Alex “Machine” Richardson is used to getting his analysts on the desk to give their thoughts on some of the big matches and latest news in Counter-Strike. Today we flip the tables, and Machine gives us his opinions on some of the big topics currently dominating the headlines in CS:GO.

The move that dominated social media last week was veteran player and coach Starix parting ways with his home of seven years, Na’Vi.

“Considering how well regarded Starix is by the CSGO community and Na’Vi themselves it’s quite a statement from them to remove him.” Machine said, “The problem with Na’Vi at the moment is that they’ve been desperately trying to fill their leadership woes after the departure of Zeus, they’ve tried different leadership structures, with Seized and Starix, but even when there were no coaching rules Starix didn’t succeed and neither did Na’Vi.”

Machine talks more about his thoughts on Na’Vi after Starix on The BRIDGE

The removal of Starix certainly came as a surprise to many, with the player-turned-coach having featured for the organization for seven years. What may be more surprising to fans, is the prospect of him returning to the stage as a player, which Starix did not rule out in a social media post.

“No one would complain if we got to see a little retro Starix.” Machine said, with a smile forming, “I wouldn’t be upset to see Starix but I don’t know how far he’d get. I don’t think he’d reach the heights he reached when he was coaching Na’Vi.”

The discussion revolving around Starix and Na’Vi retains a central theme. Coaching and in-game leading. The removal of Zeus and the lack of leadership is a problem, however Machine believes that while leadership is crucial, there is one factor that’s been debated almost endlessly for the past year.

“To be the best your leader does have to frag.”, he said, “We know their fragging can take a hit when you step up to IGL, we’ve seen Flusha have it with Fnatic, N0thing with Cloud9. But the best teams in the world right now have a consistent leadership structure.”

Machine points to North and FaZe as his examples. Karrigan has consistently been a capable fragger, and MSL has very recently stepped up his individual performances. Karrigan and his leadership of FaZe Clan could prove vital as the team looks to make a push into the highest echelons of the scene.

“With Niko involved and Karrigan at the helm, if he does fit in as well as it looks like he has, Faze could easily be top 2/top 3.” Machine told me, “They’ve got the aim, they’ve got the structure we talked about earlier, but it’s a little early to say whether or not they will be the best.”

North on the other hand have still yet to build on their success from Epicenter in 2016, but Machine still believes in the Danes that currently reside in Astralis’s shadow.

“At any point North could post a result against tier one opposition, that’s indisputable” he said, “The removal of Rubino can’t be understated, but bringing Aizy in does make sense in the grand scheme of things. He gets to really show what he’s capable of, and let’s not forget the hype that was around Aizy when he was still coming up.”

One team that hasn’t been flying high in recent weeks is Ninjas in Pyjamas. The Swedish side has once again swapped out their fifth man, in this case, Pyth. Young AWPer Draken stepped in from Epsilon to take his place. When the news broke, Machine said he was “excited to see if he is the necessary component in a resurrection of the Ninjas” and that “NiP needed an awp back in the roster.”

“The flair of maikelele or the aggression of allu wasn’t quite the right fit but Draken has been eyed by many to be 2017s rising star.”

With the roster changes, tournaments, and upsets we’ve already seen, 2017 promises to yield a number of surprises. Danish side Heroic could already be sowing the seeds of an upset tournament victory, and who knows, maybe Draken really is the answer for NiP. Machine, on the other hand, had his sights set on two teams when I asked for his bold prediction for the year.

“I think one of Fnatic and Faze will be a top 3 team by the end of the year.”

The god squad of 2016 and the team currently hosting the best player in the world. I think we could have gone bolder, though I’m sure many will be excited to see one, or both of those sides battling it out in a grand final at some point this year.

Machine is currently enjoying the break in the CS:GO events calendar, but you can catch him on Ginx Esports TV next monday hosting The BRIDGE.

Categories: CS:GO,eSports,latest