StarSeries Season 4 Champions
Mousesports crowned themselves StarSeries i-League Season 4 champions in Kiev last weekend, as the team defeated home crowd favorites Natus Vincere in a thrilling Best-of-three series in the Grand Final. During their championship run, mousesports got the upper hand against the best teams in the world, in the likes of SK Gaming, Cloud9, Team Liquid and G2 Esports.
Great start, tough follow-up, and a perfect end
StarSeries was, just like the other recent tournaments played in the Swiss system, another event which went the full distance for mousesports. Starting off strong with two BO3 victories against the renewed Virtus.pro and most notably SK Gaming in full strength, mousesports quickly maneuvered themselves to end up in the all deciding fifth match, as the team lost to both G2 and Team Liquid with 1:2. Both matches could’ve been won multiple times but some misplays and unlucky situations cost them two BO3 sets during the tournament, and fans a lot of emotions in the aftermath.
With fans and players hoping for a playoff appearance, the reigning Major Champions Cloud9 from North America were drawn for the final set, putting mousesports in a do-or-die situation against one of the hottest teams in the scene currently, led by an incredible performing Timothy „autimatic“ Ta. In the end it was mousesports to prevail over the NA roster on Mirage (16:14) and Cobblestone (19:16), which granted the international squad a spot in the playoffs.
In the playoffs, mousesports took revenge on both G2 Esports and Team Liquid, the only two teams that were able to beat them during the group stage. Against G2 on Inferno (16:07) and Mirage (16:11), against Liquid on Mirage (16:07), Cobblestone (04:16) and Train (16:09), to advance to the Grand Final of StarSeries i-League season 4, where they would go on to dismantle home crowd favorites Natus Vincere on three narrow maps. While Na’Vi set an early statement by winning Overpass (07:16), mousesports clawed their way back into the game on Mirage, winning 22:18 in overtime, before finishing the game 16:09 on the third and final map Train to win their second championship after Mykonos with the current roster.
„We really need to do things as a team, talk to each other, get the communication going.“ - chrisJ
StarSeries was a team effort
With the MVP award being handed over to Na’Vi play Oleksandr „s1mple“ Kostyliev right after the Grand Final and only one mousesports player ranking inside the HLTV.org top 10 after the event, their championship run was cleary a team effort. Unlike previous editions of mousesports, which heavily relied on their 1-2 star players to perform, the mousesports core of Robin „ropz“ Kool (ranked 14th), Miikka „suNny“ Kemppi (10th) and Tomas „oskar“ Stastny (11th) all performaned equally impressive as a unit, with Martin „STYKO“ Styk and team captain Chris „chrisJ“ de Jong supporting them in any way possible.
mouz STYKO celebrating (Photo: HLTV.org)
One key element of their success was staying calm in even the most frustrating situations - situations that cost mousesports various matches in the past. But not in Kiev: although the team had blown away some big leads during StarSeries, Martin „STYKO“ Styk assures that it’s only a matter of time, practice and experience until the team is able to close games on an even more frequent basis. And certainly all five players learned to trust each other in recent months, since establishing this lineup.
„We were not tilted at all, we were smiling after we lost the map, which is rare.“ - lmbt
Another very important factor was the game plan, created by coach Sergey „lmbt“ Bezhanov. While some teams incorporate heavy anti-stratting into their playbooks, mousesports approach to CS:GO is slightly different. Relying on the pure raw skill of your players, while putting them in favorable position and adjusting on-the-fly has been a repeating success story for mousesports in Kiev. When the team drew G2 as their quarterfinal opponent, a team which they’ve lost to during the group stage, the mouz players did not analyze any replays from their previous game, instead they focused on themselves only: „All in all we just prepared individually, because we knew that if we prepared individually, the plan that we had in the groups against G2 would work“, says STYKO.
It was this strong believe in their game plan and the certainty that their teammates would back them up if they would fail, that led to a very aggressive and unforgiving play style in the playoffs.
Mirage is mousesports territory
There was a time in which mousesports were considered to be a one trick pony: while being extraordinary strong on Dust II, the team lacked a certain depth in their map pool, which other teams could abuse way too easily. After transferring star player Nikola „NiKo“ Kovac to FaZe, the team started to strengthen their map pool with immediate effect, incorporating Nuke, Train and other maps into the daily practice routine, while concentrating on Mirage as their priority playing field.
mouz ropz during StarSeries season 4 (Photo: StarLadder)
Being good on certain maps is a plus, but being better on a map that basically every team thinks they’re decent at just makes a difference. In Kiev, mousesports played Mirage a total of eight times - not a single opponent opted to ban the team’s arguably best map from the series. Mousesports won seven iterations, only losing to Team Liquid during the group stage. A total of 220 rounds on Mirage, and a round win percentage of 76% after getting the first frag, while netting a K/D difference of +138 (with FaZe coming in 2nd at +12), makes Mirage a key factor for mousesports’ championship run in Kiev.
„We are so confident on Mirage, on both sides, that we just start playing, and even though it seems that we are playing the same stuff, we are still mixing it up really well.“ - suNny
And when you’re doing well overall on a map, players start to feel the game way better. A game plan which is designed to give their designated star trio the freedom to roam around the map, creating space with individual plays and the confidence of being better on this core map, gives all five players the ability to adjust their strategy on-the-fly. If their unique approach to the round fails, they can always fall back to a plethora of different routes and set strategies that will work against most opponents.
Back to online business
Winning StarSeries i-League season 4 was a unique and overwhelming feeling for the team. After coming second to FaZe and Na’Vi in ECS4 World Finals and DreamHack Winter Grand Final respectively, their triumph in Kiev strengthened the team even further. Next up is the important online season with both ESL Pro League and ECS in the coming weeks. Fighting through a tough offline event is one thing, but fighting for points in the two most prestigious online leagues in order to qualify for the much anticipated Global Finals is a totally different story.
Just a few days after reaching the Legends spot at the 2018 Boston Major, mousesports failed to qualify for the IEM Katowice event, by losing in the deciding set of the online qualifier, not only because of their small break after the Major, but also due to a wrong mental approach.
„I wouldn't say that we, for example, underestimated AVANGAR, but we did not go into the match with the same winning mentality as we normally do. I guess we were still a little bit too relaxed, and after the Major this ‚yeah we are legends now, we can relax and beat people online easily‘ thing was maybe in our heads.“ - chrisJ
The unforgiving schedule of both ESL Pro League and ECS does not allow any breathing room, when you want to qualify for the World Finals in both leagues. So after a small break during the IEM Katowice tournament, the team will fully focus on the all so important online season, in which they’ve started well with a 3-1 record in ESL Pro League, defeating Fnatic 2-0 and drawing Astralis 1-1 during the opening week. „We know that now the online season is coming and we will just focus on the leagues. We have a lot of LAN tournaments upcoming as well, but it will be mostly just regular work, routine to wich we will come back to“, says mousesports coach Sergey „lmbt“ Bezhanov.
- mousesports - $130,000 USD
- Natus Vincere - $50,000 USD
- Team Liquid - $30,000 USD
- FaZe Clan - $15,000 USD
- G2 Esports, SK Gaming, Astralis & Renegades - $10,000 USD
- HellRaisers, Heroic & Cloud9 - $6,000 USD
- Virtus.pro, TyLoo & Gambit Esports - $4,000 USD
- Fnatic & MVP PK - $2,500 USD