What we learned from DH Las Vegas

With DreamHack Masters Las Vegas coming to a close as Virtus.pro clinched their first title in five months following a thrilling final against the new SK, we recapped the $450,000 event and found lessons we had learned last week.

After a highly successful first edition of Masters in Malmö back in April 2016, DreamHack opted to run the second tournament of that series in Las Vegas, Nevada, with an identical format.

16 teams, including the entire top 10 of our Team Ranking at the time, met in four GSL groups on the first three days of play at one of the largest hotels in the world, the MGM Grand.

The groups saw few surprises: Gambit making it to the top of theirs over Virtus.pro and mousesports besting Group D thanks to marvelous performances from Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný. Only two other debuting lineups made it to playoffs, North and SK, while the remaining seven first-timers exited early.

In the quarter-finals, the favored teams came out on top, with arguably one exception being SK passing Natus Vincere after a thrilling first map of the series, Mirage. Two more quarter-finals had the potential to go to three maps, as North had to go through double overtime against Gambit on the new Inferno, and NiKo almost single-handedly pushed mousesports to 14 rounds on Mirage versus Virtus.pro.

SK continued to show great form in the new lineup with Fernando "fer" Alvarenga and Marcelo "coldzera" David powering through North in the semi-finals. On the other side, tournament favorites Astralis barely made a dent against Virtus.pro, who took their revenge for ELEAGUE Major's final on the same three maps.

SK's perfect run then came to an end in the grand final, where they clinched Cobblestone before the Polish side topped Train and survived a 8-12 deficit as Terrorists on the decider, Mirage, thanks to clutch play for their first title in over five months.

Best maps

Group stage Map (VOD) Stage
United States Cloud9  16 14  Sweden NiP  Overpass  Initial round
Europe mousesports  16 12 CIS Natus Vincere  Cobblestone  Initial round
Europe FaZe 16 13 CIS Natus Vincere Nuke Decider (Map 2)
        
Playoffs
Denmark North 22 20 Kazakhstan Gambit Inferno Quarter-finals (Map 2)
Poland Virtus.pro 16 14 Europe mousesports  Mirage Quarter-finals (Map 2)
Brazil SK 25 22 CIS Natus Vincere  Mirage Quarter-finals (Map 1)
Brazil SK 16 14 Denmark North Cache Semi-finals (Map 1)
Poland Virtus.pro 16 13 Brazil SK Mirage Grand final (Map 3)

SK get a head start and form The Big Three with Astralis and Virtus.pro

With SK adding João "felps" Vasconcellos only two weeks prior to DreamHack Las Vegas, we could only speculate whether Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo would be able to find a fitting role for felps and adjust the team's strategy accordingly.

At the event itself, we saw the fruits of the change already. felps was a stable player throughout and added another layer to SK's already incredible system with his highly aggressive and yet smart and sneaky playstyle, not unlike that of Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski.

His smarts and game sense allow him to time his little flanks and plays to perfection, which makes it one level harder to counter what SK are doing.


FalleN was able to incorporate felps into SK's system very quickly

Out of all the teams that recently changed lineups, SK got a head start with their fantastic showing in Las Vegas. If FalleN was able to incorporate such a player this well and this quickly, it'll be interesting to see how good this lineup can become further down the line while the other new teams play catch-up.

So far, SK have joined Astralis and Virtus.pro at the top to form The Big Three of which any one can win tournaments at the moment, with no one close enough to challenge them for a top three spot.

Na`Vi are running out of time

Before the Major, the Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev-infused Natus Vincere had been having trouble advancing from group stages and only showed up at a very good level at only one out of five events.

After the month-long break at the brink of 2016 and 2017 which Na`Vi spent training hard and fixing their troubling map pool, they added two quarter-finals finishes to their resumé with losses to Astralis and SK.

That is better than exiting tournaments in groups and somewhat unlucky as both of the teams that surpassed them were in great shape, but it is still not enough for players of Na`Vi's caliber.


How long can Na`Vi keep packing up early?

Judging by a post-match interview with Ladislav "GuardiaN" KovácsNatus Vincere are back to the times with Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko still in charge, when the squad tended to start arguing despite leading in the match to a point where they threw it away. That, according to the Slovakian sniper, happened again in their match with mousesports, which is a bad sign going forward.

What bodes well for now is that it looked like Natus Vincere didn't take their following loss to SK in quarter-finals too hard and s1mple went as far as to call it his favorite match of his career. It's also helpful that they'll have another month to work on their issues after IEM Katowice, where they still have a shot at making top four.

However, if they aren't able to take series off some of the best teams in the near future (which they haven't been able to since their triumph at ESL One New York in October), it's only a matter of time before the players start thinking that this lineup can't work.

mousesports have tough times ahead

We got to see again what NiKo can do nearly on his own at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, where he garnered an excellent 1.58 rating across four maps including a solo carry performance that got mouz a win over Natus Vincere in groups.

It was always clear mousesports would have a hard time finding success without NiKo as much as it was always clear he would get a better team at some point, and now that time has come.

Due to NiKo's departure, mousesports will have to restructure and basically start from scratch. They do have a couple of solid players to base their style around, oskar on the AWP and Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran on the rifles, but the question is whether the remaining players can step up to make up for the lack of firepower.


oskar had his moments, but others have to step up to make up for the lack of NiKo

When oskar entered the roster the first time and Chris "chrisJ" de Jong was put on rifles, the Dutchman struggled to find his mark. It is possible, however, that Denis "denis" Howell and Timo "Spiidi" Richter will find better form without the pressure, without the threat of NiKo's wrath hanging over their heads.

Leadership is naturally another issue. At the moment it's Sergey "lmbt" Bezhanov making the calls, which won't hold up when the new squad starts going to offline events where Valve's coaching rules are in place.

It's hard to see the NiKo-less mousesports matching the level they had before, when they weren't exactly favored to make playoffs at big events but sometimes managed to do so when the Bosnian prodigy went off. At best it'll take them time to figure out how to play without their superstar, at worst they'll eventually have to make roster moves.

Inferno will quickly make its way into teams' map pools

Despite Inferno having been added to the Active Duty map pool a mere two weeks prior to DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, most teams looked into it according to several players we interviewed.

We also saw six teams letting it through, including North — who admitted they did it to scare their playoffs opponents away and get an advantage in the upcoming vetoes in case they won —, OpTic, fnatic, Gambit, NiP, and Astralis.


North and Gambit played Inferno twice at DreamHack Masters

That makes Inferno much more promising than Nuke, which took months before top teams started playing it regularly after it was re-added in April (and it is still by far the least played map offline, by the way).

Perhaps it's because Inferno was well-liked before its removal and the new version allows for the same old approach to work, and as such it's easier to incorporate into teams' map pools.

Thanks to that we should see the map in play very often, very soon. Teams will hopefully take a good look at the changes to try to get ahead with new tactics and setups so we can see whether there's room for innovation. So far, we haven't seen too much of it and it's hard to say if significant changes to how the map is played are even possible.

Las Vegas makes for a poor location for big stages

While I'm sure the players had a great time having fun in the sin city, Las Vegas was clearly not a great choice of location for a large-scale Counter-Strike tournament in hindsight.

Being a fairly small city in the middle of a desert, the accessibility of Las Vegas is poor at best, which is possibly the biggest reason why we saw only hundreds of spectators at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, a venue that can fit in well over 15,000 people.


The crowd wasn't up to par with what we've come to expect from stadium events

I could see a more casual, behind-the-scenes, Acer Predator Masters type tournament working in Las Vegas where you have a lot of entertainment to work with, but it's unlikely we'll see a stadium tournament taking place there again anytime soon.

That being said, DreamHack shouldn't see the event as a failure overall. The second edition of Masters drew a lot of attention online despite the time zone difference for Europe, everything went quite swiftly, and we saw how great a 360° stage can look.

Hopefully, we will see all of that again with a large crowd in August in Malmö, which was a huge success all-around last year.

You can follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter

Brazil Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.19
Maps played:
1093
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.12
Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
731
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Slovakia Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Age:
28
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1456
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Germany Timo 'Spiidi' Richter
Timo 'Spiidi' Richter
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
1320
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.15
Germany Denis 'denis' Howell
Denis 'denis' Howell
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
1314
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.72
APR:
0.14
Spain Christian 'loWel' Garcia Antoran
Christian 'loWel' Garcia Antoran
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
842
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1148
KPR:
0.81
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Czech Republic Tomáš 'oskar' Šťastný
Tomáš 'oskar' Šťastný
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.13
Maps played:
977
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.11
Ukraine Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko
Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko
Age:
32
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.92
Maps played:
1400
KPR:
0.63
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.17
Brazil Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1176
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.11
Netherlands Chris 'chrisJ' de Jong
Chris 'chrisJ' de Jong
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1486
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.11
Ukraine Sergey 'lmbt' Bezhanov
Sergey 'lmbt' Bezhanov
Age:
-
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.67
Maps played:
18
KPR:
0.46
DPR:
0.72
APR:
0.12
Brazil Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Fernando 'fer' Alvarenga
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1163
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.16
Poland Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski
Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1616
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.13
Ukraine Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.23
Maps played:
1066
KPR:
0.85
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.10
that VP is number 1
2017-02-24 10:40
Las Vegas makes for a poor location for big stages. Being a fairly small city in the middle of a desert, the accessibility of Las Vegas is poor at best, which is possibly the biggest reason why we saw only hundreds of spectators. nicely said
2017-02-26 15:40
nice
2017-02-24 10:40
#6
Monkey | 
Brazil Cupinxa 
ez
2017-02-24 10:40
#7
hardstyle | 
Portugal SCRL 
ds
2017-02-24 10:40
#8
Russia adv1 
nice
2017-02-24 10:40
NA CROWD ARE SHIT.
2017-02-24 10:41
+1
2017-02-24 14:10
youre retarded
2017-02-24 14:52
#86
 | 
Finland Smoonah 
"Being a fairly small city in the middle of a desert, the accessibility of Las Vegas is poor at best" lmfao Las Vegas isn't a small city whatsoever. downy patient write-up. Just mad no one came to low budget tournament LUL
2017-02-24 19:46
+2
2017-02-25 01:23
NA crowd isn't bad. The problem is that LV, while it's worldwide famous, it's also a bit hard to reach. It's like Manchester, it's a famous and good city but it takes more effort to go to Manchester than London, I guess.
2017-02-25 23:40
#14
FalleN | 
World Vechnyp 
na 4 teams, none of those go through
2017-02-24 10:41
#15
 | 
Germany Tunio 
Thats vp is the best everrr
2017-02-24 10:41
What we learned: SK is shit and VP is bestest team
2017-02-24 10:46
#28
 | 
Israel asafborger 
Nope, NiP is shittiest team now
2017-02-24 11:23
#17
 | 
Russia skipster 
~Vp besterest~
2017-02-24 10:48
#18
Frankie | 
United States lybrel 
That Gambit is the best CIS team
2017-02-24 10:49
They wrote about mouz, but did not about Gambit lol.
2017-02-24 11:10
The stage was pretty cool yep
2017-02-24 10:50
We learned that no more events to na!
2017-02-24 11:00
#22
fer | 
Austria neodan 
a casino is not the right place for CSGO
2017-02-24 11:07
What we learned is that Nip will persist with friberg and pyth in upcoming events
2017-02-24 11:08
#24
ceh9 | 
World mukas17 
360 stage is indeed the way to go, it looked sick and also is better for the spectators on site, more people feel like they have "good seats."
2017-02-24 11:09
Obviously we found out that VP is legendary team
2017-02-24 11:09
I'm learned that navi toxic kids
2017-02-24 11:14
Na'vi keep on sucking
2017-02-24 11:29
NaVi has no chance in current form Astralis was just a fluke NA is still garbage VP top1 in the world Gambit, north, sk have big potential Niko is scary but faze was always shit so lets see...
2017-02-24 11:30
#89
TACO | 
Brazil torm3ntin 
niko will fit nice in Faze. They have good strats, but lack firepower. I hope astralis is not a fluke. i like those guys. don't forget they still made semis...
2017-02-24 23:55
OMG NA AND CS:GO TOURNAMENTS. IM SURE $$$$ WINS :)
2017-02-24 11:32
#36
 | 
United States Grace_Kelly 
vp can toggle if they want to without getting vacced
2017-02-24 11:38
we learned nip is bots team
2017-02-24 11:38
#38
 | 
Brazil bandicoot 
We learned that SK is far from done and a force to be reckoned with. and no more events in area51
2017-02-24 11:39
"Best maps" part mostly with Na`Vi's matches :> n1
2017-02-24 11:46
Las Vegas is a dead city outside of the gambling. Extremely overrated.
2017-02-24 11:49
Why theres nothing about Gambit?
2017-02-24 12:02
what i learned about dh vegas is that you should focus more on passionate countries / city to hold an event and not the commercial countries that pay the best ! AGAINST MODERN CSGO !
2017-02-24 12:09
lol vegas is in a desert
2017-02-25 23:34
Incredible how deep striker is in nikos
2017-02-24 12:12
#48
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
we learned that SK will never win anything big even in 2017 and we learned that NA teams are just wasted spots in any event
2017-02-24 12:15
#65
 | 
Brazil bandicoot 
how can you say that sentence with any credibility? they just had 2 weeks of practise with felps, and had they not "thrown" that round where Taz made an epic clutch, SK would have won the first major event after Atlanta among all these superteams. You are either a troll or a hater (or dumb)
2017-02-24 13:12
#66
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
don`t cry little chimp maybe SK will win some tier2 event this year there is still hope for that
2017-02-24 13:15
#80
 | 
Brazil sprk1 
enjoy your ban :)
2017-02-24 15:29
#91
 | 
Luxembourg alex24 
what for ? because i said SK are trash ? don`t hate the truth
2017-02-25 10:35
#72
 | 
Brazil erfur 
Dont waste your time with blind haters...
2017-02-24 14:22
We learned that it is never a good idea to have an event in the US because of the less crowd.
2017-02-24 12:19
not a single sentence about the winner of tournament in that article, wtf?
2017-02-24 12:22
C9 next major champ.
2017-02-24 12:34
Idk if its relevant but was expecting something for the overall NA performance
2017-02-24 12:41
We learned that csgo events shouldnt be organised in NA
2017-02-24 12:44
I love this "what we learned" gj hltv
2017-02-24 12:45
Bring CSGO back to Europe, where it belongs. PERIOD.
2017-02-24 12:47
The artificially NA hate because of their fans lul. MLG Columbus had a good audience + ELEAGUE Major had the perfect playtimes.
2017-02-24 13:04
"mousesports have tough times ahead" ye, for fucking sure when now they don't have niko 10/10
2017-02-24 13:11
#67
 | 
World Vidua 
Not enough about Gambit and Virtus.pro in this article.
2017-02-24 13:17
#68
gas | 
Austria Phil_1337 
We learned: No more NA events!
2017-02-24 13:19
#70
 | 
Poland trancemeister 
The Big Three - ASTRALIS , VIRTUS.PRO AND SK GAMING. /confirmed
2017-02-24 13:55
#73
 | 
Malaysia phyzell 
Eat cheese grilled burger with roasted bacon from BurgerKing before starting your matches. Tasty made delicious turns your heart into a bon of fire. LOL
2017-02-24 14:45
#75
 | 
United States darkun 
LOL they did get GG'd hard on the attendence.. would be kinda awkward to work it with no crowd
2017-02-24 14:54
Lez go gambit!
2017-02-24 15:15
#79
 | 
Germany bhop_master 
learned that csgo events in usa are shit and its like everything just about the $$$ katowice will > all
2017-02-24 15:18
Best maps? De Nuke 16-3 Rekted Asstralis and 16-4 de train same :D
2017-02-24 17:51
No NA team in the semi finals, no NA crowd.
2017-02-24 18:49
#84
 | 
France kennySsSsS 
The crowd wasn't up to par with what we've come to expect from stadium events true
2017-02-24 18:50
What i learned is that you should never put events in NA, EU fans are great and when u watch matches the hype is there
2017-02-24 18:51
#96
 | 
Belgium i_am_alexa 
Las Vegas was a terribly bad idea... Horrible for European viewers.
2017-02-26 16:46
#97
HeatoN | 
World Shaktar 
I hope the wall they are building will prevent CSGO events to happen in that shitty country
2017-02-27 09:35
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