They may have fallen short in their late call up to the APAC RMR, but LookingForOrg will add another notch to their overseas belt following a 2-1 (16-9, 13-16, 16-12) victory over Order, locking in qualification for IEM Dallas.
Dallas qualification sets LFO up with a bumper three weeks on the road in June, with the squad using the Intel Extreme Masters tournament as a launchpad for the ESL Pro League Season 16 Conference in mid-June.
It wasn’t an easy weekend for the LFO crew, who were pushed to the limit in each series across the four-team qualifier.
After defeating Vertex, LFO fell to the lower bracket as Order took the first series in the head-to-head 2-1 (13-16, 16-11, 16-8) behind Declan “vexite” Portelli’s 70 kill effort.
With a win over spirited debutants Aftershock — who took down Major qualifiers Renegades in the open qualifier — Vertex were out for revenge against LFO in the lower bracket.
- Read more: Aftershock rattle Renegades, Paradox; Vertex survive scare en route to IEM Dallas OCE Closed Qualifier
And they started with a bang; the Wolfpack snatched away Vertigo 16-7 behind Tom “apocdud” Henry (19-16, 1.55 rating), and set themselves up on Ancient to take the upset 2-0.
But LookingForOrg rallied on CT, going 7-1 led by captain Benson “Liki” Niuila (22-12, 1.48 rating) to mirror Vertex’s Vertigo win 16-7.
Overpass would go down to the wire with Liam “malta” Schembri (26-18, 1.33 rating) keeping Vertex in the hunt, but again behind their leader Liki (27-17, 1.30 rating), LFO held on 16-13 and booked an Order rematch.
The teams couldn’t be split going into the second half of the opener on Overpass, but LFO stepped up massively on CT, putting on a 9-1 run to take first blood in the grand final 16-9.
LFO’s CT run continued into Vertigo. An 8-2 lead threatened a final blowout, but Vexite (33-18, 1.55 rating) helped push Order to close out their T side with five straight.
LFO dropped the pistol and force on T, but responded with three straight with the full buy before Tyler “tucks” Reilly (20-20, 1.17) came to life on CT for Order.
Tucks led Order to five straight, with the new lead enough to hold on to Vertigo 16-13 and force Ancient.
It was a topsy-turvy opening half with neither side allowed to build momentum. Order edged out a lead by one round behind a strong CT half from Jireh “J1rah” Youakim (24-20, 1.21 rating).
But, as has been the norm, LFO’s CT side proved a brick wall. Euan “sterling” Moore (30-14, 1.52 rating) & Jared “HaZR” O’Bree (24-17, 1.40 rating) combined as LFO’s 9-4 CT proved too much for Order to combat, falling 16-12.
While LFO earned the Dallas spot, the competitive landscape in Oceania continues to strengthen. Vertex continue to close the gap to the frontrunners, Ricardo “Rickeh” Mulholland’s Aftershock project debuted well despite elimination and still has room to grow, and Order are about back to par following the Tucks inclusion.
But only one could earn the international opportunity.
LFO will feature at the 16-team IEM Dallas tournament, starting May 30, before heading to Jönköping for ESL Pro League Season 16’s Conference in June. There, they’ll be joined by the champions of ESL ANZ Champs to seek group stage qualification.
LookingForOrg isn’t the only team Oceania will be sending to Dallas.
Mindfreak defeated ex-8Ballers.fe 2-0 (16-14, 16-14) to qualify for the ESL Impact League Finals — the first female international Counter-Strike opportunity for Oceania in what feels like decades.
Very little separated the two squads in what has proven to be a fierce rivalry between them both, dating back to the start of 2022 across numerous ESL Cash Cups.
“After so many setbacks, so many substitutions and so many cancelled pracs, we really f***ing pulled through,” said Mindfreak player and OCE scene veteran Vivienne “BiBiAhn” Quach.
“I’m so f***ing proud of my team and I’m so glad we were able to provide our guys with a one in a lifetime experience.”
It was neck and neck throughout Ancient before numerous resets gave ex-8Ballers.fe the edge, leaping to a 14-10 lead.
Mindfreak held onto what would have been their final buy, and stepped up to finish six straight rounds — including five successful bomb defuses — to snatch away Ancient 16-14.
It was a similar story on Mirage. Mindfreak led 9-6 before ex-8Ballers.fe opened their T half with a bang, claiming the first six of seven rounds in the second half.
But once again, Mindfreak’s CT side adapted for five rounds of their own. ex-8Ballers.fe would have one last opportunity at 12-15, but MF held on regulation to claim victory and the spot in Dallas.
While the likes of CLG Red and Nigma Galaxy FE likely to be in attendance, and with a $150,000 USD prize pool up for grabs, it’s an opportunity unlike any other for Mindfreak.
Completing a stellar week, Mindfreak downed Flood Esports 2-1 to qualify for the last ESL ANZ Main playoffs spot, where they’ll play for a chance at promotion into next season’s ANZ Champs division.