DreamHack Austin Playoffs Preview
This has been a super chaotic event, from the whole entire venue losing power and internet to players arriving just hours before their matches due to flight cancellations. So far its been a bumpy ride for everyone. Even the games where chaotic, we saw Rogue go 2-0 during their group stage as well as OpTic make a early 5th place exit. So far DreamHack has been full of surprises and I feel that we are going to be in for a very exciting set of playoff games.
From the moment groups where announced, Rogue looked like they would be at a huge disadvantage. Having to face and beat both OpTic and Space Soldiers seemed like an impossible task for the struggling NA squad. However, they quickly proved us wrong with their first game of the tournament, a win over OpTic.
It was very obvious from just the map veto that the Danes where underestimating Rogue. They let both Train and Inferno make it to the very end, allowing Rogue to choose from two of their best maps. OpTics arrogance was exploited as soon as the game started, Rogue quickly gained a massive lead with their fast and aggressive strats. Another thing that I noticed was that as soon as OpTic realized what was going on and began adjusting, them Americans would instantly switch up their own gameplay and catch the Danes off guard. However their second half was a very different story, giving up 10 rounds to OpTics T side which lead to a nail-biting 16-13 finish. The reason for this, at least in my opinion, was because of the poor performance that Rickeh had. Right now he is their secondary awper, a strat that they also executed in their game against Space Soldiers. Because of the big role that Rickeh has, the fact that he was having a terrible game made holding and retaking sites a million times harder for the whole team. So basically their problem was quite simple and an easy fix seeing as Rickeh went on to carry Rogue during their game against Space Soldiers.
All signs of struggle seemed to disappear during their game against the Turks and Rickeh managed to pull off a 1.61 rating after only getting 15 kills in their first game against OpTic. The Americans were yet again underdogs in this matchup, and just like their first game they came out and proved almost everyone wrong with a convincing 16-8 win. A big part of this was the map that got played, Dust 2. Coming into this, the comfort level and amount of practice that either team had on the map was unknown. What we did know was that Rogues double awp set up would have a huge impact. With Rickeh and Sick they were able to get aggressive at the beginning of the rounds and pick up early frags. Rickeh actually got a majority of his kills with rifles, but for Space Soldiers, just the idea of there being two awps kept them on their toes at every corner they turned. Another thing to note is that Rickeh has also begun calling strats mid round for the team. Which is clearly already having an impact seeing as they won just about every 2v2 or 3v3 that came their way.
Overall, Rogue outplayed both OpTic and Space Soldiers but you have to keep in mind these are Bo1’s. Which are statistically known to cause the most upsets, but looking at who they beat makes me quite confident that these wins weren't just because of the format. It is obvious that the players on Rogue have put in a lot of work for this event. The addition of Rickeh has made them a very dynamic and structured team thus far and I am excited to see what else they will be able to bring to the table.
Niko and Friberg had a very hard time getting to Texas after getting stuck at the airport due to flight cancellations. Even with this setback, they still managed to advance to the semis 2-0. Looking more into the games though, these two wins where super sloppy and the team is struggling a lot. Heroic where definitely one of the favorites coming into this, but now I am not so sure if they still deserve that same status.
Their first game was against Luminosity, a struggling Brazilian lineup who went out 0-2. The game was way too close for comfort, a big part of this being that two of their players had arrived at the event just a few hours before the game. Mirage is a map that we have seen Heroic play a lot on LAN, it is also one of the only maps that we have seen them super comfortable on. Which showed against LG, but it is also pretty clear that they don't have a lot of tricks up their sleeves. During the game they ran the same set of strats over and over again, which only worked against LG because of their lack of skill and ability to retake sites. The whole game honestly wasn't that impressive, riddled with mistakes from both sides. In the end, it came down to the fact that Heroic was able to exploit LG’s mistakes more frequently than LG could exploit theirs. Especially with all the aggression that the Brazilians attempted on their T side. They even rushed sites a few times with full utility still sitting in their pockets.
Unlike LG, eUnited was able to exploit all the mistakes Heroic was making and was super aggressive. Leaving Heroic clueless until round 10 when they finally started to get themselves together. Honestly though, if it wasn't for the power/internet going out at the venue I think that eUnited would've won. Up until that happened, the Europeans where overwhelmed by their opponents aggression and looked like they were going to end the half with no more than five rounds. From flashing their own teammates to not checking the simplest of angles, Heroic was a complete mess. They got super lucky that the power went out, having almost an hour to come up with a way to counter eUniteds CT side. During the second half this mess continued, a majority of the rounds coming down to the last second. The only difference being that eUnited had lost the momentum they had before the internet crashed.
All in all Heroic have a lot they need to work on, thankfully most of the issues they are experiencing are normal for a team with new players/stand-ins. Right now their map pool is very small and they don't have a lot of tactics set up, two things that are just going to take time and practice. Considering they are without their official fifth player RUBINO, Heroic has made it very far. Sadly for them, they will be facing their hardest opponent thus far tomorrow, Space Soldiers. Heroic is going to have to do a lot of work and studying overnight to beat them and I am not sure they will be able to do it.
Fragsters started out the event looking quite lost, unable to compete against the aggression eUnited threw their way. Losing 16-9 wasn't what anybody expected, especially since their opponent was much worse than them on paper. They quickly regained their momentum on their second set of games, beating LG 2-1 and advancing to the group A decider match. Playing eUnited for the second time this event, Fragsters finally got revenge with a 2-1 victory. Now that dragonfly, stavn, and the rest of their teammates have gotten into the rhythm of things they are looking very strong.
When watching Fragsters games against eUnited, it was like seeing two different teams. During the Bo1 we saw a team that looked very intimidated by the explosive playstyle of the Americans. Unable to shut down the constant aggression that dapr and his teammates threw at them during the second half. Dragonfly also had a terrible game, missing shots left and right. Not even stavn, the star of Fragsters, could make anything happen. Personally, I feel like Fragsters just didn't do their homework and underestimated how powerful eUnited’s aggression actually was. The second time around was much different and it was clear that the Danish squad had sat down to watch some demos before their matchup.
Their first-day jitters were gone and Fragsters started out the series with a victory, eUnited had a pretty bad T side and the Danes managed to exploit this chink in their armor. On Mirage it was a different story, the young players got way too confident and excited about winning the game. Spending most of the match performing some questionable retake tactics on their CT side and showing unnecessary aggression on their T side. eUnited ran pretty much the same A split again and again and they just couldn't counter it. Thankfully they didn't let their defeat on Mirage get to them, taking the short break they had before the third map to regroup. They regained their composure and plowed through eUnited on Cache, getting revenge from their first game of the event. Everyone on the team was going off, hitting shots, and not letting any of eUniteds aggression slide.
Fragsters also had to play a series against Luminosity, which wasn't nearly as convincing as their win against eUnited. The whole entire Bo3 was super sloppy, but it wasn't because they were playing bad. They let their momentum and confidence get in the way of closing out the maps. On both Mirage and Dust2, we saw them give up two big leads for this exact reason. They were way too happy and didn't take their time, even pulling out three scouts at one point while playing on Dust 2. From dry peeking corners to rushing onto sites when retaking. It was extremely messy and this is a habit that won't fly when they play in the semis tomorrow.
The drama within the org is still very much alive, but the Turks did not let this get in the way of putting out a good performance. Their first two games weren't super impressive. However, they quickly turned that around by eliminating the cocky Danish squad known as OpTic. Right now things are looking surprisingly good for the team, and if they can bring the same firepower they did in the group B decider match we could finally see them make it to the final of a LAN.
Their first game against CoL went extremely well, they took off after the first half and only lost two rounds during that time. Space Soldiers had a very confident T side and it was obvious they had put a lot of effort into creating executes for Dust 2. They also managed to shut down CoL’s economy which made it a lot easier for them to close out the map. Everybody on the team was having a good game and everybody contributed to their victory. One thing that really stuck out to me was Space Soldiers use of smokes and flashes on their T side, they used them in a way that shut the CT’s out of the site on almost every single execute they did. Overall, it was a very good way to start out an event. Unfortunately their second Dust 2 game was a disaster. SS had no knowledge of what Rogue was capable of doing on the map, all that they knew for sure was that they would have to face Rickeh and Sick's double awp set up. In the end, they got outplayed by the American squad and couldn't get anything going. Rogue read every single move they made, causing the Turks to become extremely frustrated.
Moving on to their game against OpTic, things didn't start out very well. The first map ended 16-7 and SS only managed to win one round while on their T side. This was their map pick as well, but OpTic had clearly been practicing it in their free time. Like their Dust 2 game against Rogue, SS didn't have a lot of knowledge about OpTic because of how new the team is. To top it off everybody was out of it for the first game. From missing simple shots to being unable to force their way back into a site on retakes. Everything was going wrong for the Turks and everybody on OpTic was playing really well. The next two maps went much better, it was like OpTic and SS switched places. The Turks where hitting all their shots and had no trouble shutting them down.
Space Soldiers are coming into this semi-final on fire and could very easily roll right over Heroic. This is shaping up to be their first successful LAN run of the year and with how things are going, they could very easily be the ones lifting up the trophy at the end of the day. They are showing a lot of promise right now and if they can keep the momentum going their game against Heroic should be very entertaining to watch.