Three Story Lines to Follow at DreamHack Open Atlanta
Yet another one of DreamHack's open circuit tournaments will be taking place in Atlanta, eight teams will be competing for their share of $100k this week. The lesser stacked group, Group A, consists of compLexity, Envy, eUnited, and Luminosity. Meanwhile in Group B, DreamHack seems to have stacked the best teams of the tournament against each other. On top of seeing Vitality's new French roster play their first LAN event, we will be seeing Ghost, Fragsters, and Rogue competing for a spot in the playoffs. An action packed week is certainly on its way and I will be discussing three of the more integrating teams attending DreamHack Atlanta.
This is yet another roster in the scene full of up and coming Danish talent. However in recent weeks the five players have decided to part ways with their organization and are looking for a place to better accommodate their needs. An organization that will be able to pay them as full-time players instead of part-time. With a secured spot in the IEM Katowice Closed Qualifier and decent 5th-8th place finish at StarSeries, the Danes will be looking to add yet another top finish under their names. They started out StarSeries with a bang, beating heavy favorites BIG in OT 16-19. They also managed to beat both Gambit and North before falling to eventual second place finishers Vega Squadron. All of their wins were fairly close, but impressive nonetheless. In 2018 Fragsters have managed to finish 3-4th at both DreamHack Open events they have attended and I wouldn't be surprised if we finally saw them reach a grand final in Atlanta. This is arguably the least stacked DreamHack open event of the year, the only two teams I see Fragsters potentially struggling against being Ghost and Rogue.
On top of being one of the favorites to take home the gold, Fragsters certainly have one of the most put together and skilled rosters of the bunch. In the past three months Ismail 'refrezh' Ali has especially stepped up his game. Only two LAN events have been played by the Danish team recently, but both have been dominated by the 20 year old. Both events were his best since attending the NGC Masters in 2017. StarSeries was especially impressive - Refrezh finished as the 14th best player in attendance, putting him well above a majority of the players who made it to the grand final. He also had the highest success rate in opening duels, winning 76% of those he attempted, and had only two maps were he had a negative KD or below a 1.00 rating. The only problem I have with Fragsters is the fact that they will be without Lucas "Bubski" Anderson who had to pull out at the last minute due to health reasons. They haven't announced a stand in yet, but I am fairly confident that even with them being down a player they stand a very good chance of making a deep run in Atlanta. It will be very interesting to see what they can do without their full roster, and will hopefully go further then 3rd-4th in their third open event of the year. Especially now that they are looking for a new organization, they will be trying their hardest to impress the crowd and prove why they deserved to be signed.
This is the French scene’s newest attempt at creating the ultimate super team. However, this time around a new organization is taking a crack at resurrecting the scene. With a new organization also comes new talent (finally) in young star Mathieu 'ZywOo' Herbaut, the only non veteran of the team. So far he’s been Vitality’s most impactful and consistent player, carrying in pretty much all 16 maps they've played together. The French roster has failed to qualify to DreamHack Open Winter, the IEM Katowice closed qualifier and the IEM Chicago qualifier. Their only success coming in the qualifier for Atlanta and most recently a spot at the LOOT.BET Finals in Malta. It is clear that the team has been off to a very rough start, however they also have only lost three matchups. With no notable wins and questionable online performances, Vitality will be looking to turn their image around in Atlanta. It will be ZywOo’s first LAN event and the other veterans on the team will be finally able to play again with the thrill of the crowd cheering them on.
The biggest criticism Vitality faced when they first formed was where the fire power was going to come from. Looking at the lineup they have a lot of veterans, several in fact that have proven in the past they are capable of filling a star role, but in recent times that hadn't of been the case. In fact looking at the stats, Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire is the only other member on the team providing ZywOo, their now heavy carry, with back up. Speaking of the young star, he currently has a 1.43 rating under Vitality's name and only two negative games. Finishing all of their qualifiers except for IEM Katowice as the best player in attendance. To give some context apEX, who I mentioned above is the only other player showing signs of life, has a 1.15 rating. Thankfully he's been pretty consistent with his performances, but it's still clear from watching the games that even he is struggling against the T2/3 teams Vitality has faced so far. Even two time major winning legends Nathan 'NBK-' Schmitt and Vincent 'Happy' Schopenhauer are struggling to compete against MDL teams, and if they want to prove they aren't washed up and done they will have to bring their A game to Atlanta.
The NA team recently got the short end of the stick when they lost Casper 'cadiaN' Møller to North. A move that put them in a slump and pretty much ruined their ECS and EPL seasons that they worked so hard to keep the season before. After trying out several different players in cadiaN’s place, Rogue finally signed Mathias 'MSL' Lauridsen - the very player that lost his spot on North to cadiaN. The legendary IGL did wonders for the team, bringing them to numerous top five finishes, ending his time on the Danish team with a win at DreamHack Stockholm as well as one of his all-time best performances individually. Sadly right after Stockholm the team bombed out of the FACEIT Major Main Qualifier, a result that shocked the entire CS:GO community. MSL tried his best to end the ECS season strong with Rogue, managing to at least secure them a spot in season seven. Now that he has had more time with the team we should be seeing a much more confident set of players entering DreamHack Atlanta and they have a very good shot of making it to at least the playoffs.
So far MSL has seemed to have taken on not just the task of leading the team but being the primary AWPer as well. He hasn't had the best results, no flashy stats or outstanding carries, but he has had impact nonetheless. Rogue have won 75% of the rounds that MSL has managed to get an opening kill on, and has been a key piece to a lot of close wins. With the chaos of trying to help his comrades learn a new game plan as well as figure out how best to use the players, it is no surprise MSL hasn't had time to fully focus on his individual skill. Like we saw at DreamHack Stockholm, he is more than capable of going off and as time passes we should see him having more of an influence on the teams game. Ricardo 'Rickeh' Mulholland has of course been a main source of firepower for Rogue lately as well, finishing as a top 15 player despite his team placing 7th. The NA team actually seemed to be on a bit of a upward trajectory before cadiaN’s sudden departure and I think that we will see them continue their slow stride upwards now that they have found a permanent fifth for the team. Especially since this fifth has filled two of the most important positions on a team.