n0rb3r7: “I had to choose between Winstrike, Gambit and forZe”

n0rb3r7: “I had to choose between Winstrike, Gambit and forZe”

The 17-year-old Russian quickly became a sensation in the region, but his prowess remains virtually unknown internationally. Since David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan joined Winstrike, the player is hopeful it will change soon.

The young player entered the competitive scene earlier this year after he officially joined the revived dAT Team line-up. The team with five up-and-coming players on the line-up showed a lot of potential from the get-go. Coached by the veteran in the scene, forZe and tp.uSports alum Alexey “OverDrive” Birukov, the young team quickly established their aptitude.

It took them less than two months to win their first title. After defeating Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov’s TEAMSWAGYOLO, dAT claimed a trophy in Alienware League Russia.

Good early results and plenty of potential in the roster did not stay unnoticed for long. David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan and his team were invited to join WINSIDE eSports, their first professional team. The players took their five-month contracts on the spot.

n0rb3r7, Photo from personal archive

But it all went downhill from there.

The next few months brought mixed results for the team. Their best performance came in form of a second place finish at CSGO.NET CIS Derby, where they were defeated by more experienced AVANGAR. Internationally WINSIDE performed even worse, often finishing outside of the Top 30 in the online qualifiers.

But even while his team was struggling to find wins, the 17-year-old n0rb3r7 managed to maintain a respectable 1.13 average rating. Even more impressively, the young Russian has a 63% win rate in clutch situations and 1.12 rating on LAN.

It was only natural that Danielyan would start getting attention from the bigger teams in the region.

When Yegor “markeloff” Markelov’s Flipsid3 Tactics decided it was time to bring in new blood, they turned straight to n0rb3r7. “While I was playing for WINSIDE I had only one offer and it was from Flipsid3,” the player confirmed. “In the end, the two organizations couldn’t come to an agreement and the deal fell through.”

n0rb3r7, Photo from personal archive

When the North American organization approached WINSIDE management earlier this year the deal couldn’t be made. Whether WINSIDE really didn’t want to part ways with the young talent or were simply looking to get the most out of the offer remains unknown. However, the offers that Flipsid3 received from the Russian organization were deemed “unreasonable”.

n0rb3r7 had to play the rest of his five-month contract under the crumbling WINSIDE banner. However, once the contract was up, a new ray of hope shined on him.

“Once my contract with WINSIDE expired I immediately received three offers. I had to choose between joining Winstrike, Gambit, and forZe,” the player said.

Gambit had their own share of struggles in finding new players to fill their roster after the benching of Abay “Hobbit” Khassenov and Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev. PGL Major Kraków 2017 winners quickly recognized the potential of the young player and tried to snag him before anyone else.

n0rb3r7 will join Boombl4 at Winstrike

However, it was a newly revamped Winstrike team that captured Danielyan’s attention. “I decided that I want to play with Winstrike because I feel like I will be most comfortable there,” n0rb3r7 said. “I want to show my best and I feel like I will be able to do that here.”

David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan joined a completely rebuilt Winstrike roster, headlined by team captain Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov. With the return of Aurimas “Kvik” Kvakšys and the addition of Georgi “WorldEdit” Yaskin and Jan “wayLander” Rahkonen, Winstrike now has enough experience and firepower to compete for the highest spots.

The team’s first big test comes in three weeks at the Katowice 2019 CIS Minor Championship Closed Qualifier. The road ahead of them is tough, but the goal is simple — get back into the Major.

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Spiidi: “I was really itching to play against mousesports”

Spiidi: “I was really itching to play against mousesports”

After a series of disappointing results, Timo “Spiidi” Richter and the rest of Sprout find themselves in a struggle to close out their games.

It’s been a tough few months for the German team. A much-needed roster change failed to deliver the kind of improvement the team was hoping for. The team let go Dennis “sycrone” Nielsen and brought in Josef “faveN” Baumann — an 18-year-old star from EURONICS Gaming.

However, that didn’t help by much in Kiev, where Sprout finished dead last at StarSeries i-League Season 6 finals. They suffered three straight losses against mousesports, Vega Squadron, and HellRaisers. Interestingly, every match ended with a round difference of less than 4 for the German team.

One of the founding members of the team, Timo “Spiidi” Richter, explained their situation within the team and talked about his past with mousesports.

Vie: The tournament didn’t go so well for you. What thoughts come to mind after such a loss?

Spiidi: It went horribly. We are like a new team, we didn’t practice that much, but this is obviously not the result we expected. Every game was really close, 16:14, 16:12, even over-time. So I don’t think we had no shot at the playoffs. We just lost. And that’s the worst feeling in the world.

Sprout. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: In every match, you came really close to winning. But then you just couldn’t go all the way and lost. Do games like these bring your team down?

Spiidi: In our last tournament, in Poland, we lost in a very similar fashion. It was 0-2, with scorelines like 14:16. And this was a repeat of that. When everything comes down to the small things it becomes really important. You have to learn to overcome your issues and to fix these mistakes. We can’t keep making the same mistakes.

Because every game comes down to the wire it doesn’t mean that we have to change the whole system. People have to understand that. We have to motivate each other. We have a good structure, we just have to give it our all. It’s something we have to overcome.

Vie: You lost your game against mousesports 14:16 too. Was that a grudge match for you in any way?

Spiidi: I was really itching for this game. It felt like I never had an opportunity to play against mousesports ever since I left. I knew we could beat them. Even if all the odds were against us. It’s the kind of thought that appears when you play against your old teammates. Even if it’s just subconsciously. Plus, we were somewhat of a dark horse in this match.

Spiidi. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: Did that help you at all?

Spiidi: It’s possible. Maybe in a few rounds that they played in the same style. But in general, it wasn’t that helpful. They have three new members, it’s a completely different team. It mostly came down to motivation.

Vie: What’s the next goal for the team?

Spiidi: After we return home, first things first — win MDL and qualify for ESL Pro League. That’s our main goal right now.

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hAdji: “We did not prepare for StarSeries at all”

hAdji: “We did not prepare for StarSeries at all”

StarSeries will be a Do or Die event for many teams in Kiev, but for Ali “hAdji” Haïnouss’ Imperial, it’s a chance to prove themselves on the international stage.

For Imperial, StarSeries began with a victory against the FACEIT Major London 2018 Legends HellRaisers. They successfully overcame the hurdle of a more experienced team in their opening game. However, their second game in the event wasn’t as successful.

After a hard fought battle, Ali “hAdji” Haïnouss and his team had to acknowledge defeat against ENCE. In their third game, the team under a Lithuanian flag bounced back and convincingly overcame China’s CyberZen.

With just one win away from making it to the playoffs, Ali “hAdji” Haïnouss talked in an interview about their chances in the event and the future of the French scene.

Vie: Your first game in the tournament was against HellRaisers and you managed to come out victorious. That must’ve felt like a great start?

hAdji: It felt great, of course! We overcame the Major Legends — that’s always a great feeling. At the same time, a victory against HR is very important one for our team spirit. I’m proud of my team. The start there has been really tough, we fell behind, but we managed to pick up ourselves and win.

Vie: What was the key moment for your comeback?

hAdji: I think it was the round where we clutched 2v4, or was it 2v5. We were in the lead already, something like 13:10 in rounds. But after that clutch, we were certain that this game was ours.

hAdji. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: Some big names pulled out of StarSeries right before the event, but the tournament is still very stacked. How far are you aiming to get here in Kiev?

hAdji: I think our main goal is to make it to the playoffs. We would be really surprised if we couldn’t make it that far. And once we’re there — we’ll see. There’s nothing impossible.

Vie: How did you prepare for StarSeries?

hAdji: We did not prepare for this tournament at all. We had some issues — I’m not sure whether I can talk about it. We had a crisis of leadership in our team. Nexa isn’t our in-game leader anymore, but he has to do it, simply because there’s no one else in the team who can take on this responsibility.

At the same time, we played a lot of official games and qualifiers, which in the end left us with no time to practice.

Vie: But even still, you are one of the dark horses of the event. Does that help you?

hAdji: Yes, simply because we have nothing to lose. We’re performing at the highest level possible for us right now. There’s nothing holding us back and no outside factors to impact our game. We don’t care if we lose, that’s how we win.

Imperial. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: But now other teams will be preparing for you.

hAdji: Of course, but we did not show any strategies. Let them prepare. We have a laidback style. You can’t counter us because our whole strat is simply about throwing a few nades and entering a site after a flashbang.

Vie: Let’s talk about your time with EnVyUs. After the roster disbanded, how did you deal with that?

hAdji: Those were difficult times. We were showing really bad results. A lot of leagues, official matches, after which you had no time or energy to prepare. I’m not looking for excuses — we played poorly and things did not go our way. After the announcement that we were released from our contracts, we played for a while together. We went to China. And then we wished each other the best of luck in the search for the next team.

After that, Neil_M (Imperial’s coach) got in touch and asked me to stand-in for them in the qualifier for this tournament. I did. We overcame OpTic and Space Soldiers online. After we successfully qualified for StarSeries they asked me to join them full time and I agreed. And now I’m here.

Vie: Do you think French Counter-Strike is experiencing some sort of crisis right now?

hAdji: Yes. At one point we had teams easily make it to Top 5 in the world ranking, now it’s an achievement if they can make it to Top 20. I’m hopeful in the new team with NBK and ZyWOo (Team Vitality), I think they will show good results. We played scrims against them and they showed really high-level CS. I think they will be a worthy French representative on the World stage.

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Boombl4: “When we came to the Major, we weren’t a team anymore”

Boombl4: “When we came to the Major, we weren’t a team anymore”

Right after Winstrike went 0-3 in the FACEIT Major London 2018 the Russian organization released the majority of the team. Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov talked about the reasons behind the change.

The ELEAGUE Major Boston 2018 was nothing short of life-changing for the Russian team. Then Quantum Bellator Fire team beat the CIS Minor, qualified through the new Challengers stage, and even made their way through a stacked group stage and earned a spot in the playoffs.

Since then, however, the team failed to perform online and didn’t qualify for any international tournaments. In the FACEIT Major Winstrike failed to put much of a fight in the first two games against Team Liquid and Fnatic. Only in the deciding game of the tournament, Winstrike started showing a fighting spirit in the match against Cloud9.

Even following a series of underwhelming results, the news about the majority of the team being released came as a surprise.

As Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov explained in a social media post, the situation within the team went awry ahead of the Major tournament. “When we came to the Major, we were not a team anymore,” he wrote. “It didn’t happen overnight. Slowly the climate within the team started to change. We were communicating less. People stopped playing for the team and started playing because it was their job. Definitely not because they enjoyed it.”

Winstrike. Photo via HLTV.org

According to Boombl4, the way players approached the game slowly became a real issue within the team and the motivation to perform dropped significantly. Before they knew any better, losing became a part of the routine. “Everyone just started playing worse,” he continued. “It became a job where you were doing what you’re told. It stopped being about individual performance.”

The lack of communication only worsened the state of mind within the team. Instead of talking about their issues, everyone closed-off and continued as they were. In the end, it led to the current situation and Boombl4 believes it’s one of the worst things that can happen to a team. “When you stop discussing what you don’t like about the team with your teammates, that’s when you’re in trouble. And that’s exactly what happened to us.”

As to why Winstrike decided out of five players to keep only him, Mikhailov has a pretty good idea. “They probably thought I would make a good team captain,” he said. “I always had a very serious approach to everything I do. A lot of people want to play with me as well.”

“I could gather a good group of players for the new team,” he concluded.

As of right now, waterfaLLZ, Kvik, jmqa, and balblna are all teamless, however, their return to the new Winstrike roster is still possible.

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bondik: “After we defeat Liquid, we would rather play FaZe than Astralis”

bondik: “After we defeat Liquid, we would rather play FaZe than Astralis”

They surprised everyone by getting this far, but now HellRaisers have to overcome an unstoppable Team Liquid squad. Vlаdуslаv “bondik” Nеchуроrchuk thinks their chances are better than you’d expect.

HellRaisers took the scenic route getting to the New Champions stage in the FACEIT Major London 2018. They won the CIS Minor, overcame the Challenger stage, and against all odds qualified through the New Legends stage.

Team Liquid, on the other hand, breezed through the FACEIT Major, winning all six of their games. We asked some CS:GO pros and even they were almost certain the North American team will win tonight.

Esports fans at the PvP bet exchange platform VIE.gg are giving HellRaisers odds of 4.19, compared to 1.12 for Team Liquid. It seems only the most loyal fans still believe in the HR dream.

However, Vlаdуslаv “bondik” Nеchуроrchuk in an interview revealed that they may have a better chance of winning than people seem to think.

Note: The interview was translated from Russian.

Vie: You worked so hard to get to the playoffs. How does it feel finally being here?

bondik: I can’t even comprehend it, to tell you the truth. There were some tears, not gonna lie. But those were confused tears: maybe I’m happy, maybe not. You know, what I worked towards for so long finally became a reality. We worked hard, we are well prepared… Four weeks we’ve spent inside CS:GO and it’s paying off.


Vie: You had four days of rest after the group stage. How did you prepare for your game against Liquid?

bondik: We took a day off after the last game of the New Legends stage. We made the playoffs, everyone relaxed. I played some FPL on Sunday and Monday. But the plan was to prepare for our opponents and to practice. We reached our goal, we made Top 8, but if you have a shot at something more, why not take it? We played against them before, in the Challenger stage. We lost 16:9, but we feel like we can do better. I’m a bit angry with myself right now and I want to show that we can win.

Vie: What do you think are Liquid’s strengths?

bondik: They are all very strong individually. It will be very hard playing against them, but at the same time, they don’t play Train, which is a great plus for us. If we want to have a shot at this we must win our map pick. They will probably go for Inferno again and we already know how to play it against them. If all goes right, we could even win 2:0 against Liquid. We just have to play really hard for it.

Vie: It’s your first Major playoffs. Can you feel the pressure?

bondik: No, why would I? Yes, it’s my first Major playoff game, but at the same time, I’ve played in many playoffs in some of the biggest tournaments before. No worries there.

bondik. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: Your side of the bracket seems just stacked against you. Now Liquid, then Astralis or FaZe.

bondik: We are taking this step-by-step, one thing at a time. We have a game against Liquid, that’s the one we’re concentrating on. Yes, they are good, but we are no pushovers either. We have a good chance to overcome Liquid, after that — whatever happens, happens. After we defeat Liquid, we would rather play FaZe than Astralis.

Vie: Who do you think will go all the way on the other side of the bracket?

bondik: NaVi against MIBR is a crazy match-up. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I believe in the all-CIS final!

Vie: Draken made some statements on Twitter about the CIS teams. Did you take that seriously at all?

bondik: I wasn’t angry at him. He was just trolling, and some took it to heart. At the same time, fate took care of it, as he got matched against all the CIS teams. But I don’t take it too seriously. In the end, he got NaVi and us and that ended poorly for them. Since we won the CIS Minor, I guess it means he couldn’t have won there either.

Vie: Would you like to see a Double Elimination bracket in the playoffs?

bondik: It’s hard to say since it’s my first Major playoffs game. But overall I like Double Elimination.

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Pro players bet on the FACEIT Major Quarterfinal games

Pro players bet on the FACEIT Major Quarterfinal games

With the final stage of the FACEIT Major London 2018 kicking off today, the select pro players are putting their CS:GO knowledge to the test and bet on the outcome of the quarterfinal matches.

What feels like an eternity ago, 24 of the best teams in the world put their skills on the line at the at the most important CS:GO event of the year. Now, only eight remain in the new Champions stage. None of the teams had an easy ride to the playoffs and everyone had to give it their all.

With just two games left in the quarterfinals, we take a closer look at the games to come and ask some of the CS:GO pro players to pick their favorites.

Team Liquid vs HellRaisers

Even though the North American team are the clear favorites here, HellRaisers remain a constant threat. HR have already reached their minimal goal and then some by becoming Legends at the FACEIT Major London 2018. If knowing that will be enough to keep their nerves under control they can show a really good fight.

Issa “ISSAA” Murad has already shown how hungry he is for victory and quickly became a fan favorite for it. The journey throughout this Major was in no way easy for his team. HellRaisers had to qualify through the CIS Minor and then overcome a highly competitive New Challengers stage. There they defeated the likes of North, Gambit, and OpTic, and lost only once — to Team Liquid, 9-16 on Inferno.

HellRaisers, photo via HLTV.org

The New Legends stage was stacked with the best teams in the world, but that did not stop Kirill “ANGE1” Karasov’s team. Their future in the tournament came down to the wire, as HellRaisers had to battle Fnatic in the deciding match. Surprisingly, they overcame the struggling swedes and secured a spot in the Top 8.

Team Liquid, on the other hand, have been showing a really strong form, not dropping a single map out of six they played so far in the Major. They defeated Vega Squadron and OpTic Gaming in the New Challengers and then moved on to overcome Winstrike, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and even Astralis.

No wonder Team Liquid are the heavy favorites in this match-up. Our friends at the esports betting site VIE.gg are offering 1.12 odds on Team Liquid and 4.19 on Hellraisers.

We asked a few professional players to share with us who they think will come out victorious in this match:

Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko (Team Spirit) says: HellRaisers win

Abay “Hobbit” Khassenov (Gambit) says: Liquid win

Aleksi “allu” Jalli (ENCE) says: Liquid win

Filip “NEO” Kubski (Virtus.pro) says: Liquid win

Bektiyar “fitch” Bahytov (AVANGAR) says: Liquid win

Astralis vs FaZe

This is the kind of a match-up you would expect to see in the Grand Finals of the tournament. The rivalry between the two teams has been going on-and-off for a good year now. FaZe struggled recently, and it’s hard to say that the Major has been going as planned for Astralis either.

FaZe started the FACEIT Major with two losses against BIG and NaVi. They had to fight their way back, eliminating mousesports, TyLoo, and G2 Esports on their way to the New Champions stage.


The journey for the Danish team may have been even weirder. The reigning number one team in the world right now had to start at the very bottom — the New Challengers stage. The qualifier wasn’t silky smooth for them, as they had to taste defeat at the hands of Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Astralis ended up on a tough side of the bracket in the New Legends stage, but even so, they overcame Natus Vincere and Vega Squadron. Even after a loss against Team Liquid, Nicolai “device” Reedtz and his team bounced back and destroyed the Brazilian mibr 16-0 on Dust 2.

Now the old rivals will clash again, in the FACEIT Major London 2018 quarterfinals. The players at the PvP esports bet exchange site VIE.gg see Astralis as the favorites, with 1.32 odds for their victory. Those hoping for FaZe to win will be facing the odds of 2.68.

The pro’s see this match to be much closer than the odds might suggest:

Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko (Team Spirit) says: Astralis win

Abay “Hobbit” Khassenov (Gambit) says: FaZe win

Aleksi “allu” Jalli (ENCE) says: Astralis win

Filip “NEO” Kubski (Virtus.pro) says: Astralis win

Bektiyar “fitch” Bahytov (AVANGAR) says: FaZe win

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