Much like going pro, having the best aim or strategies isn't all it takes to win a GS:GO Grand Final. If a team cracks under pressure or their communication falls apart, that can be their undoing. At the Join the Republic Grand Finals in Stockholm, Sweden, several finalists weighed in on what they think it takes to win. By the end of the competition, it became clear that several key differentiators set the victorious Team Poland apart from the rest.
A winning mentality
What's it take to be the best? On Team Sweden, Robin “Crasher” Engström talked about a "winning mentality." He emphasized that it’s important for players to remain calm and avoid being hyper-critical. “You can’t be like me,” he said, shaking his head. “I’m too self-criticizing. Even though we won [yesterday’s quarter-final], I stayed up last night to figure out what I did wrong, then practiced in death match for three hours.”
CrasheR talked about the necessity of a "winning mentality" and avoiding hyper-criticism, which he often struggled with
Others emphasized team dynamics. From Lucas “forcetolive” Alexandersson’s perspective, it’s clearly about coordination and avoiding greed — the term for when players push their luck too far, trying to get one-too-many kills after a round has already gone their way. Sometimes it’s just better to hang onto your weapon rather than trying to get a last point on the scoreboard. In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to walk away from a fight. Striking that balance is hard even for seasoned players.
Sezar “foxeyyy” Altonchi emphasized that teamwork and clear communication are critical. Almost all the teams at the Grand Final admitted they needed to work on both to improve their game.
On Team Taiwan, Sheng-Lun “Crazyface” Zhang said that good players aren't enough. You must have consistency, coordination, and cohesiveness. A few players with high individual skill can sometimes brute-force a win, like when deoxIDE clinched a win for Team Australia over Taiwan on Train, but it wasn’t enough to see them through to the very end.
That's what the finalists thought it took to win, but what actually set Team Poland apart in the end?
Each of Poland’s players was consistently excellent — there were no cases where only one or two players were carrying the entire team. Although one player might have a standout round, another would pick up the slack later on. The scoreboard was fairly well-balanced throughout their games, and every Team Poland player had his clutch moments. As Semmler put it during the final battle: “Izak’s team is well thought out [and] balances itself properly.”
IzakOOO focuses during a captain battle
Even though Team Poland was the newest team, having been formed just a month prior to the Grand Finals, they were easily the most committed to practicing in the time leading up to the Stockholm matches. They played as many as 300 games together. That dedication definitely paid off in the end.
Speaking of strategies, Poland had one in particular that stood out: on Cache, Izak would throw a smoke grenade from T-spawn, over Warehouse, and into the A-bomb site where the CTs were lying in wait. Once the smoke grenade was out, the Ts immediately rushed through the warehouse and into the bomb site, where the smoke detonated as soon as they arrived.
This perfectly timed and executed maneuver worked repeatedly for Team Poland. After they caught the CTs off-guard multiple times during their final battle against Sweden, Semmler mused, “This is their favorite strat: rush A all out [...] this is just one of those strats that [Team] IzakOOO [is] going to keep running until Maikelele figures out a way to deal with it.” After all, why change a working strategy?
IzakOOO shares a victory cheer with Luuliguzman
Whether the round or map was going well or poorly, Poland’s players were always talking to each other. Likewise, Captain IzakOOO constantly kept the morale up with his team. Whether they were passing off intel about their opponents or simply conveying their next move, the players rarely fell silent.
Pulling it all together
Interviewing finalists hinted that no single attribute guarantees a win, but watching Team Poland play drove this point home. Like gears in a machine, lacking even just one of the above can cause the whole thing to come to a grinding halt. If the team had great strats, consistency, and commitment, but didn't communicate clearly, chaos would ensue. And great communication, commitment, and coordination don't mean much if just a couple players have to carry the whole team. IzakOOO's team put together all the right pieces to win a Grand Final — and that's exactly what they did.
By Kimberly Koenig