Deep in the heart of Texas, the city of Dallas and esports have formed an unlikely partnership. From the humble beginnings with the Cyber-Athlete Pro League (CPL), to the exuberant Electronic Sports League (ESL Dallas) Pro League at the Verizon Center, the history of Dallas and Counter-Strike can’t be understated.
Sure enough, the venue was absolutely electric nearly filling up the 6350 seats during the finals. That’s more than double what facebook was pulling! And as good as the crowd was, the games delivered on all levels. With a close bo5 finals, great underdog wins throughout the tournament, and a level of CS:GO never seen before, It’s hard to find a bigger winner than those at the venue to experience the games. Nevertheless, here are the biggest narratives of ESL Dallas:
The age of uncertainty is over. Astralis have their era.
Astralis are obvious big winners at this tournament, but it’s understated how much this win means to them. Not only was the win fairly comfortable, but they destroyed any other team that sought to contest them. Only losing one map (much to the dismay of Harvard “rain” Nygaard) to Team Liquid in the grand finals, Astralis are by far the best team in the world right now. Now the conversation shifts from calling Astralis the best team in the world to talks of an Astralis Era. It’s hard to say where this era may rank, but there’s no question who is expected to win the next couple of tournaments.
Liquid solidify their “best in NA” spot
The North American favorites may not have won the tournament, but they have plenty to be proud of. Being the only team to take a map off Astralis and have two very close maps in a bo5? Liquid seem to be the real deal. On top of the close finals, dominant play against Mouz and Navi during the playoffs resulting in two 2-0 victories. Any question marks about Taco have completely disappeared as he was one of their top performing players. Liquid have culled all doubts that they are not only the best in NA, but a top team internationally. They just need to work on closing out games.
The Utility Meta might be on the horizon
According to Petar Milovanovic of HLTV, Astralis had 33 ADR per round with just utility, 58 ADR of which came from the FaZe series. With everyone having their eyes on Astralis, teams are going to pull the pin on all their utility and work to make their grenades as impactful as possible. Creative grenade play isn’t new to counter-strike as many teams used their nades effectively.
But the crazy thing about Astralis’ utility usage was they had a pre-planned nade stack on every map they played. Inferno, dust 2, nuke, it didn’t matter to the danes as every map had elaborate nade setups. It’ll only be a matter of time before all the other teams catch up to this utility usage, so expect a huge meta shift.
Please stop forcing
The Astralis vs. FaZe series was very hard to watch, but the one sidedness can be attributed to mostly economy. Faze never got their economy going on either map and constantly forced gun rounds when they had no utility to fight. And this isn’t just FaZe getting their economy broken at unfortunate times. On Mirage, FaZe won the first gun round and the round after. There’s very little reason for FaZe to keep forcing two times across the 6 rounds in a row that Astralis won. And it’s not just FaZe, Liquid suffered on Nuke due to them force buying. Navi against Liquid did very questionable force buys also. At the end of the day, the only team capable of converting force buys was Astralis.
Cloud 9’s woes continue while SK look better
Cloud9 not only went out with an abysmal 9-12th place, but they looked like the worst NA team at the tournament by far. At least NRG and Renegades went out to teams like SK and Mouz. Cloud9 got dominated by Heroic and struggled against arguably the worst team at the tournament, Sharks. All of this might make fans do a double take on breaking out the tank-tops. SK on the other hand look like night and day beating Renegades, Optic, and Ninjas in Pyjamas. As SK’s consistency improves, there’s still work to do if they want to go back to being the best in the world. The list of teams they need to beat is small, but getting to that point is going to take some work.
Overall, while predictable in their outcome, the matches all met the hype expected out of a premier tournament. This tournament not only delivered great matches, but built stories on what could happen in the future. With the summer just starting, there’s a lot more tournaments to come. Prepare for some more counter-strike this summer as the qualifiers for ESL Cologne 2018 are already underway.