Between May 6-8, the DreamHack Zowie Open came to the Austin Convention Center and offered $50,000 to the victorious team out of the eight that attended. While all of the teams in attendance were based in America and competed in its leagues, the Grand Final was a showdown between two teams comprised of five Brazilian players. One of these teams, Luminosity Gaming, then struggled in the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals group stage against a European team. Going from a tournament win in America to losing to G2, a side Luminosity should be beating, suggests that the North American scene is dominated by South American talent.
In the buildup to DreamHack Zowie Open (DH Austin), it was clear that the two Brazilian teams Tempo Storm (TS) and Luminosity Gaming (LG) were contenders to win the tournament. TS had just won the CEVO Season 9 Gfinity Professional Finals and LG had earned their first major title at MLG Columbus. However, the strength of form the two Brazilian lineups brought into the tournament doesn’t justify North American sides only managing to take one map from them across the tournament.
It seems that the Brazilian style of play is simply superior to that of the NA teams.
Starting with how LG’s style of play differs from that of NA teams, it is well known that on their Terrorist sides they adopt a slow and methodical pace, similar to that of Na’Vi. With Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s well organised strategies on his team’s T rounds, combined with immense fragging power from the likes of Marcelo “coldzera” David and Fernando “fer” Alvarenga, LG often find success on their attacking rounds. An example of this tactical prowess came in the Columbus Major, with LG taking 12 Terrorist rounds on Overpass, a map which heavily favours Counter-Terrorists, against Virtus.pro. This kind of success on the T side is not repeated in NA teams, shown by Cloud9 not managing to secure a single T round when they played LG on Mirage in Austin.
It is also worth noting that LG managed to qualify for the offline finals of the Esports Championship Series in NA without losing a single best-of-three series. In this impressive winning streak, they only dropped a single map against Team SoloMid.
While their name might not suggest it, Tempo Storm also play a very coordinated and well thought out T side. In DH Austin, TS displayed a T side master-class on both Cache and Cobblestone, against Cloud9 and Team Liquid respectively. On their Cache T side, TS managed to pick up 13 rounds against the Americans in Cloud9, who were unable to answer this and lost the map. It could be said that the semi-final win in DH Austin by TS over Cloud9 was down to the South American roster having more individual skill. This does not seem to be the case however, as across the three maps more of the Cloud9 team had positive kill/death ratios than the TS players. This displays how the Brazilian teams manage to handily beat the NA rosters through their superior teamwork and strategies.
Clearly the pair of Brazilian teams are able to out-strat seemingly every NA team out there, but it’s unclear if top NA teams such as Counter Logic Gaming and Cloud9 can replicate their play style. Due to NA teams being notorious for being “puggy” and playing off their aim and not their team, it’s no surprise this style doesn’t work against well organised teams such as TS and LG. While the higher levels of NA Counterstrike aren’t as “puggy” as it’s lower tiers, Cloud9 did seem to struggle with their T side throughout DH Austin. On Mirage in particular, where Cloud9 didn’t win a single T side round on the map despite playing it twice, the team showed a lack of structure and strategy that the Brazilian teams have in abundance.
Although Cloud9 had woeful performances on their Terrorist sides, they do seem to be making moves to ensure their future T sides won’t be as weak. With the pickup of Alec “Slemmy” White comes a dedicated In Game Leader (IGL), tasked with organising the team in Counter-Terrorist rounds and directing them in T rounds. While Slemmy’s influence seemed lacking at DH Austin, it must be said that he is still relatively new to the roster. His addition is certainly a step in the right direction for Cloud9, who show intent on creating a more tactical play style.
With Cloud9 looking like they may be attempting to develop a more refined and strategical play style, the future looks good for the American giants to be able to challenge the skilled Brazilian teams, who undoubtedly run the NA scene at this time. Cloud9 are not left wanting in terms of firepower, having proven fraggers such as Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham and Mike “shroud” Grzesiek. Along with the two established players, the young Jake “Stewie2K” Yip really showed his worth to the team at DH Austin. Stewie2K had the highest amount of frags in the server in two best-of-three’s played at DH Austin, one against Counter Logic Gaming (CLG) and one against TS. Against CLG, Stewie2K picked up 72 frags and against TS he reached 76. Across the six maps in the two series’ the 18 year old averaged an impressive 25 kills per map.
With the team working on improved strats with addition of IGL Slemmy and clearly possessing a talented lineup, Cloud9 could be the team to challenge the Brazilians for their dominance in North America. Until a more methodical style of play is used by Cloud9 however, TS and LG look too strong for any current NA team to defeat.
The ESEA Season 21 North American Finals is further evidence to an NA scene that is dominated by LG in the higher tiers, and TS in the lower. Tempo Storm came first in the Finals, closing the tournament out with a 2-0 win over Ze Pug Godz. While TS are certainly a stronger team than any that attended the Season 21 Finals, the trademark of Brazilian teams was evident in the Grand Final, as TS claimed 12 T rounds when playing Cobblestone. The runners-up, Ze Pug Godz, lived up to their name in the final, and cemented how a “puggy” T side is inferior to a methodical one.