Assembly Winter 2016 preview
Assembly's 2016 Winter tournament brings together eight teams competing for €15,000 this weekend and we have prepared an official preview to get you abreast of the teams in action.
Held in the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre, Assembly Winter 2016 will offer up €15,000 for eight teams from February 5-6.
Four teams were directly invited to the event whereas four others qualified via two online qualifiers. The format of Assembly Winter 2016 is a double elimination, best-of-one group stage with best-of-three decider matches; two teams from each group then advance to single elimination, best-of-three playoffs.
In addition, the grand final will be broadcast via live television on YLE TV2, one of Finland's main TV channels, at around 22:30 on February 6.
allu's ENCE to mark their offline debut at Assembly Winter
Two important changes were made to teams following the qualifiers ending. Polish team Vexed Gaming were unable to attend the event and were thus replaced by Finnish team RCTIC whereas PixelFire lost their organisation and will thus be attending the event under the name "Orgless."
The group draw for the event is:
|Group A||Group B|
|LDLC Blue||Epiphany Bolt|
Now that we have brought readers up to speed for the event, which will run concurrently with the $200,000 Game Show Global eSports Cup in Lithuania tomorrow, let us take a look at the eight attending teams and their recent histories.
RCTIC eSports come in as a replacement team to Vexed Gaming and will be facing off against Orgless in the Group A opening game.
Despite their status as a last minute filler, RCTIC are not a team to be trifled with and could be pretty fairly stated to be the second best team in Finland behind ENCE (who are unproven in their current starting five but who have far more experience overall).
Twista and RCTIC continue grinding events in the hopes of some new team pictures
The roots of the current RCTIC team go back to tryPANTS, a lineup which featured four of the current players (minus Twista) and attracted notice in early 2015 when they won ESEA Intermediate Season 18 and finished third at LanTrek. The team were picked up by Epiphany Bolt, who made their move into CS:GO with the acquisition.
After adding Twista as their fifth, the team were snatched up by Finnish organisation RCTIC eSports following a 3-4th place finish at Assembly Summer and a decent showing at the ESL One Cologne European offline qualifiers.
For the rest of 2015, RCTIC flitted around many second tier offline events and thus attained offline exposure and experienced. The team qualified for the Uprise Champions Cup Season 3 finals where they finished in 5-6th place in a six team event after losses to Vega Squaron and Enervate.
The team bounced back by winning a regional event, "Jimm's CS:GO Challenge" at Jessembly #2 in quite dominant fashion and they then attended another event in Finland but with international teams involved as well, ASUS ROG Nordic Challenge, where RCTIC finished a respectable 3-4th place in an eight-team event.
The teams greatest trophy to date however was to come when RCTIC won the AlienTech AllStars event in Porto, Portugal, triumphing over the likes of Keyd Stars, Publiclir, and k1ck.
With wider success still eluding them, RCTIC may find a perfect chance to continue growing their portfolio if they advance to the playoffs of Assembly Winter.
Although many now know of this roster, who attained high profile exposure with their semifinals run at the PGL Regional Minor under the name of PixelFire, the roots of this team lie in a Hungarian roster that played under the Orbit name.
The team began their journey to becoming more of a European mix when they added Danes maeVe and tabu from Reason Gaming to the roster and shortly afterwards signed for CSGO.One, a skin jackpot site based in Russia.
They failed to make a splash at the ESL SEEC Season 2 finals where they finished in third place behind E-frag.net and Revolte. Afterwards the team went dormant until the new year, when they added Swede BARBARR (who returned from two years of inactvity in mid-2015) in lieu of Arnold "NEY" Kiss.
The saga of the orgless Euros continues
Things immediately began to look up for the team as they defeated Casper "cadiaN" Møller's RUZKI mix to qualify for the PGL Regional Minor Championship in that same month. However, the players then left the CSGO.one organisation after allegedly being asked to fix matches in Operation: Kinguin: #2 (a situation which was later resolved via some diplomatic mediation).
DeadFox & co. then signed for PixelFire, and had their debut run at the PGL Regional Minor Championship where they finished 3-4th place (including a grueling series against DenDD that set the world record for longest offline map in history).
Good things are never made to last however, and the team and the PixelFire organisation soon parted ways after the PGL Minor, meaning that ex-PixelFire are attending this event under the name Orgless.
In addition, HLTV.org has learned that the team will take their time this time around before signing with a new organisation. If they do well at Assembly Winter however, potential offers may spawn the temptation to spurn such a resolution.
CPH Wolves, much like the current five Danes they represent, have always been around in the CS:GO scene as an organisation. Following a Norwegian-Swedish lineup that crumbled under its own success back in the Fall of 2015, the Wolves of Copenhagen went dormant for the rest of the year.
unu.AiN features famous and storied faces such as gla1ve, who played in all of the Majors of 2013/2014 before 2015 saw him fall off the map slightly and who earned his scalps on the likes of famous Danish lineups in CS:GO such as Anexis, Western Wolves, 3DMAX, n!faculty, SK, and last but not least multiple iterations of CPH Wolves.
New Year, #newHUNDEN
The fourth member is 21-year-old PERCY, a player who has been skirting around the Danish scene in lineups such as CPLAY and Reason Gaming.
Last but not least there is of course HUNDEN, who himself is something of a fan favourite for reasons that correlate to his "performances in the red."
The current CPH Wolves lineup that will attend Assembly Winter is a symbolic microcosm of the Danish CS:GO scene: it is composed of players who have wandered across organisations and often crossed paths in the past; the team is at once volatile and insular (and may thus crumble) and yet experienced and rehearsed (and may thus surprise).
Facing off against CPH Wolves in the second Group A opener is LDLC Blue, the little brother of the team's somewhat more successful "White" division (a distrinction which the former team has often attempted to overturn).
The roots of this team, and in fact four of its current members, lie in the Awsomniac lineup that LDLC signed in late February 2015.
For most of 2015, LDLC Blue lived in the shadow of LDLC White as they lost French qualifiers for DreamHack Open Tours and ESWC France whereas their confreres survived.
All that changed when LDLC Blue defeated LDLC White to win the ESWC Paris Games Week Open, an all-French team event that took place the same weekend as the Cluj-Napoca Major.
Afterwards, the team lost Frenchman Kevin "madc" Ducourtioux who went off into the void and they brought on board Belgian YOUYOU instead (this lineup narrowly lost to LDLC White in a best-of-five final around the same time).
As one of the teams to successfullly qualify for Assembly Winter, LDLC Blue are yet again walking in the shadow of their LDLC White colleagues and looking to make an impact at an international event.
Whereas LDLC Blue have always struggled to attain a dominant position in the French scene, LDLC White's struggles have been more about making a mark on the international scene.
The team's roots lie in Platinium, who were signed by LDLC after the organisation had already signed Awsomniac and thus this led to the famous White/Blue division we see today. After resolving the tricky issue of teammate matHEND having a VAC banned account (which was proven to have been hacked), the team quickly set off to make themselves the third best in the French scene behind Titan and EnVyUs at the time.
20-year-old to1nou has been one of the powerhouses of this team
Despite successful qualification bids for both DreamHack Open Tours and ESWC Montreal, LDLC White were infamously "bodied" at both events, finishing 5-8th place at the former and 13-16th place at the latter (where, in addition to losing to Liquid and NiP, they lost to the erratic playstyle of Chinese team QeeYou).
One redeeming moment did happen in Tours where LDLC White took EnVyUs to triple overtime before losing the group stage game, although national competitions have long been observed to bring about extremely close games due to teams knowing each other.
More recently, the French-Belgian team lost the ESWC PGW Open to their Blue cousins as already mentioned, won UnderDogs #1 (an event for French teams), and had a disappointing 7-8th place run at the PGL Regional Minor Championship.
As a team who are often seen competing in the second tier leagues and tournaments of Europe, to1nou and crew are still awaiting the sort of breakthrough that would bring them into consideration for the top 30 in the world.
A lineup newly announced at the beginning of January 2016 is also one of the favourites to win the event, mostly thanks to Finn allu, who we ranked the 19th best player in the world and who spent much of his 2015 trying to bring a dying NiP team out of rigor mortis.
allus' valiant efforts did not work and he left the Swedish team at the end of the year and was at first courted by North American organisations before ultimately deciding to stay in his homeland to try and build an elite tier Finnish roster.
GOD or BOT? A highly personal question.
The remaining four ENCE players were all on MIXCAT, the team which won the ASUS ROG Nordic Challenge while using retired Finn Taneli "disturbed" Veikkola as a stand-in.
This roster includes the likes of xartE, whose incredible performance on 3DMAX during the ESL One Katowice qualifier almost singlehandedly secured the Finns a spot in the Major, and stonde and suNny who have had their moments of brilliance at the top shelf of Finnish Counter-Strike.
Rounding out the roster is juho, who rose more slowly throughout 2015 until he joined up with MIXCAT (who were also briefly sponsored by ROCCAT) and had stints on teams such as nerdRage and Epiphany Bolt.
Millenium returned as an organisation after a three year hiatus in the last month of 2015 and their newly unveiled roster raised plenty of eyebrows as it contained both CS 1.6 legends who were still striving to attain success in CS:GO as well as a certain infamous AWPer.
SIXER and MAJ3R were two of France's most storied players in CS 1.6, with both players playing under the Millenium name as well as Electronic Sahara, and both players also humorously had stints on WARMAKER in CS:GO although not in the same breath.
One of the bigger talents laid low by the Valve bans was fxy0
Both of the aforementioned players have also played with fxy0, the outspoken and vastly talented AWPer who attained most of his renown while playing for Epsilon in 2014 and then who attained infamy due to being part of Valve's match-fixing bans (which were this year confirmed as permanent and thus fxy0 will never be able to attend a Major).
While this team includes the raw talent of fxy0 and the experience of MAJ3R and SIXER, its relative unprovenness means that it can either surprise or totally sink with the latter being probabilistically more likely.
Assembly Winter will be the debut offline event for the current five on Epiphany Bolt (as it is for several teams attending), an up-and-coming Nordic region squad who were previously known as KappaKappa before being picked up by Epiphany (who themselves had lost the lineup who are now RCTIC).
Four players on this team did attend Assembly Summer (where they finished 7-8th place) however much of the rest of 2015 passed slowly as Epiphany gained experience by competing in a bevy of online competitions.
hiffer and Epiphany Bolt have a lot to prove
The Swedish-Danish team obviously felt a crucial piece was missing from their lineup as they ultimately parted ways with Anton "ANTON" Kjellgren and brought on board Dane hiffer, who most notably attended CPH Games 2015 with Sharkgaming.
Group B will be an uphill battle for this Nordic team, packed as the group is with more experienced teams. However, as teams such as CG have shown in recent offline events, it would not be the first time that a lesser known team from Scandinavia has shown up and dominated the server.
Assembly Winter 2016 kicks off February 5th with two Group A best-of-one games at 11:00. The entire group stage will finish by the first day.
The prize-pool distribution for the event is:
1. €8,000 (~$8,600)
2. €4,000 (~$4,300)
3-4. €1,500 (~$1,600)
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter