GamerFest Spring 2024 Overview: Irish Counter-Strike community lifts event to new heights

On Saturday 25th of May, Counter-Strike descended on Dublin’s RDS. GamerFest Spring 2024 was host to a full day of on-stage CS2 culminating in Full Metal Jacket’s victory to claim Ireland’s premier LAN.

Boasting an expanded format which allowed on-stage Semi-Finals and a Grand Final, Kings & Queens, Full Metal Jacket, Munchy Bros, and (GamerFest’s first team to have UK players) Gruff Nuggets got the opportunity to fight it out in front of the Dublin crowd. With live casting from Kurt Pilbrow and Ryan “FL3M1NG” Fleming, Jack Igoe hosting and Adam “Incipiens” Conway observing, Counter-Strike put on its best face for GamerFest Spring 2024.

Community combines with competition.

For the second year in a row, the Counter-Strike community showed up at the RDS to passionately support their game and their friends, mirroring the on-stage proceedings by bringing the noise in hype rounds. As the event went on, more and more curious GamerFest attendees sat down to watch, pulled in by the ensuing action. The event especially attracted prospective young PC gamers who were trying out computers in the nearby exhibits. Animated crowd participants, the young gamers may have been dreaming of one-day becoming stars of the server themselves.

It feels great. This is a great stage and you have somewhat of a crowd that shouts.

Jack “Jackmon” O’Donnell – Full Metal Jacket IGL

Full Metal Jacket fans cheer on their team

The word ‘community’ can often be overused, but the meaning and significance of community shone through in Dublin. The players have all competed with and against each other many times in FACEIT lobbies, especially through ICL (Irish Challenger League). Despite countless online pugs, some participants had not seen each other since LANs in the pre-COVID era or had never met. Opportunities to meet and play with each other on LAN are rare, and therefore all the more special for those involved.

It is an amazing experience playing outside the comfort of your home, meeting people and getting to play on stages. It’s always really fun to play a bit more seriously than playing pugs, and it brings more excitement to playing.

James “JamesBT” Beattie – Gruff Nuggets; Former CEX & Royals

However, GamerFest was not simply a friendly meet-up. Counter-Strike players are driven by competition first and foremost, and this event was a fiercely contested one. For some, the promise of a first LAN victory was a driving force, for others getting one over on a friend was an added sweetener, but for all involved victory was the goal.

Familiar foes and friendly rivalries.

The event kicked off with Full Metal Jacket taking on Munchy Bros. Starting on Anubis, Nathan “N8” Dowd produced a clean and crisp rifling performance in a thoroughly dominant 13-5 map victory. The next map was the newly renovated Vertigo, with players exploring the new angles made possible by the map changes. Unfortunately, not every innovation was successful as Munchy Bros’ Kartal “Kartal” Karaca fell off the map when attempting to use the new catwalk on A to hide behind sandbags. Once again, N8 and FMJ’s IGL, Jack “Jackmon” O’Donnell, stood out as they went 23-11 and 20-10 respectively in confident displays. As for Munchy Bros, they could not build any momentum in the series, losing every round following their three pistol-round wins. Full Metal Jacket took full advantage as they closed Vertigo 13-6 in a commanding series victory.

Kartal “Kartal” Karaca and his team didn’t have much joy in the server

New Raptors rifler, Adam “AdamJC” Colwell, claimed on X that he “Had to bring in the big guns” to claim his first Irish LAN – boasting Verdant’s IGL, Tom “arTisT” Clarke, GamerFest Fall 2023 winner, as well as The Binmen’s LAN veteran, Josh “Dweg” Nathan. Their Kings & Queens roster came into the tournament as hot favourites. It was, therefore, shocking to the crowd and casters alike that the team was upset by Gruff Nuggets in the second Semi-Final.

As the Semi-Final progressed you could feel the competition at the RDS heating up. The atmosphere on stage certainly did as the teams got loud, shouting back and forth as the match played out. Gruff Nuggets, consisting of the Halal5 core of Luke “Nem” Mear, Joe “DEXIE” Demmon and Kuba “kas” Capala, took Mirage 13-7 thanks to shutting down Kings & Queens’ aggression on both sides. On the second map of Anubis, Gruff Nuggets were 8-5 up as Nem faced a 1v2 clutch. He hit an outrageous jumping Mac-10 headshot on arTisT and spray transferred onto John “Arracht” McGinley to bring up 9-5. It summed up the event for Kings & Queens, who must have known then that it simply wasn’t their day. Gruff Nuggets rode their momentum as they closed out Anubis 13-6 to advance to the Grand Final.

Gruff Nuggets brought the noise on stage

The final saw Full Metal Jacket and Gruff Nuggets trade dominant map wins on Ancient and Mirage, with Abdel “Aza” Beheiry and DEXIE’s AWPing performances standing out on their teams’ respective map picks. Anubis, by contrast, was a breathless contest where no ground was given for free. A pivotal round came with FMJ up 10-9 on the T-half. A lightning-fast headshot double from N8 overcame an early team-kill, but when the trades came through only Jackmon remained in the 1v2. A methodical clutch followed, with Jackmon checking every angle to find Conor “dragsy” Lyons at Orange to close the round.

I know how they play, they know how we play, it was more or less mind games

Jack “Jackmon” O’Donnell

A map truly deserving of a tournament decider; it went the full 24 rounds. Having failed to close out the map on the first two attempts, everything was on the line in an extremely tense final round. Up a man in a 4v3, Jackmon made the brave call to push the CT B-main smoke to claim an unattended site. In a disadvantaged retake, the final CTs fell one by one and an elated FMJ jumped out of their chairs as they claimed the GamerFest 2024 title.

Jackmon lifts the GamerFest trophy in Full Metal Jacket’s victory. (Left to Right: Aza, Jackmon, Churley, Lemowel, N8, and Jack Igoe)

Jackmon and N8 made it back-to-back titles, as Aza, Leon “lemowel” Moser, and Conall “Churley” Wurley went one step further than their runner-up spot the previous year – Gruff Nuggets may be hoping for a similar redemption story. Meanwhile, King & Queens’s AdamJC and Dweg took to X to express their anguish at missing out.

Passion for Counter-Strike is contagious.

However, as the main event ended and the lights shut off for the day inside the RDS Main Hall, it wasn’t a sense of winners and losers that predominated. Instead, players, casters, coaches and friends were already sharing a laugh – talking about the games and the night to follow. ‘How did you know to check Orange?’, ‘Why didn’t you peek then?’, ‘I knew you were trying to Zeus me’. As the players discussed subjects ranging from the recent Vertigo rework to their historic teams and teammates, the importance of the event was clear. Love of the game permeated every conversation, sustaining and invigorating the passion of those present.

GamerFest was amazing, and I enjoyed it after not turning my computer on for 8 months… it gave me a little more motivation to possibly try and play a bit more of Counter-Strike 2 and see if I can get back to how I used to play… I definitely see myself attending some more LANs again in the future, whether that be some more Irish LANs or across the pond.

James “JamesBT” Beattie

Indeed, in the discussions that followed the Grand Final, many expressed the desire to hop on the server immediately to click some heads… but that would have to wait until after a few well-deserved pints.

Rivalry gave way to friendship as Nem and AdamJC share a laugh

The future of GamerFest: Counter-Strike is a priority.

GamerFest’s expanded CS2 format represented a vote of confidence in the Counter-Strike scene from GamerFest Founder & CEO Stuart Dempsey. He spoke to UKCSGO’s Freddie “GrimyRannarr” Pritchard, explaining that the inclusion of Counter-Strike 2 in the October 2023 edition of GamerFest was seen as somewhat of a test to feel out “what the esports community in Ireland wanted”. The positive reception both from the Counter-Strike community and convention goers has propelled CS2 to the spotlight for a full Saturday of best-of-threes at GamerFest 2024.

We ran it last October and were blown away by the audience engagement, by the excitement at the event, by the number of teams we had involved and it was absolutely phenomenal. We are delighted to have CS running again at the event this time around. We believe it is going to be a staple for GamerFest going forward.

Stuart Dempsey – GamerFest Founder & CEO

GamerFest’s affection for Counter-Strike was mirrored by the players who were full of compliments for the event. Having been burned by LANs in the past who made big promises but failed to deliver, the smoothly run event with a chance to play in front of a crowd was extremely welcome amongst competitors.

I had only been to one big Irish LAN before and it was at the same venue in the Dublin Games Festival – GamerFest LAN was run a lot better. For Dublin Games Festival we were promised to play on the stage and we ended up playing on the floor in the middle of the venue.

James “JamesBT” Beattie

At GamerFest Spring 2024, Counter-Strike further consolidated itself as the preferred esport of GamerFest. With continued support from event organisers and enthusiasm from its players and crowd, GamerFest may be cementing itself as a fixture not to miss in the Irish and UK Counter-Strike calendars.

The post GamerFest Spring 2024 Overview: Irish Counter-Strike community lifts event to new heights appeared first on UKCSGO.