DH ZOWIE Open Leipzig preview
DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig is less than two days away, which means it's time to bring you a preview where we dicuss match-ups and storylines going into the $100,000 event.
Eight teams are nearly ready to take on the challenge that is DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig, taking place this upcoming weekend, from January 22-24.
While Germany will be missing the current number one, fnatic, and number three, EnVyUs, the remainder of the top six will be present for the $100,000 competition in a significantly warmer area compared to Minsk's StarSeries Finals.
|Group A||Group B|
The level of competition has slightly dropped off from the stacked first event of 2016, but that only means there will be more teams in contention for the title; especially considering recent results of Na`Vi, Luminosity, and Astralis, who are all among favourites at the upcoming event, arguably in the same order.
Let us get into the group stage match-ups, as well as probable results and the match-ups that are most likely to follow in the next round.
|Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács||Emil "Magisk" Reif|
|Denis "seized" Kostin||Michael "Friis" Jørgensen|
|Egor "flamie" Vasilyev||vs.||Jacob "Pimp" Winneche|
|Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko||Asger "AcilioN" Larsen|
|Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev||Andreas "MODDII" Fridh|
All inital encounters as well as winners' matches will be played in best-of-ones, making room for error as small as possible, which means upsets will become slightly more likely in Leipzig.
I definitely don't see one happening in this particular match-up though. Na`Vi made three consecutive grand finals for a reason—they became incredibly consistent over the last three months, and never lost to a team outside of the top four offline, with the exception of Luminosity in Minsk.
Na`Vi have been displaying good form as of late
SK simply have no way of matching Na`Vi's firepower at the moment, if Sergey "starix" Ischuk's team turn up in their usual form. And even if they don't, it should be more than enough to out-strategize the Danes.
The only way I could see SK coming out on top is if the Danes get a good start, GuardiaN disappears from the server—which is extremely unlikely—, and Na`Vi burst into rage when nobody else steps up to pick up the slack. That's a lot of if's.
|Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo||Håvard "rain" Nygaard|
|Marcelo "coldzera" David||Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad|
|Epitacio "TACO" de Melo||vs.||Mikail "Maikelele" Bill|
|Lincoln "fnx" Lau||Philip "aizy" Aistrup|
|Fernando "fer" Alvarenga||Ricardo "fox" Pacheco|
Now there is a match-up we have very recent data on. Three of group A's teams at StarSeries Finals will meet again in Leipzig, barring SK, and the exact same match-up in the initial round will repeat itself, although this time on one map.
Last time FaZe showed that their lack of proper leadership is a problem against the slow-paced, strategical team that is Luminosity. The European mixture was in complete disarray in Minsk, even though they took Na`Vi to their limit, and due to their inconsistency it's hard to say which FaZe will show up for their debut under the new organization.
I doubt they have fixed their issues in the little time they had between the two events, which means unless the players step up individually we will see another blowout performance in Leipzig.
aizy is proving to be a solid addition
jkaem and aizy proved that they can be quite consistent no matter the team's results, but that has to become the case for others, as well. rain and at least one of Maikelele and fox need to start putting in numbers for FaZe to start winning against top six teams.
It'll be hard in the initial match-up nonetheless, as Luminosity will once again not let Dust2 or Cache through, arguably FaZe's two best maps. Two maps that FaZe banned in all series in Minsk were Cobblestone and Overpass, which means they will most likely end up on Mirage, Inferno, or Train—all great maps for the Brazilians.
Potential match-ups further on in group A
The best match-up of the entire group is clearly Na`Vi-Luminosity. Maybe it is the similarity in style that helps these two teams provide the most exciting rivalry as of now, but for some reason they always deliver an amazing show with no clear winner until the very end.
Na`Vi and Luminosity have met each other in five series since DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca. Na`Vi have always had the upper hand up until last week, and hold an 8-3 record in maps over the Brazilians. On average, however, these two play more than 28 rounds per map against each other, and there's no reason why we shouldn't expect a similar brawl this time around.
If I had to pick a deciding factor, it would be the AWP showdown between FalleN and GuardiaN. Interestingly, the two have had a very close battle in duels, as on the eleven maps they played against each other FalleN leads with 51:50.
FalleN's leadership and AWP, the keys
Whoever loses the most likely battle for first place will be a clear favourite to advance over both FaZe and SK, especially on a best-of-three. I would give a significant edge to FaZe between the two, but it should be possible for SK to surprise the inconsistent version of Maikelele's team.
If the Minsk results hold any value in FaZe's chances to advance, I would cross my fingers for Na`Vi to lose to Luminosity if I were them. The Ukrainian-based team also seems far easier to tilt with a streak of rounds, which GuardiaN wasn't shy to admit numerous times, while FalleN seems to be a calming figure in Luminosity.
Astralis are going into Leipzig with a lot to prove, and that will have to begin with a convincing victory over their domestic rivals from dignitas, who had to qualify for the event online.
dignitas (14th in our team ranking), on the other hand, haven't attended an offline event since early November 2015. CEVO Professional Season 8 Finals didn't go too well for them, as they only defeated Liquid and fell to Conquest to finish in 5th-6th place.
dignitas will have to go big or go home
Their return to offline competition will be rough. Even if Astralis are still going through a bit of a slump, they should end up winning by a mile. Domestic match-ups have a certain added value in them, and it is a best-of-one, but a lot of stars would have to align for an upset to happen here.
However, out of the three so far, this upset seems the most likely to happen. The last time Astralis (then Question Mark) met a Danish team offline, it didn't turn out quite as expected, and that was the third-best team in Denmark who caused an upset at Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals.
The last time mousesports attended an offline event was the CEVO Finals in November, similarly to dignitas. They had a much better run there though, seeing as they advanced from first place of a group that featured Na`Vi and Luminosity, both of which the 12th best team in the world defeated.
It also happens to be an event where they met Virtus.pro in the grand final. The Poles executed their plow there, and it refused to stop, leaving bodies behind after a blowout 3-0 victory.
Since then mousesports swapped in-game leader Fatih "gob b" Dayik for a significantly better fragger in Spiidi, although whether the move will come to any fruition remains to be seen. This match will be a LAN debut with the new roster, and it will prove to be a test for NiKo, who will be handling the in-game leading, interestingly.
A lot on NiKo's plate in Leipzig
The Bosnian will have to be a very solid fragger for mousesports to have a chance at an upset. That, combined with him leading the team, is too tall of a task, and it will likely end up with Virtus.pro repeating a similar feat to the one at CEVO.
Potential match-ups further on in group B
Assuming no upsets will happen, Virtus.pro and Astralis, currently fourth and fifth-best in the world according to our ranking, will be a tight race for first place in the group.
The last time these two met the Danes came out ahead on Mirage (at FACEIT Stage 3 Finals), which is probably a map we will see again, unless Virtus.pro want to let Overpass or Dust2 through, which would be unwise in my opinion.
Astralis will likely stick to the same veto as in that match. Cobblestone is a must-ban for them, since they rarely play it, and their Cache has never been among their best maps. It will most likely go down on Train or Mirage, both of which are good maps for either of the teams.
Astralis will be looking to find old form in new home
As for the end result, my gut feeling says Virtus.pro will be a bit rusty after a lengthy break from competitions, although I wouldn't give Astralis more than about a 55% chance.
Once again, these two teams are the ones who should make it through to semi-finals without too many issues against the remaining couple, especially since they can't go out in a best-of-one.
mousesports or dignitas could snatch a map off either of the favourites in a setup where they will feel too comfortable, but neither should have enough to take them down altogether. The elimination game should be a thriller though, with the result depending on whether mousesports can find a simple enough way for NiKo to lead and frag at the same time.
Follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter