ESEA Premier S37: What we saw & what we learned

Where is ANZ Counter-Strike headed for the rest of 2021?

With Season 37 of ESEA Premier now wrapped up, the 2021 Counter-Strike season in Australia is already halfway through.

The playoffs of this season took some twists and turns with Order being eliminated by Vertex, Riot besting Chiefs, and Renegades once again kicking things up a gear and not dropping a single map.

So what are the biggest takeaways from S37?

There isn’t a concrete top six

Outside of Renegades being the kings of the castle, the rest of the top spots in ANZ at the moment are too close to call. Understandably, Chiefs and Paradox should sit below Order and Dire Wolves, but as this Premier season played out, it became clear that these matchups can go either way on the day.

Notable examples include Dire Wolves beating Vertex in the Upper-Bracket semi-final 2-0 (16-14 Ancient, 16-12 Dust 2) to then face them again in the Consolidation final, losing 1-2 (16-11 Mirage, 20-22 Nuke, 13-16 Overpass). This was Vertex’s first win against the Dire Wolves after only managing to win two of the last 14 maps played.

Vertex were also able to knock out Order, who are touted as the next best team after Renegades in the region. Chiefs and Paradox were unable to get the ball rolling despite deep runs last season, while both Rooster and Riot remain as teams who can steal away a series against an unprepared opponent.

Outside of roughly grouping teams based on ‘estimated power level’, the top of ANZ is at times too closely contested based on the results from event to event — outside of Renegades, who prove constantly why they’re the number one.

All eyes on Vertex

As hypothesised on Round-Up, the addition of Tom “Apocdud” Henry alongside the return of James “Roflko” Lytras put Vertex in the running as one of the teams who could vie for a top spot in ANZ and win events.

Since the moves back in April, it has taken some time for Vertex to put the results on the board but this season of Premier showed that this line-up can not only qualify for playoffs but make deep runs against the top squads.

Considering the team’s roster instabilities only a couple months ago, Vertex are a roster who have star power on the AWP and rifles, are willing to field a very deep map pool, and have proper protocols across these maps.

Despite falling short to Renegades in the final, Vertex are the ones to look out for in the upcoming season of ANZ Champs, and the rest of 2021, as they cement themselves as a top team in ANZ.

Renegades’ current level: Hard to determine

While Renegades are the number one squad in the region, measuring their level and form is difficult. On one hand, they should dominate within Australia and falling short of that can be seen as ‘weakness’.

Dire Wolves are one of the only domestic teams to beat RNG in recent times.

After adding Alistair “aliStair” Johnston to the line-up and IGL responsibilities landed with Josh “INS” Potter, the team picked up where it left off 2020 as the strongest squad, competing in Europe for Katowice and Pro League before returning home to compete in the Oceania RMR events and ESEA Premier.

Even though they boast an 88.2% win rate for the last three months, Dire Wolves and Order have each managed to take a series off the Renegades. These upsets show that Renegades are beatable, but it’s yet to materialise into them losing an event.

Measuring the Renegades as a team that competes internationally is tricky as the sample size is only eight matches dating back to as late as March. Their domestic success is not an accurate indication of their international ability, but unlike their last trip, this team has had more time as a unit.

Renegades will be competing in IEM Cologne and their first LAN event since before the pandemic took hold. Realistically, this squad has the potential to make it through the play-in stage where eight of 16 will go through, but it’s going to be a tough ask with Team Vitality first off the bat, and then the winner of Spirit vs MIBR awaiting them if they push through.

ESL Pro League S14 Slot

Attached to winning ESEA Premier is a spot in ESL Pro League. For Oceania, this spot is decided in a play-in match between the winners of Season 36 and  Season 37.

For Renegades, this match would mean extending their time in Europe following Cologne and getting further practice and development time as they did earlier in the year, while for Order this will be their first international opportunity since ESEA Global Challenge Season 32 at the end of 2019.


The ESL Pro League qualification match will be a best-of-five and begins at 6:30pm AEST on June 29.

PhotographyRenegades
Ash Whyte
Ash 'Shhlee' Whyte is all about Counter-Strike and its stories. While he did look at playing League of Legends at some point, he soon opted to specailise in CS after being told Shyvana top was apparently not 'viable' and that Bronze was not a 'good' rank.

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