Refreshed, rejuvenated and revitalized. No this isn’t a shampoo ad, but rather the most fitting description for the start of Cal’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” or CS:GO, season.
The Cal Golden Bears demolished the University of New Hampshire in their week three matchup on Overpass, winning by a staggering score of 16-4 to bring their overall record to 2-1.
Coming off of a disastrous fall season where it lost their final five matches, Cal seemed to start their spring season with much of the same problems, as they were swept by the perennial powerhouse, Robert Morris University, 16-0. Resilient as ever, Cal came back in week two to beat Michigan State and post its first victory in months.
Yet the real test was its matchup against UNH, as victory meant not only a step closer to playoffs, but also the chance to surpass the win total of the fall season and demonstrate real improvement. And in no uncertain terms, this is exactly what they accomplished.
Despite starting on the heavily favored Counter-Terrorist, or CT, side, the Golden Bears lost the opening pistol round and the subsequent force buy and eco, putting themselves in an early 0-3 hole.
Cal fired back, winning two consecutive rounds and pushing their East Coast opponents to their economic brink. Yet, in a surprising move the Wildcats, “force bought” into the sixth round and won quite easily, re-establishing their control of the game and resetting the Bears’ economy.
Armed with only CZ-75s and body armor, in-game-leader and youngest player on the team Jeffrey “_JeFF” Tran made the call to stack the middle connector with all five players, gambling that the terrorists would walk into this position instead of countless others on the map. This time, the winds of fortune blew in the Golden Bears’ favor as they overwhelmed the Wildcats with strategic positioning and ran away with the round, dramatically swinging the momentum to their side.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for the UC Berkeley team. Dynamic CT side setups varying from heavy mid presence to aggressive water control denied map presence to the Wildcats and gave Cal all the information needed to accurately predict the terrorist side strategies.
Additionally, a double AWP setup gave the Golden Bears a huge advantage in their long-range duels, managing to turn almost every five-on-five fight to four-on-five or three-on-five in their favor.
As the Golden Bears moved to the terrorist side, they continued to ride their success, dominating pistol round and using their economic advantage to win the next four consecutively and finish the game at 16-4.
By far the biggest standout from the match was Antony “Tonytej” Tejakusuma, the roster’s newest addition, who recorded the most kills and had the highest efficiency of any player on the server.
After being called up to start for the division one team in week two, Tejakusuma quickly became the Bears’ star player. Serving as the team’s anchor on the B site, he managed to consistently get multplei kills and shut down terrorist pushes, freeing up the other four players to play a loose and more aggressive style.
“He’s the most consistent player we have,” said Nathaniel “Pineapple_Phillips” Jensen. “He makes the team more flexible, as no matter what side he holds he’s guaranteed to at least get one or two kills. He’s a big step up mechanically speaking”.
As to what other factors played into the Counter Strike team’s success, Jensen also praised the aggressive and dynamic play calls of their IGL Tran.
“In the fall, we didn’t have as much faith in his ability to call,” Jensen said. “But now we respect his authority in game. He makes more disciplined calls and has evolved a lot in his work with (the coach) Ron.”
For Cal, two victories this early into the season give the Golden Bears hope that they can achieve more than their original expectations.
“We have a pretty solid chance of getting into playoffs,” said CS:GO coordinator Vincent “Valourr” Cajayon. “It’s more of a question now of how deep we can make it. Coming from the West Coast, we always face the teams that are best in esports. But the next step for us is how well we can do in playoffs, which comes directly as a result of our performance in the regular season.”
Michael Brust covers “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.” Contact him at [email protected].