The complete lack of top-tier European talent at DreamHack Austin this upcoming weekend because of the busy LAN schedule, injuries, and general fatigue of teams decidedly weakens the event as a potential breakout tournament; an up-and-coming NA team might have upset or show growing power against the world’s best, or NA gets dumpstered by the superior firepower (which would be much more likely). Instead, because the lineup is exclusively NA’s top teams (with the exception of Optic and arguably TSM), Luminosity, and Tempo Storm, the event should simply serve as a representation of the relative strength of the region. With the assorted roster swaps and online results of NA’s teams, it will be interesting to see how all of the NA teams stack up. Will Luminosity be able to prove their dominance as a top 3 team in the world after falling to Tyloo in Malmo? Will the old guard NA teams in CLG, Liquid, and Cloud 9 prove continued dominance despite roster swaps? How will challengers like Selfless, NRG, and Splyce fare? Will Tempo Storm continue their hot form following CEVO this past weekend? DreamHack Austin should crown the new king of NA, at least domestically (a throne not worth particularly much these days).
Luminosity: A Tier Above
Luminosity are poised to maintain their incredible form over the past couple of months both on LAN and in assorted online leagues. A major under their belt and no top level teams to challenge them, Fallen’s men will be the favorite in every match they play this weekend. However, as Malmo showed, Luminosity is not unbeatable by tier two teams, losing both a best of one to Mousesports and a best of three to Tyloo. While the explosive play by both Mouse and Tyloo was relatively anomalous and unexpected, a surging NA team could potentially make the Brazilian team bleed. Luminosity will win the event in all likelihood, but it will be interesting to see who is able to test them.
On the Cusp: CLG and Tempo Storm
CLG and Tempo Storm, because of lineup changes by Liquid and Cloud 9, both serve as the most likely runner ups to Luminosity this event. Tempo Storm showed incredible form this past weekend at CEVO finals, beating Dignitas in a best of three and Virtus Pro and SK in best of fives. With felps and booltz playing as stellar carry players and hen1 as a reliable and potentially explosive AWP, the Brazilian side inch their way to a team that could make top eight at a major and upset top teams. CLG, after a disappointing performance at Malmo and struggles in to maintain form in online leagues, are on the threshold of falling from the status Tempo Storm have just reached. JDM is still likely the best American AWPer, and Tarik has shown incredible form in recent play, but the lack of firepower and consistency from the rest of the lineup often leaves the stars out to dry. If both teams want to prove their place as on-the-cusp of tier one lineups, this is a decent event to do so; neither CLG nor Tempo Storm should realistically be losing games to anyone except Luminosity.
New Lineups from Former Titans: Cloud 9 and Liquid
Both Liquid and Cloud 9 come into DreamHack with new lineups seeking to prove their worth. For Liquid, this should serve as an indication if not working around s1mple’s problems was worthwhile and if they are a more cohesive team that can still stack up against their region’s best. Koosta especially has much to prove, filling the shoes of NA’s best performer at the major after struggling to fit into the lineup at Malmo. Now, he will have no excuses, able to get every spot that he wants without any interference from s1mple. For Cloud 9, Freakazoid’s departure and Slemmy’s recruitment should in theory improve the tactical base of their already high firepower team. Hopefully, Slemmy can implement a system that allows shroud to open up bomb sites off of Stewie’s aggression, similar to their run of form during summer of last year with Stewie in Freakazoid’s place. However, the real player to watch will be n0thing, who will play with the shotcalling burden lifted from him. How Slemmy decides to use him will make or break Cloud 9’s success, as with the right direction, n0thing can win the NA side important clutch rounds and contribute the key frags to push them over the top. Even if DreamHack turns out to be a bust for Cloud 9, it should be a formative event for future success if Slemmy is able to design a working system.
Nothing to Lose: NRG, Selfless, and Splyce
All three of the remaining NA teams have the potential to play spoiler against the other teams at the event. Selfless, despite a terrible performance at CEVO, have been decent in online play, but have yet to make the transition to a LAN capable team. NRG, outside of their upset win over a struggling Envyus at Counter Pit, also remain unproven on LAN as a lineup. With tactical mastermind gob b, however, the mixed squad could potentially take a map off of one of the better teams. Splyce, whose lineup is still in relative flux, could use the pickup of Freakazoid to assist the explosive DAVEY to possibly upset. However, as past struggles offline have shown, these teams will likely fail to reach meaningful placing at the event, and simply battle for the top of NA’s tier two.
Photos from HLTV and Team Liquid Wiki