After a marathon online qualifier, Brazilian underdogs Tempo Storm have battled their way through the brackets to secure a spot at the IEM World Championships Katowice 2016. The tournament in Poland will feature a prize pool of over $250,000 and the top eight teams from the previous major, DreamHack Cluj-Napoca 2015, have all received invitations.The results of the online qualifier are an excellent debut showing for Tempo Storm, who were only signed by the organization last week. It will be the first large international LAN for many of the ex-Games Academy squad, except for Lucas “boltz” Prass, who attended all three Majors during 2015 as part of the Luminosity Gaming/Keyd Stars lineup. Yet with Tempo Storm only dropping a single map throughout the qualifier, it has become apparent that North American teams are unable to find a way to deal with the deeply strategic and methodical play that has come to be characteristic of Brazilian Counter-Strike.
Indeed, what is even more impressive than Tempo Storm’s victory is the opponents that the Brazilians dispatched of in order to win the event. After cruising through the first stages of the 100+ team bracket, their first challenge would come in the form of compLexity, whom Tempo Storm eliminated from the tournament with a 16 – 13 defeat on de_inferno. With their victory over compLexity behind them, the tournament transitioned into a best of three format, and ten teams were left standing after the elimination matches competing for first place. Tempo Storm’s first opponent would be North American heavyweights Team Liquid. Although Team Liquid had replaced Jacob “FugLy” Medina with young Ukrainian aiming prodigy (and occasional drama magnet) Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, this upgrade in firepower seems to have come at great cost to their teamplay and coordination. Tempo Storm would win the series 2 – 1, but Liquid did not go quietly into that dark night–the North American team reached double digit round scores on every map. Indeed, s1mple was Team Liquid’s best player throughout the series, at least statistically, with an overall K/D of 71 – 65 and an HLTV.org rating of 1.16.
After defeating Team Liquid, Tempo Storm faced Counter Logic Gaming in the quarter-finals. Unfortunately for CLG, who dropped long-time teammate Pujan “FNS” Mehta for FugLy during the off-season, Tempo Storm showed no mercy, and won the series in a dominant fashion 2 – 0. On de_inferno, CLG picked up a meager 6 rounds in total. The second map, Cobblestone, was slightly more forgiving for the North American contenders, but CLG would lose the map 12 – 16. FugLy in particular had a terrible series, collecting only 4 kills on the Inferno and bottom-fragging for CLG on Cobblestone with a K/D of 16 – 19. While some new rosters seem capable of meshing immediately, CLG are still in an adjustment period.
The Tempo Storm boys were not done blazing trails, however. With their victory over CLG, the team moved on to the grand finals of the qualifier, where they were pitted against North American fan favorites Cloud9. Indeed, Cloud9 looked dominant for the first half of de_mirage, which ended with a favorable 11 – 4 scoreline on their CT side. Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert, now in charge of ingame leading responsibilities for the team after Sean “sgares” Gares’ departure, can certainly organize a powerful CT side defense–the T side of the new Cloud9 lineup, however, leaves almost everything to be desired. Round after round, the North American team’s offensive lacked any sort of structure–rushes seemed to be called off at the last minute, and several rounds ended with Cloud9 unable to plant the bomb due to a lack of time. After a disastrous and poorly timed DDOS caused a delay of over an hour, Cloud9 resumed play at a scoreline of 14 – 10. All told, the North American team were unable to close out the game, as their economic woes multiplied and allowed Tempo Storm to reach 14 rounds before Cloud9 was able to respond with a full buy of their own. Tempo Storm won the first map 16 – 14.
The first map certainly set the tone for the second, as the same story repeated itself on de_cache-Cloud9 won their CT side 10 – 5, but failed to pack a substantial punch on their T side. The game went to overtime, where Tempo Storm eliminated the North American hopefuls 19 – 17. As Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, ingame leader for Luminosity Gaming and charismatic ambassador of Brazilian Counter-Strike, stood behind them, Tempo Storm became the second Brazilian team to take the world by storm. If you want to feel good about life, check out FalleN’s tweet with a video of the winning moment.
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With only one spot at Katowice up for grabs at the qualifier, Tempo Storm’s decisive victories over Liquid, CLG, and Cloud9 mean that there will be no North American teams at Katowice. After another offseason of trades and roster shuffles, North American Counter-Strike looks just as lost as it did before. As even ESL pointed out this absence on their website, one wonders–what does North America need to change?
For now, at least, I am content with living vicariously through our South American neighbors.