How does the mystery of CS:GO's 16-0's happen: A look at two historic wipe-outs
Photo by: Epicenter

How does the mystery of CS:GO's 16-0's happen: A look at two historic wipe-outs

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As a whole, the professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive scene is fiercely competitive and regularly rewards its viewers with memorable duels between hosts of elite teams. Nail-biting rounds are traded back and forth as viewers gape in awe at two world-class groups of players demonstrating their skill in all its splendor. But every so often, there’s a blip. A match will approach with one fan saying this team will win, another saying they’ll lose, and experts’ opinions up in the air due to the foggy nature of picking a team they think will win, in a bout everyone has labelled as “even”, “fair”, “tough to predict.” And then the scoreline laughs in our face, and displays the infamous CS:GO scoreline: 16-0.

One of the more historic 16-0 results of Global Offensive came in the FACEIT Stage II Finals in 2015, held during DreamHack Open Valencia. (VP)  were much the team they are now, way back in 2015, though perhaps slightly less tumultuous with their results. As such, the showoff between the Poles and Kinguin in Group A was to be a tense match, with Kinguin fielding a roster much superior to their current lineup. Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, Håvard “rain” Nygaard, Dennis “dennis” Edman, Maikel “Maikelele” Bill, and Ricardo “fox” Pacheco were the five to take on VP in a best-of-three that would send one of them packing from the tournament.  And while the first two maps of the series were as we expected by ending with relatively close scorelines, the third was quite a different tale.

Kinguin and VP’s lives in this tournament would be decided on map three, Cache, where the consensus is that it’s not heavily T or CT sided. A newcomer to the game would not have come to this decision, however, as Kinguin stomped over VP, amassing a flawless CT half, and then proceeding to decimate a crushed VP in the T-side pistol round to make history and embarrass the Poles. Apart from enjoying these mystical feats that crop up once every blue moon, is there anything we can do to understand the enigma that is 16-0 results. Surely something visible in the game can explain a series that went 21-17, 16-12, and then 16-0.

A shocking upset closed the series that VP were favored to take

While watching back the demo of Cache, the early rounds don’t tarnish VP’s reputation like the scoreline does. Smart and unorthodox defensive positions from Kinguin, like rain playing close-mid with dennis at white box to peek out when rain draws VP’s fire, resulted in an early lead being built up. By round six, though, things weren’t shaping up as your typical VP game. Nades were often disregarded, with a flash or two being all that VP would rely on to try and break down the enduring defense of Kinguin. Unfortunately for Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas’ men, the round where they had the nades to mount a coordinated assault on the A site, they were without rifles. Frustration, force-buys, and solitary play, as opposed to sticking together and trading, unhinged VP.

Frustration, force-buys, and solitary play, as opposed to sticking together and trading, unhinged VP.

Another issue VP faced was failing to nullify positions that Kinguin would defend the sites from time and time again. ScreaM favored playing behind the back box in checkers on B, yet found plenty of rounds where the easy-to-molotov area was ignored, and he could peek out and wreak havoc with his M4. Maikelele, too, AWP’ed the A site from quad far too frequently for VP to let him get away with it, though a combination of crazy peaks that disjointed VP and the Poles neglecting his position by not smoking or burning him out allowed him to mount a powerful site defense whenever they came knocking.

The final nail in the coffin to maximum tilt for VP came when they created a 5vs2 in their favor, with just ScreaM in their way from a bomb plant on B with sufficient time to get into positions to defend the bomb. They decided not to wait to be able to push him as a group, instead choosing to run up one at a time to meet his headshots he was so eager to give away, until the Belgian ace had taken down to one man, and brought the round back in their favor. Such an oversight from VP can only be accounted for by the helplessness they must have been feeling, as no top side squanders a 5vs2 round when they’re playing as a team.

So is this how 16-0 defeats develop?

So is this how 16-0 defeats develop? The early game swings the victor’s way, with pistol round and the first gun round being closely contested, but with the same team standing victorious at the end of them both. Then, the side looking down the barrel of a 3-0 or 5-0 scoreline start to feel the pressure, make silly decisions, like VP’s obstinate theme of fighting a hot Kinguin side with pistols and SMG’s. And suddenly 5-0 is 10-0, and the team is in disarray as the dreaded score inches ever closer. While, on the flip side, confidence is high and the leading team is feeling more invincible every round, turning what was a balanced matchup into the kind of game that spawns countless memes and hysteria on reddit. It would certainly explain why VP started the game looking decent, but by the end were challenging defenders one-by-one and allowing CT’s to halt their attacks from the same positions. Perhaps another shocking 16-0 result between G2 Esports and SK Gaming will shed some reason on this.

The last round embodies the nature of the match, as G2 lost despite having a 5v2 advantage

G2 and SK Gaming’s meeting in EPICENTER Moscow 2016 also yielded a 16-0 result that is suitable to look at, being as it took place in a large offline tournament. In the first map of the best-of-three that SK would triumph, the Brazilians demonstrated their feared playstyle on Train, the arena they later cemented themselves as the best team to, perhaps ever, grace the map. This makes me a little cautious to draw conclusions from it as SK in their prime on Train where an otherworldly force, able to mount a unyielding defense in the face of opposition that, no matter how hard they tried and what T-side tactics they’d implement, could not outplay Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s alternating methods of locking down the bombsites.

Repeatedly G2 would conjure nothing more inventive than an aimless T-side default

Repeatedly G2 would conjure nothing more inventive than an aimless T-side default that was suffering heavily to the perfectly-played aggression from SK Gaming. The Brazilians were blessed on more rounds than they should have been by free picks at the start due to there being so few of the T’s grouped together, meaning little trade potential when threatened with aggro play. G2’s 12th round answer to their staggering shortfall of rounds was… not what viewers were pleading for in the hopes of turning the stomping by SK into an even game. Still without a round, or even a tactical pause for the team to recuperate, Richard “shox” Papillon elected to push the A site with full armor, nades, and only a glock in the weirdest arsenal one can put together, despite sitting on a bank of $2000, ample funds to arm himself with a UMP-45 or a Galil.

As if that round wasn’t calamitous enough, shox used the money he saved from jumping into last round’s fray with arguably the worst gun in the game to buy an AWP the next round, when his team was sitting on around $3500 each so couldn’t buy fully like he could. And, of course, they lost both of these crazy buys, when they would have fared better buying fully at the same time rather than facing a rock-solid defense with sub-par equipment twice in a row. Of course the game looked lost at this point anyway; G2 were faced more than an 11 round deficit, but this does show the effect that seems present in 16-0 matches: the more rounds a team loses in a row, the more destined they are to continue losing as poor decisions are made in the face of pressure and potential shaming.

Just how similar were the unfathomable losses that G2 and suffered in offline tournaments?

Now, just how similar were the unfathomable losses that G2 and suffered in offline tournaments? Cache is a map that VP should have been able to neutralize Kinguin on, or at the very least put a respectable amount of rounds on the board. The Poles have always had a deep map pool, only feeling fraught towards playing their instant ban, Dust II. Any map that isn’t their instant ban should have been one where VP could challenge a mix team on. In the Polish team’s regard, it truly is a mystery how they lost so epicly to a team that many wrote off before their encounter.

Photo by: Epicenter
Photo by: Epicenter

G2 faced a different situation. Not only were SK Gaming among the top three best teams in the world during EPICENTER, with many pundits scoring them at the top of the list, they were mid-way through establishing a legacy on Train that would take 17 attempts before its list of fallen foes came to a halt. So by facing the world’s strongest Train team, it could be viewed that G2 failing to win a round is not to humiliating after all, as they started on the T side of Train, a side unanimously considered more difficult than the defensive half. Yet, when rewatching the game, G2’s focus and level of gameplay goes through a visible drop as the rounds SK are piling against them rise and rise. And herein is what I’ve noticed in both of these 16-0 results.

As the game kicks off, the side that ends up getting battered and bruised doesn’t look too bad.

As the game kicks off, the side that ends up getting battered and bruised doesn’t look too bad. A lost pistol round leads, as usual, to a 3-0 lead to the opposing side, but then there’s guns in the arms of the players and the match is back on. Only they lose the next gun round, then take the subsequent eco and suddenly the score is 5-0. Still doable to make the half a success, only the next few rounds are claimed by the victors too, as the winners accumulate a hefty amount of rounds, cash, and confidence. Somewhere around this mark is when things seem to go wrong.

Both VP and G2 demonstrated fundamental errors when faced with a scoreline as imposing as 11-0. Poor management of their economies, not playing as a team but taking fights one on one, and allowing the same spots round after round to go unchecked were all mistakes produced by these two usually world-class teams when the round deficit grew tall. I can’t speak for the players, but as a spectator the level of play from VP and G2 grew depressingly weaker as each lost round weighed on their mind. And, if they can’t win the early rounds when they’re playing their best, they didn’t have a hope in hell of winning rounds when they’re making silly errors.

Both VP and G2 demonstrated fundamental errors when faced with a scoreline as imposing as 11-0

So there’s my theory on how 16-0 matches come to pass. The early rounds go one team’s way, leaving them sitting pretty on an economical and round surplus. A few more key gun rounds are claimed by the victors, putting the score at a horrible imbalance, which seems to cause a tilt, nerves, or some sort of distraction to the losing team, whose coordination disintegrates and they’re easy pickings for their opponents. Suddenly, the game is 16-0 and we all head to reddit to see who will upload the meme video the fastest featuring the infamous soundtrack of the 16-0 and it’s telltale title starting with “When I’m”.

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