Inexperienced and underprepared, Cal’s ‘Counter-Strike’ team struggles

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To quote the movie “Cool Hand Luke,” “What we got here is failure to communicate.”

Like title character Luke and the prison guards in the movie, Cal’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” or “CSGO,” season has gotten off to a rocky start. Boasting only three wins in seven games (and two of those being forfeits) in the fall, the Bears came into the spring season hesitantly optimistic about their chances at making playoffs.

Two games later, their season’s turned into a “mean son of a b—-.”

Cal’s first matchup of the season, against Old Dominion University, started poorly, as after 20 rounds, the scoreline was 12-8, and the Bears were all but done for. But an impressive run of eight out of nine counterterrorist rounds resulted in a nail-biting 16-13 victory for the Bears. Particularly impressive was the performance of returning player Jeffrey “J_Teagle” Tran, who boasted an average damage per round of 107.7 and had nine multikills.

“We didn’t have good defaults to start, so it took a little longer than it should to adapt to what they were doing,” said team captain Nathaniel “Pineapple_Phillips” Jensen.

Unfortunately for the Bears, that lack of adaptability reared its head once more in their matchup against Sheridan College; an 8-1 start in favor of Cal quickly evaporated, as the Bruins responded with 12 wins in 14 rounds en route to a 16-12 win.

As for why the Bears have struggled so much, Jensen said it was caused in large part by inexperience and a lack of cohesion.

“I think we have a better team individual skillwise, but I don’t think we are in the same position as last year in terms of togetherness and chemistry,” Jensen Said

Three of the five players making up Cal’s “CSGO” team — Huy “Feste” Bui, Richard “Iconic” Lui, and Adam “ac1” Chang — are new to collegiate “Counter-Strike,” and a fourth, Tran, returned to the roster after a semester break.

“A lot of them don’t have the basics,” Jensen said.

Part of the problem has also been a lack of scheduling and communication. Struggling to coordinate practice times and scrimmages, the team has looked unprepared and unorganized in its play.

“They’re computer science students, so it’s like herding cats — this season we didn’t know until the second week of games when their sections were,” Jensen said.

While the loss to Sheridan College certainly diminishes Cal’s playoff chances, there is still room for hope. Two of Cal’s final three opponents have yet to win a nonforfeited game, and team practices look to be on the rebound. But perhaps most importantly, next Friday, the Bears will attend a boot camp hosted by Nvidia in which they’ll get the opportunity to play side by side and spend time developing a stronger foundation for the future.

“I have high hopes for this boot camp,” Jensen emphasized. “Going forward, we should be a more disciplined team.”

While a young and inexperienced roster may be seen as a problem to some, the Bears are looking at it as an opportunity to mold a team capable of making deep runs in the playoffs.

As Luke says in his infamous title-drop line, “Sometimes, nothing can be a real cool hand.”

Michael Brust covers esports. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBesports.