Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust: The End of the Splyce Experiment

Mongolia, The Netherlands, Denmark, Canada and the US aren’t all exactly known for their synced cultures and shared political ideas. Each possess a Counter-Strike scene of varying size and in June of 2016, they came together to form a team that could only be described as a multi-national experiment – in essence, that’s what all these mix-teams amount to – experiments. Some succeed with trial and error like FaZe Clan, others fall at the first hurdle, like this Splyce line-up.

At first glance and with the confirmation bias that hindsight brings, it is easy to look at the strange amalgamation of flags and see that it was a failed venture from the start: but that’s an analytical cop out.

The Splyce organisation clearly saw something within each of these players individually, to the point where they were willing to go through the process of obtaining Visas and flying everyone out – spending tens of thousands of dollars in the process. So what was this latent potential that the organisation saw in these players, and why did this potential never manifest?

splyce
Source: Splyce.gg

Individually, all of the players are talented and can match-up shot-for-shot with anyone outside of the top four teams in ESL Pro League, looking at all the Splyce players high rankings in NA Rank S will show you just that. The issue doesn’t lie within their ability to headshot people, rather it’s how they respond and communicate when people headshot them.

Through initial analysis, I thought that Splyce’s teamwork was non-existent, but that’s not true. To some degree, all of the players understand the basic mechanics of teamwork, like trading frags, but not how to implement these mechanics into their team structure. This effect is further amplified when every single player in the team, especially Arya and AciioN, are constantly looking to make individual hero plays without support.

Source: HLTV
Source: HLTV

Role wise, the team is also confused. Arya “arya” Hekmat and Joey “CRUC1AL” Stuessel had both been used to being primary AWPers on their historical teams, with Enkhtaivan “Machinegun” Lkhagva and David “DAVEY” Stafford also being comfortable with the big green as well. CRUCIAL ended up being the primary AWPer, but relied on his movement and flick heavy style to win duels – something that doesn’t work well against superior AWPers on T-side. When this relatively lacklustre style met the lack of integrated teamwork, CRUCIAL would often be left with enemies directly in his face and die immediately.

Their map pool was just as confused as the rest of the team as well. Train and Mirage seemed to be the main picks they leant towards, with Overpass regularly popping up as well. Whilst their initial set-ups were actually rational and solid, the problems arose when they needed to make mid-round adjustments or adapt to patterns by the opposition. On maps where quick rotations are key – like Train and Overpass – these lack of adjustments and confident mid-round calls would often lead to their demise and helps explain the 0/5 and 2/5 win/loss ratios on the maps.

Source: HLTV
Source: HLTV

The final key to unlocking the failure that was Splyce is the performance of machinegun. The superstar of Mongolian CS was simply not up to par in an NA environment away from his domestic teammates. Filling a quasi-entry role on T-side and an aggressive information gather on CT, machinegun could get outclassed by superior teamwork and effect trading by even the most mediocre NA teams. Furthermore, Splyce’s model did in no way cater to machinegun as the primary star of the team, something that he was used to as a part of the Mongolz.

The Splyce experiment was an abject failure. There is no other way to cut it. They took the thought kernel of having a mixed national team with all the strengths of the respective regions present and ended up creating a strange clashing of different styles of playing, individually driven players and middling to poor communication during plays.

The only silver lining is that this experiment shows what can happen on the other end of the mix-team spectrum when moving away from success stories like FaZe, and gives hints as to the potential failures for upcoming mix sides like Maiklele’s new team.