Ranking a team in the Oceanic region is often a difficult task with guesswork involved. The lack of consistent online play and regular LAN events leaves analysts using dated matchups and performances to gauge a team’s placing. The period we find ourselves in now is a perfect example of this, where the formation of Kings and changes to Tainted and Grayhound leaves us with a fairly mix-and-match top five (outside the ever-consistent Chiefs). Grayhound, especially, have managed to achieve a solid level of performances both online and offline with a rotating cast of stand-ins and substitute players. Their recent qualification for the ESEA Season 25 Global Challenge, after defeating Chiefs 2-1, cements this.

deStiny has helped this squad get to two international events now – Photo Source: ESL Australia

The era of this team’s success began, strangely enough, after parting ways with in-game leader JAMES before the Asia Minor online qualifier. 1.6 veteran and CS:GO floater deStiny, who had been used as a substitute since his removal from the team, stepped in for then Immunity and helped them secure a spot at the Minor in China, defeating Chiefs, Legacy and Avant Garde along the way. This result, however, didn’t hold much weight in the eyes of analysts and spectators. Being forced to use a stand-in or substitute often alleviates the pressure to perform, as a disappointing result can be blamed on not fielding the team’s usual or practiced roster. Another factor to take into account was that stand-ins were also used on Avant in the quarter final and Chiefs in the grand final.

Immunity announced that they would be using wizard at the Minor to much speculation. While he was a consistent support-style player during his time with Athletico and Tainted Minds, wizard hadn’t played competitively for close to half a year at the time. His return just a couple of weeks before the biggest event of his and his team’s careers had many doubting how he would perform. However, the team managed to claim third place, with a 2-0 win over MongolZ in the group stage and a 2-0 victory over the supposed Chinese superteam Flash in the semi final, before losses to Renegades and TyLoo knocked them out. It seemed wizard was a perfect fit for the team, complementing erkaSt’s passive style and following up the entry work of BURN and Grat. This would not be the case, unfortunately, as ESL roster locks prevented wizard from joining the side for the ZEN League Finals after winning ESL AUNZ Season 3 with Avant Garde.

The ZEN League Finals was an extremely up-in-the-air event, featuring an inconsistent Dark Sided, returning from a decent showing at the MDL Finals in the UK, an MVP PK side that, despite their wealth of experience, hadn’t looked convincing in online performances, Recca, using star-carry BnTeT for the last time after he signed with TyLoo, and Immunity themselves having to use another previously out of action player, this time in the form of cozeh. Here, Immunity only managed to pick up one win, where an Overpass performance with seemingly everything going right for them claiming the elimination series against Dark Sided. In their first BO3 against MVP PK, Immunity looked convincing, though in comeback efforts, but were unable to take a map, losing 16-14 on Inferno and 16-13 on Nuke. The second series against the Koreans, however, was much less hopeful, with another 2-0 being handed their way, though much less convincing this time.

Grayhound will look for stability as they acquire the services of dexter – Photo Source: HLTV

It was after this event where the team signed with the newly-formed Grayhound organisation and added prakM. This lineup’s initial period was quite the struggle, placing dead last at the CGPL Finals, losing 2-0 to Chiefs and 2-1 to Dark Sided, as well as placing 5th-8th in the WCA 2017 APAC qualifiers and losing in the first round of the DreamHack Masters APAC qualifier to B.O.O.T.-dream[S]cape. However, as has been a theme with the lineup on multiple occasions, the use of substitute deStiny in place of MoeycQ, who was removed from the lineup, in their ESEA S25 finals campaign netted them an unfathomable result. The team were able to take down Chiefs 2-1 in the grand final and claim their spot at the MDL Finals in California, where they’ll use the newly added journeyman dexter.

Grayhound, now and during their time as Immunity, have found their best results as a team and qualified for international events using stand-ins, be it deStiny in online brackets or wizard at the PGL Asia Minor. This begs the question: how do you rank this team? Most would consider Grayhound to be a top three team in the region, but when considering their performances at offline events such as CGPL Autumn and Winter of this year, using their intended lineup of five, they’ve been poor. Online is where have thrived, with or without a consistent fifth, always managing to qualify for domestic events and even some international ones. However, their performance in the recent Unikrn Australian Showdown, their first event with dexter, left a lot to be desired. Obviously, a new addition is going to leave the team with some less-than-stellar initial results, but if they can perform against all odds with deStiny, is this an unfortunate thing of signs to come for Grayhound?

The large-scale victories that give Grayhound weight in ranking considerations were achieved with the alleviation of pressure that comes with using a stand-in. Both deStiny and wizard are skilled players that complimented the roles of Grayhound nicely and managed to have above par performances, but these results should be taken with a grain of salt. It’s undoubtable that, in the current climate of Oceanic CS, Grayhound are a team firmly in the top five, sitting alongside Chiefs, Tainted Minds, Kings and Athletico, based on online league results and the players’ individual skills alone, but do we have enough evidence to suggest they’re within the top three?