While it may be ever so slightly overshadowed by the ongoing major in London, there are certainly some interesting teams and fascinating stories to look out for in Australia on the 7th. If you can’t get enough of Counter-Strike and are looking to bet on DreamHack Open Montreal – and who can blame you after the player break –, it’s a good way to soothe the nerves. With five out of the eight teams involved in the minors (plus AGO and Luminosity barely missing out), it’s a nice opportunity for them to prove that they may have deserved a spot in the Twickenham Stadium.

Not just also-rans

While the event may seem like an afterthought out of sight due to the bright light of the major, it will feature quite a few teams that have caught the eye in some capacity recently, making the tournament somewhat of a veritable who’s who of minor participants, especially those hailing from, Europe: ENCE eSports have grabbed headline after headline in Cologne and were impressive during their major qualification attempt as well, just like eUnited who have barely missed out on a spot in London after losing to compLexity in the lower bracket final of the Americas minor.

Additionally, Heroic have also had an impressive run in Stockholm, making it out of Group C ahead of OpTic and Fnatic – both major participants – in deserved fashion before getting stopped by a resurgent NiP. The last DreamHack Open in Valencia saw them top their group ahead of North and fellow Montreal competitors AGO, only to lose to Luminosity in the semi-finals where the first map went to the Brazilians in overtime before two one-sided affairs on Mirage and Cache. Their potential rematches with HEN1 and co. plus the Poles could prove to be fascinating affairs.

That being said, the issues with the event’s organization cannot go unmentioned: only having invited teams for an “open” tournament is not nice, especially when the announced qualifiers were simply cancelled due to the schedule congestion caused by the minors. It’s unlikely that those tournaments’ timing was not known well in advance, and even if the invites have likely boosted the quality of the event, it really goes against the spirit of the “DreamHack Open” circuit.

Heroic at DreamHack Stockholm 2018

It’s the police!

With Virtus.pro’s dramatic downfall and the expected disintegration of its legendary roster in the near future – remember, it was already announced that byali is going to leave the team after the major – it’s an open secret that the Polish pole position is there for the taking. Kinguin and AGO have both shown flashes of great potential amid a sea of frustrating inconsistency, and the former has definitely impressed with their unexpected deep run in ZOTAC Cup Masters after their return from the player break, and while AGO has not posted any eye-catching results since the player break, their deep run in the StarSeries i-League Season 5 final certainly gave them a decent chunk of capital to burn through.

Clearly, neither are ready to challenge for the top spot just yet, but decent results and promising showings in the near future – and therefore potential better invites to prestigious events – can help them a lot in contract negotiations as a real battle for domestic dominance opens up in the country. These teams definitely have more to play for than just the prize pool and the bragging rights.

Kinguin at Europe Minor FACEIT Major 2018

Searching for redemption

In terms of household names, only Luminosity Gaming could match the presence of TaZ and friberg at the event: steel, HEN1 and LUCAS1 form the core of the Brazilian team whose organization once housed FalleN’s legendary side, very much looking for a comeback story that hasn’t yet materialized. On paper, their players should be good enough to strive for the upper echelons of the CS:GO scene and their defeat to North at DreamHack Open Valencia doesn’t look as disappointing in retrospect after the Danes’ incredible run in Stockholm just a few days ago.

Red Reserve also deserve a mention here: the ex-GODSENT roster has certainly not set the world on fire so far but they have given a good account of themselves at the European minor, losing to NiP in extremely close fashion, losing 16-14, 16-14 and 16-12 across the three maps they’ve played against their fellow Swedes. Notably, they made an incredible comeback against Kinguin on Dust 2, a map they have not played together before that particular match, and it will be really interesting to see whether they will face again at some point in Group A.

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