Day one of Dreamhack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015 has been a roaring success. The production value in terms of in game overlays and observing has seen a serious improvement from the previous major. The talent that Dreamhack contracted for the event has provided excellent entertainment, along with intellectually sound analysis. The games have been exciting: surprising upsets and close matches have already distinguished this tournament as one of the greats. Dreamhack has proven why they deserve the third major spot by raising the standard for future majors. Here are my thought some of the most important storylines going to day two of group stages.
North American fans could only watch in horror as a disgruntled Cloud9 lost an easily winnable game to Brazilian Luminosity Gaming. The match took place on Dust2, a home map for the Americans. After losing the first pistol round, Cloud9 took six rounds to properly recover. Even then, they lacked their traditional style, which typically consisted of Aggressive T side attacks, Accurate anti-strating, and clearly organized roles. Later in the half, Cloud9 properly took control of the game, ending the first half 8-7 in Luminosity favor. In the second half Cloud9 took the CT pistol and the following anti-eco. The game appeared to stabilize in Cloud9’s favor, but an eco round win from Luminosity completely swayed the momentum. From that point on the Brazilian team absolutely locked down the match, leaving Cloud9 stumped for the remainder of the map. There are direct similarities to the upset from the previous major, ESL One Cologne 2015: where Cloud9 threw away a lead to a less favored Kinguin in an elimination match- which, might I add, also took place on Dust2. Cloud9 is now on the brink of being Eliminated in groups from their fourth consecutive major. The North American squad has now crash landed in comparison to the ranking they had held back in July.
Cloud9 absolutely needs to focus on playing specific roles. What made them so successful earlier this year was their commitment to each player being compartmentalized within their position. In their match vs Luminosity, there were rounds where Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert was entry fragging instead of Ryan “freakazoid” Abadir. As soon as Cloud9 ran strategies with their normal roles, they found success. On CT side, they must work on recovering from devastating losses. Although it is a challenging feat, what separates the top tier from mid tier is the ability to recover mid match. Teams like Fnatic, TSM, and Virtus.pro are all able to forget about previous losses and focus on rounds to come.
North American Team liquid nearly upset the all star Polish lineup. A favorable map veto and side choice put Virtus.pro in an advantaged position to win their first match with ease. Unfortunately for Team Liquid, the random map selection favored Cobblestone over their signature map, overpass. Despite the disadvantages, Liquid came ready to play; they were able to grind T rounds successfully against the Polish team. Liquid’s form was far beyond what was expected. The American’s ended the first half 9-6 in their favor. In the second pistol round up and coming star Jonathan “ELiGE” Jablonowski won an absolutely incredible 1 vs 3 retake. Subsequent anti-eco wins put Liquid on the brink of winning the match. However, like a cruel hardship tale, the game came to an anti climax as Virtus.pro slowly but surely brought themselves back into a game. In Team Liquid’s last possible buy round, they hastily won two close rounds which took the game to 14-15, and put Liquid on match point. Virtus.pro properly brought the game to overtime; viewers knew that Liquid would be unable to regain momentum of the match. The overtime went smoothly for Virtus.pro, and the match concluded with a 19-15 scoreline for the team. Although Liquid brought a stellar performance to this game, the reality is that Virtus.pro –currently ranked 4th in the world and a serious contender to win the entire tournament –should have taken the match effortlessly. Instead they were required to crawl back from near defeat.
Virtus.pro may not need specific fixing in order to perform in this event, but it is important that they play with the same ferociousness that they are known for. Remember, the Virtus “plow” can exist on both T and CT side.
You May Like
NiP looked completely lost on the T side of their match on Cobblestone vs Titan. Their Iconic “Yolo” style has been abandoned, but not replaced. Their lack of preparation for Cobblestone has raised questions about their pick ban strategy, motivation, and their coordination as a team. The aggressive style is what kept them above water. It seems very unlikely that NiP will see any success in this tournament, or even get out of groups without a serious improvement to their T side communication and calling. On the Titan side of things, the French team expressed serious improvement from previous tournaments. It seems that the team is now playing to their maximum skill ceiling. It is hard to determine how Titan will perform throughout the remainder of the tournament; but if they continue to play in a similar manner, they should see success.
At this point, NiP needs to bring back their aggressive play style. Although it may not be the best possible plan, it is still a plan. In their match vs Titan, NiP lacked team play and coordination: they often peaked defending frenchman one at a time, without the possibility for trade kills. Replacing what they have currently with rampant aggression may overwhelm opponents, giving them a distinct advantage in future matches.