Nigma Galaxy’s Female CS:GO roster is on a remarkable winning streak, dominating the European scene – and are now set to take on the international competition at the ESL Impact Season 1 finals in Dallas. We caught up with the players to talk about their streak, and the state of female Counter-Strike.
Throughout Counter-Strike’s extensive history, there have been famous teams in the men’s game with remarkable winning streaks; NIP’s 87 map wins in a row is the most famous of all.
Nigma isn’t quite at that level yet, but since Katarína ‘Kat’ Vašková joined the roster in March, the team has lost only one series and is currently on a 20-map win streak. The majority-Russian lineup also features Romanian and Slovakian talent, coached by Portuguese coach Ricardo ‘JTR’ Júnior.
Their next big test will come when they move offline and back into a LAN environment in Dallas, for ESL Season 1 Impact finals, to face international competition for a $123,000 prize pool.
Nigma Galaxy’s unstoppable streak
Before qualifying for the Dallas event, Nigma worked their way through the online stages, taking down opposition with incredible consistency. Romanian AWPer Ana ‘ANa’ Dumbravă explained that the team’s goals include winning every female ESL event, and that those targets motivated their daily practice for perfection.
“I believe that the consistency comes from hard work and dedication,” ANa said. “We are playing and practicing every day, trying to perfect ourselves and to show perfect CS.”
“All six members of our team have the same goal to be the best female team ever,” added Alexandra ‘twenty3’ Timonina, another team member. “And it keeps us motivated each day to be the best version of ourselves.”
The team is definitely on the same page in this regard, set in their ambition to become the greatest female team of all time. “We are working a lot on our mistakes,” veteran team member Ksenia ‘vilga’ Kluenkova explained. “We always rewatch and discuss our games, fixing anything we did wrong and bringing new ideas.
“Everyone in the team is dedicated to the goal of becoming the best female team the world has ever seen.”
Heading to Dallas: ESL Impact Season 1 finals
While the team has dominated in online matches this year, their next challenge will be facing off against teams from around the world when the best female rosters travel to Dallas for the ESL Impact Season 1 finals.
With their current form, Nigma fully expects rivals to be analyzing their gameplay in an attempt to end their streak. But, as vilga explained, they are just focused on playing their game, and not too worried about ‘anti-stratting’.
“We understand it and prepared for it [teams studying us], but our game is very fluid, we can easily adapt or surprise with something new. Our coach is a demo geek, he loves watching games of pro teams and he constantly brings some new things to our gameplay.”
And they’re not resting on their past success to carry them through, said Kat: “Good players need to keep up with developing themselves and keep on learning so they are harder for the opponents to predict them. There is never going to be a place in CS where you don’t need to learn more.”
The team is clearly brimming with confidence ahead of their Dallas trip, and Victoria ‘tory’ Kazieva said it comes down to their practice. “The confidence comes from preparation, so I’m pretty confident in my team. We’re going to have a week-long bootcamp before Dallas to prepare as much as we can, to prove that we can be the best team in the world.”
The state of female Counter-Strike
The female scene came into the spotlight in December when ESL announced the Women’s Circuit for 2022, under their ‘#GGFORALL’ program, which includes a total prize pool of $500,000. The Dallas event in June is the first LAN tournament of the year for the circuit.
While there’s been plenty of talk about this new circuit, one voice that has perhaps gone somewhat unheard is that of female players themselves.
“First of all, I want to say that we are so grateful that ESL created this circuit for female CS:GO players,” ANa explained. She added that the female scene “suffered” as a result of the global health crisis.
“Lack of tournaments, players leaving the scene for better opportunities and so on. We missed the LAN environment, the people who are cheering for us, the strong feeling that surrounds the stage.”
vilga also highlighted the lure presented by Valorant. Riot’s work on the Valorant Game Changers circuits has clearly caught the attention of top CS players.
“2021 was a very rough year for the female CS scene. Most teams switched to Valorant due to the flourishing competitive sphere. Thanks to ESL, we are reviving the CS scene again and seeing more and more players coming back and making new teams. Hopefully, more tournament organizers will start focusing on women’s CS so it can bring more viewers.”
“The female scene has definitely improved since ESL announced a set of tournaments for 2022,” tory agreed. “We have a lot of competition and I think, depending on the number of female teams, organizations will be interested to sign more and more female teams, and I want to believe that in 2023 female teams will be able to compete with the guys.”
For now, Nigma can just focus on the fierce competition they will face from the North American, Brazilian, and rival European teams in Dallas.
ESL Season 1 Impact finals begin on June 3, with a $123,000 prize pool. You can watch the action on ESL’s Twitch channel.