Oceanic Counter-Strike representatives from a record four teams lit up the server this past week at the IEM Katowice World Championships – one of ESL’s annual flagship tournaments in the esport.
While the event was held online, IEM Katowice saw OCE’s qualifier Renegades fly out to Europe to bootcamp and participate in their first event outside of Australia since their second-place finish at DreamHack Leipzig in January 2020.
Outside of the new-look Renegades with Alistair ‘aliStair’ Johnston, OCE’s representatives also included Justin ‘jks’ Savage on Complexity and Cloud9 coach Chris ‘Elmapuddy’ Tebbit, but all eyes were on Chris ‘dexter’ Nong in his first event at the helm of Mousesports.
“There’s a lot of groundwork already in place [at Mousesports] but it’s more about wanting to include my own stuff and create new things. There hasn’t been much time as we’ve only practiced for one week, so within the next few weeks we’ll be working hard to achieve goals I’ve set for myself.” - Chris ‘dexter’ Nong, Mousesports
After a shaky 16-14 victory over his old squad in Renegades, dexter (0.86 rating, 11 maps) helped oversee a bounceback for Mousesports as they made a successful run through the Katowice play-in.
Dropping to CIS squad Gambit Esports 1-2 (16-11, 12-16, 6-16), Mouz faced elimination and needed to defeat jks’ Complexity to qualify for the group stage, but it wasn’t looking likely after a 25-kill masterclass from Valentin ‘poizon’ Vasilev saw Complexity up 1-0.
Complexity were all but through to the next stage on Dust 2, leading 15-8 and needing just one round to close out the series, but an incredible comeback orchestrated by Robin ‘ropz’ Kool (1.64 rating, 38-19) and dexter (0.99 rating, 26-27, 74 ADR) saw Mouz take an overtime win 19-17.
The demolition continued for Mouz on Nuke, sprinting out to a 12-3 lead on the T side before closing out without dropping a CT round, 16-3. The result is a disappointing one for jks (0.92 rating, -12 K/Diff) and Complexity, who were coming off a solid BLAST Premier campaign and were looking to continue rolling with the return of AWPer poizon.
As for Mousesports, their reign at Katowice came to an unfortunate end following losses to Astralis (8-16, 12-16) and a Gambit rematch (11-16, 10-16), but signs are good for the lineup and dexter, who mentioned in an interview with HLTV that he was still adjusting to new positions within the lineup, both individually and as the team’s in-game leader.
Renegades too were working through new positioning with Liam ‘malta’ Schembri switching to the captain role and aliStair joining the side for his first event. Their narrow loss to Mousesports meant potential elimination without a map win, but the Oceanic squad bounced back against Brazilian qualifier Team oNe.
Both teams claimed each other’s map pick in dominating fashion, forcing a third map in Overpass. Renegades dropped the pistol but won the forcebuy, and began to pile on rounds on the CT side, leading 5-1.
Team One would find just six rounds on offense, while Renegades were looking to end the series early following a 4-1 start to the second half. The Brazilian side wouldn't go down without a fight though – down 15-11, Team One went four straight to force overtime, with a majority of the rounds down to just one-versus-ones.
But it was Renegades prevailing through an outstanding 90 kills from the new core of Joshua ‘INS’ Potter (1.41 rating, 31-25, 16 assists, 109 ADR), aliStair (1.28 rating, 29-22) and Simon ‘Sico’ Williams (1.17 rating, 30-23), taking Overpass and the series 19-17.
“It felt like we were in control for most of Overpass, but before we knew it we had to fight to avoid overtime – it came down to a battle of stamina. We were pretty uppity the whole time though, even through a few PC issues.” - Alistair ‘aliStair’ Johnston.
Unfortunately it would be as far as Renegades would get, following a swift 0-2 (9-16, 3-16) to Russia’s Virtus.pro in the group stage qualifier, eliminating the lineup from Katowice.
All four teams in Renegades, Mousesports, Complexity and Cloud 9 will return to action in early March for the thirteenth season of the ESL Pro League, while Oceania’s other expatriate lineup EXTREMUM will feature in the Pinnacle Cup - their first event following their Snow Sweet Snow campaign from early February.
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