Opening the Renegades’ storybook
The Renegades have grown a significant amount over the last three years as an esports organization and as a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team. To understand the evolution and development of the Renegades as a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team, we must dive back in time to pre-Renegades, or in other words, Vox Eminor.
A brief look into Vox Eminor
Vox Eminor has housed some of Australia’s most recognizable names, in terms of CSS and CS:GO players. Founded in 2010, the organization ventured into Counter-Strike in 2012, picking up a Counter-Strike: Source roster which consisted of SPUNJ, AZR, Havoc, topguN, and SnypeR.
This was the organization’s first Counter-Strike roster, and it would remain the same until after the EMS One: Katowice 2014 tournament. After the tournament in Katowice, jks would replace SnypeR.
The team of SPUNJ, AZR, Havoc, topguN, and jks would go on to compete at ESL One: Cologne 2014 and at ESL One: Katowice 2015.
Shortly after Katowice 2015, topguN announced his departure due to personal reasons, and the team had picked up Yam as a replacement.
Not long after the acquisition of Yam, Vox Eminor announced the departure of their Counter-Strike team, and, not long after the announcement, the team was signed by the Renegades. Prior to their acquisition, the Australians had impressed at the Gfinity 2015 Spring Masters 2, where they took a map off of Fnatic, beat Liquid in a best of two and had also taken a map off of the Ninjas in Pyjamas to finish in the top six.
This was a moment of significance for Australian Counter-Strike fans and players alike. For the first time, Counter-Strike was no longer something on the side these Australian players did. With their salaries and their move to North America, it became a full-time job.
The Vox Eminor squad were slowly, but surely, paving the way for the future of Australian Counter-Strike, as well as making their own marks on the global scene.
The Renegades arrive on the international stage
Havoc, SPUNJ, jks, AZR, and yam were the Renegades’ initial roster for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The team competed at a handful of tournaments throughout the remainder of 2015, such as ESWC 2015, ESL One: Cologne 2015, Dreamhack Open London 2015, Crown Counter-Strike Invitational and the RGN Pro Series.
The Renegades’ results in the second half of 2015 were as follows:
- Top 8 at ESWC 2015
- Group Stages at ESL One: Cologne 2015
- Top 8 at Dreamhack Open London 2015
- Group Stages at Dreamhack Open Stockholm 2015
- Top 4 at the Crown Counter-Strike Invitational
- Second place at the RGN Pro Series
The Renegades’ results were a mixed bag, to say the least, but the Australians were able to make a mark on the international scene and did impress on occasion against some top tier teams.
IEM Taipei was the Renegades’ first tournament of 2016, and the Australian team had kicked off the near year in the best way they could by qualifying from their group with a 2-1 record and beating CyberZen in the playoffs to secure a finals fixture versus The Mongolz. The Renegades were blown apart by the Mongolian side, however, they had secured qualification into the MLG Columbus 2016 Main Qualifier.
Shortly after IEM Taipei, Havoc had stepped down from the active roster, and USTILO was brought in from Team Immunity as his replacement.
The next few months would prove to be a struggle for the Renegades. The team had failed to qualify for the MLG Columbus Major, fell short at the North American Dreamhack Masters Malmo qualifier, and had fallen short in a few online tournaments.
Renegades had gone on to impress at the Asian minor after a disappointing few months. The Australian side had placed second to TyLoo to qualify for the ESL One: Cologne 2016 major qualifier.
After a disappointing run at the ESL One Cologne qualifier, the Renegades in-game leader, SPUNJ, had announced his retirement.
The veteran in-game leader’s retirement came after a storied career. SPUNJ had led Vox Eminor through the EMS One: Katowice and ESL One: Cologne majors in 2014, as well as the ESL One: Katowice major in 2015. SPUNJ was an integral part of the Australian side that made their mark on the international scene as both Vox Eminor and Renegades.
The Australian side had lost their team captain and dedicated in-game leader and was in search of a replacement, and eventually found one in the form of Rickeh from Team Immunity.
The addition of Rickeh saw an improvement in the results of the Renegades post-ELEAGUE Season One. The team placed second at the eXTREMESLAND ZOWIE ASIA 2016 tournament, placed second at the Asia Minor, finished in the top six of the iBUYPOWER Masters and concluded their 2016 with an impressive run at Dreamhack Winter, where they finished in second place.
2017, the year of change
The start of 2017 saw the Renegades undergo a few changes.
In January, kassad had replaced peekay as head coach of the team. In February, Rickeh was benched and atter was brought in as a stand-in for Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas and the duration of the ESL Pro League.
The month of March saw Rickeh depart for Counter Logic Gaming, yam leave the lineup and return to Australia and the acquisition of Nifty from Selfless Gaming.
Shortly after the acquisition of Nifty, Renegades finalized their five-man roster by adding nexa to their ranks.
The first tournament for the more internationally diverse Renegades roster was IEM Sydney, a hometown tournament for the Australians on the Renegades. Unfortunately for the Renegades, they were unable to qualify for the playoff stages of the tournament, finishing with a 1-3 group stage record.
The next major tournament for the Renegades was the Asia Minor. As usual, the Renegades were able to make the grand finals and set up the match against TyLoo, however, thanks to monstrous performances from Nifty and jks, the Renegades were able to beat TyLoo 2-1 in the best of three contest to become Asia Minor champions for the first time.
The Renegades went on to finish in the top four of Dreamhack Atlanta after a disappointing run at the Krakow 2017 Major Qualifier.
Renegades went through another roster change, trying out the Swedish talent Jayzwalkingz in place of nexa, who had left the team.
Jayzwalkingz’s tenure at the Renegades was short lived. After a disappointing finish at Dreamhack Masters Malmo, the Renegades were able to acquire Canadian heavy-hitter NAF.
The team headed to the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier with little time to prepare, and suffered an early exit from the tournament. However, the Renegades placed in the top four at Dreamhack Denver, and then went on to win back to back tournaments, winning the Asia Minor for Boston 2018 and, on a much larger scale, the StarLadder i-League Invitational #2, ousting veteran Polish side Virtus.pro in the finals.
The team concluded their year with a second place finish at the iBUYPOWER Masters and a top-eight finish at IEM Oakland.
A different kind of success
After an unsuccessful run at the ELEAGUE Boston Major in 2018, the Renegades were left facing another issue, in the form of replacing NAF, who had joined Team Liquid in the early days of February.
Losing firepower like NAF is generally a big blow to a team, and finding adequate firepower to replace someone that had as much impact as NAF can be quite difficult. As a result, the team turned to jkaem.
Jkaem, at the time, could have been seen as a gamble to some extent, due to his poor run of form with FaZe. However, his form with Dignitas was quite solid, and he had the international tournament experience behind him, which made him an appropriate candidate.
With jkaem, the Renegades placed in the top eight of the StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4 Finals, 9th – 12th at IEM Katowice and Dreamhack Masters Marseille.
Whilst the top four placements or any other form of success in terms of tournament placements have not been achieved in this iteration of the Renegades’ CS:GO roster so far, the team found a different kind of success at IEM Sydney 2018.
After beating local team Legacy Esports in their opening group stage match, the Renegades were set to go toe to toe with European heavyweights FaZe Clan.
The series stretched over three breathtaking maps, with the Renegades securing Train 16-12. FaZe clawed one back, winning Overpass 16-13. The third and final map, Inferno, proved to be a heart-stopping affair, as the contest stretched into an affair that ended 25-22 in the favor of the Renegades, thanks to incredibly solid performances from USTILO and jks.
Unfortunately, in the third round of the upper bracket, Renegades were unable to beat TyLoo to secure an automatic placing in the semifinals of the tournament, which meant that the Renegades had secured a quarterfinals spot instead.
The quarterfinals match versus mousesports was a thrilling contest. The first map, Mirage, was a blowout, with mousesports winning with a comfortable 16-7 their best map. Map two, Inferno, was a contest that left many Australian fans in the crowd, as well as the people sitting at home, with their hearts in their throats. Back to back 11-4 halves from both sides ensured that the contest would head to overtime. After an explosive performance from the in-game leader and AWPer Nifty, in which he dropped over 50 frags, the Renegades were able to close Inferno out 25-22 to take it to map three, which was Train.
Train went into overtime as well. 8-7 halves ensured that the contest ended 15-15, and what looked like a relatively close affair was instantly shut out by mousesports, who ended it swiftly on the overtime T side to end the Renegades’ run in the tournament.
The Renegades had achieved something in this tournament, and it is a different kind of success. The Australian players were able to get in front of their home crowd and experience the electrifying atmosphere for themselves, which is something that they were unable to do last year, and have been lacking on the international stage overall.
For the crowd to see some of the most prominent Australian players compete in front of them, and for the players to experience a big tournament crowd for the first time in quite a while is a success in itself.
The Renegades has evolved quite impressively over the past couple of years. Despite any major successes at the very top international tournaments, the Renegades were able to find success along the way, breaking the second place run at the Asian Minors, and winning some decent international tournaments and placing well in others along the way.
The biggest time of concern was after the SPUNJ departure, due to the in-game leader position being void. However, with the addition of Rickeh, the team had performed quite well for the short duration that he was on the team.
The addition of nexa and Nifty brought the Renegades past the great TyLoo barrier that they faced constantly at the Asian Minor.
The departure of nexa and the addition of NAF saw Nifty take up the in-game leader mantle, and with these two changes, the team was not only able to secure another Asia Minor, but went on to achieve the Renegades’ biggest accolade to date, which was the StarLadder Invitational trophy.
The addition of jkaem to the squad has also looked rather promising, and a different kind of success has been achieved. The Renegades have finally played in front of a big crowd, and it was the home crowd, something that is surely set to motivate the Renegades in their quest to qualify for and play on the big stage in the coming tournaments throughout the year.
The players themselves are immensely talented. Throughout the years we have seen jks and AZR pop off at a number of tournaments against some notable opponents. We were able to see that at IEM Sydney as well. USTILO has been filling his role quite well, and so has jkaem. Nifty has been playing quite well, has had quite a few moments of individual brilliance, or even matches of individual brilliance that has helped inspire the Renegades to be more competitive during certain matches. His ability to in-game lead as well as have an impact with the AWP makes him an invaluable asset to the Renegades side.
You could argue, and rightfully so, that the strongest iteration of the Renegades side was with Nifty in-game leading and with the firepower of NAF, and the results have indicated that. However, looking back on the history of the squad, results and so on, the Renegades have drastically improved.
With this lineup, there’s more work to do, and glory can be achieved.
Closing the Renegades’ book, for now
The Australian pioneers that set out to compete overseas marked the start of a wonderful story of how a roster can shape and develop into something better, and slowly start to see success. The Vox Eminor players changed how Australia was seen in the international scene, as well as paving the way for more Australian players to be exposed to the international scene.
As the Renegades changed, it did so for the better, with permanent changes coming in to bolster the team from what it was from the beginning. Although the Renegades have not been as successful as other teams internationally, success is often seen subjectively, and as the roster grew in terms of talent and potential, there have been moments of success, such as minor wins, LAN wins, overall better tournament placings and the chance to compete in front of a big crowd at home.
The current Renegades roster has its own story to tell, and ultimately, it is on them to tell it to the best of their ability.