Eight Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams from around the world will gather in Austin, Texas, beginning Friday to compete in the second annual DreamHack Austin CS:GO event for their share of $100,000.
Unlike last year, which featured only North American-based teams, the team pool of this event will include international teams, including the likes of Gambit Esports, G2 Esports, Heroic and HellRaisers. With a more diverse set of competition, the event will be more competitive but will also serve as a moment for some teams, such as the never before offline-tested Luminosity Gaming and a rebuilt Team Liquid squad, to prove themselves.
Ahead of Friday's event, we sat down with three of the best Counter-Strike commentators to get their predictions of how it will shake out.
John "BLU" Mullen
BLU: I've found Heroic to have quite a bit more consistency on some of these bigger LANs as of late. They're the most surprising in certain respects, but it's starting to get to the point where it's not surprising anymore to see them do actually pretty well. Especially considering who else is in the group, I feel like they can contend at the very least with HellRaisers and Luminosity, who have yet to prove themselves at a big LAN. I don't think that this is going to be Luminosity's chance; I think it'll be Heroic making it through.
BLU: I have been a big fan of Gambit ever since it's been plopping onto the scene, especially around Cologne 2016, when it was able to prove it could do it again and reclaim a legend spot. I'm going to go with Gambit. I think it's going to make a title there.
Wolf: In Group A, it's fair to say that only two teams have a realistic chance to challenge Gambit and fight for the second spot. Those two are Heroic, a young Danish squad that has seen recent success, and HellRaisers, a team that has struggled to find consistency but has been on an upswing in recent weeks.
Heroic has found itself close to reaching a final at a major event, as evident by the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in March. The team, now in a less stressful environment, could flourish and make it out the group.
Group B, however, proves a better opportunity. Immortals is not what it once was, but it's still a good team. Cloud9 is the same. As for Liquid, this is only its second event with Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken in the lineup. It's the land of opportunity for someone to qualify for playoffs and still a very extremely competitive fight for second.
Wolf: Last year, the reigning major champion, the former squad of Luminosity Gaming, took it all at the event among a field that include North American teams like Cloud9, Counter Logic Gaming, NRG Esports and more. This year, however, it looks as if DreamHack Austin is posed to see its first European-based champion in Counter-Strike.
The lack of names such as Astralis, Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere and SK Gaming, to name a few, makes G2's ride to the finals and potentially $50,000 in prize earnings an easier task.
Jason "Moses" O'Toole
Moses: In terms of Cloud9, I think it's going to hold on to that crown in North America. I think Liquid has all the tools to be the better team, but as Liquid usually does, it just seems to be disappointing in that regard. It's not living up to the amount of talent it has across all of the crazy different lineups it had.
Moses: I think the G2 superteam is going to be too strong. I think it's the clear favorite for this tournament despite the fact that we've seen very little of it. What we have seen of it looks good. You can play fundamental Counter-Strike all you want, but someone like Kenny "kennyS" Schrub, someone like Richard "shox" Papillon, and someone even like Dan "apEX" Madesclaire, G2 has at least three guys that no matter how good of Counter-Strike you play, they can beat you anyway.
Dustin "dusT" Mouret
dusT: HellRaisers' online play recently has looked pretty good, particularly how it qualified for StarLadder and how it did at StarLadder offline as well. It definitely has some things going for it, whereas a team like Luminosity in Group A still hasn't even won a big best-of-three online against a top team from the North American region; all of its wins have been against weaker teams, or maybe it'll take a map off a top team, but it has never won a series against a top team, so it hasn't taken that next step for me to be confident. HellRaisers can definitely pose a threat.
dusT: It's G2's event to lose. This event, with the talent it has and the field it is up against, is not at the same level as StarLadder, where it had the big teams involved. It is, on paper, one of the best teams at this event as far as experience, skill and playmaking ability. It's G2's event to lose in that sense.