The dark horses of CS:GO's next major tournament

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In the first part of this four-part preview for the next Counter-Strike: Global Offensive major, DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca held from October 28 to November 1 in Romania, we take a look at the four participants who are the least likely to be competing for the $100,000 first place prize on the fifth and final day of the tournament.

In the time leading up to the event we’ll cover the other 12 teams competing for the title, but now, let’s take a look at the first four teams, in no particular order, who will be traveling to Romania for the next $250,000 major. These are all great teams, but they’ll be dark horses at Cluj-Napoca.


Poland — Furlan, GruBy, Hyper, peet, rallen

Locals expected these guys to do well at ESL One Cologne after they took down the days old Titan line-up at the qualifier, but naturally the Poles were quickly eliminated by stronger competition—namely fnatic and CLG. At this event’s qualifier, GruBy’s team lost to HellRaisers in the opening round, but bounced back with a win over Skyred, and the same HellRaisers squad, to book them their second consecutive major event appearance.

Now that they have already been to a major, this team must be hungrier than before. It is likely they will not be happy with going out 0-2 this time around, yet it’s most likely that will still be their destiny. However, they took down Titan and HellRaisers before, both clear upsets versus teams not many thought they stood a chance against. They could once again score an upset at DreamHack, and even if they do not progress from the groups, as is expected, it can still be a positive learning experience.


Ukraine — B1ade, bondik, DavCost, markeloff, WorldEdit

FlipSid3 have continued playing well since s1mple’s departure in July—in fact, I would bet that not many people that are unaffiliated with the team expected them to continue putting in good results. The Ukrainian team was already low on individual skill and high on tactics and teamplay, so losing one of the world’s most skilled players and your most skilled player certainly did not help. Yet here they are, markeloff heading to yet another major, and again hoping to be the cinderella story of the event.

FlipSid3 will most likely finish either third of fourth in their group. They possess enough potential to even make it through to the playoffs if placed in a favorable group that breaks out just the right way, but realistically the depth in teams is probably too much for this team in Cluj-Napoca. In a sense, they remain gatekeepers newcomers in Europe must get through to break into the top sixteen of the world—a ranking that does not sound like much, but entitles you to a healthy salary, and a chance for glory at all the majors.

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Image courtesy ESL Flickr

ESL Flickr


USA — jdm646, FNS, hazed, reltuC, tarik

CLG have shown promise here and there, though to this day their greatest achievement was probably the upset win over fnatic on de_mirage at ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals in early July. The fact is this team simply lacks the ability to close games out, and that has a lot to do with individual skill. While the duo of jdm64 and tarik have shown they are capable of putting up numbers and competing with the best of them, the rest of the team just does not show up often enough.

For some reason FNS gave up the calling duties months ago to reltuC, but he has not picked up on fragging one bit since then. Meanwhile reltuC has never been an impact player, and while hazed has the occasional good game, he is not going to put them over the top in a best-of-three series versus an elite team. This team could do with some coaching, but more than anything, they need consistent star level play from tarik, and one other player to step up to the plate. I don’t expect that to happen, so they will probably go out in the groups, once again having been close to advancing.

Team Liquid Csgo

Image courtesy

Team Liquid

USA — adreN, EliGE, FugLy, Hiko, nitr0

EliGE has finally started stepping up his game, and Hiko is a real asset to any team in the world. Even nitr0 has the occasional good game. When looking from afar it seems that this team should have plenty of potential, yet we all know from over three years of CS:GO that adreN has never made any team go anywhere since switching over from Counter-Strike: Source. He hasn’t been much of a player in this version of the game, but as one of the few in-game leaders in North America, still continues on one of the region’s best teams.

In my mind, what Liquid must going against them is how happy they looked after qualifying for the major—it’s one of those cases where you could tell from their players’ faces, if you were watching, that this was it. There was no hunger left in their faces, aside from Hiko’s. They will get bounced early on if they don’t luck out, and next time they will want more. This team will gradually improve and may ultimately become a real contender for the top spot in North America, but for the time being they will have to be content with just getting to take in the atmosphere at the major.

The next part of this four-part series will feature four more teams that I expect to head out early from DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca. After that, we’ll get to the eight teams who will have the best shot at a spot in the semi-finals and ultimately, the next major title.

You can reach @lurppis_ on Twitter.

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