Five teams we wish were erased from our memory


Editor’s note: This is a satirical article and does not reflect the opinions of HLTV.

God loves all his children, whether four-legged, two-eyed, one-finned, or sliding along the grass like a reptiloid of genus Smooya. So we are taught.

But we are also taught the inverse. God will destroy the wicked, the depraved, and the foolish. They will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. That which is an affront to the holy is an abomination to nature. It is to be purged, destroyed, extirpated. Better if it never existed.

It’s a dark, rainy day in the foothills of the Appalachians and your author is feeling downright apocalyptic. The movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is on the television. Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Elijah Wood, and Mark Ruffalo are all in the prime of their youth. For the uninitiated, the plot revolves around two ex-lovers using an experimental mind-altering technology to erase memories of each other and thus move on.

Not you, we loved you

Something feels wrong. The movie brings up painful memories. A 2015 night in San Jose, California with Hunter Thompson vibes: Twitch afterparty, strolling the Cali streets with an NA org owner, colors swirling, telling Montecristo you don’t recognize him even though you very well do, and watching indignation rise.

No… no… wrong memories. Throw those under the dirty esports rug.

Here’s something else bubbling to the forefront as the sixth IPA starts working its magic: Overpromised superteams that fizzled, international mixes playing Anglophonic whack-a-mole in their comms, and just downright horrible five stacks. We know them, love to meme on them, and remember them far longer than the hundreds of average mixes that have come since. It feels climatic to reminisce on five that were particular eyesores to the sophisticated CS aficionado. Ordering is subjective within the five, although our #1 pick stands slightly above the rest due to its spectacular, supernova levels of KEK downfall.

5. Splyce with Machinegun

The world’s largest historical land empire teams up with the world’s largest historical naval power in one esports team, except with the disappointing thump of a wet fart. That’s what the Splyce lineup with Enkhtaivan “⁠Machinegun⁠” Lkhagva was.

2014-2016, and the flowering of CS:GO’s popularity as an esport on the waves of the skin explosion, were watershed years for the idea of international teams being strong contenders in the game. While the idea has roots that go as far back as NoA in 2003 with Ola “⁠elemeNt⁠” Moum’s Norwegian-Canadian-American CS 1.6 superteam, the increasing proliferation of English as the internet’s lingua franca (especially in gaming) and the explosive rise of money in esports in the mid-2010s all but guaranteed that the idea would gain new currency as CS:GO grew more popular. In our CSGO10 article for 2015, we discussed how Kinguin were the main team that pioneered this new tactic.


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The story of Kinguin, the first international superteam

You can’t blame Splyce management for trying to build an international team. Their current NA roster at the time stank. And taking big and bold risks on “hype” players was all the rage that year for North American organizations, with Liquid famously signing a young Oleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev in January (although he would flee his new country just three months later) and Cloud9 taking a chance on an unproven pug star named Jake “⁠Stewie2K⁠” Yip that same month.

The concept of needing to import hungry and unentitled youngsters (other than sounding like the entire modern economic model upon which North America relies) was first and foremost on the minds of NA orgs flush with cash. So get to picking they did. And get to picking they couldn’t have done worse. In fact you couldn’t have done worse if you had asked a rabid border collie to figure out the right fps_max setting to best synchronize your strafes with CS2’s tickrate.

Like jokes meant with respect about a national delicacy, Machinegun felt lost in translation on Splyce

The July 2016 Splyce lineup that we got took the very mediocre core of Canadian-American duo David “⁠DAVEY⁠” Stafford and Arya “⁠arya⁠” Hekmat and tacked on lukewarm Danish talent Asger “⁠AcilioN⁠” Larsen as well as unproven Dutch youngster Joey “⁠CRUC1AL⁠” Steusel and then of course one of the many descendants of the great warlord Chingiss: Machinegun. If you were around then, you would remember that this was the apex of WTF rosters.

Machinegun had of course made a small name for himself as a highly dedicated, aggressive player that would bang out the competition at Asian tournaments and at Asia Minors while on TheMongolz, but had been relatively unproven internationally, let alone while on an international team. From an investing and teambuilding perspective, he was a “known unknown” risk, a player punching above his ilk in the Asian scene but certainly not on the same level of a s1mple stomping his way through Europe.

The lineup’s results were predictably terrible until the project began dissolving, posting a 17-34 Win/Loss record. We will give them credit for a first-place finish at the ZOTAC 2016 World Cup, although that was against local Asian teams and the famously comatose all-Polish Kinguin lineup (with the two teams avoiding each other in the brackets). After failing several qualifiers, the team parted ways with DAVEY and Machinegun, with issues with the language barrier being notably raised for the Mongolian player. While European zoomers these days are fairly English-competent, it turns out that bringing in a Mongolian mad lad who prefers throat singing from the steppe didn’t have quite the same levels of compatibility.

Hush child, the Professor is thinking. Europe…13th century castles… Mongols… I’ve got it… We MUST have Machinegun

We don’t wish this roster removed from our memories because it was particularly offensive, but more because it was frankly stupid. The Splyce core of arya and DAVEY were far too NA-brained to make an international team work. Having a coach named Andrew “⁠Professor_Chaos⁠” Heintz doesn’t help. AcilioN tried to ride the waves as a young IGL but lacked the firepower and was too passive. CRUC1AL was unproven, though he did actually manage to move on and remain in tier two of European CS, even scoring a 5-8th place finish with Into the Breach at the Major this year.

And as for our pal Machinegun? He remained loyal to TheMongolz for a time, tried his hand in Chinese CS teams, and even played in a Southeast Asian team where he had to communicate in English again, but never quite recaptured lightning in a bottle. Splyce brought his star to the forefront, only to rapidly extinguish the flames.

Following this ill-fated and silly lineup, the Splyce org went into an increasingly irrelevant death spiral with the rotting leaves of washed-up NA players’ careers until exiting CS:GO entirely in 2018. Pay attention — this theme will return.

4. Americanadanish OpTic lineup

No organization has been more consigned to the wastebin of CS:GO history than OpTic, and to some extent their faults are not of their own making. The iteration of their CS:GO team with Spaniard Oscar “⁠mixwell⁠” Cañellas attained brief glory with an ELEAGUE Season 2 win over an as-yet-nondominant Astralis, however, it was all downhill from there. Various sloppy roster and coaching changes, several disqualifications from tournaments due to an abrupt European restructuring, and overall drama within the organization began to put the writing on the wall for what was once considered one of the most prestigious esports organizations in gaming.

And then, on February 7, 2018, we got this unsightly golem: A Canadian-American core of Peter “⁠stanislaw⁠” Jarguz and Shahzeb “⁠ShahZaM⁠” Khan along with three ex-North players in René “⁠cajunb⁠” Borg, Kristian “⁠k0nfig⁠” Wienecke, and Nicklas “⁠gade⁠” Gade. What could possibly go wrong?

One cannot simply looksmaxx their way onto a good team

Everything. The team lasted just two-and-a-half months, not playing a single offline tournament, and going 3-15 in ECS Season 5 North America. As a caveat, it should be stated they did perform well in ESL Pro League Season 7 North America against many of the same teams, going 14-6. With that considered, the team went 25-22 during this spell.

But clearly something wasn’t working out among the continents and by late April the team went fully Danish, bringing on Jakob “⁠JUGi⁠” Hansen and Marco “⁠Snappi⁠” Pfeiffer and removing ShahZaM and stanislaw as well as American coach Chet “⁠Chet⁠” Singh.

Picking to include this OpTic iteration on the list was a tough choice. The previous pan-European lineup with Adam “⁠friberg⁠” Friberg, Kevin “⁠HS⁠” Tarn, Emil “⁠Magisk⁠” Reif, and Aleksi “⁠allu⁠” Jalli was also quite booty. And after the Americanadanish debacle, OpTic became a Danish hamster wheel, running through a high percentage of many tier two and tier one Danish talent in their effervescent chase to match up to a then dominant Astralis. However, the redeeming grace for the Danish OpTic contenders was that they gave us the seeds of a modern Heroic as well as the final downfall of Astralis by riddling their org with cumbersome backups.

In light of their poor online record, failure to attend even one offline event, and just for having such a head-scratching concoction of players, we have placed the early 2018 North American-European OpTic on our list.

OpTic wasn’t long for this world. Their Indian lineup being tied to the infamous Word.exe antics of Nikhil “⁠forsaken⁠” Kumawat was a PR nightmare. And when Immortals Gaming Club ultimately purchased Infinite Esports, their final Danish roster disbanded in late 2019 and was never seen again. Mark that as another org down due to the silly goosiest of roster builds.

I get to play the Rule 34 China Game? Errmm… Count me in sweaty

Meanwhile, it was To the Retirement Home for many associated with the NA-EU OpTic lineup. ShahZaM soon moved on to playing and then streaming uwu Weeb Simulator uwu, cajunb and gade never quite recaptured their luster and were snuffed out right quick, and only stanislaw and k0nfig are now left, one plying his trade as a wizened North-American IGL and the other as a battle-hardened Maltan booze brawler on Ninjas in Pyjamas.

Ultimately, this lineup was a bad choice among bad choices in a tricky year for CS:GO, and we truly want it excised from our memories like memories of a one-night stand with the local 5 from your nearest bar in Gary, Indiana.

3. Echbro Fox

This team was flat out annoying. Maybe it was something about Rick Fox’s cloying smile in interviews. Or maybe it was just the peak NA goonery of the original roster, including the brash likes of Ronnie “⁠ryx⁠” Bylicki and Mohamad “⁠mOE⁠” Assad. It’s like if Roid Rage were given an AI chatbot personality and told to build a COD team. But it was 2016 and a sense of big change was in the air, particularly centering around Turner Sports, ELEAGUE, and a seemingly unholy union of all things basketball and Counter-Strike.

The Tren Twins have nothing on the Echbro Fox goons

Money talks and invites walk, thus Echo Fox had an instant invite into ELEAGUE Season 1, riding the waves of VC and basketball money. But with the original roster only featuring one player with over a 1.0 Rating at the time, it was clear that this team had been formulated only to get their foot in the Turner door and that changes would soon be coming. Sure enough, a few months later, ancients Trey “⁠tck⁠” Martin and mOE were gone and the most well-remembered iteration of this roster was in place: Ryan “⁠freakazoid⁠” Abadir, ShahZaM. Sean “⁠seang@res⁠” Gares, ryx, and Daniel “⁠roca⁠” Gustaferri.

As you can no doubt predict already, abysmal-ity followed: a 17-22nd place finish in ELEAGUE Season 1, a 5-8th place finish in the iBUYPOWER Fall 2016 Invitational, and a 13-16th place finish in the teams-reduced ELEAGUE Season 2.

Equally embarrassing is the fact that this roster is here-and-there remembered as the one that Georgi “⁠WorldEdit⁠” Yaskin took an unholy-sized dump on in ELEAGUE Season 1 on Train, dropping a monstrous 3.08 rating and personally dumpstering Echo Fox in a way that no team therapy could ever solve.

Beep boop… My censors… I mean editors don’t check captions so I have hidden this here — I still remember the odd roca noscopes on mirage_ce

The team existed from May 2016 to November 2016, finishing with a 47-54 record. It quickly drew to an end in November and most of its players soon faded into the abyss, with only freakazoid really trying to continue and grind away at CS:GO in the ensuing years.

We want this team erased from our memories because it was too commercially slick, too hastily cobbled together, and gave way too many faux-bro vibes laced with the kind of American sports-bro machismo that also surfaced during the CGS days in CS:S. Lineups such as Echo Fox’s should be best left to pubstomping thirteen-year-olds in matchmaking and throwing every racial slur in the book at a bunch of underdeveloped teenagers, thereby hastening the cycle of rhetorical violence and cheating that power online gaming.

Like the two teams before this one, our occasional fond memories of Echo Fox are rudely jarred awake by the sound of Rick Fox banging on our door, demanding we get all his old stuff out of our apartment. Definitely another one for the memory eraser, lads.

2. GORILLAZ, TITANS… NO MONEY?

This is a tough one for your author as he was on a CS sabbatical during the GORILLAZ years, wildly swinging his machete of fortune in the adult world in an attempt to strike something solid. But it also lends a kind of hindsight wisdom to thinking about this entire project from start to finish: What on Earth was this? What were they thinking?

That’s one small undetected flick from the Steam workshop, one giant mixteam to muddy the waters and get out of dodge

Announced in April 2021, and helmed by Swedish Major winner Robin “⁠flusha⁠” Rönnquist and MOUZ heavy-hitter Miikka “⁠suNny⁠” Kemppi, the GORILLAZ were to be a new international superpower. Rounding out its ranks were Lithuanian shooter Rokas “⁠EspiranTo⁠” Milasauskas, Turk Buğra “⁠Calyx⁠” Arkın as a stand-in, and former ENCE Finn Jere “⁠sergej⁠” Salo, with American Timothy “⁠autimatic⁠” Ta almost joining the squad but moving on to VALORANT instead.


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One for the future: sergej

The team instantly got to doing the one thing they were good at: switching players, removing stand-in Calyx nary two weeks later. Many, many roster changes followed. Take a look for yourself as it would be too long to cover here (click the All time button at the bottom). Through it all, this European pug mix racked up a paltry 46-57 record in 2021 and made a pipsqueak’s dent in the CS:GO world.

In 2022, the remaining core of suNny and Anton “⁠supra⁠” Tšernobai resurfaced as Tokyo Revengers, and the European nightmare continued. The team gained a sponsor in Swiss organization TITANS, and now featured the venerable likes of Tomáš “⁠oskar⁠” Šťastný, Mathias “⁠MSL⁠” Lauridsen, and Sergey “⁠lmbt⁠” Bezhanov as coach.

POV: you just entered a tavern in Kingdom Come: Deliverance

This iteration also barely made a dent in CS:GO, playing and failing in numerous qualifiers. And eventually, the nightmarish European house of cards came tumbling down, leading to perhaps the best quote summarizing the entire situation from Czech star oskar: “What a wasted year for me once again.” Allegations of players going unpaid swirled, the tea spilled was glorious, and European mix team dreams imploded.

What a wasted year for me once again

We are inclined to agree. While the likes of OG, GamerLegion, and MOUZ have shown that scrappy pan-European mixes can form and still do damage, the fault of the GORILLAZ core was that it was too lazy, too late is the hour, and too temperamental. If the OpTic lineup mentioned in #4 was a bad one-night stand, then the GORILLAZ project was a nightmare two-year relationship where you come to hate your significant other and all of their minor quirks and failings as a person. The bile that comes from that feeling of years being wasted on something burns far deeper and darker in the night than a raunchy bar-romp ever did.

The defenestration of Prague in the esports era

The ultimate contribution of GORILLAZ and TITANS was that they were the best recycling plants built on the continent of Europe in decades, and helped put loads of toxic waste to rest in an environmentally and ecologically dignified manner.

1. The coLOLsus

Despite what the internet may be showing you day in and day out, normies are still out there.

They live among us. They obey the laws. They go to work daily. They pay their taxes. They are mostly unaware of the negative world of social media. They raise well-mannered children, attend weekly religious services, and go from cradle to grave having never annoyed millions.

The Cloud9 ‘Colossus’ project, under the helm of Henry “⁠HenryG⁠” Greer, was the antithesis of everything just written above. The team, its genesis, and its marketing, were like if you took the Kardashians, Ice cream so good girl, Meghan Markle, and five minutes in the Instagram algorithm and put all of that in a blender. And then tried to use the paste from that blender to put together the limestone blocks holding the Pyramid of Giza in place.

Breaking: Shadow of the Colossus Any% speedrun all colossi toppled in world record pace

All of this started during the coronavirus years when HenryG abruptly retired from casting and announced that his next move would be “a colossal one for the CS:GO community.” Our hearts fluttered at the British heartthrob’s soothing promises, our hands trembled in agitated expectation, and we eagerly awaited the next bits of information.

A few days later, HenryG was revealed as Cloud9’s new General Manager, and he set out to build a new European superteam alongside Serbian coach Aleksandar “⁠kassad⁠” Trifunović. What followed was a rarely-seen approach of announcing new players one by one, adding to the hype and fervor.

“C9 have entrusted me with their entire CS:GO dynasty and, honestly, I think that’s one of the boldest moves any org has made in a long time… I’m aware there is a certain level of expectation going forward now. Failure simply isn’t an option.”

By the time a month of breathless speculation and attention-seizing headlines were done, the new ‘Colossus’ roster looked as follows: Brits Alex “⁠ALEX⁠” McMeekin and William “⁠mezii⁠” Merriman, Turk Özgür “⁠woxic⁠” Eker, American Ricky “⁠floppy⁠” Kemery, and Dane Patrick “⁠es3tag⁠” Hansen.

While the team did go on to place in the top four at BLAST Premier Fall Showdown and made it to the playoffs at DreamHack Masters Winter that year, fissures soon emerged in late 2020 with coach kassad leaving due to a ‘stylistic clash” with ALEX. HenryG’s overly visible role as a GM promising great results and explaining away setbacks, coupled with the ongoing coronavirus lockdowns and the coaching bug scandal, deepened the hole for this team. Entering tier one looked about as likely as entering a bathtub with Casper “⁠cadiaN⁠” Møller.

kassad may have left Cloud9 due to a stylistic clash, but it was surely not for lack of drip

By early 2021, the team had tried another roster swap by bringing up-and-comer Erick “⁠Xeppaa⁠” Bach on board in lieu of woxic, but the stress of the team’s long-term stay in Europe due to the pandemic ultimately doomed the project and it was closed down from the highest levels up. All things told, Cloud9 finished with a measly 32-39 record.

If there is any silver lining to be found in this strange tale in CS:GO history, it’s that all of the Cloud9 members of this team went on to continue performing at a high level, whether in CS:GO or Valorant (or even in both in floppy’s case), with only ALEX being inactive at the time of this article.

By George, we did it, William! We sank the Kaiser’s fleet yet again! Sir… We have torpedoed our own boat, we’re going down

As you can imagine, dear reader, the announcement of the Colossus’ dissolution was like the detonation of a nuclear bomb. Forum comments everywhere CS:GO is discussed were an absolute radioactive inferno of vicious memeing, told-you-so’s, and raucous laughter. Why was the reaction so particularly violent?

A lot was at play here: the coronavirus and inability to bootcamp together in North America, time zone differences, and lack of clear roles and fragging power. But ultimately the takeaway may be this: radical truth is good, until it isn’t.

I’m gonna colossoooooom

Like in a relationship, perhaps some unpleasant details are best left under the rug: about exes, about DUIs, and bank passwords, to name but a few. Oversharing is overburdening. HenryG’s approach to management, revealing player salaries and overexplaining every discrepancy, while admirable, also made the team an enormous target for slander and mockery. The pressure to perform with so much money and transparency on the line hastened the mental demise of this roster and turned it into one of the Brightest Memes in the Meme Sky in the CS:GO community.

We want this one removed from our memory because it hurts in a way that is dangerous, in a way that promises to spill into maniacal laughter and reveal something ugly about our inner nature. Am I laughing or was that you? What is that endless laughter that I hear inside my mind? No, best leave fallen colossi to lie where they toppled and stir them nevermore.

What Have We Learned?

In truth — nothing new under the sun. Like relationships that go awry, CS:GO rosters are sometimes subject to unpredictable changes from external forces, internal divisions that rupture, and false promises that go nowhere after many years, leaving bitter tastes in one’s mouth. The waves of time, as endless bolts of photons propagate from the cores of stars into an empty universe, batter us as we struggle to make order out of chaos and cling to anything our primate brains identify as safe harbor.

Maybe life is just about getting that Mercedes bag at all costs

Sometimes we find that thing, an Astralis to cling on to out there in the void, and we ride its stellar waves through the highest of highs and attest a greater purpose to the incessant pull of competition and striving that is human civilization.

Oftentimes we are simply content to waddle among mediocrity, finding a few mates to mix with, or a partner to settle with, and do what we can in a world where most see little and little gather most.

Bros before garden hoes… and overly ambitious CS rosters. Sometimes a man just wants to play with the homies

And occasionally, we stumble upon something that we feel will free us from our fading dreams, but which chokes our very life desire to compete out from under us, leaving retired players and broken memories in our wake. We raise a glass to those relationships now, and to those CS:GO teams that seared us like never before — may they be slowly removed from our memories until nothing remains but a few whispered hints to meet our erstwhile lovers in Montauk.



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