Almost a year ago after a disappointing run at StarLadder Berlin 2019, Complexity CEO Jason Lake made it clear that he wasn’t going to stand for any more poor play. Lake called out his players on Twitter in what many felt was a harsh public admonishing.
I love our players as individuals but these results won’t be tolerated.
If you’re a Tier 1 player looking for a fresh start at the best facility in the world, HMU. I’ll pay your buyout and give you the world’s highest salaries.
Let’s build a juggernaut.
Spread the word.
— Jason Lake (@JasonBWLake) August 25, 2019
What fans saw next was nearly a complete reboot. The team released four out of its five players, a risky move considering how many other rosters were also looking for new players after StarLadder Berlin. But Complexity managed to create a team that has grown into its own over the first half of 2020. After releasing Shahzeeb “ShahZam” Khan, Rory “dephh” Jackson, Hunter “SicK” Mims, and Ricardo “Rickeh” Mulholland, the team went international, collecting talent from both North America and Europe.
In their place, Complexity made four signings over five months: Major winner William “RUSH” Wierzba, AWPer Valentin “poizon” Vasilev, Kristian “k0nfig” Wienecke, and in-game leader Benjamin “blameF” Bremmer all joined Owen “oBo” Schlatter, the one player to survive Lake’s purge of Complexity’s CSGO roster. blameF’s signing was the most important, at least from the outside looking in. The former Heroic in-game leader has led Complexity to an increasing number of wins over 2020, culminating in the team’s BLAST Premier spring finals title.
While blameF’s leadership and solid play is the most obvious reason for Complexity’s recent success, this roster is the closest thing to a package deal as it gets. Even the newly configured Ninjas in Pyjamas could theoretically switch out a piece here or there and still succeed. Conversely, Complexity is reliant on its team chemistry, and the team is that much better for it.
In the roster’s early months, fans saw communication mistakes all over Complexity’s gameplan. That’s no longer the case. In early 2020, Complexity showed flashes of individual skill, and those flashes were essential to their more limited successes. But now, Complexity has clearly learned how to work as a team.
This first clip comes from Complexity’s matchup against Vitality in February, in which Richard “shox” Pappillion manages a one versus four against the Complexity lineup.
In that match, Complexity found themselves down early and had little way back into the map without some expertly coordinated tactics. While Vitality was on a roll at the time, Complexity had the talent to counter them if it could be properly wielded. Instead, fans saw players try to force individual plays round after round.
Contrast that with how Complexity’s defensive holds look now.
Despite blameF getting both kills, both he and k0nfig double peeked two full-health players after isolating each individually. That’s a simple example, but it shows a real change in the team’s chemistry for the better.
It also helps that a veteran player for Complexity has evolved his game.
RUSH has settled into his role in the team and has become a very dependable site anchor for Complexity. Early matches saw the Cloud9 veteran often overwhelmed by fast T rushes, and his opening duel percentage was below 50% for the majority of the roster’s early games. But now it’s routine to see the former Major winner take one, if not two, attacking players down with him while also buying time for his teammates to respond. The rotational freedom allowed by RUSH’s evolution in his play has been key to Complexity’s growth.
Both poizon and oBo have progressed as well. The team’s two youngest players are clearly learning much from their more established teammates. poizon’s AWPing has remained at a high level, while oBo is showing flashes that remind fans of Team Liquid star Keith “NAF” Markovic.
While Complexity’s recent success stems from team’s chemistry change, the success this summer all begins with Lake. His refusal to accept mediocre results from his players bucks the trend sometimes seen in long-standing North American teams, and his patient roster building has created a fantastic team that may be only a short while away from making consistent grand finals appearances.