Virtus.Pro wins Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas!
DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 kicked off last week, seeing the world’s top sixteen teams battle it out over a first-place prize of $200,000. The roster was made up of eight invited teams (Astralis, Cloud9, Na’Vi, Ninjas in Pyjamas, North, OpTic Gaming, SK Gaming and Virtus.pro), four European qualifiers (FaZe Clan, Fnatic, Gambit Esports and mousesports), three North American qualifiers (Misfits, Renegades and compLexitity Gaming) and an Asian-Oceania qualifier (Tyloo). The teams were divided into four groups, each containing four teams, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the playoffs. Astralis and North advanced from Group A, eliminating OpTic Gaming and compLexity Gaming; Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro from Group B, eliminating Fnatic and Misfits; SK Gaming and Ninjas in Pyjamas from Group C, eliminating Cloud9 and Tyloo; and mousesports and Na’Vi from Group D, eliminating FaZe Clan and Renegades.
The playoffs were played in a best-of-three format. All four of the quarterfinalists that advanced to the semifinals did so with a confident 2-0 victory over their opponent. Na’Vi got off to a strong start against SK Gaming, only losing one out of the first nine rounds on Mirage. However, they failed to maintain this momentum, and after a close 25-22 defeat on Mirage, they were overcome by the aggression of their Brazilian opponents, losing the second match on Train 16-7. DreamHack Winter 2016 champions Gambit Esports were defeated 16-11 on Nuke and 22-20 on Inferno, allowing Danish team North to advance to the semifinals. Astralis took a domineering victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas, taking down Inferno 16-6 and Mirage 16-7. mousesports, after losing the first match against Virtus.pro 16-8 on Train, put up a valiant effort on Mirage but ultimately lost 16-14.
With both Astralis and North advancing to the semifinals, the chances of a Danish team winning DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 were looking good. Astralis faced off against Polish team Virtus.pro in the first semifinal, with opinions at the DreamHack desk split over which team had the edge. The Poles dominated the first match on Nuke, dropping only 3 rounds. Astralis look poised for a comeback after taking the second match on Overpass 16-9; however, this hope was quickly crushed after Virtus.pro scored another staggering 16-4 victory on Train and advancing to the semifinal. Despite dropping a match, the series was still a clear-cut victory for Virtus.pro, who often left their Danish opponents looking thoroughly outmatched. Virtus.pro’s in-game leader, Wiktor “TaZ” Wojtas, performed particularly well both tactically and mechanically, earning him praise from commentators and spectators.
The second semifinal, fought between SK Gaming and North, seemed more evenly matched. The analysts’ desk favoured North to win the series, despite SK Gaming having a more consistent track record in the tournament and a fiercer reputation. They were soon proven wrong as the Brazilian team used their signature aggression to take down the first match on Cache 16-14 and the second on Mirage 16-9. Particular praise went out to Fernando “fer” Alvarenga and Marcelo “coldzera” David, SK Gaming’s entry fragger and rifler respectively, for their consistently impressive kills. With SK Gaming and Virtus.pro advancing into what promised to be a tense and spectacular grand final, the Danish teams each took home the third- and fourth-place prize of $25,000.
The first match of the grand final, taking place on Cobblestone, was a confident victory for SK Gaming. After a
successful anti-eco round in the first half, they were able to exploit Virtus.pro’s weak economy and win the first half 10-6. The Brazilians were able keep this momentum in the second half of the match, taking it down 5-3 for a 16-8 victory in the first match. The second match took place on Train, a favourite for SK Gaming. However, despite another early successful anti-eco round, SK Gaming was unable to press the advantage as they had in the first match and conceded the first half 9-6. The second half went similarly for SK Gaming: despite early success in the pistol round and with anti-ecos, Virtus.pro were able to adapt to and counter their aggressive pushes, winning the half 7-5 and the match 16-11. The deciding match took place on Mirage. After an evenly-fought first half, won narrowly by SK Gaming 8-7, things seemed to fall apart towards the end for the Brazilians. With the score 13-12 in SK Gaming’s favour, Virtus.pro was able to tie things up after TaZ, as the last man standing, was able to pull off a magnificent double kill against João “felps” Vasconcellos and Epitácio “TACO” de Melo. After this Virtus.pro pulled out all the stops, winning the next three rounds with superior precision and tactical execution, taking a 16-13 victory and winning the first-place prize money of $200,000 as well the title of DreamHack Masters Las Vegas 2017 Champions. For their efforts, SK Gaming walked home with $100,000 for second place.