The era of online tournaments began over twelve months ago. No one knows when we’ll finally see LAN tournaments again. Last year, we thought it’d just be a couple of months before things would return back to normal. The teams thought so too and didn’t make any reshuffles at first, but after six months online, they were ready for those changes. Today, we’re going to try and tell you about the top three substitutions of the online era.
Before we proceed to discuss the third best shuffle of the online era, please note that this is just a compilation of three choices, not a definitive top three. We’re not imposing our opinion.
GODSENT replace Maikelele with Farlig from Copenhagen Flames
GODSENT replaced the Swede with the Dane after ESL One Road to Rio. That’s where the European mix took seventh place and received $6,000 and 1,000 RMR points. Interestingly, no one even expected them to make it out of the group before the tournament.
Maikelele’s replacement was long overdue: he wasn’t much of a sniper, and his time had already come. Plus, there were a plethora of available AWP mains at the time. GODSENT’s accomplishments with Mikail include the win at WePlay! Forge of Masters Season 2 and numerous third places at various tier-2 tournaments along the lines of DreamHack Open.
However, Maikelele’s most significant achievement is the creation of GODSENT’s backbone. After all, it was the Swede who did the recruitment job. Furthermore, even after players were taken away by organizations, he continued to find decent replacements to keep NoChance/SMASH/GODSENT on top. The 16th place in the HLTV rankings in March 2020, after a 3-4 place at the ICE Challenge marked the zenith of the European team with Maikelele.
With Farlig as the new sniper, the European lineup only grew stronger. GODSENT were able to end up among the top five teams at cs_summit 6 and gained 1500 RMR points. At one point, GODSENT were among the top 3 European teams in terms of RMR points, which gave them the status of legends in the upcoming Majors.
After a tour de force at cs_summit, the team won a tournament from BC before going on an off-season break, after which they failed to recover and began to stagnate. The greatest achievement of that squad was the 11th place in the third and final RMR tournament in 2020. After that, kRYSTAL left the team, and the guys haven’t found a stable captain until today.
YEKINDAR’s arrival at Virtus.рrо
Another reshuffle that happened after ESL One Road to Rio only, this time in the CIS. At first, the Latvian joined the “Polish bears” as buster, and he had a kind of burnout. But many realized that soon, Timur “buster” Tulepov would return and Dauren would leave the team. And that’s exactly what happened: VP only played 4 tournaments with AdreN and YEKINDAR as part of the team. One of them they won BLAST Premier CIS Cup; at another, they took the fourth place — that was WePlay! Clutch Island.
With AdreN, the CIS team reached the final of the Major and won the BLAST Pro Series in Moscow. These results were difficult to reproduce by replacing just one player. The greatest achievement Virtus.rho made with Dauren was the third place in the HLTV top. Yet they didn’t manage to stay there, and most of the time, the lineup was somewhere around the world’s top 20. After replacing only one player and bringing back buster, the renewed roster started to swiftly conquer the top of HLTV.
After winning the Flashpoint qualifier, the Bears were invited to IEM New York 2020 CIS, which they would win as well. At this tournament, they defeated the upper crust of the CIS CS, which would provide the team with a great boost.
Looming on the horizon was Flashpoint, for which Virtus.rgo had big ambitions: it was their first serious tournament. A couple of the world’s other top teams partook in the tournament as well. Still, the Kazakhs, the Uzbek, the Latvian, and the Russian didn’t leave them a snowball’s chance in hell of victory.
Thanks to the victory at Flashpoint 2, the world discovered a new CIS-based tier-1 team. Finally, after three years, a cool team apart from NAVI appeared within the vast territory of the former Soviet Union. At that time, the Bears had one single goal: to get a foothold and stay there, not the way it had happened after the Berlin Major. After finishing the year with a win at the DreamHack Open December, YEKINDAR & co started 2021 by winning at cs_summit 7. They took 3-4th place at Snow Sweet Snow, and as of today, the last achievement by the CIS team is reaching the final of IEM Katowice 2021, where they lost to Gambit in a tight fight.
YEKINDAR is one of the best players at every tournament that Virtus.rgo participates in. The Latvian has already managed to become a discovery for some foreign players. At the moment, the CIS team occupies a tenable position in the top 5 of the world.
Perfecto, the timeless best reshuffle
The replacement of Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács with Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutsky came a month before the worldwide pandemic, but it’s still the best, timeless reshuffle. It would seem that replacing a sniper with an untested rifler wasn’t the best decision. Yet in fact, it turned out to be the opposite. The untested player became a fan favorite and did an excellent job of plugging the team’s holes.
GuardiaN joined NAVI after the fall Major. As he admitted later, “Joining NAVI was a hasty and mistaken decision.” With the Slovak CIS player on board, the team droped to the 14th line in the world rankings.
In an attempt to climb out of the pit, the NAVI management trusted the young player. And it was the right call. At the last three LANs, the Russia-based roster showed incredible results. They took second place at ICE Challenge, got out of the group at BLAST Spring Groups, and won IEM Katowice 2020.with flying colors, dissipating all doubts regarding Ilya as part of the lineup. The grand finale was the first place in the HLTV world ranking.
For the next 12 months, NAVI were among the favorites at every single tournament. It was only a couple of times that they didn’t make it out of the group. Perfecto had an incredible influence and closed his positions in the best possible way. This helped s1mple to resume his duty as sniper and the other three members of the team to forget about the routine work. That was handled by Ilya Zalutsky — the guy who grew from an unconfident and inexperienced player to one of the best CS assets in Russia in just one year with the team and who doesn’t leave the top European players a chance in shootouts.