The gap at the top of Oceanic Counter-Strike is closing, but titans Renegades held off challengers AVANT Gaming to claim victory at last week’s DreamHack Masters Oceania 3-2 (1-0, 13-16, 9-16, 16-10, 16-11).
Originally penned as a premier offline tournament to take place in Sweden in mid-June, the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing global travel restrictions forced DreamHack to split the event regionally and bring dates forward to June 3. As a result, the $250,000 USD prize pool was divided between Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania.
Christopher ‘dexter’ Nong’s squad claimed the lion’s share of the split $20,000 prize pool and backed up their win at ESL One: Road to Rio in May—going undefeated across the four-team event—but it wasn’t made easy for them. Challenges set by staunch rival AVANT, who in both series found themselves just a few rounds away from defeating Renegades, ensured that the second tier of OCE CS:GO weren't far behind the DreamHack champions.
Once again it was team captain dexter (1.26 rating, +35 K/Diff, 1.18 K/D) leading the way for Renegades, with consistent performances from Joshua ‘INS’ Potter (1.23 rating, +43 K/Diff, 1.25 K/D) and Simon ‘Sico’ Williams (1.20 rating, +47 K/Diff, 1.29 K/D) helping see RNG to the trophy.
For runners-up AVANT, it was Euan ‘sterling’ Moore (1.11 rating, +49 K/Diff, 1.23 K/D) extending his purple patch of form through 2020, with teammate Mike ‘ap0c’ Aliferis (1.07 grand final rating, 74-80 K/D) going above and beyond to keep his squad in touching distance in a thrilling best-of-five grand final.
ORDER’s Alistair ‘aliStair’ Johnson (1.26 rating, +36 K/Diff, 1.30 K/D) topped the event statistics but his heroics were not enough to overcome AVANT; going down 0-2 (10-16, 13-16) to the eventual runner-ups in the opening series, then 1-2 (16-13, 10-16, 13-16) against them in the loser bracket final.
Fourth place Chiefs Esports Club far exceeded expectations given this was their first official event with new 15-year-old prodigy Declan ‘Vexite’ Portelli, taking a map off champions Renegades in their 1-2 (11-16, 16-7, 10-16) opening match defeat before bowing out to ORDER 0-2 (8-16, 13-16).
AVANT drew blood against Renegades in a marathon upper bracket final, taking Dust 2 25-21 in quadruple overtime, then came ever-so-close to a series shutout on Nuke. RNG held on—taking Nuke 16-14—then dominated a fatigued AVANT on Inferno 16-7 to lock in the grand final spot.
ORDER came back from the brink in the lower bracket final opener on Train; after conceding 12 rounds on the CT side, the veteran squad led by aliStair (1.43, 25-18) and Ricardo ‘Rickeh’ Mulholland (1.22, 21-18) pulled off an almost perfect T half to win 16-14. Both Inferno and Nuke would go down to the wire but once more it was sterling (1.34, 77-49) proving the difference as AVANT edged out ORDER 16-10, 16-13 to set up the best-of-five rematch.
Renegades entered the final with a map advantage but AVANT immediately levelled the series with a brilliant 16-13 Dust 2 win, before a 13-2 CT half on Nuke had Renegades reeling. Going down 16-9, RNG bounced back with their own solid Mirage CT half to force a 5th map on Inferno.
RNG sprinted to a 7-4 lead before AVANT made headway into their CT half, coming out just one round behind at 8-7 at the switch. But a sublime duo performance from riflers INS (1.71, 26-14) & Liam ‘malta’ Schembri (1.51, 27-13) locked AVANT out of the map and the series 16-11.
Together with their $10,000 prize winnings, Renegades also added 185 ESL Pro Tour points to their tally—crucial for qualification to future ESL premier events—with both AVANT and ORDER netting 85 and 45 points respectively.
ORDER, AVANT and Chiefs will be in action throughout June in ESEA Premier league play, while it is yet to be known what will become of this year’s ESL One: Cologne event following its cancellation. Stay tuned to Here’s The Thing to keep up to date with news, results, commentary and more in the ever-growing Oceanic esports scene.