DreamHack Stockholm preview
Here is our official preview for DreamHack Stockholm, which will feature eight of the world's best teams and begin on Thursday afternoon.
DreamHack returns to Stockholm this week with 2014's second CS:GO tournament, this time featuring eight teams and a prize purse of $30,000 up for grabs.
Casting the tournament will be the RoomOnFire duo Anders Blume and Auguste "Semmler" Massonnat, with Duncan "Thorin" Shields providing expert commentary.
The event will begin with two GSL-style groups on Thursday, with top two from each moving to the playoffs, to be played out in single elimination best-of-three mode.
This time DreamHack will be held in Sweden's capital
NiP (f0rest, Fifflaren, friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt)
NiP remain the world's best by default, as no big tournaments have taken place since they topped ESL One Cologne last month. NiP have recently dropped games online to Virtus.pro, fnatic, Na`Vi, mousesports, dignitas, and the new LDLC. They don't look dominant in their current form, but it's understandable because they haven't been dominant in a while. But it doesn't mean they can't win.
The team's star Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund has seemingly found his mojo again and Richard "Xizt" Landström is the team's most consistent performer. Adam "friberg" Friberg, who slumped in the summer prior to ESL One, has struggled again online, though it's impossible to say whether that will continue at LAN. The only truly worrysome sign for NiP is the decline in Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg's play, but it's likely rooted in motivational issues, as opposed to capabilities.
The Ninjas' major strength compared to everyone but fnatic is their diversity across the map pool. They have a very strong record on both de_cbble and de_overpass, and though it may be worth it for the Frenchmen to test them on one of the two, NiP are the big beneficiaries of the maps' inclusion here. They should still be favorites to win it all going in, but as proven by their recent losses online, it's possible they could even sent packing in the group stage.
In their opening round they should prevail against ALTERNATE, after which things will get considerably harder. Their map record against the new LDLC team is 1-2-1, and they've never met Titan's new roster before. I reckon they will be able to once again top Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans and company, but may fall short against Richard "shox" Papillon again. Expect the Ninjas to finish first or second, depending which French team they face in round two.
NiP's most recent tournament was their major championship
Titan (apEX, Ex6TenZ, kennyS, KQLY, Maniac)
Titan's record hasn't been as stellar as the other French team's since they recruited the LDLC trio, but wins over teams such as HellRaisers, Virtus.pro, LDLC and Epsilon prove they can still compete with anyone on the scene. With Ex6TenZ leading the team they should be better prepared than one would expect, and they pack a ton of skill in their two star players Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Kenny "kennyS" Schrub.
At ESL One Cologne the LDLC trio in this team came within a couple of rounds of beating NiP in the semi-finals, but that shouldn't help in the psychological department, where this group of players has always struggled against NiP, aside from Ex6TenZ's brief stint as the world's best team around this time last year. More worrysome in the short-term is their match-up against fellow Frenchmen LDLC.
So far both apEX and kennyS have performed well in the new roster, and it would seem like the pieces fit. However, this team has clearly less skill than LDLC, with whom they'll likely be battling it out for a spot in the playoffs. These guys are experienced enough that they should be able to take down ALTERNATE, but there are no guaranteed for such new teams. Realistically, Titan are not favored to go out of group A, based on the little data we have on them.
apEX teamed up with Titan in the French silly season
LDLC (Happy, kioShiMa, NBK, shox, SmithZz)
LDLC is an HellRaisers-esque super team, composed of some of France's most talented players in shox, Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, with two more solid players in the underrated Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer and former VeryGames and Titan mainstay Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux. It hasn't exactly worked out as well for HR as you may have thought, and LDLC will face the same issues, though potentially to a lesser degree.
I must question LDLC's leadership, as the former LDLC in-game leader Happy has for some reason stepped down from the role, forcing former VeryGames and Titan teams' third star NBK- to step up. NBK- could wind up a good in-game leader, but the learning curve can be tough if his team isn't firing on all cylinders. Luckily for him he's playing with two players capable of leading a team in Happy and shox, and apparently is currently more or less sharing the role with them.
LDLC have a huge potential upside, and it's impossible to rule them out from contending for a title already in Stockholm, despite still being a very new team. They are likely favorites in a match against Titan for a playoff spot, and have a realistic chance to take down NiP - a feat they've already accomplished online.
shox is the new LDLC team's biggest star
ALTERNATE (approx, gob b, smn, tiziaN, zonixx)
ALTERNATE are the odd man out in this group. They've played very few matches online with their new roster featuring the former Counter-Strike 1.6 mousesports duo of Fatih "gob b" Dayik and Michele "zonixx" Köhler, so it's hard if not impossible to truly gauge their current level, or potential as a team.
They put up rounds against fnatic in an online match, and handily defeated Dennis "dennis" Edman' mixteam FiMAGi in the deciding match to qualify for DreamHack Stockholm. They have potential, and knowing gob b should come into the event well prepared for their opponents, but they are in a group with three teams that look a whole lot stronger both on paper, and in terms of past results.
In the opening round ALTERNATE will have to play NiP, who should have no problem defeating the Germans. It will then come down to a match against one of the two French sides, both of whom are clear favorites over the Germans. Expect ALTERNATE to put up a fight here - they probably won't be ran over - but they also probably won't advance.
DH Stockholm marks gob b's international debut in CS:GO
fnatic (flusha, JW, KRiMZ, olofm, pronax)
If we were to create power rankings for CS:GO in late September of 2014, it'd be impossible not to place fnatic as the number one team. They've been on a roll since ESL One Cologne, winning SLTV StarSeries X Finals and dominating just about everyone in online play, fielding a record of 34-3-1 with the new roster as of September 16, per Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg.
fnatic have been in monstrous shape, recording wins such as a 16-0 beating versus NiP on de_dust2, a best-of-five win over Virtus.pro with only 24 lost rounds across three maps, and a convincing 16-9 win versus their group B competitors dignitas. fnatic are simply by far the strongest team in this group, and it's hard to think of a world where they would not advance from here - though it's possible dignitas may upset them for the number one spot.
At ESL One Cologne Markus "pronax" Wallsten and company easily defeated dignitas, who haven't played all of their online matches with in-game leader Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen recently. Neither Copenhagen Wolves or 3DMAX should pose a serious threat to fnatic, who seem like a safe to even win this group - and there is practically no way they could finish outside of the top two in it.
fnatic have been dominant since Cologne
dignitas (aizy, device, dupreeh, FeTiSh, Xyp9x)
Since the disappointing semi-final loss at the hands of fnatic at ESL One Cologne last month, dignitas have been fairly average online. They've won some games, and lost some games. The Danes scored an impressive 16-4 win over NiP last week, but aside from that it's hard to see how you could say dignitas are likely to be in better shape at DreamHack Stockholm tomorrow, than they were in Cologne.
The team is still waiting for Philip "aizy" Aistrup to break through individually. Nicolai "device" Reedtz is the team's superstar and carries a heavy load in the fragging department, while both Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth are fairly consistent and usually show up in good enough form to carry their side to the semi-finals, where they seemingly exit every tournament - no matter their stature or level of competition.
Copenhagen Wolves may be a dangerous opponent on the right map, but dignitas has traditionally been too consistent to lose such games at an early stage of a tournament. They should go through their fellow Danes in the opening round, likely drop the next one to fnatic, and then defeat either the Wolves or Finnish 3DMAX to secure another playoff berth. From there it depends on the team they draw and what kind of shape they are in, but I could see dignitas ending up in the grand finals in Stockholm.
FeTiSh has been fairly absent in recent online play
Copenhagen Wolves (cajunb, gla1ve, karrigan, Nico, Pimp)
After a couple of months of being a borderline team as opposed to a glorified mixteam, the Danes of Copenhagen Wolves have stepped up in activity and scored some solid results in online play, including wins over mousesports and Epsilon, and draws against Titan and Virtus.pro. Their record isn't earth shattering, but it is fairly solid.
Unfortunately in group B of DreamHack Stockholm fairly solid should not be able to cut it, with two of the world's current top four teams vying for the two playoff spots available. Though Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander is a very good in-game leader, his teams haven't been able to match the early success of Western Wolves in 2013, and it's hard to see them overcoming dignitas twice, which is what advancing would likely come down to for them.
They are sizable favorites over 3DMAX, whose resume isn't nearly as impressive, but to see action on Friday in Stockholm they'd have to have some great games on an individual level. The Wolves need both Giancarlo "nico" Arróspide and René "cajunb" Borg to show up in tip top shape, and to get solid backup fragging from both Finn "karrigan" Andersen and Jacob "Pimp" Winneche. I don't see it happening, but they are a team to keep an eye out on.
The Danes need cajunb to do a lot of heavylifting to advance
3DMAX (disturbed, KHRN, natu, reflex, xartE)
3DMAX haven't been very active recently, managing to qualify for DreamHack Stockholm with a win over dAT in the final round, and dropping games to teams such as HellRaisers and Na`Vi. Their only notable win is over Planetkey Dynamics, though they've played so little that it's hard to truly gauge their real level simply from their online play.
The Finns last attended ASUS ROG Summer as a mixteam of sorts before becoming a real team, and beat Nostalgie there before falling short against Danny "BERRY" Krüger's Danish team. They have potential, but so far the team has been unable to realize that potential. I don't see a tournament that starts with a match against fnatic being the place they will turn it around, and they will likely finish last in group B.
KHRN's 3DMAX are the clear underdogs in their group
DreamHack Stockholm will begin on Thursday at 12:30 with NiP taking on ALTERNATE in group A. Group B will be played later, and the playoffs are scheduled for Friday.
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