Four of a Kind, The Aces of DreamHack Summer Part 1
DreamHack Summer comes at a crossroads in events. It is in the middle of the ELEAGUE tournament, after the Major Cologne Qualifiers, and before the ECS Finals and the ESL Cologne Major itself. While it doesn’t feature the best teams in the world, it has by either coincidence or kismet gathered four aces in a crossroads in their careers.
Each are at an important moment in their careers and DreamHack Summer has now become an arena between the battle of these four aces as they must destroy the hopes of the others to advance their way forwards even that one extra step.
For the Immortals, the Major Qualifiers ended in tears. In one of the largest upsets of the qualifiers, the Immortals were eliminated from contention and unable to make the Major.
It was a shock to the system as the last four months of their careers had been a steady rise to the top. They rose from the second best Brazilian team to the second best in the NA region and finally secured their place as a top 10 team in the world. The system was good, the roles made sense, they had the firepower and they’ve slowly accumulated the experience.
For Boltz, it was a dream come true. When he had been removed from Luminosity Gaming, he had considered retiring but Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu convinced him that he still had something worth fighting for, that not only could he continue to play, but he could be the star player.
Ricardo "boltz" Prass proved that promise as he became the main star of the team and has been likened as a Brazilian Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson. An incredibly consistent fragger with great team play and positioning. Despite the constant good results, the team were snubbed over and over again as they were unable to secure invites into some of the biggest leagues in CS:GO. Yet that didn’t matter and they still proved their skill which culminated in their tournament victory at CEVO Gfinity. There Boltz stepped a game up to another level while taking over the in game leading from Peacemaker and led Tempo Storm to their first ever tournament victory.
The future looked bright. And though they departed ways with peacemaker over disagreements about his future role in the team, the team itself seemed ready to take the next step from a good team to a possibly great team.
Instead they fell. At the American Minor Qualifiers, Tempo Storm crushed the competition until they met OpTic. In their two matches against the NA team they ended up losing both series 0-2 and 1-2. In those games Boltz was close to bottom fragging for his team in every game except in the one game they won where he top fragged. While it was a worrying sign, at the end of the day it was only a few maps and they did qualify for the Major Qualifier.
Yet at the Major Qualifier the same thing happened. In the four maps they played they won one against Empire and lost three against EnVyUs, TyLoo, and Flipside. Boltz top fragged against empire and did the best of his team against EnVyUs but bottom fragged against both TyLoo and Flipside. This is a problem as Boltz was the engine of the team. He along with João "felps" Vasconcellos provided the consistent firepower needed to win the rounds while Henrique "HEN1" Teles could sometimes bring that extra explosive factor that put them over the top.
Yet there is an even bigger problem. The emotional state of the team. The Immortals live and die off of their passion. It is why they scream and celebrate after every round won and go completely morose after every round lost. This is a battle to the death for them where every victory is a validation of their existence, their passion, their life. Every defeat a condemnation of everything they’ve done. While it makes them all the more human to the spectator, the wild roller coaster of emotions brings along a crazy inconsistency to their games and mindsets.
This is the problem Boltz now faces. His in game leading cannot affect his fragging as they need him to put work on the map. He must also now become the emotional center of the team to keep them from getting overhyped in the moment and to not destroy themselves in disappointment .
This is a fantastic team, but the key to it all is Boltz. He is now their leader that must give them strength as a player, as a tactician and as their emotional pillar. At the Major Qualifiers, the Immortals ended their run in tears, and it is now up to Boltz to write a different ending.
When we think about Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, we think of a one man army. One of if not the best player in the world and the only player among the best that isn’t in a top team in the world. So when he faces off against the great teams we know we shouldn’t expect anything and yet NiKo keeps putting on herculean amounts of effort into each game. You can’t help but cheer on NiKo as he fights his one man crusade against a team that is clearly superior in every way possible compared to his. This has slowed down recently as mouz haven’t been able to play against the top teams since the MLG Major and against lesser teams in less pressure situations his team is more likely to show as we’ve seen from the current ESL Cologne Major qualifier.
Yet in one of the strangest ironies in CS:GO, NiKo and the mouz team played the unstoppable juggernaut and Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný played the man who dared to challenge them. Round after round, map after mp oskar refused to give in and tried to carry his team against the better teams of mouz and Liquid and he nearly did it.
The analogy isn’t perfect as oskar doesn’t carry as hard as NiKol and he does it against lesser competition. But the skill is there and each time the game ends you can’t help but think what a shame it is that oskar isn’t on a better team.
That was supposed to change as HellRaisers recruited Vlаdуslаv "bondik" Nеchуроrchuk to increase the consistent firepower for the team, but nothing had really changed. The team got better, but the problem was that nearly all of the mid tier teams had gotten better and there were more mid tier teams than ever before with the rise of Immortals, TyLoo, Godsent and others.
With one map away from qualifying for the ESL Cologne Majors, Hellraisers went up against bondik’s former team, Flipside. It started off as a close affair as they traded rounds earlier on on HellRaiser’s T side, but in the end the tactically superior Flipside defeated the more skilled lineup of HellRaiser’s. Oskar was unable to deliver a star performance at this critical moment and neither did anyone on his team except for Patrik "Zero" Žúdel.
Unlike every other ace layer here, oskar is at a standstill. There is no way to go forward, his team just isn’t consistent enough to do it. He cannot go back, he cannot switch teams, there are no players or leaders to recruit. So what now for one of CS:GO’s best AWP players?
I don’t know. Unlike Boltz, there are no clear challenges he can overcome. Either his team will click or they will not. All he can hope to do is to try to deliver game in and game out hoping that something will change.
Photo Credits: HLTV, DreamHack