The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive calendar is winding down for the year but amongst the high tier events in December, the finals of the tenth season of ESL Pro League is arguably the most anticipated of them all. The iconic EPL event this year features a cool USD $600,000 prize pool, a spot at next year’s IEM Katowice 2020 and, for the equally iconic Ollie “DickStacy” Tierney and his new organisation Renegades, an opportunity to prove themselves once more on the world stage.
It has been a stellar year for the new Renegades; two Asia Minor wins for two consecutive Major appearances, five S-Tier event qualifications including two top eight finishes at Dreamhack Masters Malmö and IEM Sydney, a multitude of upset wins over top teams like Team Liquid and FaZe Clan – the absolute works for a team still competing in Oceania.
Closer to home, the boys claimed their first international trophy outside of this years’ Asia Minor events with a win in Jakarta last month at the OMEN Challenger Series. Wins over Absolute and ALPHA Red in the playoffs cemented then-Grayhound Gaming the USD $20,000 winner’s purse, but the initial feeling for DickStacy following the final wasn’t of satisfaction, but of relief.
“At the moment of the win the feeling was relief instead of satisfaction. We definitely had an expectation to win this tournament, and win convincingly, and when struggles persisted outside of our control, it showed in our gameplay. Looking back on the event, the satisfaction of the win definitely kicked-in later that night,” said DickStacy.
The win included a bonus USD $4,500 for teammate Joshua “INS” Potter, who dominated the event with a 1.43 HLTV rating and 96.7 ADR over the 15 maps played. “INS was definitely happy when they brought out his big cheque for MVP, which was unexpected,” says DickStacy. INS’ integration into the lineup has been nothing short of phenomenal since his acquisition three months ago, somewhat softening the loss of Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantulga who returned home to Mongolia. “Erk's a legend. [INS’ transition into GH] was smooth, he just slotted into all of erkaSt’s rolls and it meshed nicely. Now it’s all about trying to build from there,” said DickStacy.
Renegades’ (RNG) recent form is beginning to draw comparisons to Vox Eminor’s dominance of the region shortly before their move in 2015, and while DickStacy arrived to CS:GO a little after Vox, he believes it’s the same fundamentals that have RNG in a similar spot. “I believe what keeps us ahead is experience and skill of the roster. The boot camps and tournaments we've been to this year are very effective in building individual skills and developing as a team. As a result, I reckon the way we fundamentally think about the game is much more consistent than the other teams, as we've been punished for our mistakes abroad and picked-up setups and plays from other teams.”
Renegades have won 29 of their last 31 maps against Oceanic opponents – their last series loss to such a lineup came at the Dreamhack Masters Malmö OCE Closed Qualifier to Genuine Gaming – and while circumstances like event clashes and limited access to international events negatively affect the region’s growth, DickStacy believes longevity within a roster, or lack of it, is hitting harder.
“Hard to say, the OCE scene is obviously developing but there could easily be more contenders for top eight that can accelerate the process. The constant roster moves from lower teams is doing nothing except weakening them. They need to stick together and grind out learning the game together. Young talent needs to be taken more seriously from the top eight teams, and the younger talent also have to do their part and drop any attitude issues and try not to act like they are the next forsaken.”
For RNG though, growth as a team is booming. But the next level may require a more drastic lifestyle change, from more consistent practice against the larger European/North American regions, to longer boot camps before large events – even perhaps an international move.
For DickStacy? “All of the above,” he exclaims, but it’s easier said than done, especially when considering a move internationally. “An international move is huge, especially the change in lifestyle and mental health. Europe is off the cards as it consists of too many top teams – we would have to grind our way up from the "bottom" resulting in potentially missing out on a lot of tournaments and leagues. A move to America would affect everyone differently and we only see it worthwhile if it was for the right price. Consistent bootcamps and regular competition is the most effective, enjoyable and healthiest way we see fit at the moment.”
It’s the last chance for Renegades to impress in 2019 at this week’s finals event in Odense, but to DickStacy it’s another day at the office.
“[The] pressure to perform individually is there, but besides that, we are completely comfortable and calm,” he says. “We've been to these events too much and dealt with the losses. We can see our progress over time, so we know what works, now we enjoy the process and look forward to getting better and living a good life achieving Tesla Roadsters.”
A win in Odense might just manage the five Teslas, but DickStacy knows to aim a little more realistically to begin with. “Stage at events like these is always the first goal.”
Finally, the support from home is key to the drive and motivation of the boys. “You guys are sick c***s. Always appreciate the support and hopefully you guys enjoy following our journey with us. The dream is to put Australian counter strike more into the spotlight and bring some big tournaments down under, and more European tourists.”