We take a look at five reasons why Team Spirit prove to be such an irritating opponent.
When it comes to unpleasant and difficult opponents in CS:GO, there are a few to single out. First of all there's Astralis, who's moves are often hard to predict. Or there's the Swedes from Fnatic, who play on the feel of the round and their opponent as a whole. And recently there was another nasty team — GODSENT who showed a lot of promise with their variability.
But at the same time, many people often forget that there's another team growing up in the shadow of European grandees. Team Spirit.
Spirit have had a good potential for several years now. Despite all the changes in their line-up they've been making steady progress, slowly but surely, for a very long time. A full-fledged leap up to a qualitatively new level of the game occurred in the fall of 2019 — shortly after the signing of Nikolai “mir” Bityukov and the Boris “magixx” Vorobiev; a young talent who previously played for ESPADA.
A couple of months later, Spirit finished second at the Champions Cup Finals, only losing in the G2 final. Now, a year later, they've not only successfully qualified for the ESL Pro League S12, but also made it to the playoffs with a very decent performance in the group stage.
Although it didn't work out in the playoffs; BIG and Astralis' losses left Spirit in 7th-8th place. But this is a nice result anyway!
As for us here at ESTNN, we believe Spirit is a terribly inconvenient opponent. Here's why.
Vicious attack and flexible defense
It's worth starting with the fact that the overall playstyle of Spirit is very... well, annoying is probably the right word. A slow, drawn-out T-side with a large number of executes at late timings. This is all very lulling, especially alongside the fact that Spirit do not like to play fast.
They consistently, step by step, take map control and then prepare for the final execute. They do it safely and reliably.
This style of play is doubly dangerous; often you don't expect early aggression or a fast execute, because these rarely happen. As a result, players can lose their guard, which the guys from Spirit instantly convert to their advantage or into winning the round.
As for defense, Spirit likes different types of aggression, and generally play flexibly on all maps, switching several setups. What a treat!
Unpredictable patterns in player movements and strong discipline
Sometimes, the possibility occurs to extract useful information from the movement of players during a round. A possibility which is extremely rare when it comes to Spirit. On top of that, what useful information is extracted is usually difficult to apply.
Another point related to the movement of players on the map is discipline. Some people will say that Spirit players are not always inventive. While some may disagree, the truth is Spirit have a good structure of rounds and calls — there's no place for extravagance in it.
Spirit are not afraid of anyone
Team Spirit is used to playing the role of an underdog; but the team has both experienced players and daring young prospects. They don't count with authority. In fact, it often seems that Chopper and his guys don't care who they play against! No embarrassment and nervous plays at all.
It’s easy to underestimate them
That said, we feel this attitude will now finally begin to disappear. Regardless of whether they continue to be underestimated or not, Spirit are firmly entrenched at a high level of the game. Their results speak for themselves.
At earlier events, especially the ESL Pro League S12 for example, the team was obviously not always taken seriously by their opponents. The threat level that comes from Spirit often is much higher than what opponents expect from the “Dragons”.
Strong map pool
Like most teams, Spirit play six maps (there's no Vertigo in their map pool).
This is not surprising, it's much more difficult to maintain seven maps in a combat-ready state than six. But out of six maps against Spirit, the only map that's not always scary and dangerous to go out on is Train. If we look at their other maps over the past 3 months, we can see Spirit have played at least 5 times on each of them, and their win rate doesn't fall below 50% on any map.
This creates the problem of understanding which is the confident pick for the opponent, and the space for maneuver for Spirit. It's very difficult to prepare for a match when you realize the opposing team can take any of the 4-5 maps, depending on what they want to play.
Often teams have a couple of strong, “home” maps, from which they start. While there's no doubt Spirit also have their preferences, in general they're much more flexible when compared to many other teams.
Right now Spirit is ranked 16th in the HLTV rating. But collectively, in terms of game style and their improvement trend, we think that by the end of the year Spirit has everything it takes to break into the top 10!