‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast
The semifinals of ESL One Cologne are set. Astralis vs Vitality and Liquid vs Na`Vi. Both are intriguing match ups. As we haven’t seen Astralis play Vitality yet, I’ve broken down the win conditions for both teams.
In terms of tactics, I will favor Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander over Alex "ALEX" McMeekin. While ALEX has done a great job leading his team, I still consider gla1ve to be one of the best tactical minds in CS:GO.
As for team play, it’s up in the air. Astralis have been dominant in their run so far, but it was against less tactical teams. As for Vitality, they struggled through the group stages, but smashed NRG in the quarterfinals.
The third thing to look at is individual form. If we’re looking purely at this tournament, then Astralis as a squad look better than Vitality, though I’d argue Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut is playing at a higher level than any of them. If we’re looking at the data across the last few tournaments, I’d say Emil "Magisk" Reif and Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz are the only two players on Astralis at a top level. As this is specifically for one tournament, I’ll give more weight to what I’ve seen in this tournament. Astrlais have the edge on skill as an overall squad, but ZywOo is the best player on the server.
First, I’ll rank the map pools of both teams.
Best map: Overpass
Good maps: Dust2, Mirage, Nuke
Playable maps: Inferno, Vertigo
Best map: Inferno
Good maps: Nuke, Train
Playable: Overpass, Vertigo, Dust2
Both team’s map pools have evolved over the last few months. The pre-ALEX Vitality was good on Mirage, Dust2, and played Inferno. After ALEX came on, they’ve built up Overpass, Nuke, and Vertigo as well.
As for Astralis, their map pool has atrophied. Inferno is still great and Train is still good. Outside of those two, everything else has fallen. Nuke is no longer invincible. Their dominance on Dust2 has ended. Overpass is a potential weakness for the team. Mirage was a good map for Astralis in the past, but they’ve slowly lost a grip on it as teams have learned how to play them.
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With the map pools lined up like this, here is how the map veto should go:
Astralis ban Mirage
Vitality ban Train
Astralis pick Inferno
Vitality pick Overpass
Astralis ban Dust2
Vitality ban Nuke
Final map is Vertigo
The first two picks are straightforward. Astralis’ best map is also the one they can punish Vitality with. The same goes for Vitality. Vitality’s Overpass is arguably their best map (depends on how you evaluate Dust2 or nuke). Both teams should pick their best map. After that, Astralis need to ban Dust2. Vitality then get the choice of picking either Nuke or Vertigo. They can go either way on this, but given their history, I think they’ll go with Vertigo here.
Overall the map veto is slightly advantaged to Vitality.
It’s time to bring the map veto and comparisons together and look at the win conditions for both teams.
I favor Astralis to win this as they are still the best team on the map. For Vitality to win, they need to fulfill three win conditions. First, they need to stop losing anti-ecos/force buys. Second, they need Nathan "NBK" Schmitt to make the right gambles on the CT-side against gla1ve’s T-side. Finally, they need ZywOo to swing rounds with sheer superstar might.
Overall, Vitality are a better team on this map than Astralis. I have faith that gla1ve can get 4-6 rounds on the T-side through his tactics, so for Astralis to upset, they need to have a good CT-side. To do that, they need individuals to step up. Dev1ce and Magisk have been consistent for Astralis in 2019, so the X-factors are Peter "Dupreeh" Rasmussen and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth. Dupreeh needs to control the mid/long areas. As for Xyp9x, if he can win some 1vX situations, that could be enough to swing it for Astralis.
Vertigo is a wild card, as no one fully understands the map. I think the CT-side will decide the map, as that’s the harder side to get rounds on. At EPL 9 Finals, Liquid beat Astralis through really aggressive individual plays on the CT-side. In that sense, Vitality are better equipped to do that with apEX and ZywOo, so I’ll slightly favor Vitality to win it on Vertigo.
Should the third map be Nuke, I think it’s a 50/50. I don’t think either Astralis or Vitality have any hidden tactics to pull out on the T-side. Both have good rotations and team play on the CT-side. So with all things being equal, it’ll come down to the superstars: ZywOo vs dev1ce. As ZywOo is having the better tournament, I’d also favor Vitality in this scenario.
Overall, I think Vitality win this 2-1.