Despite being eight years old, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive keeps on growing. The game and the associated esport see a steady influx of new players and viewers. To get these newcomers familiar with the history of CS:GO, we will recap its most important moments in ‘Global Origins’. Today, we look back at the inaugural Major, Dreamhack Winter 2013, and recap what happened at the event.
This article is part of a series. You can read the second part by clicking here.
In September 2013, Valve announced that they would partner with tournament organizer Dreamhack to organize the first CS:GO major. The event would be held at Dreamhack Winter in Jönköping, Sweden, and boasted a prize pool of 250,000$. A total of 16 teams would participate: six of them were directly invited, the others would have to qualify. And so the stage was set for the first ever would-be world championship in CS:GO.
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The rise of Scandinavia
Going into the tournament, there was one clear favorite: Ninjas in Pyjamas. The Swedes had previously dominated the scene and had gone on an 87-0 map-winning streak. The team was spearheaded by the duo of Christopher ‘GeT_RiGht’ Alesund and Patrik ‘f0rest’ Lindberg, who at the time had the highest HLTV ranking of the year. But there was no lack of competitors. The French powerhouse VeryGames had managed to close the gap to NIP in the months leading up to the tournament. And the Russian-Ukrainian mixture of Astana Dragons was a serious outsider to the title. The other teams had upset potential but were far from favorites for the title at Dreamhack Winter 2013.
A team no one thought much of was Fnatic. The Swedish youngsters had recently replaced their Star player, Andreas ‘MODDII’ Fridh with Markus ‘pronax’ Wallsten. Pronax was an in-game leader who had lingered in the semi-pro scene for several years. They had potential but were considered to be too early in their development as a top team.
What becomes clear if we look at the participants, is the absolute dominance of the Scandinavian scene. From the 16 teams, 8 had a lineup that consisted of players from either Denmark, Sweden or Norway. Of those Scandinavian teams, four made it out of the group stage, and two made it all the way to the grand final.
Upsets and heartbreaks
The teams were divided into four groups, with the top two teams of each group proceeding to the playoffs. Group A saw Fnatic taking the first place, after beating Na’Vi and Clan-Mystik. The second playoff spot went to LGB eSports, a team of relatively unknown Swedish players. Group B saw success for NIP and Recursive eSports, the team around star AWP’er Kenny ‘kennys’ Schrub. ComPlexity Gaming managed to surprise everyone by topping Group C, ahead of VeryGames. This had major implications for the playoffs because it put the French squad on NIP’s side of the bracket. This meant that the audience wouldn’t see the two best teams meet in the finals but in the semi-finals. Lastly, Copenhagen Wolves and Astana Dragons made it out of group C, finalizing the quarter-finals.
There were a lot of notable teams who didn’t make it out of the groupstage. Natus Vincere, lead by legendary IGL Danylo ‘zeus’ Teslenko, failed to win a single map. And Universal Soldiers, a now legendary Polish lineup that would later be picked up by Virtus.pro, came close to qualifying but were ultimately beaten by Recursive.
Home advantage brings success
Going into the playoffs, the tournament switched to a BO3 format, with each team banning only one map. This was because, at the time, the map pool was smaller than it is now. Teams could choose between the following maps:
Due to the event being played on only three days and technical issues causing delays, the first quarter-finals had already been played before the matches of Group D started. The match that kicked of the playoffs, was between the Swedes of Fnatic and the Frenchmen of Recursive eSports. The crowd in the Elmia Convenience Center expected a clash between two of the best AWP’ers at the time, kennys and Jesper ‘jw’ Wecksell. But while his Swedish counterpart had an excellent series, kennys never had any impact on the game. This discrepancy applied to the teams in general, as all the Fnatic players had a K/D above zero, while the Recursive players all had a negative score. Fnatic claimed their spot in the semi-final after a convincing, although close, 2-1 victory.
The first day of Dreamhack Winter 2013 was closed out by a Swedish derby between NIP and LGB. The Ninjas were expected to have an easy victory, but in retrospect, we can see why LGB managed to push them to a third map. The lineup consisted of Olof ‘Olofmeister’ Kajbjer, Freddy ‘krimz’ Johansson, Dennis ‘dennis’ Edman, Mikail ‘eksem’ Bill (who would later change his name to maikelele) and Alexander ‘SKYTTEN’ Carlsson. Almost all of these players would go on to have successful careers, and both krimz and Olofmeister have won majors titles in later events.
One favorite makes it, another bites the dust
The third quarter-final was between VeryGames and Copenhagen Wolves. The crowd saw Belgian superstar Adil ‘screaM’ Benrlitom lead Verygames to a convincing victory on Dust II, but their Danish opponent clawed their way back into the match on Inferno. The series was decided on Mirage, where VeryGames edged out the win in 16-12 fashion.
In the last quarter-final, we saw another upset by ComPlexity Gaming. After’ they managed to beat VeryGames for the first seed in their group, they now eliminated Astana Dragons. The Dragons were a lineup built to win big events, as they had taken the best players from Na’Vi and Virtus.pro, to create a CIS all-star squad. The early elimination was disappointing, as a team with this much talent should have been lifting trophies rather than losing to the second team from North-America. But credits were it’s due, ComPlexity outsmarted their opponent, neutralizing the strengths of Astana Dragons in a very effective manner.
Final avant la lettre
The semi-finalists seemed to be unevenly distributed: in the first, you had a finale avant la lettre, in the other two teams who had been punching above their weight class. The match between NIP and VeryGames was a meeting between the two best teams at the time. NIP had dominated the early days of CS:GO, and had won the event a year earlier. But in the months leading up to Dreamhack Winter 2013, the Ninjas hadn’t been their unbeatable self. VeryGames managed to beat them on three occasions and looked primed to take over the crown. But this time, NIP managed to swing the rivalry back in their favor, winning with a 2-1 scoreline.
The other semi-final saw Fnatic demolished ComPlexity. All the promise the Americans had shown in the days prior, seemed to have been lost overnight. Where they previously relied on tactics, anti-stratting, and countering their opponent’s moves, the team now seemed clueless. They had no answers to the things thrown at them. Fnatic secured a relatively easy spot in the final, something they couldn’t imagine achieving in their wildest dreams.
The Young guns close it out
The first Major final ended up being a Swedish derby. In front of a home crowd, underdogs Fnatic faced of against favorites Ninjas in Pyjamas. The match started of on Dust II, where the duo of jw and Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist dragged Fnatic to a first map win in 16-14 fashion. But with Fnatic having so much trouble closing out their mappick, their chances of winning the series looked dire. This feeling kept on growing, as NIP managed to win their map pick of Inferno with a telling 16-6 scoreline. Pronax and his men were up against the ropes. The third map was Train. Neither team had played it more than once at the tournament, so it seemed to be the perfect neutral terrain.
Just when everyone expected Fnatic to falter, jw showed why he’s called the wonderchild. He played a monstrous map, dominated his opponents on entry kills, and helped his team close out the game. Fnatic didn’t just win the final map, they stomped what was considered to be the best team at the time. The ninjas only managed to scrape two rounds together. Fnatic walked away from the first major with the trophy, 100.000$, and the respect of all of the world’s elite teams, not least NiP.