DreamHack Winter, in the Swedish city of Jönköping, saw thousands of gamers descend upon the Elmia Congress & Concert Hall to take part in the world's largest LAN experience. Dotted throughout were plenty of immersive experiences, games and more for attendees to explore, but highlighting the event was the ESL Challenger, where some of the best Counter-Strike teams were competing for their path to the Championships. We sat down with Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev, in-game leader for Ukranian team Monte.
Friday, November 24, saw Monte take on two matches. The first against Chinese org TYLOO, in which Monte walked away with a 13-5 victory. Of the match, sdy said, "It felt like we did our job. We came into this tournament; there's teams that are much weaker than us, and teams the same level as we are. We like to think in this way, and we just did our job."
In the same night, Monte took another victory against Nouns Esports, achieving a 13-8 win. While Monte were quick to break into an early lead, a few fumbles saw Nouns close the gap. "I can say that Nouns were playing a smart, progressive Counter-Strike," sdy said. "They're not really similar to any other NA team we've played this year, so props to them for that."
Reflecting on the performance from the latter of the two matches, sdy acknowledged that there were some problems that crept, resulting in the match being a little closer than it initially seemed. "We lost people and we lost guns... And we need to be more disciplined in this way."
But Monte were determined to learn from their slip-ups, continuing on their streak of victories against Virtus.Pro in the semi-finals, and Eternal Fire in the grand finals. It was in these matches that Monte were given some room to breathe, where the format changed from a Best of 1 to a Best of 3. "In Best of 1 you need to be very disciplined and focused in that exact round, so once the game starts you already need to be in the right mood."
As for whether or not sdy has a favorite team to play against, the in-game leader said that he didn't but, "I like to play against teams that have a similar playstyle to us, and are fun to play. Because there are some teams that we have many more problems. Like, in this tournament, for example, there is Virtus.Pro. Their playstyle is so slow that it's, like, very difficult for us to play against."
Despite Virtus.Pro's playstyle, Monte still came out on top against them in the semi-finals, ending the Best of 3 match with a 2-1 victory. After winning against Eternal Fire with a clean 2-0 victory, and walking away with a $50,000 share of the prize pool, Monte will be heading to the ESL Pro League S19, set to begin on April 23, 2024 in Malta.