The ESEA League system allows for younger and older players to play in a proper competitive environment. Here, players can play a wider variety of Counter-Strike, ranging from looser styles to a more stricter, structured style, depending on the team and their players. Players can build their league experience and ascend through the ranks with their team or individually.

The Mountain Dew League is the gateway to the top flight of Counter-Strike, which is the ESL Pro League. To get to the Mountain Dew League, teams must work their way up through ESEA Open, Intermediate and Main. Once teams hit the Mountain Dew League (MDL), teams then have a chance to play for a spot at the ESEA Global Challenge LAN. To have a chance at qualifying for the ESEA Global Challenge LAN, teams must finish in the top eight. From there, the playoffs determine who will head to the offline tournament. This season, the top four from the playoffs will head to the Global Challenge LAN, whilst the other four will have cemented their place in the next season. The winner of the MDL playoffs will secure their spot in the next season of the ESL Pro League, and the teams that have finished second and third will have to fight it out in a relegation match up against the #12 and #13 placed team.

The MDL also offers something that the leagues below do not offer, which is exposure. The MDL matches are streamed, whether it is shown live on ESEA, or on another streamer’s channel, the MDL is a great way to expose young, up and coming players with exceptional talent, displayed in instances of team play, and individual instances.

After much thought and consideration, I have compiled of ten players from North America’s Mountain Dew League that possess an exceptional amount of talent. Simultaneously, these are players that I think should be watched throughout this Mountain Dew League season and in the seasons beyond.

10. Player Alias: REOVA, Team: French Canadians 

REOVA is a semi-professional Turkish Counter-Strike player that currently resides in the United States. Under the RONIN banner, REOVA played at:

  • Fragadelphia 10 (3rd place, 154 kills/107 deaths (1.44KDR), 96.4 ADR, 0.92 KPR over 6 maps)
  • ESEA Premier S24 (10th place, 307 kills/283 deaths (1.08KDR), 77.5 ADR, 0.73 KPR over 15 maps)
  • CEVO Main Season 12 (3rd place, 208 kills/175 deaths (1.19 KDR), 74.9 ADR, 0.71 KPR over 11 maps)
  • ESEA Premier S25 (Top 8, 332 kills/313 deaths (1.06 KDR), 69.1 ADR, 0.68 KPR over 18 maps)
  • Fragadelphia 11 (Top 8, 164 kills/103 deaths (1.59 KDR), 88.1 ADR, 0.86 KPR over 8 maps)

REOVA’s online statistics are consistent, and his offline statistics indicate that he is a strong performer in the offline setting against the opposition put in front of him.

The 19-year-old is currently competing with the French Canadians in the 26th season of ESEA Premier, and in their one match so far, the young Turkish gun was able to perform decently. Unfortunately, the French Canadians have not played more than one match in the Mountain Dew League season so far, so we have not been able to see REOVA in his new setting alongside his new teammates, but, if his past performances are anything to go off of, REOVA will more than likely finish off the season strongly.

9. Player Alias: Infinite, Team: CLG Academy

Infinite’s past as a competitive Counter-Strike player lies heavily within the Open/Intermediate and Main Leagues. This is his first season as an MDL player, and so far he’s been performing quite well.

The 19-year-old, over the course of his first four matches under CLG Academy, has totaled 58 frags, 65 deaths, and 73.7 ADR.

In his first Mountain Dew League match, Infinite posted up a total of 9 frags against French Canadians. The North American side lost 16-10 to the predominantly French Canadian team. CLG Academy’s match after that was against SoaR Gaming. The academy side recorded another loss, but Infinite’s performance did not mirror his last performance. The youngster from Oregon dropped 26 kills and 93.6 ADR as CLG Academy went down to SoaR 16-11. As CLG Academy won their next two matches, the performances from Infinite as an individual were strong. It might be a bit too early on in the season to judge, but as it stands, it seems like Infinite has an element of consistency to his game, and consistent players are generally incredible assets for their team.

Regardless, as Infinite’s MDL experience develops over time, he’s more than likely to improve on that developing element of consistency to his game. It’s fun to watch the flashy, incredibly strong players, but it’s also nice to see the development of a player that has potential to put in strong performances game in and game out and improve on that level of consistency.

8. Player Alias: Aproto, Team: CLG Academy

Aproto’s competitive history is rather extensive. He started in ESEA Open in S18 and played for Kryptik eSports. By S21, Aproto was in ESEA Main and made playoffs with AdAstra. Aproto spent S22 and 23 in the MDL with Check Six, Prospects and Check Six again. In season 24, Aproto spent half of the season with Naventic before making the move to CLG Academy and has been there since the 2nd half of Season 24.

Aproto’s longevity around the MDL only adds an element of experience to his impressive skill level.

In the seasons of MDL Aproto has competed in, the youngster has been incredibly consistent. He finished S24 of Premier with a 1.10 K/D, 82.4 ADR and 0.82 KPR. In the next season, S25, Aproto finished up with 74.9 ADR and 0.73 KPR.

At Fragadelphia 11, Aproto played a total of twelve maps against some formidable opponents and finished 73 ADR and 0.71 KPR.

The youngster has also started off the 26th season of the Mountain Dew League in an assertive manner, with 72.8 ADR & 70 kills in his first four matches.

Aproto is a player that is young, talented and boasts a decent amount of experience at this level.

7. Player Alias: dapr, Team: GX

Dapr was known for his time on Denial. During his tenure on Denial, dapr put in some strong performances throughout the season and finished with 91.7 ADR.

Now, he plays for GX under DaZeD, and alongside brax, AZK & Pollo. Dapr impressed during his time on Denial. The 18-year-old finished season 25 of the Mountain Dew League with 355 kills/299 deaths, 91.3 ADR, and 0.83 KPR. At Fragadelphia 11, dapr finished with 76.7 ADR and 0.74 KPR.

So far, under GX,  dapr has hit the ground running. Over his first four maps with GX, he has accumulated 79 kills and has 76.9 ADR & 0.68 KPR.

As the season progresses, dapr will develop under DaZeD’s leadership and will benefit from the prior competitive experience of brax and AZK. These players have great minds for the game, and dapr seems like a sound player, in terms of mechanics and fundamentals, so his development under GX will be an interesting thing to keep an eye on.

6. Player Alias: alter, Team: Iceberg

Alter is an eighteen-year-old player from the United States who has been playing in the ESEA Leagues since Season 22. He first started in ESEA Open, and by Season 25, alter found himself on the Iceberg roster.

Alter kicked off the 26th season of MDL strongly on an individual level. After his first three games, the youngster stands at 58 kills and 79.5 ADR.

In Iceberg’s first match against Good People, alter finished with 18 kills. Their second game was also a loss, however, alter was able to perform well individually once again, finishing the game with 22 kills and 88.9 ADR. In their third game, Iceberg lost once again, this time to Motor Invictus. Alter finished the match with 18 kills and 82.5 ADR.

The fact that alter is able to put in these kinds of performances while his team is losing is quite outstanding, and as the season progresses, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of performances he can bring to the table when Iceberg gets around to pulling some wins out of their matches.

5. Player Alias: ryann, Team: Beacon eSports 

Ryann is incredibly young. At 16 years of age, this player possesses an incredible amount of skill, and it has shown in Beacon’s first four matches of the season. Over these four games, ryann has accumulated a total of 90 kills and has a total of 87.4 ADR this early on in the season. In his first match, in Beacon’s win against Ambition, ryann dropped 27 kills and finished the match with 90.8 ADR. In their 16-5 romping of Muffin Lighting, ryann was a big performer for Beacon, finishing with 21 kills and 104 ADR. Ryann’s strong performances continued into the next two matches, as he dropped 24 in the match against Adaptation and 18 in their win against Good People.

Ryann was a strong performer for Mask Off/Beacon eSports in the previous season, finishing the season with 84.7 ADR.

His ability to perform at such a high level at such a young age, and to do so consistently is absolutely remarkable. It will be exciting to see ryann develop this season, particularly since Beacon now have a coach that can guide their players further.

4. Player Alias: tconnors, Team: Beacon eSports

Prior to entering Counter Strike on ESEA, tconnors played two seasons of Team Fortress 2 Open. In Season 19 of ESEA Open, tconnors kicked off his league career on ESEA. In Season 21, tconnors joined “lol yeah”. This team made it from ESEA Open to ESEA Main in four seasons.

This is tconnors’ debut MDL season, and he’s come into the league swinging for the fences. Across the first four matches, tconnors put up 91 kills and 92.0 ADR.

In their first match against Ambition, tconnors finished with 27 kills and 102.6 ADR. In their next match against Muffin Lightning, tconnors finished with 15 kills and 73 ADR. Beacon then came up against Adaptation, and tconnors came up huge against their opponents, finishing the match with 24 kills and 109.8 ADR. Finally, Beacon beat Good People 16-14, and tconnors came up big for his side once again and was key in lighting the way to victory, as he finished the match with 22 kills and 79.2 ADR.

As mentioned previously, this is his first season in the MDL, and he’s already put up impressive numbers. The fact that these impressive numbers have been consistent throughout their first four matches is also incredibly impressive. It will definitely be interesting to see if tconnors can maintain these high-level performances throughout the season.

3. Player Alias: xotic^, Team: CLG Academy

Simply put, xotic is another 16-year-old prodigy. In the last season of MDL, the youngster finished with 149 frags and 80 ADR on the dot. So far, in season 26, xotic has accumulated 82 kills and 89.9 ADR.

To break this down, in his first match of the season, which was a 16-10 loss to French Canadians, he finished with 16 kills and 63.4 ADR. The next match, which was a 16-11 loss to SoaR, xotic finished the match with 16 kills once again, and with 69.8 ADR. In their 16-5 steamroll over Good People, xotic finished with 29 kills and 9 deaths, ending the game with 134.8 ADR. In their most recent match, which was a 16-5 win versus cogu’s Gorilla Core, xotic finished with 21 kills and 103.7 ADR.

xotic is a player like ryann – young, able to perform at a high level consistently, and has a decent coach behind him to help him grow and evolve into an incredibly strong player in the seasons to come.

2. Player Alias: zellsis, Team: Denial 

In the last season of MDL, zellsis finished the season with 344 kills and 86.4 ADR. This season, the 19-year-old has got off to a great start, finishing up his first four games with 84 kills and 99.2 ADR.

Zellsis has been a consistent hard hitter throughout these first four matches of the MDL season, and eyes will be on him to see if he can maintain these hard-hitting performances.

1. Player Alias: shot_up, Team: nG

Last season, the seventeen-year-old finished the Mountain Dew League season with a total of 365 kills, 300 deaths, and 88.9 ADR. This season, shot_up is at the top of the standings in terms of individual performance, racking up 109 kills over the first four MDL matches, as well as rounding off to 104.7 ADR. As the cumulative statistics suggest, shot_up has been a really heavy hitter for his side, putting in work match after match.

Simply put, if you want to watch a heavy hitter perform at an extremely high level on a consistent basis, shot_up is the player to watch.

To conclude…

The Mountain Dew League is an exciting league to watch simply because of the up and coming players and the insane amount of talent the majority of these younger players possess, and the potential they have as they get better, gather more experience in the offline and online form of competition.

It just feels, to me, these players have the X-factor, and have what it takes in terms of attitude, skill and team play in order to go the extra mile.

The key factor about the MDL is watching players develop individually and with their team, and these ten players have the ability to flourish.

There are, of course, many extremely talented players within the MDL to watch, but these are the players that stand out to me and have displayed incredible individual skill, as well as team play, and have the potential to grow into some incredibly solid players, provided they utilise the resources and experience around them.

About The Author

Jonah
Esports - Staff Writer

My first video game was Tonka Construction for the PC. I played that in 2000, at 3 years of age, and have been hooked by video games ever since. I like to dabble in as many games as I possibly can, but nothing can come close to a captivating story, an intense multiplayer experience or a well made RTS game. In 2015, I found what can only be described as passion and love for esports. Now I convey that passion, love and knowledge through articles about esports titles, most notably Counter Strike.