Can Heroic be the team that goes under the radar and surprises everyone in 2022?
Heroic has been one of the most controversial top ten CS: GO teams over the past couple of years. A story that started with FunPlus Phoenix, a controversial coach bug exploit, a coach who lied about the players' involvement and the community's pitchforks, the players have been through a lot.
And despite all of these distractions, nasty remarks and mental stress, the Danish players have persevered, maintaining excellent form and giving a befitting reply with their results (and a video
that explains their side of things).
It's an interesting tale, not always good for Heroic, but definitely one that highlights the players' resilience and the strong mentality. IEM Katowice has returned on LAN, the Spodek arena will be full of fans cheering for their favorite teams. Heroic is not a favorite to win the tournament. But it's a new year, and Heroic could easily slip under the radar for many opponents.
2021: A difficult year for Heroic players
The CS: GO coaching scandal shook the foundations of the game. As many as 37 coaches received ESIC sanctions in the initial announcement. Heroic's coach
, HUNDEN, was one of them. He served a ban
and returned to the organization last year. After a few months with the squad, he was accused of leaking classified strategies to opponents, and removed from the team
Between these accusations and the accompanying community pitchforks, it was a difficult time for the players. Their form suffered, clearly because of the mental stress and accusations, but also because of the thousands of angry 'fans' commenting on and disregarding all their achievements because of a distasteful and untrue accusation.
A New year: Hoping to reach new levels
IEM Katowice is the first big event of 2022 and Heroic hopes to leave their woes behind. The team's focus is on putting up a show in front of a live audience at the Spodek Arena. They want the fans to take notice, to understand that Heroic is not done for.
"It's been a really troubling time during the last two tournaments of 2021. But that was a different year and we are looking forward to see where our level is in this tournament.", said René "TeSeS" Madsen during the IEM Katowice press conference. "In fact, it has been feeling really good, the past 2-4 weeks. I'm just looking forward to see what we've got."
Heroic faced OG in its opening group stage match at IEM Katowice, a series that went the way of the Danes. With 77 kills and a 1.43 rating Martin "stavn" Lund was the star of the series. Heroic then took down Team Vitality in a thrilling two-map series to send the new roster down to the lower bracket.
"Last year we were top four in the two arena events. I am really proud of that": CadiaN
Heroic finished last at the BLAST Premier World Finals 2021 without winning a single map.
The story of some of the Heroic players is one of despair, redemption, achievement and a series of unfortunate events. But the team has powered through, despite facing flak by the community and having to deal immense stress and 'fan' judgement.
When asked if its time for Heroic to take the next step, Casper "cadiaN" Møller said he is proud of what his team has accomplished. He believes the team can surprise at IEM Katowice, even as everyone is focused on the other big-name rosters at the event.
"We are always hoping to improve on Heroic. We also know that the last two years have been full of surprises. I think with more stability surrounding the team, we are hoping to be even more consistent to reach higher peaks." said CadiaN. "I think the lineup that you see here on the screen has potential to do even more than we have already done."
"The fun part about this year is that everyone is talking about all teams other than Heroic and I think that can be very beneficial to us."
While everyone is focusing on Heroic's supposed lack of form, the team has actually performed when it matered. CadiaN is proud of the team's performance in 2021.
"I think that the last year, the two arena events, we were top four in both. I am really proud of that considering that many questioned our abilities to perform on LAN, so making it to the top four at the two events was really good job."
"Building that kind of map pool from scratch can be super difficult for new teams. Our stability will be beneficial to us." : CadiaN
After the end of the season, several top CS: GO teams saw drastic roster changes. Probably the biggest one was the new Vitality roster that has some of the biggest names in the game. Vitality is one of the strongest teams at the event with a mix of the former Astralis and Vitality members. Meanwhile, G2 recently added mONESY to its roster. The 16-year-old prodigy is potentially the next-big star in CS: GO.
The winners of the PGL Stockholm Major and the BLAST Premier Global Finals, Natus Vincere, are no walkovers and are actually the favorites at IEM Katowice 2022. Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev
said they do not care about Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov (and rightfully so). Why would they want to break up a winning formula, a team that seems to be doing no wrong. But with new rosters come new problems and that is where CadiaN believes, Heroic has a small advantage.
"I think that the stability and experiences we have had as a team and as a group will be beneficial throughout the year. We have a wide map pool and some of the matches, we haven't really been able to show our strengths for the last couple of months", said CadiaN during the press conference.
"But we are very eager to show that we can play many maps and play them very well. And I think that's always the issue with new teams. Building that kind of map pool from scratch can be super difficult. Time will tell, I think many people already said it in the past. Maybe 2022 is the most exciting year for Counter-Strike in terms of the set teams."
Heroic finished Top 4 at the PGL Stockholm Major.
Do players from one nationality have an advantage over international rosters?
Traditionally, the strongest teams in Counter-Strike have featured single-nationality rosters. NiP, Fnatic, SK Gaming, Astralis have all had players from one country, speaking the same language and with similar cultures. Even today, there are quite a few teams that have single-nationality rosters. Many of them are in the top 15 such as Gambit, BIG and Godsent.
"I think there's still a lot of Counter-Strike teams and most of the good ones are still from a single nationality. If you look at Gambit, Navi, Virtus.Pro, Heroic, Astralis, there's a lot of teams in the top ten that are from one nationality."
"I think international teams still have a ways to go in terms of learning the culture and accepting everyone"
"But you are completely right, more and more teams are opting to go for the international route, because there is simply so much talent available." CadiaN continues. "Again I think this is also a question for the organization, like what route do you want to go, what fanbase do you want to create. And do you think that the scene within your team is strong enough to take up and coming players and make them superstars?
So I think the trend is very interesting. Its a good debate. I know a lot of teams talking about the shift, international teams will win the Major. It's only been teams with one nationality or one language. I think international teams still has a ways to go in terms of learning the culture and accepting everyone. But you can see many teams such as FaZe, G2 are getting better and better."
CadiaN then goes on to share some personal experience of playing on international rosters. Over the course of his career, CadiaN has played on multiple teams with dozens of teammates. He has been a part of Danish squads as well as international rosters. In his opinion, communication can be stressful in international rosters,. But the cultural differences also play a significant part in the team-building exercises.
"From my experience, playing on international teams, often times the difficulty can be explaining things in the middle of the round but it also can be cultural things. When I played with the Bulgarians for example, they expect the leader to yell at you and scream at you when they make mistakes. The two other teammates I had were Danish and they expect you to talk calmly to them and explain stuff slowly.
All I can say is that it depends on the structure around the team. Which is why G2 succeed cause they have an organization that is very good of taking care of business around them"
The debate between national and international rosters is an ongoing one. Maybe this year, we will see an international team win the CS: GO Major. Or maybe, speaking the same language and coming from the same culture has a significant advantage, one that will propel a same-nationality team to win the Major, yet again.