Adam Boothe provides his expert insight into the Pinnacle Cup, analysing which challengers could cause an upset, the contenders that might compete to win it all, and where the value may lie in the market. Read on to find out more.
The group stage of the Pinnacle Cup II is concluded and our four survivors are known. We previously chose to profile the four teams returning from the first Pinnacle Cup to the second iteration: Lyngby Vikings; GamerLegion; Nordavind; and KOVA- so let’s see how they performed!
The Lyngby Vikings, a team previously invited to the Swiss Stage, were able to reach it at Pinnacle Cup II without dropping a map. A dominant performance over Natus Vincere’s academy team, NAVI Junior, was followed by a very tight affair against the similarly talented Brazilian team Sharks. That best-of-three may have been a 2-0 win; however, three of the four halves ended with an 8-7 scoreline.
Watch the Pinnacle Cup II here.
Nordavind were not so fortunate. Heading into the group stage, I had high hopes that their months of work as a line-up would see them through to the next round; however, they ended up needing to play with Viktor “vhw” Wadman instead of their talented rifler, Jesper “tenzki” Plougmann Mikalski. Despite a good start in their best-of-one match against Sharks - going up 5-0 on the T-side of Inferno - they only mustered one full-buy victory against a Sharks full-buy in the second half. The singular win came on the back of Anton “supra” Tsernobai being really aggressive and retaking the top of banana on some blind Sharks who were unable to trade. Let us do a brief breakdown of the flaws of their CT-side hold and key indicators of their lesser defence.
- Round 24 (13-10): Daniel “mertz” Mertz goes for a peek down the mid lane with the AWP and is killed by a Terrorist in the underpass. Kevin “HS” Tarn makes his position known by picking up “mertz’” sniper rifle and throwing a subsequent smoke. The Sharks players see all of this, knowing it means that at most, one person is porch side. They respond by flashing through the mid smoke, killing “HS” on the arch side and taking the site uncontested.
- Round 25 (13-11): Similar to two rounds prior, Sabit “mirbit” Coktasar throws a flash for “supra” at the top of banana. This time, the Sharks players have not fully rounded the half-wall and are not blind so they easily take the B bombsite.
- Round 26 (13-12): Nordavind are on an eco round. After holding an apartments stack for 30 seconds they get impatient and try pushing toward alt mid but are caught.
- Round 27 (13-13): Again “mertz” goes for a peek down the mid lane with the AWP, this time on a boost. He misses the shot, the boost gets spotted (meaning the position of two A-side players are known) and the Sharks promptly throw a flash out of the apartments, catching the two A-side riflers who are trying to move into the same position at the graveyard.
- Round 28 (13-14): Nordavind decide to put all their money into a force buy. Their singular M4 goes aggressive solo at the porch to hold the smoke but only goes one for one. “mertz” does well to drop a smoke on the site delaying the push and allowing “supra” to push through the Moto smoke with the UMP and makes two kills making it a 4v2. However, here is where the inferior firepower really hurts the European mix and despite the man advantage, they are not able to convert.
- Round 29 (13-15): The force buy in the prior round means that at match point, Nordavind only have three rifles and are still lacking utility. Again “supra” is flashed down banana; however, he only goes one for one, as the only rifler on the B-side of the map is simply not good enough given the remaining firepower and rotation time.
Why go through the process of breaking this down? Well, Inferno is one of Nordavind’s best maps - they win the majority of their CT-side rounds on this map and have a 70% conversion rate with the opening kill. Having “vhw” in the line-up can absolutely affect the comfort level and communnication for a team even if he is talented and experienced. If you were to break down all of Nordavind’s CT-side holds on Inferno they would not be winning 60% of their maps if they played how we witnessed them playing against Sharks. It was an impatient and disjointed set-up on both sites. We can use these observations in contemplating their value and their opponents’ value over a singular event or time period with the same substitute in or star player out of the line-up.
Our third team, GamerLegion, lost to a completely new squad. Their opponent in the best-of-one was mouz NXT, the mousesports academy roster. Though a few of the mouz NXT players should be very familiar - two ex-members of Izako Boars and Adam “torzsi” Torzsas from Budapest Five - this is a big letdown for GL by all accounts. It’s not just the fact that they lost, it’s the fashion in which it happened - a 2-13 CT-side loss on Mirage (it was actually 13-0 to start it off.)
I wonder how many newly formed teams have won their first 13 rounds in a row! If this is the form GamerLegion were entering the Pinnacle Cup with, it would have been a swift end for their opponent. Contrarily though, as is typical with brand-new rosters, in this case mouz NXT, we really have no idea of their ceiling. The majority of academy teams are used as a support roster to train upcoming talents who will eventually be promoted to the top squad. However, there are exceptions, like our current world number one Gambit, who were so talented and committed to their profession that they usurped their senior squad. If that happens with mouz NXT, then we will happily retract our criticism of GamerLegion for this loss!
The fourth squad we profiled are the Finnish team KOVA. After witnessing how well 100PG played at the CIS RMR 2021 event this week, there is very little to criticise about a 16-11 loss for KOVA here. Unfortunately, they have not had many official matches as of late so it is hard to tell their overall performance level coming into the summer and how much more they have to give.
The next round of the event is the Swiss stage. If you would like to read about the format of the event, please check out this article. The opening round sees a matchup between the closest priced teams, Endpoint and Copenhagen Flames, while the greatest disparities are in the matchup between Young Ninjas and Fiend, and the matchup between ENCE and TeamOne.
It should be noted that the senior squad, Ninjas in Pyjamas, have been playing musical chairs with their junior team. So, while some members of the roster have played over 200 maps together this year and have a respectable 50% win rate, the projected roster for their opening match at the Pinnacle Cup II have played less than 30 maps together. It is unsurprising to see that the vast majority of lines are putting the two combatants between a 60-40 split. The teams receiving the shorter price are primarily coming in ‘hot’, but talent-wise, we have a field of teams with a lot of equilibrium. If these underdog squads enter the Swiss stage slightly more prepared on one or two maps, it could be enough to propel them to the Playoff stage. Enjoy the next round of this great event!