ESL and DreamHack Announce CS:GO Tournament Series with $5 Million in prizes

In 2020, ESL and DreamHack will host a series of CS: GO tournaments called ESL Pro Tour, with a total prize pool of $5 million. Representatives of organizations believe that this will help novice players show their full potential and break into the professional stage, esports calendar site Entowr announced on Monday.

ESL Pro Tour includes 20 championships from ESL and DreamHack. Participants will be divided into two categories – Challenger and Masters. The first consists of DreamHack Open, ESEA MDL and ESL National Championships and will help players break into the Masters category, where they will play for $250,000 in tournaments.

Masters include such championships as ESL One, IEM and DreamHack Masters, and ESL Pro League.

By participating in the ESL Pro Tour, players will earn points and slots in two major championships — the Masters Championship, which will be held in Katowice and Cologne. The organizers promise to announce more details on September 28th. 

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Magnus Leppäniemi: “We don’t want to split them up but we feel that we have to start somewhere”

Magnus Leppäniemi: “We don’t want to split them up but we feel that we have to start somewhere”

On Tuesday, DreamHack has announced that in an effort to create opportunities for aspiring female esports competitors, it will host a female Counter-Strike tournament as part of the upcoming Valencia event with $100,000 on offer.

DreamHack Showdown will be held from July 5-7 and will represent the “first large-scale collaboration” between the Swedish tournament organizer, ZOWIE and Esport-Management aimed to “elevate ambitious women CS:GO players in the global esports scene and provide a dedicated platform to support their professional growth.”

“This is the first time that an all-female event is getting the same terms and conditions that male players have,” Magnus Leppäniemi, Sales Director Brand Partnerships for DreamHack told Vie Esports. “This is not just a sideshow. It will be the main event at DreamHack Valencia, not something that happens on the second or third stage.”

Participating CS:GO players and teams will have access to dedicated player support, professional event facilities, practice rooms and promotion throughout the event. The tournament will have eight slots, two of which will be filled through invites. Esport-Management will run the European and North American online qualifiers on June 8-9, while ZOWIE will host the Asian qualifiers, which will culminate with a LAN stage in Shanghai from June 20-23.

In addition to that, DreamHack will be taking care of all the travel, lodging, and similar expenses for all the teams and players participating in the event.

Left to right: Allan Phang, Frank Ericson, Magnus Leppäniemi

“This is the first time that all-women tournament will have that center-focus as an all-male tournament would, and it’s not something that really happened before,” Leppäniemi added.

As one would expect, the announcement was met with varying levels of support to the initiative from the community. Some were happy to see women get the same level of recognition that male players do, others, however, were less than happy about it.

“Esports is one of the few sports where men and women can actually compete at the same level, but the focus has always been on the male teams. We wanted to provide a platform for all female players to compete. Because we know they are playing, but we wanted to offer them a safe environment to do that,” Leppäniemi said.

“We wanted to open them the same possibilities that male players get, offer the same access to competitive support. But at the same time, it was also about creating role models for up-and-coming female players to look up to.”

One of the biggest issues that DreamHack wanted to address with their Showdown event, was the differences in skill between the female players in the current environment.

“There are definitely women out there who can play at the highest level already but they can’t do it alone. We need more female players to come in and they need a platform that would let them do just that — start competing and get them out of their bedrooms and onto the main stage.”

According to Leppäniemi, helping the female scene grow was something that DreamHack wanted to do for a while. They recognized early on that in order for the scene to grow and for women to be able to stand on the same footing with their male counterparts, the female scene would need some help to get off the ground.

“We’ve been trying to find ways how to do this. DreamHack never was a male-only event, but at the same time, we never saw female teams qualify for it either. We don’t want to split them up but we feel that we have to start somewhere. It’s going to take a while but we’re going to build something here.”

Team Russia at WESG Female. Photo via HLTV.org

More female events are in the books for DreamHack, Magnus Leppäniemi assured us, possibly even during this competitive season.

“This is just the first step but we’re in it for the long run with our partners Esport-Management and ZOWIE. We feel very strongly about it and we’re very passionate about this project too,” Leppäniemi continued. “This is not just one event in 2019, we have a whole plan. We want to see a longer commitment and more tournaments in the scene.”

According to Magnus Leppäniemi, public backlash and the potential drop in viewership is well within the expectations for the tournament organizer, but their promise to build something great here isn’t wavering. “We can build the storylines on the teams and the players and show everyone how good they are. It might take a while but we have to start somewhere and if the viewership is lower because of that it’s fine.”

Earlier today, DreamHack confirmed the two directly invited teams — Dignitas.female and Besiktas. Esport-Management will run the European and North American online qualifiers starting June 8th, where both qualifiers will have two slots at the main event up for grabs. All female teams can sign-up and participate for a chance to compete at DreamHack Valencia on the biggest stage.

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Spiidi: “I was really itching to play against mousesports”

After a series of disappointing results, Timo “Spiidi” Richter and the rest of Sprout find themselves in a struggle to close out their games.

It’s been a tough few months for the German team. A much-needed roster change failed to deliver the kind of improvement the team was hoping for. The team let go Dennis “sycrone” Nielsen and brought in Josef “faveN” Baumann — an 18-year-old star from EURONICS Gaming.

However, that didn’t help by much in Kiev, where Sprout finished dead last at StarSeries i-League Season 6 finals. They suffered three straight losses against mousesports, Vega Squadron, and HellRaisers. Interestingly, every match ended with a round difference of less than 4 for the German team.

One of the founding members of the team, Timo “Spiidi” Richter, explained their situation within the team and talked about his past with mousesports.

Vie: The tournament didn’t go so well for you. What thoughts come to mind after such a loss?

Spiidi: It went horribly. We are like a new team, we didn’t practice that much, but this is obviously not the result we expected. Every game was really close, 16:14, 16:12, even over-time. So I don’t think we had no shot at the playoffs. We just lost. And that’s the worst feeling in the world.

Sprout. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: In every match, you came really close to winning. But then you just couldn’t go all the way and lost. Do games like these bring your team down?

Spiidi: In our last tournament, in Poland, we lost in a very similar fashion. It was 0-2, with scorelines like 14:16. And this was a repeat of that. When everything comes down to the small things it becomes really important. You have to learn to overcome your issues and to fix these mistakes. We can’t keep making the same mistakes.

Because every game comes down to the wire it doesn’t mean that we have to change the whole system. People have to understand that. We have to motivate each other. We have a good structure, we just have to give it our all. It’s something we have to overcome.

Vie: You lost your game against mousesports 14:16 too. Was that a grudge match for you in any way?

Spiidi: I was really itching for this game. It felt like I never had an opportunity to play against mousesports ever since I left. I knew we could beat them. Even if all the odds were against us. It’s the kind of thought that appears when you play against your old teammates. Even if it’s just subconsciously. Plus, we were somewhat of a dark horse in this match.

Spiidi. Photo via HLTV.org

Vie: Did that help you at all?

Spiidi: It’s possible. Maybe in a few rounds that they played in the same style. But in general, it wasn’t that helpful. They have three new members, it’s a completely different team. It mostly came down to motivation.

Vie: What’s the next goal for the team?

Spiidi: After we return home, first things first — win MDL and qualify for ESL Pro League. That’s our main goal right now.

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S0tf1k: “We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles”

Eight teams entered IEM Katowice CIS Minor to compete for $50,000 in prize money and two slots in the preliminary stage of IEM Katowice Major 2019. Before the Minor we talked with S0tf1k, captain of Team Spirit.

Team Spirit successfully overcame the hurdle of the death group. In the opening match of the tournament they overcame Nemiga Gaming from Belarus in a 34 round thriller. Although Syman Gaming surprised many by defeating Gambit Gaming in their first match they couldn’t keep up the momentum and fell behind Spirit, losing 2:0.

Dmitry “S0tF1k” Forostyanko and his team faced AVANGAR in the first semi-final game. The Russian team couldn’t find their game and were completely lost on both Overpass and Dust 2, losing both 16:6 and 16:5, respectively.

In a battle for survival Team Spirit will face off against another CIS giant in Gambit. With ticket to IEM Katowice Major 2019 on the line neither of the teams is going to give up the fight easily.

S0tF1k talked about their preparation for the tournament and their coach Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov helped them get here.

You were in Group A ( Gambit Esports, Syman Gaming, Nemiga Gaming, Team Spirit), what can you say about the group?

A strong enough group, though I guess all the teams in the minor are. I can not distinguish uncomfortable teams for us, since we have not played with anyone from the CIS recently.

How much did you prepare for this Minor?

10 days that we spent on the bootcamp.

S0tF1k

What did you think of group B (AVANGAR , pro100 , Runtime .gg, Winstrike Team)?

I expected Avangar and someone from Runtime / Winstrike go through.

As you know, on CIS Minor Championship – Katowice 2019 has changed the system of the tournament, and now almost all matches will be played until two victories. Do you like this system and what will it change?

Yes, I like it, less randomness, experience decides more, for my team this is a plus.

How did you prepare for the upcoming minor, is there anything special, maybe you changed the approach to training, changed positions?

We prepared a couple of new rounds and combinations, we changed positions before qualifications. But even so everything is the same as always.

Recently the CIS Faceit League opened, do you think it will help young talents to get into esports?

Yes, it is wonderful that the CIS players have a league in which you can play every day and look after the young guys who are able to become the best in the world in the future, if directed correctly. So, without a doubt, this will help in the development of our region.

Team Spirit

You have a very interesting composition that has not changed at all since the founding of the organization, and for 2 years you have been able to sit firmly in the top 5 CIS teams, tell us the secret of your stability?

We have a coach, Nikolai “Certus” Poluyanov, who solves many of our problems and helps us keep afloat. If not for him, the composition could be quite different.

What are the plans and goals for the team in 2019?

We are dying to get to the top and fight for the big titles.

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flamie: “We are concentrated on improving teamplay”

flamie: “We are concentrated on improving teamplay”

Egor “flamie” Vasilyev is ready to dethrone Astralis and take that number one spot in the global rankings for Natus Vincere.

The Ukrainian team will have two more shots this year to climb the rankings — the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals in Odense, Denmark and BLAST Pro Series in Lisbon, Portugal. The former will begin next week, with 16 best teams of the regular season from Europe, North America, South America, Oceania, and Asia fighting it out for the lion’s share of $750,000 USD.

BLAST Pro Series will once again feature six invited teams, battling for $250,000 USD over two days of competition. Both Astralis and NaVi were invited, alongside Ninjas in Pyjamas, FaZe Clan, Cloud9, and MiBR. Egor “flamie” Vasilyev’s NaVi will be entering the tournament in Portugal as the defending champions, after their convincing victory over NiP in Copenhagen earlier this month.

Natus Vincere had a fairly lackluster season, with “only” three championship winnings, the other two being ESL One: Cologne 2018 and StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 5. What made it truly spectacular was a series of second place finishes, usually behind Astralis.

For Egor “flamie” Vasilyev and his team this will be their last chance to finish the year on a high note and maybe even claim that highly coveted number one spot.

Vie: In anticipation of ESL Pro League S8 Finals and BLAST Pro Series Lisbon, you have set up a bootcamp. What goals did the team set for this training period? What are you planning to work on first?

flamie: First of all — work on our weak maps. And also concentrate on improving team play.

Vie: S1mple in a recent video said that the priority for NAVI is the finals of the ESL Pro League S8. What is the reason? How important is the Intel Grand Slam challenge for the team?

flamie: This is one of the last top-championships this year, so we want to show the best result. If we manage to win the Grand Slam — nice, but if not — it’s not a big deal. So, we do not prioritize Grand Slam and for us, it is more important to win the tournament.

Vie: During your career, you have already played in three finals of the Major tournaments. In which of the defeats you suffered the hardest? What was the reason?

flamie: I think, it was on the second Major (MLG Columbus — NAVI vs Luminosity), because we felt confident in our success. We lost the first map in overtime, gave away our game, which was quite painful.

Vie: Continuing the theme of victories and defeats. Maybe you had a loss more painful than the Majors finals?

flamie: No, I do not think that there were more unpleasant defeats than the Major finals.

Vie: Regarding victories — which success of a tournament brought the most bright and intense emotions? Why was that victory so significant?

flamie: ESL One Cologne. It was a Major tournament with a prize pool of $ 250,000. We beat Astralis, which was almost at the peak of their shape. Additionally, the importance of this championship added the fact that there were represented all the best teams in the world at that time.

Vie: In the second half of the year in the games of the Born to Win, a certain pattern can be observed: if the team participates in tournaments for two weeks straight, then in the second case an unsuccessful performance follows. What causes this? Is it just fatigue or are there other factors?

flamie: It happened twice when we were flying from Europe to America: it was a long flight, we didn’t take a rest, and maybe it was just hard for us to immediately switch to another schedule. I think we need a more competent approach to this issue.

Vie: After the off-season, NAVI participated in six LAN tournaments. You showed the best result on FACEIT Major (1.18 rating), and the worst — on IEM Chicago 2018 (0.74 rating). What was the catalyst for success in London, and what was the reason for not quite the best performance in Chicago?

flamie: I can not name the exact reasons. You can never know in advance how you will play. It seems to me that we just got into a good shape before the FACEIT Major and as a result, the game was going smoothly. And in Chicago, we very quickly dropped out of the tournament, in fact, the whole team performed poorly, including me. Thus, when you play two maps badly, it seriously lowers the rating.

Vie: It is interesting that the most successful map for you in the last three months is the Train (1.10 rating), and the worst is Nuke (0.92 rating). Is this related to your role in the team? And are you satisfied with your position or would you like to change something on some maps?

flamie: Yes, I think it’s correlated. I have a more flexible role on Train, which is pretty easy to play in terms of statistics. At Nuke, I have such a role that i have to look at “ramps” where rivals do not particularly often go, and on the offensive side, it’s not that easy to find a frag. In general, you can always perform better and improve your game.

Vie: Do you have the most beloved and most hated map in the game? Name three positions where you like to play the most, and three — where you only dream that the game ends faster.

flamie: Train evokes the most sympathy. As for the positions, a supporting role on Train, the plant side B on Overpass, and on Inferno, I liked to watch “five,” and also play on a supporting role.

Vie: Do you like the recent changes in the economy of CS:GO? What other changes would you like to see in the game?

flamie: Economy — yes, the changes have brought some new and interesting rounds. Now, finally, the teams practically do not force buy in the second round. And after the score 2 : 0 there is a chance to see the AWP in action.

Vie: Recently, you have begun to be more strict about the food you consume. Tell me, please, what is included in your diet?

flamie: I’m not particularly strict about the food. I just consume it in smaller quantities. So the most common diet, just need to eat less. And do not abuse junk food.

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Fallen: “Astralis is the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO”

Fallen: “Astralis is the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO”

Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo talked about MiBR’s run at the last Major, the reunion with Epitácio “TACO” de Melo, João “felps” Vasconcellos, and Wilton “zews” Prado, and the evolution of AWPing throughout the years.

Today marks the start of BLAST Pro Series: São Paulo 2019 — a $230,000 event, headlined by the likes of Astralis, MIBR, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas, and ENCE.

On their home ground, MIBR have a great chance to reclaim their throne as the world’s best, but according to Fallen, with the way Astralis have been playing, defeating them right now just might be an impossible task.

First of all, let’s talk about the Major. Do you feel satisfied with the result you got there? 

I think it was a good performance from the team. Top 4 is always a good result at the Majors. Of course, we wanted to go further but that wasn’t possible. We didn’t play that well to beat Astralis, but we had some good moments. Overall, I think it was a good performance from the team. And from myself, I think I can play better. I’m trying to get back to my high-level shape, but it’s shaky sometimes. I’m already working to fix that.

Now that you are with Epitácio “TACO” de Melo and João “felps” Vasconcellos again, what has changed in terms of tactics, roles, and approach to the game? 

I think that the approach is pretty similar to what we did in 2017. The roles are pretty much the same. TACO came back as an entry-fragger, felps is a bit more into the lurker role, but it changes a lot depending on the maps and situations. It’s pretty much the same as it was in 2017, but we are trying to integrate greater tactics and have a better understanding of the game because it has changed a lot since then. We had to update ourselves for a little bit.

What can you tell me about the reunion with Wilton “zews” Prado? What kind of ideas did he bring when he joined the team?

I’m always saying that zews’ speciality is creating new stuff and coming up with new features we can use in rounds during the game. He is a very good person to be around as well. He created a good atmosphere for the team. He is always making sure that our pracs are efficient, he is always calling out mistakes, and he is a great guy with a great vision of the game. And that’s important: sometimes you need a pause, sometimes you need to change the strategies a little bit, and zews has always had very good ideas to change the game a little bit. Zews is just a very good coach who can do everything.

Right now you have the very same lineup just like back in the SK days. Why do you believe that it is going to work this time around?

It is going to work the same way if we manage to keep working as we did before. Right now, we can’t know for sure if it is going to work or not, but what do we know for sure is that we are going to put the same effort and mentality that made us winners in the past. We know the path to get there, and of course, there are a lot of things you need to become the best team in the world. We are going to do our best to achieve that.

You also started working more on your Nuke?

Yeah, we have been preparing ourselves to play Nuke on the boot camp before the Major, but it’s still a map where we need a lot of experience. In this match, we thought that they would not pick it because AGO don’t play that much too. We just felt that if they are going to go with that map, we can play it. We thought about it and they went for it.

It surprised us as well. That is probably because they know that we don’t play Nuke that much. We have a history of not playing that map a lot of times, so they just wanted to see if we are good on that map or not. Luckily for us, we did a good job and won 16-5.

It has been more than a year since you won a premier CS:GO event, which is EPL Finals in Odense. Does it add more pressure on you? 

I definitely think winning a super good tournament would help the team a lot in terms of gaining the confidence. It would be a confidence boost for sure. People start believing more in what they are doing, people start playing better, and that’s why sometimes it is hard to stop a team that is winning a lot. We are looking for making it happen, but at the same time, we are not too anxious about getting it soon or not. We have in our minds that we are doing our part, we are working hard, and results are just the last part of our work. It’s going to come, sooner or later.

Right now, Astralis is the most professional team in the world, both inside and outside of the game. Have you borrowed any things from their approach? 

I think we are not doing anything special. We don’t try to copy anything outside of the game. Of course, there are some tendencies in some way they play the game. It’s a bit greater than what the other teams are doing and we are trying to catch up with their style to understand how they approach the game.

Outside of the game, we are just doing our own thing. That’s relative: what works for them might not work for other teams. For sure, they are doing a very good job, it’s working for them. We need to keep thinking what works for us. That’s how we approached the game in the past, so we have the same mentality for now.

There is a debate in the community. There are still people who don’t agree that Astralis is the greatest team of all time in CS:GO. What do you think about that?

I think we can say that they are the best team [in the CS:GO history]. They won three Majors, they’ve already started well this year. I think they are the best team we have ever seen in CS:GO. It’s going to be up to the other teams to try to catch up to their level. Let’s see how long they can sustain performance on that level. For me, they are the best team that has ever existed in CS:GO.

Let’s talk about AWPing. In the past, we had a lot of AWPers like Jesper “JW” Wecksell, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub, who used to own everybody on the server. These days, we have a lot of newcomers who are capable of going toe-to-toe with them. 

I think JW was first to dominate the scene because he was a very aggressive player. He was doing plays people wouldn’t expect from an AWPer. He had help of a good CZ-75 at the time because it was easier to switch the gun, so in case he was in danger, he could just bring the pistol and save himself. He was very good at doing those things. People didn’t expect those plays so he was catching people off guard.

But then, CS kept evolving, players kept getting better, running away from those plays. It started to be harder and harder because people in some sense knew which play he was going to go for, paying more attention to it. Finding those kills became harder and harder, even for JW to be honest.

Having a style of an aggressive AWPer, it’s not super consistent if you are playing on a top-level team and having very good performances over a long period of time. Every time an AWPer goes for an aggressive kill, he is kind of trying to win a game by himself. Sometimes it’s going to work, sometimes it’s not. You need to try to find this balance, and that’s why I think all the AWPers now are looking for finding this balance instead of being super aggressive, for example.

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