Now that the new-look mousesports had its first taste of victory, they could very well crack on from here and show more staying power against the big boys of the scene. They wouldn’t be the first ones who went on to do great things after winning a DreamHack Open event: now-household names like Cloud9, ENCE and Vitality all got their first big break on these stages.

There’s value in gaining experience on a lower level, and the health of the third-party circuit in Counter-Strike allows for even the lesser-known teams to participate at a proper LAN event with all their usual trappings: the crowd, the pressure, the stage, the larger-than-usual prize pool. While the viewers may not appreciate these events as much as the clashes of top-tier titans, they have a very positive effect on the ecosystem. DreamHack split its circuit into two after April 17, 2016, with the Masters events meant to attract the elite (and eventually becoming a part of the Intel Grand Slam) and the Opens aiming somewhat lower instead.

Nevertheless, the Open events still managed to attract decent-sized teams for most of 2017, and some of the winners eventually made a name for themselves in the top tier as well. Here’s a short list of the most fascinating examples:

DreamHack Austin 2016 – Luminosity Gaming

There was a time in CS:GO history when FalleN and his team was nothing more than a promising oddity in the field. It’s safe to say this no longer was the case after their victory at MLG Columbus, a title they’ve followed up with a win at Austin. In their case, it wasn’t exactly the first step, more like the last one on the way to greatness: a sign that their win was no fluke and that they’re here to stay.

DreamHack Summer 2016 – Immortals

The very next DreamHack Open event showcased the depth of Brazilian Counter-Strike with the triumph of the ill-fated Immortals squad that really should have achieved more than it did during its lifespan. Looking back, their story is one of squandered opportunities and disappointment – however, their win over NiP was an impressive one, snuffing out a comeback on Mirage to swiftly end the series 2-0.

DreamHack Winter 2016 and Austin 2017 – Gambit Esports

As unexpected (and perhaps somewhat undeserved) Gambit’s major win was, it’s not like they were completely untested in the LAN circuit. Two wins in five months is not nothing, and they served as a pretty good warmup for their shock triumph at Krakow a few months later.

DreamHack Denver 2017 – Cloud9

The other upset major winners also snagged themselves a DreamHack Open win shortly before their day of glory, cutting it close against mousesports in the semi before taking out BIG in the final.

DreamHack Atlanta 2018 – Team Vitality

This was the first LAN event of the new-look French side, a little more than a month after their foundation. It was a bit of a bumpy ride along the way, but the victory went a long way in establishing them as a top ten contender.

DreamHack Winter 2018 – ENCE

Perhaps the most memorable of these triumphs due to the fan favorite meme-worthy Finns, but it has to be said that it came over an especially weak field. Many of the storylines revolved around the potential insolvency of Bravado Gaming, but it’s become clear in retrospect that it was ENCE’s win that would be a harbinger of things to come: a few months later, they’d be battling it out with Astralis in a major final.

So how much is a DreamHack Open win worth, apart from the prize money? Now that mousesports joined this particular pantheon, we’re going to have another data point to look at. It’s very possible to kick on from that stage and achieve big things – which is probably exactly why karrigan decided tot take his merry men to Tours.