DreamHack Open Summer is the first chance for fans to see how North America’s participating teams measure up after the player break.
The first tournament after CSGO’s player break can be a sloppy one, with many teams returning to practice only days before it begins. Fans can see it in their play, as teams that usually showcase impressive coordination and creative executes might come into the second half of the Counter-Strike calendar flat. This year, DreamHack Open Summer is that first tournament following the break.
While normally populated by tier-two teams, this year’s event has a much stronger field. Team Liquid, Cloud9, and FURIA will see a significant amount of play here, with the tournament serving as an important measuring stick for Team Liquid even more so than for others. TL’s recent roster change, dropping former captain Nick “nitr0” Cannella in favor of new addition Michael “Grim” Wince of Triumph, complicates matters. Not only will the team play its first tournament since the break, it will do so with a brand new player less than a week after the move was made official.
Liquid’s benching of nitr0 was unexpected, but may have been exactly the team needed to do. Tenure doesn’t mean much in CSGO these days, especially in a powerhouse team like TL. Liquid has had poor results over the past several months. DH Open is going to be a trial by fire for nitr0’s replacement, Grim, but the online format gives him some breathing room.
TL head coach Eric “adreN” Hoag revealed that Grim would get “most of his positions” from his time on Triumph during a stream on Twitch, while returning members Jake “Stewie2k” Yip, Jonathan “ELiGE” Jablonowski, Russell “Twistzz” Van Dulken, and Keith “NAF” Markovic should continue to play their customary site positions.
Roles and positions are fixed on CSGO teams for a reason, as the muscle memory of defending a site or throwing a specific flash is no different than the muscle memory of hitting a headshot. The same goes for a site partner. Play with someone for long enough and players will know what each other will do even before they do it, so Liquid may face an adjustment period with Grim. But with TL’s players having years of experience with each other and with there already being some overlap between Grim and nitr0’s positions, the transition time should be relatively brief.
The real question for Team Liquid is who gets to hold the AWP. The most likely answer is what we’ve seen the team do before, which is AWP by committee. nitr0 served as TL’s primary AWPer since picking up the weapon full-time after Josh “jdm64” Marzano’s departure in 2018, but both Stewie2k and NAF are proficient with the sniper rifle.
In fact, the lack of a dedicated AWPer could help the team. Maps such as Inferno and Vertigo, both Liquid favorites, often have T sides played without the weapon entirely, and without a player who prefers the AWP over an automatic rifle, economic decisions are easier to make.
Grim, who dropped 64 kills against MIBR earlier this year, could end up marking Team Liquid’s transition into a more aggressive team. Stewie, Grim, and Twistzz could make for an explosive new trio, with ELiGE’s consistency and NAF’s underrated performances turning TL back into a winner.
Group B might be a challenge for Cloud9. The famous North American organization is up against a cadre of Brazilian teams that have all made great strides in 2020’s online seasons. But Cloud9 has played some pretty impressive matches themselves, taking Evil Geniuses to the final rounds of their match at the BLAST Premier Showdown and sweeping Gen.G at DreamHack Masters Spring. More importantly, Cloud9 already has wins against FURIA and Yeah Gaming in the past two months.
FURIA could still prove a tough out for C9. The Brazilian team took Cloud9 to task on Vertigo in a 16-1 thrashing where Andrei “art” Piovezan came away with a 1.81 rating.
While it’s hard to see Cloud9 and FURIA not making it out of Group B, Team One and Yeah Gaming have both stepped up their game recently, raising the level of competition this weekend. Both remain inconsistent teams, but one will come out of DreamHack with the title of the third-best team in Brazil. Depending on how MIBR fares in Europe in the coming weeks, that ranking may have to move even higher.
Chaos is the team that it seems like everyone is talking about, rolling into DreamHack on a 14-game win streak. But its first matchup is against none other than Ze Pug Godz, the team that handed Chaos their last loss all the way back on June 28. It’s an interesting matchup given the history, but Chaos’ streak looks better than what Ze Pug Godz managed to put up over that time.
Led by Joshua “steel” Nissan, Chaos has cruised through some tournaments, taking home first place at ESEA’s MDL Season 34, WINNERS League Season 4, Mythic League Invite Season 1, and the Mythic Summer Series Cup 3. They’ve dropped only two maps over the course of 14 wins. Ze Pug Godz 2-1 loss against Positive Vibes Only at the Mythic Summer Series, plus a few more map losses than Chaos, gives steel’s team a statistical edge. But besides a high chance of Liquid coming out of Group A, the rest is up in the air.
It’s unfortunate that Triumph is in the same group as Liquid and its former rifler, especially without a confirmed fifth for the DreamHack event. Without confirmation on who Triumph will use to replace Grim, it’s difficult to nail down exactly what to expect from the team during the tournament. Paytyn “junior” Johnson is a solid prospect, but Grim’s 1.35 average rating and +353 over the past three months are stats that aren’t easily replaced. The rest of Triumph’s roster is not incapable, but losing Grim was a big blow.
If Triumph is lucky, it will be able to find a competent stand-in before this weekend’s tournament. But with both Team Liquid and Chaos in its group, Triumph’s road to success at DH Open is narrow.
DreamHack Open is important for all involved, especially as a quick test of form after the player break. But with all eyes on Liquid and their new rifler, it might be hard for these teams to make waves here without crossing paths with the blue and white. DreamHack Open Summer 2020’s North American and European tournaments kick off on Saturday, August 8 live on Twitch.