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Watchlist: Dreamhack Bucharest

Watchlist: Dreamhack Bucharest

The Pitch:

This weekend, the world’s best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams gather in Bucharest for one of esports’ classic tournaments. While the Russian outfit Virtus Pro looks to prove that its major victory at ELEAGUE in July wasn’t a fluke, Cloud9, the only American squad in attendance, has a chance to show that they can tussle with the best.

How to Watch:

Free on https://twitch.tv/dreamhackcs
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday September 16-18, 2:30 A.M. – 12:30 P.M. EST

The Details:

At first glance, Counter Strike: Global Offensive is one of the easiest esports to understand. A significant number of rounds feature two teams of five shooting at each other until one team is dead. Sometimes, one side succeeds in planting a bomb that their opponents may or may not be able to defuse. It’s not quite as simple as capture the flag, or a straight-up deathmatch, but it’s much easier to explain than the payload races in Overwatch or the quirks and idiosyncrasies of a lane-pusher like Dota 2.

As with most esports though, the dynamics of which CS:GO team is good at what against whom is where the real intrigue lies, and Dreamhack Bucharest this weekend is an opportunity to see some rare matchups between teams that have had success in different parts of the world.

VP are kind of a big fish in a small pond here. True, they failed to win even a single match at StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 2 last week, but that might be because the last LAN they played at was ELEAGUE Season 1 at the end of July, where they won first place and $400,000. First prize at DreamHack Bucharest is an eighth of that. It’s a prize pool that’s probably more appealing for a smaller team like Cloud9. Almost certainly the strongest North American team right now, C9 have lately been demonstrating their ability to hang with strong European teams like NiP and NaVi.

The dynamics of which CS:GO team is good at what against whom is where the real intrigue lies.

A C9 vs. VP final is a pretty safe bet—each team is sitting at the top of their respective group. These two teams haven’t faced each other in over a year. They had two brief clashes in 2015, one at ESL One Katowice in March, and the other at CEVO Season 7 in July. Out of four matches they played, C9 lost three. Since then though, they’ve picked up Tim “autimatic” Ta and new captain 18-year-old Jake “Stewie2k” Yip. Yip—who only just started playing the game two years ago—has been the engineer of C9’s recent success, and how well his team performs in this international LAN could be a preview of how they’ll do at some of the big deal tournaments (ESL One New York and ELEAGUE Season 2) coming up in the next month or so.

There are also some teams that could put a dent in this configuration—VP lost to EnVyUs at SL i-League about a week ago. In a best of one, in the group stages, but still. Flipsid3 Tactics suffered some extraordinarily bad losses to Faze at SL i-League (16-2, and later 16-4), and Dignitas have been pretty reliably in the middle of the pack at most LANs, but at this smaller tournament, they might have a chance to stand out.

DreamHack Bucharest is going to be something of an odd gathering of European teams and Cloud 9, but we might get some exciting matches out of it, and maybe even a North American win if VP are as rusty as they looked last week.

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