Dark horses gallop to CS:GO semifinals at DreamHack Winter

Team Kinguin celebrates a victory at the DreamHack Winter 2016 Counter-Strike:Global Offensive Open. Provided by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

After a thrilling day of initial group matches between eight elite Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams, the DreamHack Winter action continued Friday as the tournament took its next step toward crowning a $50,000 winner. With GODSENT and Renegades already through to the semifinals by way of coming out of their groups as the first seed, the remaining six teams battled it out for the final two spots in the semifinals. After four best-of-three series, Team Kinguin and Gambit Gaming came out victorious. With four dark horse teams in the playoffs, it is basically anyone's tournament to win.

Team Kinguin earns victory in Group A

In what has continued to be a tournament of upsets, the reigning Epicenter winners, Team Dignitas, were felled in the Group A loser's match against FlipSid3 Tactics. While FlipSid3 is a team that has been gaining some ground in the Counter-Strike scene of late, Team Dignitas is widely considered to be a top-10, if not top-five team. For the mostly-Danish squad to get taken out by a team that has struggled in recent months is a bit surprising. It wasn't a blowout by any means, as both of FlipSid3's wins went 30 rounds while Dignitas' win went 29. The close win moved FlipSid3 on to the Group A decider to take on Team Kinguin.

The momentum did not help FlipSid3 in its next matchup, however, as Kinguin got off to a nice start in the decider series, jumping out to an early 6-2 lead. But FlipSid3 wasn't going to let things get away that easily. It would storm all the way back to force overtime and eventually take the first map 19-16. Game 2 switched over to Overpass and saw FlipSid3 get off to a 9-6 lead at the half only for Kinguin to march right back. Mikołaj "mouz" Karolewski kicked it into high gear and helped Kinguin bounce back with a 10-4 second half to take the map 16-13. Mouz finished with a kills/deaths count (K/D) of 23/18 and a game-high 94.3 average damage per round (ADR). The teams would move to Mirage for the final game where FlipSid3 got off to a quick 6-1 start before its wheels completely came off. Kinguin, behind a stellar game from Michał "MICHU" Müller, won 15 straight rounds to take the map and the series, moving on to face Renegades in semifinals Saturday.

Gambit Gaming defies the odds and advances to semifinals

After Cloud9 was upset by Renegades in the first game of Group B on Thursday, the North American team was forced to battle through the loser's bracket of Group B to make its way to the semifinals. That road started with a matchup against the other North American team in the tournament, OpTic Gaming. While many would have expected a bit of a close series, it ended up being anything but. Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert helped Cloud9 make incredibly short work of OpTic, posting a 49/28 K/D and 97.3 ADR. The team won Game 1 on Overpass 16-8 and Game 2 on Dust 2 16-6. That set the team up with a match against Gambit Gaming.

At first, Gambit didn't put up much more of a fight in its series against Cloud9 than OpTic did. Cloud9 seemingly picked up right where it left off with OpTic, taking Game 1 on Mirage by a lopsided score of 16-6. This time it was Timothy "autimatic" Ta coming up big with a 27/9 K/D to go along with a stellar 114.7 ADR. Game 2 was a completely different story, as it seemed as though some other force took over control of Gambit. It got off to a 13-2 start with Rustem "mou" Tlepov leading the way with his 16/5 K/D at the half. Gambit would then win the first three rounds of the second half to take the game 16-2. The final game on Dust 2 was the closest of the series, but it was Gambit that would come out victorious against all odds. The European team got out to an 11-4 lead at the half before wrapping up the 16-11 win. This time it was Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev who stepped up to lead the team to victory, putting together an impressive 24/14 K/D. Gambit is moving on to face GODSENT in the semifinals Saturday.