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Understanding Dominance: A Case Study on the Kings of Coastline

In this first part of a series, we look at G2 Esports and Xavier Esports' 2018 dominance on Coastline.

Out of DreamHack Winter, we saw the rise to stardom of the fan favorites of Minigolfgutta, and the sheer dominance that the newly reformed Spacestation Gaming unleashed on their opponents in the group stages, up until their loss in the semi-finals against PENTA. However, the most shocking moment came from a low-quality periscope stream some time after the last Twitch-streamed match -- an offstream rematch of the Pro League Season 7 Finals.

G2 Esports and the newly-rebuilt Team Liquid battled it out for a spot in the semi-finals in front of a digital audience waiting with bated breath, staring at the pixels on ziG’s screen. While the match ended 2-1 in favor of G2, that one victory Team Liquid was able to get should be considered the grandest victory of their time since winning Season 7:

They were the only team this year to take Coastline away from G2.

Since the start of 2018, G2 has competed in Pro League Seasons 7 and 8, the OGA Pit series for EU, DreamHack Valencia and Winter, and both the Six Invitational and Six Major Paris. They had competed on Coastline 14 times since picking up Juhani “Kantoraketti” Toivonen, and they had not dropped the map once. It would be their noteworthy adversaries from across the pond, Team Liquid, to be the first to take Coastline away from them.

We would see the same story coming over from APAC, with Xavier Esports’ devastating victories leading up to their only loss on Coastline against Fnatic. They would get away with a majority of 6-1, 6-2 victories while only letting the game slip into overtime twice, one of which gave Fnatic the map at the Season 8 APAC Finals. These are the only two instances of utter domination that we’ve seen on Coastline throughout the year of 2018, and I decided to look into more of why these teams play as exceptionally as they do on our favorite Spanish locale, and what makes Coastline such a unique map in general.

To begin, I’ll look at three different matchups of the current G2 lineup (Pengu, Fabian, Joonas, Kantoraketti, Goga) versus other teams that seem to have had close scorelines. Those came against Ninjas in Pyjamas at the Paris Major Group B Winners match and versus OrgLess (currently Mock-it) during week two of Pro League Season 8.

Six Major Paris Group B Winners Match: G2 Esports 6 - 4 Ninjas in Pyjamas

NiP: wag, pzd, Kamikaze, Psycho, JULIO

The first matchup versus Ninjas in Pyjamas saw the LATAM bruisers nearly force the game into match point just before G2 found their pacing for a three-round comeback to secure their second map and head to the quarterfinals of the Paris Major. G2 claimed a victory on round one and rounds two to four would see an imbalanced ratio of on/offsite players varying throughout in G2’s defense. This would result in all three of these rounds going to NiP for an early lead. G2 come back in the final round before the role swap, though, punishing a Kitchen rush from NiP with a quick response.

On the attack, G2 took the first round of the second half with a faked site push from Joonas, forcing NiP’s rotating players to fall for his bait as Goga planted in Penthouse behind smoke coverage and cover fire provided by Fabian on Glaz. NiP took back Penthouse in round seven, but G2 won rounds eight and nine, when NiP was punished with two back-to-back rushes on service entrance and kitchen. The final round would see G2 take Penthouse again, where another smoke plant was marginally delayed for Fabian to bait out any picks from theater while inside of bathroom.

In the ban phase, NiP did a number on G2 by banning Smoke, an exceptional choice to force Fabian off Lesion and onto Jaeger. After eliminating Smoke, NiP effectively remove not only one of the few plant-denial operators but also one of Pengu’s famed comfort picks. However, NiP’s choice of Blackbeard couldn’t be any more useless. G2’s defense suffered from a lack of priority on first response, usually answering very late or very early to NiP’s attacks. In more than one round, NiP would be able to push close to site while roamers in the form of Kanto and Joonas, and occasionally Fabian, failed to flank effectively. G2 utilised an attack lineup sans a hard breacher (i.e. Thermite or Hibana), bringing a consistent Glaz, Zofia, IQ, and Dokkaebi.

They managed to get their first round on attack by jOONAS’ faked site push to force NiP into VIP, where jOONAS could easily pick responders by his position on the pool balcony. NiP’s defense on Kitchen/Service Entrance was severely hurt by their lack of utility onsite and allowing G2 to rush plant uncontested twice. Blackbeard’s ban clearly didn’t work against G2; I would’ve utilized a ban on Dokkaebi instead, as NiP had the room and ability to work without Dokkaebi. This ban also would’ve eliminated one set of smokes and a global ability.


Pro League Season 8 EU Week 2: PENTA Sports 6 - 4 OrgLess

OrgLess: KS, PARAAA, Hungry, ripz, AceeZ

Prior to the Paris Major, G2 under their prior banner of PENTA Sports would take on German team OrgLess in week two of Season 8 of the Pro League. The match ended 6-4, with PENTA in a 5-1 lead before OrgLess would attempt a comeback. The Germans would show an absolute lack of presence on sites, as PENTA also abused the availability of Lion to it’s maximum -- punishing rotations and painstakingly forcing roamers like AceeZ or KS to halt while PENTA get a site execute done.

Up 4-1 at the role swap, PENTA executed their first defense well with a push that went way too quickly, leaving KS to fail in a cleanup against Pengu. OrgLess though were miraculously able to get away with three victories in their attack, winning necessary gunfights and thinking through their actions. However, round ten would be another telling tale of OrgLess’ misprioritization of utility, forcing four people to attempt to shut down Pengu in the Sunrise Bar during a kitchen hold allowing others were able to punish OrgLess.

Down the line, the inclusion of Lion made the match tenfold more possible to win against a team like PENTA, but it seems like PENTA would once again play the bigger game, leaving their opponent to misuse their lineup or composition. Two target bans were obvious in this game, one being on Lucas “Hungry” Reich’s favoured operator Ying, and the other being on Pengu’s Zofia. G2 faired quite decently without Zofia, forcing Pengu on Buck for the entirety of attack. The trouble here would come from Lion being left unbanned, with who both Fabian and Hungry ran rampant.

PENTA’s attack lineup of IQ, Glaz, Buck, Lion, Hibana didn’t change once, and OrgLess’ lack of site presence would hurt them during this stage. OrgLess’ success on attack came from a well paced execution, and the inclusion of Lion. I wouldn’t have risked leaving Lion unbanned, seeing just how someone like Nesk could make use of Lion during the Season 7 Finals, and I would much rather take my chance with leaving Hungry on Ying.  

S8 APAC Finals Quarterfinals: Xavier Esports 6 - 2 mantisFPS

Xavier: Hajime, HealthcareOG, ProducerBoom, redsun00, Lycolis

mantisFPS: Neilyo, h3dy, SweetBlack, OniiChan, EnvyTaylor

Xavier’s dominance would be absurdly visible throughout this series, starting off with a three-round lead before the far more experienced mantisFPS -- Season 6 Finals and Paris Major participants -- could recuperate. One of the notable recoveries was on round four despite ProducerBoom managing to sneak off two interrogations as Caveira.

Even in the first three rounds, Xavier wouldn’t let mantisFPS close enough to even plant before pinning down their team and wiping them out. Xavier used a unique multifaceted push from all sides of the objective during the attack, thus able to catch any rotations and overwhelm the defense of mantisFPS. In the final moments, Hajime would save Xavier in a 1v2 post-plant to secure a very dominant victory over mantisFPS.

Looking at the bans, mantisFPS went for very standard, run-of-the-mill bans on Lion and Mira. Xavier seemed like they did some capacity of homework, taking Montagne and Pulse off the board. Considering Xavier’s heavy usage of Clash during their Penthouse and Blue Bar/Sunrise Bar holds, Montagne could’ve been the only direct counter to give Mantis some means of pushing up. This lack of an ability to push was what hurt mantisFPS, most of the time being eliminated before they could even get on site. The Koreans capitalized well off of the first interrogation, though, by using the defense’s greediness to get picks. On defense, overall, Xavier’s smart use of rotations and anchor prioritization forced attackers to get holed up in areas adjacent to the site.

During mantisFPS’ time on defense, their composition would be composed of majorly roamers -- some of their picks being Alibi/Ela/Vigil and a lack of anchors to play on-site. This would benefit the Thais’ multi-point entry style tenfold, as they were able to outplay their opponents in the post plant situation in three consecutive holds on Blue Bar/Sunrise Bar. MantisFPS would have benefitted from utilizing more of a roam clear, seeing as Xavier were always able to pin them up and back them into a corner. Likewise, on defense mantisFPS could integrate more anchors to provide the team more intelligence-favored operators and a suitable force multiplier against attackers.

Looking back, Coastline can be considered a very attacker-sided map, with the ability to push and punish defenders for their rotations or retakes being very simple. However, Coastline also shares a trait with being a very roamer-friendly map to defenders. Many sites seem to benefit from mainly-offsite holds rather than turtling down the defense and holding site. Picks like Mira, who is seen as an all-too-common ban on Coastline, benefit this playstyle of offsite holding with her black mirrors.

Perhaps the intimacy that forces players together on this map makes defense such a force to be reckoned with. As seen through Xavier, defense when coordinated is more than able to lock down areas of the map and make the sites at least winnable for the defenders. I’m excited to see what Coastline brings in 2019, and hopefully able to see Liquid take on G2 on Coastline, streamed so that I can break down how Liquid is/was able to go on a massive tear.

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