The ELEAGUE Major ended with the faces of Astralis dominating the spotlight. The storyline, the context, and the quality of games meant that Danish hegemony of the press and community consciousness was guaranteed. Outside of Astralis’s victory, there are a slew of narrative threads to cover based on the various upsets/results that occurred in Atlanta. The vast majority of these threads will reappear at Dreamhack Masters: Las Vegas, essentially making it the ELEAGUE Majors epilogue.
Every single team that made the playoffs at ELEAGUE is present at Las Vegas, with the additions of NiP and Cloud9 who were both hyped to finish strong at ELEAGUE but failed to qualify. On top of this, Renegades and Tyloo are both present – representing the elite competitors from the APAC region. Name value alone means that the results in Vegas will largely determine many of the buzzwords that will be associated with the rosters moving forwards.
The new rosters of North, SK Gaming, Fnatic, Mousesports, Misfits, and Optic Gaming are all playing their first big LAN games together, meaning the older and more established sides will need to hunt for a consistent placing. Astralis are the ones that will look for this cherished metric of consistency the most; as SK Gaming found out last year in Malmo, simply winning a Major does not make you invulnerable to upsets. To truly establish a Danish dynasty they need dynastical control of their opposition – regardless of all three teams in their group having almost no demos to review to prepare anti-strategies.
On a similar level to Astralis, both NiP and Cloud9 are desperate for strong placings, with their wins at IEM Oakland and the EPL S4 Finals slowly fading away into obscurity. Neither team directly participated in the post-ELEAGUE Major global shuffle, with neither team making roster moves despite circulating rumours. With a shrinking pool of Bo3 LAN wins over top ten ranked teams in the last three months (due to not qualifying for ELEAGUE), both sides will need to justify the lack of roster moves and time off LAN play with solid results in Vegas – despite being in the same group.
Interestingly, both Gambit and Natus Vincere need to reaffirm their respective results at ELEAGUE, but for entirely different reasons. Gambit’s stock value as a team has been soaring since their strong Swiss group performance at ELEAGUE and their win at Dreamhack Winter, whilst Na`Vi’s has been on a steady decline since their win at ESL One New York.
If Na`Vi are upset by both FaZe and Mousesports – which given the man-for-man strength of both rosters is possible – then they are on a road to breaking up what might’ve been the most hyped CIS roster since Astana Dragons in 2013. On the other hand, if Gambit can make it out of their group and earn another top eight, then they could cement themselves as a top 6-8th team in the world and the best team in their highly competitive region.
The projected stories of CS:GO’s superstars are also in the balance. Niko will play his last tournament for Mousesports in Vegas before joining Faze – essentially making it the punctuation point on the first major chapter of his career. Fnatic will have their first tournament back together, with the potential for any member to experience a resurgence of form. The star of Immortals, João “felps” Vasconcellos will play his first tournament with SK Gaming, also the first time in a long time he will not be the main centre of focus on his team.
That is really the name of the game in Vegas, maintaining or changing your team’s narrative thread. While other tournaments are about gaining momentum, and others are about trying out a new line-up, for some teams, Dreamhack Masters: Las Vegas is an important chapter in how their entire legacy is defined.
Make no mistake about it, the team list is stacked, the groups are stacked, and the teams with new rosters have line-ups stacked to bursting as well. In this environment were the tournament pressure is scaled back a bit due to the completion of the Major teams can become lackadaisical – and that is exactly where you make your mark as a side in the annals of CS:GO history.