Article written by: John "JAYEL"
As I was starting to write this article, I realized that the year was already more than half-way over. Have you accomplished some of the things you wanted to accomplish this year? If not, are you still working towards your goals? If not, it’s not too late to start; Get after the things you wanted to do this year. It’s never too late to start.
With that being said, Season 37 of ESEA Advanced is already over--well, the regular season. Playoffs are all but started now, and we finally have a truly and fully competitive table. No Brazilian team in this season, after the Imperial Sportsbet team departed the NA Advanced scene as quickly as it appeared.
For the first time in several seasons, every team that made the playoffs has a real opportunity to do some special things. There are some heavy-hitter teams at the top of the power rankings and standings, but there are many teams who are on a good run and capable of doing damage to the best.
To the people who filled out a power rankings survey from the other week: Thank you. We were not able to get out the article in time before too many other teams played and it was already irrelevant. However, we are still going to include the rankings based on the survey results of about 20 respondents. We did a special scoring system and are pretty happy with how it came out for the time. Those rankings will be posted at the bottom of this article.
For the end-of-the-season Counter Nature Power Rankings, I (JAYEL) did it based on ESEA schedules only. There were some hard decisions to make, but this the Counter Nature Top-10 going into S37 playoffs.
1. X13 (14-2)
At this point in the season, I think it is hard to argue for anyone that X13 is NOT the best team in Advanced. The squad had the best record in Advanced, and had a beautiful 12-game win-streak throughout the thick of the season. X13 has beaten just about everyone they needed to beat during the season, including powerful wins over Triton, a crazy OT match over Kinship, and a cap to the season over HSK.
On top of ESEA performance, this team has been busy in online tournaments. They finished 3rd in the June 2021 DreamHack Open Closed Qualifier. Their run ended with a 1-2 defeat to Premier team, Third Impact.
X13 is going into playoffs as the most professional and cohesive team in Advanced right now. They are prepared and playing at an extremely high-level. Beware to all teams that need to face this squad on the bracket.
2. Triton (13-3)
Triton holds the second-best record in Advanced this season, and keeps that same position in our Power Rankings. This team has spent the entire second-half of the season playing the best teams in Advanced, and they have proved their worth against them. About 63% of the teams Triton has played this season qualified for playoffs--that's a tough schedule.
This Triton team has also had a pretty successful time with online tournaments, qualifying for June 2021 DreamHack Open Closed Qualifier, although falling 0-4 in series versus GGPR and Triumph. This team deserves the #2 seed in playoffs, and I'm expecting them to pair up against X13 towards the end.
3. Kinship (12-4)
The Kinship Premier-mix has been one of the favorites during this entire season. However, the end of the season has seemed to poke holes at this talented roster. Tight losses to Triton, Team Villainous, X13, and Laboratory Services have proved that this team is not invincible. One of the reasons for this seem to be the lingering internal issues that the team has been having--causing many roster moves and Twitter call-outs. A total of 11 players have competed for Kinship during this season. These playoff series require teams to be on the same page and grind through the trials and tribulations of a long tournament. Internal issues will cripple this team at the wrong time if they don't get on the same page.
4. Valkyrie (12-4)
The darlings of the season, led by their fearless AWPer CoJoMo, have made one of the biggest statements in Advanced history. Move-up from Main and finish with a 12-4 record in the following Advanced season. This historic statement, however, won't mean much if they aren't able to make something of it in playoffs.
The team has not been tested very much in Bo3 series with such meaning as the Advanced playoffs tournament. With Noot and ioRascal coaching and analyzing, the team has the backing it needs to stay composed and put together proper game plans. It all needs to play out in the server, though.
5. Team Verum (12-4)
Another historic statement made in Advanced, was the Verum season. After starting 0-3, drawing two of the best teams in Advanced (X13 and Kinship), the team got themselves in shape and went on an 11-game win-streak. While there aren't many impressive top-10 wins on this team's roster (besides end of season victory versus Valkyrie), this team is ready for playoffs. The core of PNDLM, chew, scottiyio, and millz return after a deep playoffs run last season, that ended with them missing the Premier move-up they worked so hard for--and deserved.
I am expecting this team to get that move-up this season.
6. Laboratory Services (12-4)
One of the more impressive schedules in this season of Advanced, Lab Services receives #6 in our rankings. Worthy wins over Kinship, Upswing, and Pryde plant this team's flag of relevance. They fall to the second-half of the top-10 for the simple reason of uncertainty in playoffs. It's hard to tell how this team will perform in the upcoming Bo3s, which is why a team like Verum was placed above them, despite Lab Services more impressive schedule. We will soon find out how legit this squad is.
7. Pryde (11-5)
The hungry, motivated, and experienced Pryde roster are in the playoffs. JAM, Hydrik, and Drew have been putting in all the necessary work for a deep playoffs run and eventual Premier move-up. However, that work doesn't become a reality until the team makes a deep playoffs run with a Premier move-up. The squad will be looking to Ellison for guidance and experience in this playoffs run, as he did it back in S34 with his ImPerium's team run to Premier.
The end of season losses to Kinship and Upswing should prove to motivate this team to prepare even more for this playoffs opportunity.
8. Cold Ass Riding (11-5)
The homies Jermaine and Landmaz went their separate ways from Counter Nature after last season and went and made playoffs during this one. After adding Pol0 as the IGL, drewzera and sava9e, the team looks respectable and capable. Another team of long-time grinders, this season's opportunity is as good as any other these players have had the chance at.
Their Round 1 match-up versus YeniCherry might be the most interesting series in the beginning of Advanced playoffs. The winner of that series will have some real momentum as a dark-horse in the upper-bracket.
9. YeniCherry (11-5)
While not as praised as fellow Main move-ups, Valkyrie; This team has had a terrific first season of Advanced. Their 0-4 start at least gave them a more relaxed mid-season schedule to rebound themselves with, and they went on a eight game win-streak to put themselves back in contention. This team works hard and has goals of Premier--nothing short of it. Maybe it won't come in their first season of Advanced, but maybe it will. This team will be well-prepared for all series they play in this playoffs. Beware.
10. Upswing (11-5)
This team was one of the favorites going into the season. WCGRider's ESEA forum posts and tweets, discussing how he was forming the next-best-thing in NA CS: A team built from Advanced and to carry onwards to ESL Pro League. Impressive salaries and hype were poured into the Upswing squad. Things were going according to plan until their late-season losing streak. After starting 9-0, the team dropped five in a row to the other prominent teams in Advanced (X13, Valkyrie, Kinship, Lab Services).
The squad finished the season 2-0 with wins over Cold Ass Riding and Pryde, but there are cracks in this team and rumors of lack of care and practice.
With all that being said, I get Thunder Logic vibes from the past few seasons of Advanced. They don't seem like they care much during the regular season, but when playoffs came, the lights turned on and the real talent started to show. I would expect the same from Upswing in this post-season.
Survey Power Rankings from Mid-June
As for the survey that we sent out on June 16th, below are the results. These surveys were submitted between June 16th and 17th. We did not adjust the rankings at all, these ranks are purely based off of survey respondents answers and our scoring scale. As a brief description, the higher the rank a team received, the more points they got. A team who is ranked 1 will get the most points, and a team who is ranked 8-10 will get the least points. We used this logic for all of the surveys and added them up to get the below rankings.
Thank you very much for reading. Please stay tuned for more, as Counter Nature is pivoting a little bit during this summer. More news coming soon.