There were two big, familiar stories at DreamHack Valencia’s FACEIT 2015 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament. First, it was once again a clash of North America vs. Europe. But it was also another battle between two of North America’s biggest eSports organizations: Cloud9 and Team SoloMid as their Counter-Strike squads brought the classic rivalry roaring back to life even as it has flagged in League of Legends.
And once again, Cloud9 and North America came up short.
Cloud9 is starting to become the quintessential “bridesmaid” team in CS. They’ve been finalists in numerous tournaments lately, but the title has eluded them each time. This weekend, it looked like they would finally break the curse.
A tremendous duel against Fnatic (another team that has recently denied C9) culminated in a nail-biting double overtime on Train that was probably the emotional high-point of the tournament. Cloud9 eked out a narrow victory with patient, positional play that Fnatic could not manage to crack.
But C9’s finals opponent was Team SoloMid’s Danish Counter-Strike team, who had rallied against Na’Vi with two back-to-back dominating performances on Train and Dust 2. TSM have had a great 2015 so far, and in the final, they just outclassed Cloud9.
Not that Cloud9 didn’t put up a hell of a fight. TSM held a narrow lead on cache for several rounds before finally jumping ahead 14-8. With only one more game to give up before they were on match-point, Cloud9 managed a heroic rally to bring the series to 15-14, aided by some astonishing plays from Michael “shroud” Grzesiek, whose stand in round 26 was one of the greatest single moments of the tournament.
But TSM held on to win the map and then just stomped Cloud9 on Mirage 16-2, earning themselves a $40,000 grand prize and denying Cloud9 yet again, who can’t quite seem to get the finals monkey off their back.
Still C9 are markedly improving, and pressing their European rivals harder at every tournament. Their revenge against Fnatic was sweet, and despite a disastrous second map, gave TSM some real scares in the final. The most worrying thing about C9 in these last couple weeks is that, for all their talent, they seem to find ways to lose. At some point, that kind of pattern becomes a mental problem, not a mechanical one.