Everyone likes an underdog story. Against all odds, heroes come out of nowhere to defeat the titans and show the world that anyone can if they truly want to. Unfortunately this story does not have the happy ending one might hope for, but it remains one of the most formidable runs ever seen in the history of Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Luminosity Gaming finishes the first year of their CS:GO top level careers with an amazing rollercoaster of a tournament, going above and beyond the expectations. This is not just a story of almost doing the impossible. This is the story of a team going from their worst place to the one that just days before was unreachable.
Leading to Dreamhack, Luminosity Gaming was simply in the mud. Their previous results were way below the standards of play they were used to. They were the only team from the Americas to make it out of groups at the Cluj-Napoca major, and were favorites to win the two domestic LANs that followed it: the iBuyPower Cup and the RGN Pro Series. In the first one, they were taken out by a strong Cloud9 in the semifinals in a 2-0 series, while in the second one they were upset by another slumping team, Renegades, in a 2-0 fashion in the Losers Semifinals. They then proceeded to lose 2-0 once more to Na’Vi in the Quarter Finals of IEM San Jose. Since their performance in January at MLG Aspen, Luminosity had never stooped so low.
Just a few days before the tournament, shocking news are told by the team: they would be making roster changes, with long time members boltz and steel being removed in favor of unproven talents fnx and TACO. These two came from FalleN’s Games Academy, a second Brazilian team training in the US thanks to the IGL’s Golden Chance project, meant to expand the scene he had done so much to keep alive. They had no LAN experience against European lineups whatsoever, and such a sudden change meant little time to let them integrate in the team’s environment. But FalleN was confident in this gamble, and brought the renovated Luminosity to Dreamhack.
The hill they had to climb was already steep enough, but it would not stop there: they were placed in Group B, by far the harder one. The first team they would have to face was fnatic, who had just brought in dennis to replace pronax, giving them the most firepower they had ever had. Regardless of the result, they would then have to face either NiP, who had incredible showings recently, taking out TSM in Cluj-Napoca, or EnVyUs, the best team in the world. Due to the nature of the groups, unless a team was to win two best of one’s consecutively, they would have to win up to two best of three series to make it to the semifinals. To the kings of the single map upsets this was the icing on the cake of the worst situation they could possibly be put in.
The deck was stacked against Luminosity since the moment they entered the booth to face fnatic in the first game. Dust2 loaded up, and as the game progressed, the confidence that the Brazilians may have had slowly faded away. Round after round, nothing that they could try seemed to work. The Swedes stood like a wall against their attacks and pushed them back with unrelenting force. Desperation was on the faces of the Luminosity players as the screen showed the scoreline: 16-0. They did not have a single opportunity to fight back and were completely swept by dennis’ new team. In an unexpected turn of events, the other game of the group saw EnVyUs fall to NiP, putting the best in the world against a team that was just eviscerated by a lesser one in a best of three series. But in the dark, the Brazilians found and almost unexplainable force to push back and show that it was not over yet.
The first map was the iconic Mirage, the one that Luminosity surprised the world on back in January, with a few different players and under the name Kabum eSports, when they beat a dominating fnatic with strategies never seen before. A spark in FalleN’s boys saw them outplay the Frenchmen and win 16-6. Their mental prowess, however, was tested on Cobblestone, where Happy replied with a strong individual showing to lead his team to an 8-16 victory. The decider would be Inferno, a notoriously strong map for EnVy. The first half was close, with Luminosity fighting with nails and teeth to take 8 Terrorist rounds. But when it came to their defense, they did not let the French through. Newcomer fnx came up huge in the game, which ended 16-11: Luminosity won the biggest best of three of their lives, but the road was still long ahead, as they prepared to face NiP in yet another series.
Another first game, another Mirage, another win. Luminosity had to fight harder this time, but still set the momentum to be in their favor by taking it 16-10. The following match was played on Cache, where NiP was favored. It was the closest one yet: the two teams traded rounds back and forth and took it to overtime. But it seemed that the Brazilians could not catch a break, and fell to the Swedes to take it to yet another map 3. This time, it was no contest. A one sided game saw Luminosity upset once more and make it to the semifinals, against the other favorites to win the tournament, Team SoloMid.
As destiny wanted, Mirage was the first map yet again. But the Danes broke the streak and stomped Luminosity 16-5, leaving them little room to fight. The wheel then turned in the second map, Overpass, where the Brazilians won 16-6. Everything would be decided on Inferno. Contrary to how this map usually plays out, Luminosity took the lead in the first half on Terrorist side, finishing 9-6, once again with a great performance from fnx. But TSM came back at full force, doing the same to them and bringing the game to overtime. Here, LG’s Counter Terrorist side was strong. They took 4 of the 5 rounds and then took two more on T. They now were in the finals to face the ones that inflicted them their worst defeat at the beginning of the tournament: fnatic.
Their final showdown started on Train. Luminosity started strong, only to falter later during the first half, ending it 8-7. But in the second one came out the team that took three best of three series against top teams, and eventually took fnatic’s pick 16-9. Then came Cobblestone, LG’s pick, but things did not turn out as they wished. While, the Brazilians fought back as hard as they could, fnatic took the initiative since the very beginning, getting a lead and keeping it all the way until the end of the game, which they won 16-11. Once more, it all came down to the third map, Inferno, where the miracle run died. LG put up a fight in their CT half, but when it came to T, fnatic’s defense was unbreakable. Only one round was won, and eventually the Swedes got the fatal sixteenth round, winning and ending one of the best stories in the history of the game.
Regardless of the result, Luminosity showed incredible prowess when faced by a situation where none of the odds were in their favor. A gigantic gamble of a roster change days before the tournament, a stacked group and a slump to face, but nevertheless the team stayed strong and made history, giving us a run we will not forget for a long time.
Image credits: hltv.org