From the September 8-10, Montreal will host a tournament showing off some of best talent from the Americas. The event will be a proving ground for four teams that want to rise up the ranks: Cloud9, Immortals, Counter Logic Gaming, and North.
Coming off a massive two-man roster move, C9 had a rough time at its first LAN. Facing against world-class teams in SK Gaming and North, it could only find a win against the Singaporean B.O.OT squad. Though it was bested quite convincingly by the rest of the opposition, there are still many reasons to be optimistic about Cloud 9 after DreamHack Masters Malmo.
The first is that Tarik 'tarik' Celik, a player many considered to be the necessary evil to adding Will 'RUSH' Wierzba. It's not an understatement to say tarik looked amazing at Malmo, and better than we've seen him all year. He served as the backbone of North's CT sides, and looks to be much more important to C9 than we'd assumed.
The second upside is that after taking an extended break from the game in August, Timothy 'autimatic' Ta underperformed at Malmo. Why is that good? Well, he'll be warmed up by the time he lands in Montreal. And if C9 could compete with North without autimatic playing well, imagine what they could do now.
Given the expectations put on this NA Super Team, fans can forgive one underwhelming event, but not two. DreamHack Montreal is a landmark event for C9; it tests its ability against beatable teams like Immortals and North.
The Major-Final high came to a screeching halt for Immortals and the roster was nearly torn in half during the player break. Luckily, the roster stayed intact. At Malmo, Immortals was caught in the way of a determined North squad, and it was pushed aside rather handedly. But it isn't all bad for the Brazilian team.
First, Vito "kNg" Giuseppe had yet another strong performance, continuing his form from Krakow. Second, Lucas 'steel' Lopes seems to have reached another level at Malmo, providing continuous impact throughout the tournament. If steel can continue to grow into a star role, IMT will have more fragging depth than ever before.
The bad news for Immortals is that the team that knocked it out at Malmo is attending DreamHack Montreal, and the Danes will look to squash them once more. After its placing at the Major, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Brazilians' level. If they want to be a contender, then Montreal is a must win for Immortals.
A questionable roster move in removing Emil "Magisk" Reif rather than Philip "aizy" Aistrup looks somewhat more forgivable now. The latter had some great flashes at their last event, and looked much improved from his earlier performances. Whether aizy can keep up this form, who knows. As for Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså, he looked fantastic, particularly as a CT anchor, performing admirably in Emil "Magisk" Reif's old positions. He brings a degree of aggression to their CT holds that North didn't have before, providing great defensive depth. The more rigid structure has worked wonders so far, and got North to the final of DreamHack Malmo. Not bad for its first LAN.
Coming off a great run at Malmo, North are looking to cement its status as a Top 5 team. They've proven they can be world-class, but they've now got to show signs of consistency. The first step in doing so is winning an event without a Top 5 team in attendance. It beat Cloud 9 and Immortals, and now it needs to do it again.
Counter Logic Gaming
As a roster, CLG can be summed out quite quickly: good, but not great. It's got a strong double-AWP setup, and a talent in Ethan "nahtE" Arnold. But the rifling that surrounds the awps has been too weak to carry the team further than mediocre placings. Pujan "FNS" Mehta opted out of making a change in the offseason, despite an excellent NA rifler available in Keith "NAF" Markovic. The lack of changes demonstrates a deep faith in the current roster, a faith that will soon need to be reinforced by results.
After missing out on ELeague, it's clear DreamHack Montreal will be one of the few LANs CLG will be attending any time soon. For a team striving to rise as a top NA team, the team needs to do the best with the events they've got. Already struggling in online qualifiers, CLG needs to prove its worth to receive tournament invites. Out of the top four teams at this event, CLG is coming in decidedly as the weakest.