While local fans at the Qudos Bank Arena will surely look forward to some epic CS from the world's best teams, most of them will be wearing their green-and-gold hearts on their sleeves, hoping for The Boys to pull off a breakthrough upset. Here's what Duncan "Thorin" Shields reckons Renegades need to do in order to keep the spoils at home:
1) Flex their strong map pool
An aspect of Renegades' rise to relevance as a legitimate top team in CS:GO has come thanks to their wide map pool. Returning coach kassad made his previous tenure in Renegades one in which they improved their map pool and thus ability to veto effectively over time. Since he joined up with the boys again they have looked strong throughout the pool and their multitude of potential options have allowed them to create more winnable match-ups against the entire field.
This is significant because it firstly allows Renegades to find favourable match-ups against any team in the top 20, with so much parity in the scene right now. That has been the base to give Renegades such a boost in placings recently, as they have routinely cruised through Swiss system phases, able to get the right maps against most teams. When they do face the biggest names and the most skilled line-ups, being able to move around the map pool with picks has created a vastly increased aptitude for facing even CS:GO's best.
Over their last three offline tournaments, with EPL only having played out the first group stage thus far, Renegades have picked five different maps in their series play. Certainly, they favour mirage in most instances, but depending on the opponent they have been willing to go to other strong maps like inferno and dust2 when necessary. We have even seen picks of cache and train, though not always with such good results as the aforementioned. There'll be no cache in Sydney, with Vertigo replacing it in the pool, and so while many teams may struggle with a reduced map pool, Renegades can rely on their strength and depth to give them an edge against all but one or two names
2) Ride jks to an MVP performance
jks was always seen as a clear talent of the Oceanic scene, along with current team-mate and long time partner-in-crime AZR, but his strengths were more subtle than flashy. While his aptitude for winning clutch rounds established his quality, those moments were the extremities of his general approach to the game, which seems focused on stable and intelligent positioning. jks was not a player who leapt off the scoreboard or wowed the stats nerds in the crowd. At least until 2019.
Something changed in the last few months for Renegades' favourite son, as he has seemingly unleashed another level of skill potential and seen his numbers charge up stats charts for events he has attended. It's not exaggeration to say jks has legitimately become an MVP candidate player, even at events featuring the likes of s1mple and NiKo.
At last, Renegades has a legitimate super-star level player, someone who is easily a top 10 player for the year thus far. Should that level of form continue, as it shows no signs of stopping right now, then Renegades has the key carry piece to allow them to match-up with the other elite sides in big stage matches. While team-play and tactics are core pillars of success for most teams, at the highest level the stars are so powerful that their ability to take over a game can very well be the deciding factor in which team lifts the trophy and which looks on as another does. Renegades have to feel like they finally have a name of their own to match up with the rest of the world's titans.
3) Recognise they have the potential to become champions
Renegades have already impressed and exceeded expectations thus far this year, but their consistent level of performance and many Bo3 series wins over bigger names have suggested even more is possible than we've been shown until now. At IEM Katowice, the Major, Renegades had a real chance to take down an untested MIBR and make top four at the world's biggest event. At StarSeries it was an inspired Na`Vi performance, particularly from s1mple and electronic, which was too much to counter.
Renegades has a cohesion which has allowed them to best more skilled opponents, the map pool to match-up with practically anyone in the scene and a star of their own in jks who is playing career peak Counter-Strike. All they lack now is the experience of having won and the mental frame to know it is within their grasp. When the boys went up against MIBR in that Major play-off series they were still riding the high of making their first ever Legends placing and facing a team far more experienced than them, which showed in the outcome of the match. In Shanghai, bearing down Na`Vi, they were overwhelmed and didn't bring the kind of gritty performance that had seen them beating teams like FaZe and MiBR earlier in the competition.
Lacking real confidence in themselves has been a knock on Renegades line-ups for years, but with good reason. For this core, there is no reason at all to be bashful or unsure. Your team has legitimately become one of the best in the entire world, with the resume to prove it; your style and strengths have made you more than just a front-runner or upset potential squad; and with a strong map pool there are always ways to mitigate the strengths of opponents and seize upon their weaknesses. The moment Renegades fully come to terms with the chance within their grasp they will complete the final step of going from a good team to one which can win championships.
Coming up from down under
The boys will begin their quest for the title on the 30th of April, as the usual ESL/IEM format of double elimination group stages with mostly Bo3 series begins play. Should they reach the play-offs, they will battle with five other teams to see who prevails on stage. Is this Renegades' time to become international champions?