Thursday, December 04, 2014

Dreamhack Winter

You've read all the formal write ups about Dreamhack already, so I'll get straight to the point: I've been watching competitive Counter-strike for the better part of a year and a half. That isn't that long, but I've seen it grow from 2,000 viewers being a good turn out, to 20k viewers being the norm. I saw fnatic beat NiP in the infamous Dreamhack Bucharest episode. I've seen the Virtus Pro dismissal, the dissolution of the old Navi, the creation of Astana Dragons and the entire circle dance that is the French Scene, involving VeryGames, Epislon, Titan and I got up early to watch the Polish 5 Virtus Pro stomp on everyone in Katowice. I watched NiP reign supreme at Cologne. Dreamhack Winter 2014, was one of the most fun I've ever had watching Counter-Strike.

This year's tournament took place during American Thanksgiving, and happened to coincide with my girlfriend leaving town for 5 days. Coincidentally, that meant that I could get up and stay up whenever I wanted. This lead to some weird hours, but some great counter strike watching. I haven't made it clear here on this blog yet, but my favorite Counter Strike teams are there, in this order: 1) cloud9 2) HellRaisers 3) NiP/LDLC/Virtus.Pro/iBuyPower. I like cloud9 because n0thing is one of my favorite players, and I think he looks like me. Plus, he's from California, so I have to rep my home country and state. I also am a big fan of Hiko's play, not as big of a fan of his personality. I like Hell Raisers because I like Dosia and Markleoff, as well as adreN and his replacement s1mple. I also for some reason, just like Russians. I can't really explain it.

I went to bed early on Thanksgiving night so that I could get up at 4am to watch my two favorite teams take each other on. cloud9 did not look good in it, and it did not bode well for their inevitable game against fnatic. With all the accusation of cheating against fnatic, I was not a fan of them going into the tournament. But short of a VAC ban, we have no conclusive way to prove anyone is cheating. But since cloud9 did not beat HellRaisers, I did not see them moving pass groups. I ended up being right, in less convincing fashion from cloud9 than I would have liked. I think they knew they wouldnt best fnatic. No fault to cloud9, they got a really rough draw. There was a guaranteed disappointment in that group, and cloud 9 just happened to be it on that day.

Friday was one of the longest days of Counter Strike I've watched as well. I went to bed after it was clear cloud9 was going to play fnatic later in the morning, so I woke up to see that. I watched the day progress, but it became clear that all the expected teams that were supposed to win, were winning. The only upset that I didn't see, was iBP losing to PENTA, which should not happen. Steel quitting due to Skadoodle and Swag's inability to communicate is completly understandable in this case. I may write about that another time.

Saturday is when the real good matches happened. First up, HellRaisers vs NiP. I made a cup of coffee for this match, but ended up falling asleep right after drinking it. I woke up enough to see NiP crush HellRaisers in a match that didn't seem very good. I had some fever dreams about f0rest man-handling HellRaisers, and that is exactly what happened. I went to bed knowing Virtus.Pro would take out Penta, but I made sure to wake up to see the match we had all been waiting for: LDLC versus Fnatic.

The game started out very good. LDLC came out strong in the opening match, but I had seen several other teams take opening maps over stronger opponents. It happened to Cloud9 against NiP in Cologne. Sure enough, fnatic took the second map off of LDLC in a convincing fashion, making me wonder if LDLC had been outplayed. However, LDLC came out strong against fnatic in the first half on Overpass, and it looked after pistol round 13-3, that LDLC was going to go to the semifinals.

When the boost first happened, LDLC ran around it twice unknowingly. Anders posited, "maybe LDLC know about this boost?" But then LDLC ran out of squeaky into water and got destroyed from above, not knowing where they were getting shot from. I have only seen that disparity in map awareness in noobs first playing maps. They look confused. They looked like 12 year olds playing CS for the first time, not the 20 somethings that were among the best in the world in their craft. At first it was kinda funny, but then it got sad, and frustrating, when round after round, fnatic abused the boost and gunned LDLC down before they could get anything going. It turned from a clever boost, to a clear exploit. It wasn't even a map anymore. LDLC had to rush everything, as they just had to hope they could go fast enough to not let Olof get a shot on them. It was gross. I sat there, stunned in my chair, lost for words. I was typing to several different friends on Steam, and twitter and reddit blew up. I have never seen the CS community react so strongly, so vocally as when that happened. It was honestly a lot of fun to be apart of the twitter firestorm that was the CS scene in the wake of the olof boost.

It would be extremely hard to top the controversy and the drama that surround the fnatic and LDLC game, and dignitas and Navi didn't really come close. Dignitas folded in yet another digniatas fashion. The removal of Fetish as in game leader is no doubt a result of the quick 2-0 exit they faced against Navi.

I woke up the next day, to seeing LDLC playing Navi in the semi finals. I was not expecting the news that fnatic had decided to forfeit the match against LDLC, as cArn and Devilwalk's behavior after the match suggested that they didn't think it was an unfair boost. NiP over VP didn't shock me, but a VP win wouldn't have shocked me either. LDLC was able to best Navi, even though I secretly rooted for the Russian side to make it to the finals, something that they had not managed to do during anything outside of Star series. LDLC took Navi to the house, and prepared to face NiP in the finals.

The home environment in Sweeden must have been great. Every round that the Ninjas took, you could hear the crowd roar. Every entry frag was met with cheers, and clean picks met with even louder cheers. I felt bad for LDLC, as when they did something good, they got a small cheer from the crowd. I was pulling for them, however. NiP had won the last $250K tournament, so I usually root for the underdog.

In true dramatic form, the match came down to Overpass, the very map that had caused the biggest uproar I have seen in the CS scene yet. The match was hard fought and somehow, I knew, just because of the way things had been going, that LDLC would pull it to OT, even as they went down in rounds. I was sitting in my chair, just dumb founded and giddy. I truly didn't know what to expect from each round, and that is a sign of great counter strike.

When LDLC finally pulled it off, it was an obvious let down for the home crowd. People congratulated LDLC well enough, and we saw the manager really celebrate.

I walked away from the tournament, with all the best feelings you can walk away the tournament with. This post is already running very long, so I don't want to talk about much else right now. I'll probably make a separate post on the boost, communication importance, and players who didn't perform up to their level (ehhem, shox). But for now, I'm exicted with the growth CS has been having in the last 2 years. I started playing in late 2012, and got into the tournaments in May of 2013, and I seemed to pick a fantastic time to jump on board. In only 20 hours, the ESEA LAN will start, and we will be treated to another (hopefully) great weekend of counter strike.


  1. Counter-Strike Global Offensive

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