One of the great things about Counter-Strike, is the open circuit. In theory, it is possible for anyone to qualify for the biggest event in Global Offensive – the Major. This rule also applies for a lot of the tournaments. Leagues, online cups, and 250,000$+ events.
In comparison to other games, Counter-Strike offers a lot of third party options to play the game. Once you’re bored of matchmaking, ESEA and Faceit offer platforms where you can compete on the next level. These services also provide an option for inexperienced players to pursue a path to a professional career.
The Faceit Pro League (FPL for short) is one of these hubs in Global Offensive. By qualifying through the “pugging” system of Faceit, a player can begin to play in FPL amongst the pro’s of CS. Fr0zen, Zywoo, ropz are some of the names that came out of this factory. But what happens if you build a team around the individual strength of unknown FPL players? You make Imperial.
Imperial’s Early Inception
The first iteration of Imperial went under a different name. At the end of 2017, it was announced that “MANS NOT HOT go official”. This roster was comprised by former Danish Dignitas duo TENZKI and Acillion, In-game leader of Renegades nexa and two Lithuanian FPL players EspiranTo and kalinka.
Acilion wanted to be the in-game leader while Tenzki wanted a support role, we figured we needed more firepower so we tried to get the best aimers FPL/Rank S had to offer and went with EspiranTo and kalinka at the time.Nexa explaining Imperial’s Inception
The first two months of results were a mixed bag. They continued playing the 1,500$ Stream.me Gauntlet Cups and some smaller cups online. Their most notable victory was the 1st place finish in the 3,000$ CSesports XMAS Cup.
The team was invited to closed qualifiers of big events, like IEM Katowice 2018 and cs_summit2. In these qualifiers, they’d have their first chance fighting better opposition but wouldn’t secure any victories. They could bring teams like mouseports, Heroic and hellraisers close on a map like Mirage, but would crumble on any other map.
Without much success, the first lineup crumbled. This brought with it a change that would change the team.
The Imperial’s Much Needed Upgrade
Big changes happened for the roster. They were finally picked up by The Imperial organization and could have more time dedicated to practicing. What followed suit was a new player who replaced kalinka, another Lithuanian from FPL by the name of nukkye.
The team would have their first big international appearance in Copenhagen Games 2018. But unlike other teams participating, The Imperial had to battle their way to the main event through the BYOC (bring your own computer) qualifiers. But just as they finished with the qualifiers they’d face the teams on the main stage. Imperial would go on to beat the Germans of Sprout, North and their arch-rivals Heroic in the grand final.
Strengths And Weakneses
During this time of The Imperial, it became pretty obvious to understand the team’s main strengths and flaws. Their biggest strength was obviously their individuals. EspiranTo was doing a lot of great work for Imperial on the T side, especially on Mirage. This was a map in which EspiranTo had a lot of freedom to go out and find opening kills for Imperial. He’d primarily sneak towards connector and try to punish the ct’s early on.
But it’s not just EspiranTo who deserve a shout. The new addition of nukkye helped Imperial to find a lot of control for both T and CT side. His awping capabilities led to some highlight-reel plays and a lot of early advantages for Imperial.
In other words, the players were given a lot of freedom to do whatever and whenever they wanted. They would continue to play this “puggy” style of Counter-Strike, which lead them to great victories down the line.
But this style of Counter-Strike came at a cost. Without them having a lot of tactical depth, Imperial could very easily crumble against lesser opponents. In their attempts to qualify for bigger events, there would be scenarios where only nexa would have any substantial fire-power. The other individuals would be absent, and so they would end up losing the series.
The roster lost their IGL Acillion, who received an invite to the rival team of Heroic. In the search for a new IGL, Imperial picked up kHRYSTAL. With his arrival, the team would go on to secure their most important trophy, a 1st place finish in Dreamhack Open Summer 2018.
After this accomplishment, things just went downhill from there. The roster trialed various players, including the aforementioned fr0zen from FPL. But they landed with 2 replacements: hadji and pounh.
They would still qualify for StarSeries i-League Season 6 but would fail to get out of groups and by the end of 2018, the roster ceased to exist.
If anything, the Imperial experiment proves that a team with the right amount of talent and with very little tactics can still compete in high-level Counter-Strike. But in order to reach that next level, they’d have to trade their freedom and that’s something the players couldn’t fathom of doing.