2022 is the year North American CS gains ground

It has been a slippery slope for North American Counter-Strike over the past few years. Of course, a pandemic affected the entire scene, but other major regions sustained themselves and even grew during that time, while NA went on a decline. The already unstable scene combined with a global pandemic and the release of VALORANT caused a low point we have not seen domestically in years.

Through the thick of the pandemic, North America saw effectively no success, with Liquid struggling as the clear top team in the region. Other familiar organizations to the region laid dormant while the scene struggled, and the silence has been deafening. North America hasn’t seen a team in an international final in over a year and hasn’t lifted an international event trophy since StarSeries/iLeague Season 8 back in October of 2019. The days of Boston and the Grand Slam are long gone, and fans have been stuck living in the past for some time. With the resurgence of the scene as a whole, NA has seen an upgrade in its support systems. 

The region has never comfortably sat atop the mountain, but the recent injection of talent, money, and interest has fans once again clamoring to the prospects of living that dream. The recent upswing culminated in an impressive base foundation for the scene in the new season, and NA CS looks readier than ever to gain ground on the rest of the leading regions.

Liquid
  • Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski
  • Keith “NAF” Markovic
  • Nick “nitr0” Cannella
  • Josh “oSee” Ohm
  • Richard “shox” Papillon
  • Eric “adreN” Hoag (Coach)

After the well-documented fallout of the 2021 roster, Liquid’s management needed to find the right pieces to get the team back into the winning ways the organization is familiar with. The Grand Slam trio has reunited with the re-signing of Nick “nitr0” Canella, and the acquisition of star prospect Josh “oSee” Ohm is the missing piece of skill to elevate the team in the fragging department. The signing of Major-winner Richard “shox” Papillon brings a veteran and winning presence that Liquid lineups have notably lacked in the past, and will help them in key moments during the most important games. With seemingly all of the necessary parts to create a great team, they have a chance to prove it today at BLAST Premier Spring Groups against FaZe. The debuting best-of-one will not serve as final sentencing for the lineup but will help give fans and analysts a good scope of where the team is swinging in the honeymoon stages of team play. A win against a top-ten team to start the season would fuel a lot of optimism among the players and spectators.

Evil Geniuses
  • Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte
  • Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov
  • Jake “Stewie2k” Yip
  • Timothy “autimatic” Ta
  • William “RUSH” Wierzba
  • Damien “maLeK” Marcel (Coach)

Comprised of 60% of the ELEAGUE Major 2018 Champions, Evil Geniuses are back in full swing with the intention of no longer serving as the number two team in North America. They’ve taken the Major-winning trio of Jake “Stewie2k” Yip, Timothy “autimatic” Ta, and William “RUSH” Wierzba, and integrated their experience with the familiar EG duo of Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte and Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov. Many interesting storylines follow the new look EG, but none carry more weight than the ex-Liquid member Stewie looking to take his former team down en route to number one status in the region and championship status beyond. Like Liquid, that journey begins today in group play at BLAST. EG will be hard tested against the new-look Vitality. Both teams are making their official debut, leaving plenty for both fanbases to be hype for. With EG and Liquid in the same group, we might be seeing one of many potential clashes involving the two best North American teams heading into the new season.

Complexity
  • Ricky “floppy” Kemery
  • Johnny “JT” Theodosiou
  • Justin “FaNg” Coakley
  • Michael “Grim” Wince
  • Paytyn “junior” Johnson
  • Tiaan “T.c” Coertzen (Coach)

The former Extra Salt lineup was signed to the Complexity name a day before the organization was set to compete at FUNSPARK ULTI 2021 Finals and ten days before their BLAST group stage matches. The quick turnaround left the fan favorites with little time to prepare for the top competition. They were able to play their opponents close and still impress players and fans alike, but their record currently sits at 1-6 under the new logo and will hope to turn that around after some time to plan around the events attended. Their next match comes in a few days against MIBR at the BLAST Play-In Stage, giving them another opportunity to get back on track in this event. Complexity star rifler Ricky “floppy” Kemery has fit comfortably on an individual level following the quick turnaround, but the team performances have not led to positive results yet. The core of the lineup has shown before what they are capable of after some time together and after gaining momentum, so it is far too early to count them out yet. When looking at this lineup, they have the makings to turn some heads this year and eventually become a legit contender across the globe. We will see if they can tap into that potential in their next match.

Party Astronauts
  • Josh “PwnAlone” Pigue
  • Jonathan “djay” Dallal
  • Ben “ben1337” Smith
  • David “cynic” Polster
  • Jonathan “Jonji” Carey
  • Joseph “Muenster” Lima (Coach)

The best-unsigned team available has shown enough glimpses of brilliance that they are no longer glimpses. This is the true form of this team, brilliant. With no organizational support, they’ve strong-armed the tier-two scene in North America and only ever took losses to fellow top dogs in the region. The core of Josh “PwnAlone” Pique, Jonathan “djay” Dallal, and Ben “ben1337” Smith have been together nearly two years, dating back to their tenure with New England Whalers. Since that time they’ve amassed an impressive 62% win rate, and the newest iteration of the lineup with David “cynic” Polster and Jonathan “Jonji” Carey added have yet to drop a map at 13-0. The unsigned team recently took a leap of faith, asking for fundraising efforts to help fly them to Europe to take the next steps toward success. Not only did the region step up in helping them, but 1337Camp also came in and offered their resources for the team to boot camp for two weeks. All around a great effort by the community to help a team that deserves an opportunity, and NA fans wait patiently for the hard work to pay off and for PA to improve and eventually find the home they earned.

Bad News Bears
  • Alan “Shakezullah” Hardeman
  • Gabe “Spongey” Greiner
  • Saad “Pluto” Siraj
  • Christopher “Swahn” Swahn
  • Khizar “MoMo” Rehman
  • Nathan “madcow” Retterath (Coach)

With another lineup poached piece by piece, in-game leader Alan “Shakezullah” Hardeman will once again have to start from scratch after beginning to garner momentum with BNB’s previous iteration. The familiar duo of Shakezullah and Gabe “Spongey” Greiner has brought in a trio of North American prospects to help elevate the BNB project and also find organizational backing. Joining in their ventures are former ESEA Advanced and Challenger players Saad “Pluto” Siraj, Christopher “Swahn” Swahn, and Khizar “MoMo” Rehman. Shake has previous experience with Swahn a couple of years ago, and his growth individually has seemingly impressed Shake enough to bring him into the lineup. Although the BNB team as a whole has lost steam overall, you cannot count out Shakezullah’s ability to farm talent. Many times over he has helped good players figure it out and become even better. Look for that to happen again in the ‘22 iteration of BNB as they look to make their ascend into the rankings of North America and begin the climb to HLTV’s top 30 beginning with their match against ATK in a few days.

Orgless
  • Damian “daps” Steele
  • Brendan “bwills” Williams
  • Michael “Swisher” Schmid
  • Marshall “Minus” Sedowicz
  • Gage “Infinite” Green
  • Hunter “Lucid” Tucker (Coach)

Damian “daps” Steele is back in the server after moving to the coaching role last June. The former NRG and Gen.G in-game leader threw his hat back in the ring and has aligned himself with four impressive North American prospects with hopes of finding an organization to represent them. Accompanying the tenured tier-one leader is former BNB rifler Brendan “bwills” Williams and Michael “Swisher” Schmid, former ATK AWPer Marshall “Minus” Sedowicz, and former Party Astronauts star Gage “Infinite” Green. Each one of these players has shown impressive levels of promise over the last year and can now build off that with an IGL that has a resume for building top-level talent. The roster outside of daps is no older than 23, which means these players are ready to enter the prime of their careers. The hard work will be put to the test in the team’s debut in nine days against Valors in ECL as daps will begin his revenge tour with the goal being a return to winning international tournaments.

RBG
  • Jadan “HexT” Postma
  • Colby “Walco” Walsh
  • Jerric “wiz” Jiang
  • Connor “chop” Sullivan
  • Jordan “jitter” Ruggiero
  • Tommy “Axed” Ryan (Coach)

The trio of Jadan “HexT” Postma, Colby “Walco” Walsh, and Jerric “wiz” Jiang have been working together as a part of RBG for two-and-a-half years, hoping to build the perfect team and enter the upper echelons of North American CS:GO. The core has seen major improvements over that time, and their hard work is showing. They have seen top-four finishes in the last four seasons of ESEA Premier (now ESL Challenger League) and those consistent finishes show that this team has a solid ground floor to work on. With the right amount of time with the right final two members, this team could make massive strides amongst their peers. The current lineup is sitting at a dead even 50% win rate over 108 maps together as they encroach on a full calendar year together as a lineup. RBG will hope to celebrate that milestone with a win in their ECL S40 debut against Orgless in ten days.

Collegiate Scene

Colleges in North America have started taking competitive CS:GO more seriously, and you are now starting to see colleges start backing players that want to represent their school at these events. Colleges like Michigan State University and Davenport University have stepped up to the plate, and their efforts have paid off. Last month FACEIT announced they would be giving $20,000 to the collegiate scene in Counter-Strike, giving student-players an incentive to remain committed to the competition while pursuing their academic goals. In time, this talent pipeline will help grow future stars of tomorrow that otherwise would not have had an opportunity in the region.

NA lineups heading into 2022 season
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