StarSeries i-League Season 5 - Recap
The Renegades CS:GO team got close but ultimately fell just short of a finals appearance in Kiev last week at the fifth iteration of Starladder’s StarSeries i-League finals in Ukraine.
At their first event after the departure of coach Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunovic, and suffering from a lack of solid practice after a very busy May, the boys weren’t looking too hot flash in their opener against GODSENT.
Noah “Nifty” Francis and Karlo “USTILO” Pivac struggled to make their presence felt on Inferno and Overpass respectively as the Swedes outclassed a weary Renegades 2-0 (16-3, 16-3), forcing RNG into the 0-1 match against CIS squad Hellraisers.
A day to become accustomed to the event appeared to favour the boys as they got to work against HR. Their Inferno lacked class against GODSENT but in the series against HR they had it in spades - Joakim “jkaem” Myrbostad and Aaron “AZR” Ward looked unstoppable on the banana approach on the opening T side to gift RNG a double-digit half ahead 10-5 at the change.
Despite the lost anti-eco the boys held strong in a true rounded team effort to dispose of HR on Inferno 16-9, claiming their own map pick. This would mean an attempted 2-0 on HR’s Mirage, and HR weren’t going down without a fight. It was 3-3 before the boys were broken on the CT side, and despite the efforts of Nifty on the AWP across multiple angles HR put the boys to the sword.
A 9-3 run across both the T and CT sides to end the map meant HR had all the momentum after a resounding 16-8 win, and it didn’t stop there. Exhaustion once again struck the boys hard as HR put up a monstrous 14 CT rounds to all but wrap up map three in record time.
A 1-2 (16-9, 8-16, 1-16) loss sent RNG into an elimination match against Gambit. The CIS team let Cache through for the Aussies to pick, and even though a won knife round gave them their favoured T side the boys once again struggled to get going after a lost gun round in the fifth.
Enter jkaem, who from the outset looked to drag the boys back into the match and series with a 3k on the pistol. Gambit’s T side looked about as weak as RNG’s - again it was a combination of unpredictable and fluid CT positioning that Gambit struggled to overcome, all while jkaem, Nifty and AZR found the opening kills to immediately halt an oncoming push from the T’s.
It got dicey at 10-13, Gambit had found two rounds against the boys straight and looked to build an economy but a USTILO hold from quad put an end to it, the boys seemingly out of trouble at 15-13. Gambit would need their own hero and it came in the form of Mou, his AWP looking sharp as he found a 4k to round out regulation and force overtime.
“Sloppy” is a good word for matches that last beyond OT1 as each team just threw themselves against one another for the slight hope of finding a breakthrough but neither team was giving up, especially the Renegades given their next map.
The match crossed into OT4 before the boys found their moment with a fast execute through mid; USTILO entrying up highway meant an A split and finally, a T side was won in overtime. Gambit needed three rounds straight on their T side but only managed one as the boys closed out yet another OT3+ length match with a win 28-25 including a 45-frag performance from jkaem (45-31, 90ADR, 1.28 rating).
RNG didn’t look at all prepared for Overpass for the event as a whole, and Gambit were out to survive this elimination match and did so in the best way possible. RNG managed just 5 CT rounds in the opening half to crush any momentum they felt they had after the 2-hour behemoth Cache match. A fast Gambuit 16-5 forced Mirage.
Down 5-2 it was AZR on his most comfortable map locking down mid to stem the Gambit T side. Nifty was everywhere as he posted 11 AWP kills in just the first half to drag RNG to an 8-7 lead in the decider before another solid pistol round to USTILO set the ball rolling.
Up 13-7, RNG relaxed enough to let Gambit back in the match but also to take their time and find the right rounds to strike back. After all, they’d only need three. Gambit took it to within one round difference at 13-12 before an aggressive push from AZR into CT found 3 kills, and while RNG were reset the round after continuous deaths to the boys meant Gambit were out of money.
After a tense two rounds the boys held onto the series in regulation - a 4-hour set, RNG took the win 2-1 (28-25, 5-16, 16-14) to eliminate Gambit and survive into day four to play Virtus Pro.
Their previous meeting against the Poles took place at Starladder’s Season 3 event in Shanghai - RNG had famously defeated VP 2-0 in the grand final to claim the win. The boys were looking better the longer the event went, and with a favourable map pool on offer they got right to work on Train.
Looking to avoid the embarrassment faced at the hands of HR two days prior, USTILO set about ensuring that RNG’s T side would not be restricted to a single round, helping to secure the opening four. VP hit back intermittently but were almost always broken by RNG’s far more complex T sided executes. Up 9-6 the boys made quick work of VP’s T side, limiting the Poles to a single T round in a 16-7 win.
VP hit back on Inferno with some of the best utility usage seen on the map. RNG at times started a round with anywhere between 100-200 damage lost amongst all five players, meaning the M4 rifle could one hit to the head. AZR and jkaem once again took control of the T side opening through multiple banana/B picks but once VP got their hands on utility there seemed no way back.
Putting on a 15-2 run VP bombed RNG out of Inferno 16-8 with Snax’s B site AWP hold becoming too strong even for the entry duo of AZR and jkaem. Map 3 would be Cache, and again it would be RNG proving themselves a proper T Cache team after disastrous 4 rounds against Gambit in regulation.
USTILO was on fire as RNG overcame a 3-6 deficit and a reset with a brilliant B-site CZ stack and a 3k to Justin “jks” Savage to slap on six straight to lead the half 9-6. VP’s won pistol and an immediate breaking of RNG’s economy at the fourth threatened RNG’s chances at 10-12 but USTILO dragged the boys back with a standout 30-bomb (30-17, 96ADR, 1.50 rating) to go six straight once more, claiming their second scalp 2-1 (16-7, 8-16, 16-12).
The reverse sweep was on the cards, but the boys would need to complete the recovery against NRG who too were looking at the same record recovery after tough opening sets against Liquid and North. It once again became imperative that the boys won their opening match given NRG’s obvious Overpass pick.
Continuous resets on their T side meant the Renegades were struggling to hold an economy as Brehze piled on the kills left and right. RNG were restricted to just four rounds and five bomb plants from the opening half as the NA squad kept on breaking RNG’s economy time and time again.
RNG showed promise in a comeback attempt similar to that against Gambit but NRG were taking time with the result. Nifty’s AWP proved potent enough for his opposite on NRG in CeRq but not enough to bring them back into the game - a 29-kill effort from Brehze in 27 rounds shut RNG out 16-11 in the opening map.
This meant RNG needed the impossible - a win against NRG on Overpass - in order to hang on to their tournament lives. Alas, despite 18 kills from jkaem the NA team was too good for the boys. Managing just six CT rounds and one T round, RNG crumbled 7-16 to a team-wide effort from NRG 0-2. NRG would go on to finish runner-up in their first LAN finals with this lineup, losing to Natus Vincere.
With a solid fortnight between this event and their next in Jonkoping, Sweden for Dreamhack Summer, the Renegades should bounce back strong in a favourable event with lower-tiered lineups in attendance.
Renegades CS:GO Upcoming Events:
Dreamhack Open Summer - Jonkoping, Sweden - June 16-18
ESL One: Cologne - Cologne, Germany - July 3-8
FaceIt Asia Minor Championship - London, United Kingdom - July 16-20
Written by Nicholas “Taffy” Taifalos