events in Ukraine, we will most likely change our place of deployment. Usually, we are going for three months, after that — two weeks of rest.

Do you know where your next bootcamp will be?

Most likely Peter. [Saint Petersburg]

Many young players ask the question “how to get into a good team?”, as the director of the Syman Gaming organization, tell in a few words how to get into your team, or where are you looking for new players, if you need one?

I think you need to play all sorts of leagues, FPL-Challenger and CIS league, as well as constantly play all sorts of qualifications. If you show yourself well, you will definitely be noticed.

Recently the CIS League opened on Faceit, do you think it will help young talents to get into esports?

I think these have a very positive effect on the emergence of new talents in our scene.

Previously, you almost had a fully Kazakh squad, now it is a multinational team, do players of different nationalities get along easily with each other, and did you have a tough discipline that you talked about six months ago?

The guys responsibly relate to their work. With discipline, we are fine. I am a very strict coach, but fair. We are all from the CIS, once lived in one country, so there are no difficulties whatsoever.

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somedieyoung: “My goal was to find a professional team through the FPL”

somedieyoung: “My goal was to find a professional team through the FPL”

The young Ukrainian player made waves in the FaceIT Pro League playing against the world’s best players. His performance there landed him a spot in Team Spirit.

Since joining his first professional team, the 21-year-old player secured the first place at the St. Petersburg Cybersport Festival “Defender”, finished second at StarLadder & ImbaTV Invitational Chongqing 2018 and ESEA Season 27: Global Challenge, among other results. Team Spirit also successfully qualified for the FACEIT Major: London 2018, where they finished 17-19th.

Victor “somedieyoung” Orudzhev talked about becoming a professional player and his hopes for 2019.

Let’s start with the fact that you won the European Qualifier for StarSeries i-League S7. What do you remember the most from that qualifier? Which team in particular left the most vivid memory? 

Team Vitality. We couldn’t beat them in our latest official games. We defeated them in practice, but they are a very uncomfortable opponent. They have some really skilled guys who perform on a good level. Roughly speaking, we improved our aim before that match, thought our tactics through, and relied more on communication. You can say that they were our principal rivals who we had to beat. We won the final, and it felt great. We will attend such a big event, and everything is good for us.  

What do you think about the format of that qualifier? Don’t you think that it was too long?

Actually, there are a lot of online qualifiers like that one. They may last for two months, even three in some cases. Some of them are really lengthy, but it doesn’t affect us in any way. 

What kind of format do you prefer: short qualifiers for a few days or those like we had for StarSeries? 

When you play a lot of matches in a time period of two or three days, you get tired. If qualifiers are lengthy, you have more time to prepare for your opponents. Also, you play better because of that, as you are in a good shape when you are in a situation like that. 

You are one of the few players from CIS region who qualified to the FPL. Tell us about your way to this league. Was it your defined goal to make it to the FPL?

I’ve already talked a lot about this topic. I was the first player from CIS who qualified to the FPL. Then, after that, new guys showed up. At that moment, it was my goal to get there, so I could play with the best players, rank up in the ladder and, actually, find a good team. I’ve played a lot in the FPL-C qualifier, and as a result, I qualified to the main division. 

What was your priority back then: to grind your way through the FPL or to find a professional team?

Honestly, my goal was to find a professional team through the FPL. Back then, we were playing in different teams in parallel with the qualifiers to the FPL. At one point, we were going to play in a qualifier to an event. I informed my teammates that I decided to participate in the FPL qualifier instead of that. They tried to change my mind, but I refused. In the same day, I made it to the FPL. 

A short time ago, CS:GO received a new update which changed a model of the distribution to Free-to-Play and presented the Battle Royale mode. Let’s begin with BR: have you tried it out? If you have, what are your impressions? In which way, from your perspective, it might affect the growth of the game in general?

It’s an interesting mode, but it’s really casual. Speaking about me, as I’m a pro player, it’s easy for me to win every match in this mode. There, I can do more than 10 kills and so on. It’s boring. But for casual players, I believe, it’s more interesting. It brings new content into the game. That’s why I think it’s a good thing. If the devs update it, fix all the bugs, it will be great.

But don’t you think that Danger Zone came out being in quite a “raw” state? 

Yes, but as I said before, it has to be further developed. Let’s even bring PUBG into discussion. It had a lot of different bugs when it was released. Probably, the early version of PUBG was better [than Danger Zone], but still, it also had to be improved no matter what.

As we know, CS:GO is free now. In your opinion, is it good or bad for the game?

In theory, as far as I know, there are more cheaters now. It’s easy to understand that because the game is free, there are a lot of new accounts which use cheats. It’s bad. [Valve] need to update their anticheat, so there will be more bans and less cheaters. 

In fact, Free-to-Play is always great for a casual user who just wants to test the game. Such players can stay in the game after trying it out. That’s a plus, I think.

When was the last time you played the Valve’s matchmaking? If you did, how was it? 

I actually launched it recently, maybe a week ago. It seems to be normal. When I play the matchmaking, I always have like more than 40 kills, and I don’t see any cheaters. In the Prime MM, at least.

Who would you highlight from the list of participants for the next CIS Minor? Which teams will be your main rivals?  

Nemiga are playing great CS at the moment. Basically, Nemiga and AVANGAR are the strongest teams out there.

Alright, who will make it to the Major alongside with you?

It’s hard to think like that. Actually, all the teams are on the same level. It’s hard to say. 

What kind of goals do you have in front of you for 2019?

In terms of goals for my team, I hope that we will have a decent result at the Major. After that, we have to get a good placement in Shanghai [StarSeries i-League S7], so we could enter the top-15 of the HLTV rankings at the beginning of 2019. If we establish ourselves, we can go even higher by small but confident steps. 

Individually, I will be improving my performance, just like I’m actually doing it now, and try to be better. I want to be among top-20 players in 2019. It would be great.

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