DreamHack Masters Malmö preview
DreamHack Masters Malmö will be April's marquee CS:GO tournament, with 16 teams competing for $250,000 from April 12-17. This is our official preview for the event.
April 2016 will be a somewhat quieter month for CS:GO fans than March was as the previous month saw both IEM Katowice and the MLG Columbus Major take place with both events helping to introduce new-found storylines and rivalries into the competitive scene.
Since then we have also seen numerous high profile roster changes (such as with G2 and FaZe respectively) as well as the game's two best players taking time off to heal due to unfortunate arm/wrist injuries, e.g. Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer of fnatic and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács of Natus Vincere and both sojourns will have an impact on the upcoming event in Sweden.
Regardless of these in-between occurrences, DreamHack Masters Malmö will feature nine of the current top ten teams in the world, four more teams in the #11-20 range, and a few scrappy outsiders who are either seeking to regain past prominence or to make an opening statement on the CS:GO scene.
As a reminder, the format of the tournament is similar to that of the Major: four groups of four teams with best-of-one matches aside from the decider match. The top two teams of each group move to the playoffs on Saturday, April 16, meaning that Friday, April 15 will be an off-day for teams. You can find further broadcast information in our viewer's guide here.
The Malmö Arena is next in line on the CS:GO arena inauguration tour
We have yet again prepared an event page with all the info you need to know and will need to know as the tournament gets under way tomorrow. For quick reference however, the groups can be found below:
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
The style of this preview will proceed in a group-based fashion, starting with the team listed at the top of each group and is therefore not based on relative skill or prejudice.
We begin the preview with Group A of DreamHack Masters Malmö. Happy reading.
Luminosity come into the event in Sweden's third largest city as the winners of the MLG Columbus Major and as the world's second best team. Due to fnatic dropping out of the event in Malmö as a result of olofmeister's injury, the stakes could not be higher for this team as they seek to achieve a world first in putting a non-European team into first place in the Global Rankings.
We also were witness to the atmospheric phenomenon known as coldzera Unleashed™ at the Major, with the Brazilian player earning the MVP award as well as dominating our Stats section with a 1.36 rating and a +84 KDD.
After an early 2016 of grinding their way to semifinals and grand finals, the victory in Columbus must have felt like a sweet relief to FalleN and his men, especially as it also came with both the ease of avoiding elite talent such as fnatic and Astralis but also with the grind of defeating longtime foes such as Virtus.pro, Liquid, and Natus Vincere.
Luminosity's enemies have sown wheat and have reaped thorns while the Brazilians reap trophies and Karambits
In a way, Malmö is Luminosity's tournament to lose although we should stop short of calling a guaranteed entry even into the playoffs as the team's group is littered with potential pitfalls.
In Group A, the Brazilians will open against the true wildcard of the tournament in the form of TYLOO, a Chinese team who have been making waves in East Asia but who are untested against European opposition and thus will be seeking to avoid a CyberZen-like meltdown as the latter team displayed at the StarSeries XIV finals.
In addition, both Liquid and mousesports have played the Brazilians to incredibly close series (the former in the Major semifinals and the latter in the group stage of the Major and in IEM Katowice) and pose a serious risk to the Brazilian team.
The road to greatness is a never-ending challenge and causes grey hairs to those who tread it for too long: Luminosity should not make the mistake of underestimating their group here in Malmö.
The American-Ukrainian hometown heroes of Columbus wowed the crowd at the Major and took North America to heights unseen since DreamHack Winter 2013: a semifinals placing at the Major (a result which ranks them as eighth best team in the world currently).
In addition to s1mple continuing to be the heartthrob of millions of teenage boys everywhere, the Ukrainian import delivered an astounding performance the Major that was a reversal of his crumbling at the Major Qualifier: a 1.16 rating (tied for third-best) and a +26 KDD.
Judging off of the team's Major run in addition to Hiko's time to adjust to calling duties and the ever continuing maturation of the young EliGE and nitr0, we could say that Liquid were a shoe-in for the second team to advance from this group, perhaps after playing a close decider match against mousesports.
"Will they like me?" Yes, they did.
However, the team come with a decider clause of their own that may seriously impact results: they will be playing this tournament with their new addition and AWPer koosta, formerly of Enemy.
Before the Major, this change for Eric "adreN" Hoag may have seemed benign and wholly welcome as the latter player had struggled at offline events. However, up until the semifinal where his old unsure self reemerged, adreN continued to live up to his new-found moniker of "GODren" and threw a wrench in the Liquid organisation's plans for roster development.
It will be truly interesting to see if koosta can uphold the mantle foist upon him by fans and by the community, especially as an AWP-wielding player who may take away from some of s1mple's impact in-game. The pressure could not be higher for Liquid's fifth and the somewhat diminutive (in person that is) youngster will need to put up a strong performance if he wishes to keep the snakes at bay.
After two soul-crushing exits at $250,000+ tournaments in March, mousesports have been delivered an extremely tough group to try and succeed in in Malmö and will yet again probably rely on helmsman NiKo to fight and stay the winds of defeat.
Though they slipped to eleventh place in our ranking as of today, the mainly German team remain a unit that can compete with nearly any of the teams in the top ten in close games and one that is certainly a step above many in the #11-20 range.
But offline games seem to spell a difficult tale for mousesports and it is one that usually reads as follows: NiKo is set up in positions to get impact kills and multi-frags, which he usually does, whereas one of the other heavy-hitters on the team slumps as a result.
No man is an island
Whether that slump come from Dutchman chrisJ (who was admittedly in-form at the Major) or from Deutschländer nex (who seems to at-times struggle in the big offline games) is uncertain, but it often appears as if the German machine is not so well-oiled and incongruous, a marked contrast to the home country's industrial sector.
It is rather unfortunate that mousesports have been given a tough group yet again, however the team could be quite likely to advance if we disregard their group stage exit at the Major: TYLOO are unproven on the international stage, Liquid have flown to play in Sweden which is apparently the spawn point for American jet lag complaints, and Luminosity have played a few close games against NiKo and crew.
The potential for wins is there and the team could be toasting Prost! by the end of the group stages yet.
Since the Quanqing "qz" Wu fiasco at the Asia Minor (which saw investigative community work uncover that qz had a previous VAC ban and which thus disqualified the Chinese team from that tournament), TYLOO signed Attacker and continued to stack up results and especially in qualifiers, such as to the next upcoming Asia Minor.
Time to find out if AttackeR fancies one, mate
Interestingly enough, after such a dominant winning streak in our own stats section, TYLOO lost the upper bracket final of the Asia Minor Chinese qualifier to VG.CyberZen 1-2 before ultimately qualifying through the lower bracket final over AG.white.
While this loss can be taken as a sign of the increasing strength of domestic competition in the Heavenly Kingdom, it does point to the obvious fact that TYLOO are not some all-dominant beast from the East that will plow through Malmö as a wildcard team.
While happy to be proven wrong, this preview sees the Chinese powerhouse exiting in groups but gaining a plethora of experience from the tournament.
Whereas fnatic took the injury of their star player olofmeister as a sign to withdraw from Malmö and take time training with their replacement Niclas "PlesseN" Plessen, Na`Vi have instead opted to use coach starix as a replacement fifth for GuardiaN, who is also recuperating from his arm injury.
The world's current third best team, and grand finalists at the MLG Columbus Major, will therefore face an uphill battle to win the event as starix will be rusty and even in his final months as a player in 2015 was rather unimpressive, although luckily Group B does look like it can be clinched for the now Ukrainian-Russian team.
starix will have to contain the Na`Vi salt factory from inside the server
As with all groups and with all tournaments however, the purported group favourite will have to contend with a number of trials that could prove to be tricky. G2 have looked strong since retooling their roster and the core of this roster played Na`Vi to two incredibly close maps at the StarSeries XIV finals back in January.
CLG have also been low-key rivals of Natus Vincere, particularly in group stages at the Majors and particularly on de_cbble, where the likes of Josh "jdm64" Marzano and Tarik "tarik" Celik seem to excel.
However, if starix can keep former leader Zeus from blowing his lid during the team's in-game communications and develop proper tactical approaches to both of these aforementioned teams, Na`Vi should still take the top spot in their group.
There is only so much pain any human being is willing to take, even a masochistic sort. After yet another group stage exit at a Major under the auspices of Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans, internal factions within the team cried "Ça suffit!" and took down the Belgian leader and brought in bodyy of LDLC White.
This roster change in between the Major and Malmö was one of the bigger ones so effected and due to losing Ex6TenZ, the team fell four sports in our ranking this week to twelfth place as a result.
Much like old teammate DEVIL, bodyy will see immense speculation placed upon him
Bringing in bodyy should be a window of opportunity for G2 however, particularly in a weakened group due to Natus Vincere not featuring their star player GuardiaN. Although no Major, this tournament could be the chance for the weary likes of shox and ScreaM to once again experience the playoffs at a $250,000 event in an actual stadium.
Opening against the American CLG team, G2 will have to beware as they lost their last offline encounter at the Game Show finals to this team. If they should lose out in groups again, perhaps the curse of Ex6TenZ will be shown to live on in this lineup.
While they themselves seemed somewhat crushed after losing the MLG Columbus quarter-finals game to Liquid, CLG must surely have come alive to the fact that they are now Major Legends, fancy in-game badges and all the other trappings included.
While the team, led by the likes of AWPer jdm64, rifler tarik, and lurker reltuC, continue to be perhaps one of the most stable North American outfits in offline games and particularly against European teams, they are also a puzzling 3-11 in the ESL Pro League, which is either an ode to the team's indifference after losing early games or to the futility of online leagues in the first place.
The tarikstache abides dude
CLG remain on an upward trend overall and have everything to gain from being in Malmö, especially since they are placed in a group with teams that they have experience playing in offline games aside from the untested GODSENT.
Currently ranked tenth in the world, a successful group stage exit here would do wonders for CLG, although it would require the usual contributions from the likes of jdm64 in addition to players such as FugLy stepping up their game (FugLy was rather underwhelming in Columbus). If Liquid should fall in their group in particular, it would be sweet medicine to this American team's ears if they made playoffs.
GODSENT is the old Ancient lineup, recently formed as its own organisation that is co-owned by pronax and a capital investor by the name of Toms Martin, and is thus in effect something of a poor man's Astralis as far as co-ownership ventures are concerned.
Business matters aside, Ancient began as a slow start for pronax as he aimed to build another dedicated Swedish team and many of the outfit's first online matches seemed rather depressing, losing to the likes of the old YP lineup in the Last Chance qualifier for the Major qualifier.
pauf witnessed without personal trainer and mentor Anders in tow
The team got their act together and won their first offline event in late February, the Pantamera CS:GO Challenge, defeating Orgless and thus scooping up a pretty ~$13,800 as a result.
Both pauf and znajder (the latter once mythically known as 'schneider' and apparently a Major winner, so the tales say) have been key drive-shafts in this team's firepower and in their winning matches, as can be seen in their qualification game against CPH Wolves to qualify for the Malmö event.
Seeing as how this team also features a multi-Major champion and mastermind in pronax, a "Talent to watch for this year" for multiple years in a row in twist, and a raw and unproven player in Lekr0, GODSENT could do some damage in Group B rather unexpectedly.
However, if you were to look at many bettors' hedges for tomorrow, it would probably include an opening loss to Natus Vincere. This team has a long way to go yet.
Your author has promised himself that he would not make a joke about the current fourth best team in the world struggling to reach finals in the largest tournaments. In the first place, this team is too good to warrant such constant ribbing and in the second place, every memetic joke has its stretching point.
We were all witness to a raw and touching video released by the organisation afterwards that showed the Astralis players quite distressed after their semifinals loss at the Columbus Major to Natus Vincere, which must have been all the more bitter as the Danes had magically trounced the world's best team fnatic in the quarter-finals the day beforehand.
More of impish device and less crushed device please
There is no life-threatening danger on the horizon for Astralis in their group and we thus should see them berth into the playoffs where an entirely new ballgame will begin. In general, the team remain disciplined, organised, and skilled enough to defeat anyone, which is all the more true now that Na`Vi have been gravely weakened.
However, wary be he who runs into a battlefield with too much confidence. NIP are a team on the rise again that must be accounted for and Dignitas have also seemed to have picked their heads up as of late. All-in-all, Astralis will kick off their Malmö campaign with a W tomorrow against the Polish CSGL.
NIP survived the Majors having achieved their goal: making the Legends status as playing with a severe handicap of pyth not being able to attend due to visa issues and thus having to use coach Björn "THREAT" Pers as a stand-in.
The gambit worked and the Ninjas sauntered through to the quarter-finals and can thus rest assured of their spot at the ESL One Cologne Major, but now the team must once again gather their focus and look into a strong group stage game if they wish to make the playoffs of Malmö.
A telltale sign of a rising NiP is this man being in good form in recent games
All we've seen from the Swedish team since the Major have been two easy best-of-one games against FlipSid3, which assured the Swedish team's spot in the ESL Pro League Season 3 finals.
Utilising pyth in an offline tournament will be another challenge however, as the talent was a little under the radar during his debut for the organisation in Katowice. This question becomes all the more important as NIP (currently ranked seventh in the world) open in Malmö against Dignitas, the world's current ninth best team and one that is on a bit of an upswing as of late.
You may have slept on Dignitas as of late since a team who were seen in the early months of 2016 as quite likely to enter the top five of our ranking if their results kept up began a long and downward spiral following their failure to qualify for the Columbus Major at the Main Qualifier.
The team went into the small Copenhagen Games tournament recently as heavy favourites to win and instead were taken down by E-frag.net in the quarter-finals and thus finished in a humiliating 5-8th place.
dignitas seek to make the Kalmar Union of CS:GO function
And yet, Dignitas lately look kind of resurgent and should thus be feared again. The Danish-Norwegian team walked back into our top ten by two spots (#11 to #9) today as a result of recent important wins such as defeating Envy on two maps in the ESL Pro League, defeating Virtus.pro 2-1 in the debut ECS Season 1 game, and defeating FlipSid3 2-1 to qualify for the CEVO Gfinity Season 9 finals at the end of this month.
With things looking up for the team, they will still need all their wits about them if they wish to open with a win against NIP tomorrow. Kjaerbye and k0nfig, star aimers of the team and favourites of witch hunters across the world, will need to display performances such as the former did at DreamHack Leipzig and the latter did at Game Show finals if this team wants to compete and survive Group C.
You also probably slept on CSGL in the past few weeks and here as a reader you would be more justified. Last seen at 27th place in our March ranking, this Polish team remain firmly embedded in the second tier of European Counter-Strike but unlikely to advance for now.
Since bringing back an old teammate in the form of MINISE, Lounge Gaming have managed to hold their own online with a string of victories here and there, doing enough damage to qualify for Malmö over FlipSid3 for example.
MINISE shed the łysa pała look and has also come back on board CSGL
Your author has always believed that there is an abundance of talent on this team but that there is a missing component that could unlock the full potential of the lineup: whether that is caused by internal schisms, undeveloped tactics, or incorrect roles is unclear.
Since their last offline result was a 5-6th place finish at APM Season 2 finals, it is unlikely that the Poles will advance past their group stage here due to the high concentration of skill in the group. However, they can always throw a few curve-balls that might catch teams off guard, although this is most unlikely against Astralis who should sweep them away in the opener.
If invites had not been dished out by DreamHack for their Malmö Masters event based off of Cluj-Napoca top eight finishes and if all teams had had to qualify online, then we may not have seen Virtus.pro attending this tournament. In a way, that is how alarming the team's current 2-16 record in the ESL Pro League appears to be (it almost mirrors the old core of this team's woeful online record in the later years of 1.6).
But mirrors are known to reflect bad and good qualities alike, portraying only what is true to the viewer (aside from optical illusions of course). And one fact that is true is that the Poles remain an incredibly formidable team in large offline games, as their quarter-finals brawl against Luminosity at MLG Columbus proved.
"Snaxiu get you."
If the new normal for Virtus.pro is a world of decreasing yields in online games but steady return on capital in offline games, then we can expect a fearsome debut against FaZe tomorrow. However, we did see the Polish team play close games against all three of their groupmates at IEM Katowice and the overall story for this group is that is remains a bit of a tossup for all involved.
Going out at the bottom of the table at IEM Katowice, Counter Pit Season 2 finals, and MLG Columbus was enough of an alarming trend to bring this usually elite level team all the way down to sixth place in our current ranking. And the worst finish was quite obviously the last, with the previous Major champions exiting in groups and thus no longer Legends.
NBK- will find sorting out nV messier than the Dreyfus Affair
Fixing these kinds of issues takes time, and with the team not having had much time to play since the Major, we could rationally expect to see a continued struggle here for NBK- and crew until a new framework for success is found in this team.
An opener against Tempo Storm will be particularly tough, as the Brazilian team are hungry, young, and explosive in their play style whereas Envy recently seemed jaded and filled with ennui even in the server.
Group D may be the hardest to predict for your author, but Envy will really need to deploy all methods at their disposable if they wish to survive.
Hotter than a makeshift samba dance party during the verão months, Tempo Storm exploded onto the scene with a 5-6th place finish at IEM Katowice that included defeating the likes of Envy, Virtus.pro, and playing Natus Vincere to a close quarter-finals game in the playoffs.
The Brazilian team had long before been making waves on the North American scene, crushing domestic opposition online (unless you happen to be Without a Roof), and many still remember the old Games Academy lineup (that featured two of Luminosity's current players) and their stellar run at the RGN Pro Series.
Não tem como this guy can be outdueled
Since they fell short of qualifying for the Major due to being superbly anti-stratted by FlipSid3 in the Main Qualifier, Tempo Storm will have to yet again prove their worth in Malmö and we will see if their lightning-fast rise to 13th best team in the world is warranted.
An opener against the current "sick man of Europe" in the form of Envy will provide ample chance to start off a strong Group D campaign, and if the HEN1-led team can advance to the playoffs again, you can expect a further rise in the rankings and more grumbling about the botched ECS invites that we saw in the past week.
Speaking of sick men in Europe, the geriatric team that is FaZe will have all the world to upend if they wish to end their downward spiral since reaching a high-point of a semifinals finish at Cluj-Napoca last year (the European team are currently ranked #15).
Since bombing out in the group stages of MLG Columbus (partially thanks to Liquid sending fnatic the team's way in the decider match), FaZe have clearly attempted to fix their form which has mostly seen finishes in the 5-8th place region at offline events in 2016.
The fix came in the way of Mikail "Maikelele" Bill announcing that he had left the team, with a subsequent statement implying that the decision may have originated from his teammates (although the truth remains unclear, as many things do till eternity in esports).
Since then, the team have enlisted kioShiMa, formerly of EnVyUs and a great entryfragger in his own right when he is not bored of the game. Tomorrow we will get a glimpse of the new FaZe and see if the hype, and the big buyout in January, remain warranted for this European superteam.
Once again, any supplementary information for the $250,000 event can be found in our viewer's guide which can be found here.
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter