Chiefs to step away from CS, Dire Wolves and Paradox release teams
In the last week three organisations have separated from their Counter-Strike rosters citing "lack of opportunity" and made no definitive plans to field new lineups.
Three Australian organisations have stepped away from the game following the release of their teams in the last week. The early-season changes have left squads without organisations to represent them in the ongoing ANZ Championships and ESEA Premier S38.
The blow comes following a year of issues in the region including the 35 additional ESIC-sanctioned players following the original seven in late 2020, as well as ongoing COVID-related restrictions, impacting travel both domestically and internationally.
Dire Wolves (now Looking For Org) were the first team to part with their lineup as reported on Rush B Media on August 30. While the team is sticking together according to Mike "ap0c" Aliferis, it is unclear where the roster will find an organisation to support them at this point. It was also stated that the coach of the lineup, Matt "dayV1D" David will be seeking alternate opportunities and not sticking with the five players.
General manager of Dire Wolves Craig Nimmo said in a statement that the current climate in the region is lacking in opportunity for organisations and that the game does not deliver eyeballs or have consistent coverage. In the same statement, Nimmo said that the organisation would be interested in bringing on another lineup in a developmental capacity.
Benson "Liki" Niuila said that while the renegotiation effort with the organisation did not work out, they are willing to wait for the right offer from an organsation that is suitable. "We have a lot of important CS coming up so our focus is on that.” When asked about the support for teams and players in the region Liki responded that "there is still support from teams, however we are fortunate enough to have a team who is able to wait for the right opportunity."
Following this news, Chiefs (now lol123) announced four days later that they were also parting ways with their Counter-Strike team and the game as a whole for the foreseeable future. Although CEO Nick Bobir said a more detailed statement would be released, he had this to say to HLTV:
"It certainly wasn’t an easy decision, especially given we have been supporting the scene for six years now through different iterations of the business. We had discussed exiting when contracts expired previously but opted to extend to see if COVID would settle down.”
Given the deteriorating situation of COVID in the Australian state of New South Wales, the organisation pulled the plug knowing it would be an ongoing issue.
“The impact of COVID in a smaller region such as ours has certainly presented challenges not only for organisations but also the TOs. International events such as IEM Melbourne (formerly Sydney) was a huge ticket item for CS:GO here.
"You are also seeing the knock-on effect for the likes of Renegades who don't get the chance to compete overseas. Normally their absence while competing abroad would open the door for another team to qualify for an international event of some kind and their return would often help raise the bar locally," Bobir said.
Similar to Dire Wolves, it is unclear when Chiefs will be back, but Bobir says that things will need to return to normal in our region and the right opportunity would need to present itself, whether domestic or international.
In what appears to be a chain of dominoes falling, Paradox are the most recent team to see their lineup depart as players Charlie "zeph" Dodd, Harry "bedonka" Hayes and Luke "ekul" Blakey have all decided to step away from Counter-Strike. Meanwhile, the team's coach, Kobi "xertz" Wallis, has expressed an interest in pursuing the coaching role with any teams who are interested.
All three squads have qualified for the second stage of ESL ANZ Championships Season 13, but with Paradox disbanding it is not understood how another team will be selected to advance at this point and they have forfeited the rest of the ESEA Premier matches for this season. lol123 and Looking For Org will retain their spots in ANZ Championships and ESEA Premier.
It is likely that Renegades will continue their domestic dominance, having won every event they have played in Australia since the start of 2020. However, considering recent travel issues, it is unclear whether they will be able to leave the country and return in order to compete in the Stockholm Major, should they qualify.
Renegades were recently unable to travel to Europe in order to compete in ESL Pro League S14, with forZe taking their place in the event. According to Jordan "Hatz" Bajic, this was due to the upcoming Oceanian RMR and that they would potentially travel to Europe for the Major, knowing that returning will be a challenge.