The Journey of the Poneys

There is an odd team on the block making waves in European Counter-Strike. Young but experienced, laid back but focused, DBL Poney climbed their way through the several tiers of EU CS to now find themselves playing among some of the best teams in the world at the most recent RMR event. Get to know their story and why you should be paying more attention to Europe’s hottest unsigned team.

The day was December 7, 2020, G2 Esports tweeted that they had benched Audric ‘JaCkz’ Jug a month after Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovac joined the org. On the eleventh of the same month, Lucas ‘Lucky’ Chastang played his last game with the Heretics squad, and a few days later, Alexandre ‘bodyy’ Pianaro had his last appearance for LDLC. These three big names from the French scene had no team, and a month later, two other solid French players became available — Aurélien ‘afro’ Drapier and Thomas ‘Djoko’ Pavoni. Together, JaCkz, Lucky, bodyy, afro, and Djoko formed DBL Poney. 

Their first official competition was the ESEA Winter 2020 Cash Cup 5 Europe, in which they ended with a second-place finish, and a couple of weeks later, placed first at the sixth edition of the Winter 2020 Cash Cup. During that time, OG benched Nathan ‘NBK-’ Schmitt due to disagreements with the team. The Poneys saw the opportunity and seized it, adding NBK- as a stand-in to replace JaCkz who had been called back to G2.

During this stint with NBK-, the Frenchmen earned solid victories over teams like MOUZ, ENCE, and Vitality, helping them reach the squad’s peak HLTV rank of No. 23. After Flashpoint 3, the team switched things around, replacing NBK- with Pierre ‘Ex3rcice’ Bulinge as a stand-in, who had played a few games for the Poneys during the Blast Rising 2021. Despite this being Ex3rcice’s first time on a top-level team, the 21-year-old started out by showing quality play and then even better growth. Three months later, Ex3rcice took off the stand-in tag and officially joined the team.

The team quickly found momentum together, achieving a second-place finish in the European Development Championship 4. After that competition, DBL Poney joined the ESEA Advanced Season 37 and ended up once again in second place after a stunning lower-bracket run. After fighting through the Premier Relegation tournament, the team earned their spot in the ESEA Premier Season 38. 

“We get along well in the game, and especially out of the game, which is an important part of a good team,” Ex3rcice stated to Rush B Media just days before the Premier S38 started. Pierre added that the team was invested to “go as far as possible and win as many tournaments as possible,” showing great confidence in not only his ability but the ability of his teammates.

His squad backed up that sentiment. After four months of playing as a unit, everyone on the roster has a positive rating, with Ex3rcice having the lowest rating with a 1.00. As the youngest member of the team is still developing and adapting to high-quality gameplay, this is to be expected. Then we have Djoko — a crucial piece of this puzzle, showing up in the most important moments with amazing flow to his movements, sense of opportunity, and incredible Deagle shots. Lucky and bodyy, the most experienced players from DBL Poney, are playing the important role of the veteran leader, as the two have played in the top tier of CS:GO before. Finally, the current star player of the team is afro, the French FalleN. The AWPer has been on a tear recently, putting up incredible numbers and being the difference maker several times for the French. 

This team has blown out their opposition, come back from large deficits, and kept it together through difficult games. They can do it all, and while they do it, their social media posts top-quality content.

With the team’s social media being very active and producing hilarious content, the relationship between DBL Poney and their fans is as close as it gets. They’re usually posting gifs of poneys (or horses, poney content is scarce), suggesting the team seems more like a group of friends having fun than a professional team, which is a nice touch from them, with the players feeling the support from their fans from up-close.

At IEM Fall Europe, DBL Poney had the chance to qualify for the PGL Major Stockholm 2021. After winning their first two games against SKADE and FNATIC, they lost the remaining games, which meant no major for the team. Despite that, the squad gave good impressions and left the fans wanting more. After not qualifying for Stockholm, the Poneys still had an opportunity to make it to the ESL Pro League by winning ESEA Premier Europe. Unfortunately for the French, they lost in the upper-bracket semi-finals against the champions, AGO, and lost in the lower-bracket final against BLINK.

This meme-team who qualified for Flashpoint 3 as a semi-mix with a benched player, swept one of the best teams at the time, fought against tier one teams for a spot on the first Major in more than two years, and started their first-ever ESEA Premier competition with their eyes on first place, is hungrier than ever to win. DBL Poney are a problem, the opposition better watch out, or they will trot over them. How are these guys not signed yet?

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