Winners and losers of DH Masters Malmö
With DreamHack Masters Malmö now behind us, we take a look at what happened at the event in Sweden and who the biggest winners and losers of the tournament were.
The group stage in Malmö, which was played out using four GSL-style groups, featured some changes to the format we usually see at tournament. This time around, the winners' and decider matches were played out as BO3s, while the elimination matches were BO1.
This format, combined with the schedule, meant that teams such as mousesports, Envy and Virtus.pro were eliminated after the first day of the tournament. Most of the favorites ended up going through to the playoffs, with FaZe and Cloud9—who had both made two changes —the most notable teams to not get to the Malmö Arena.
In the playoffs, NiP showed off some of their classic magic in a comeback against Natus Vincere, while G2 took down SK, proving that the Brazilians have troubles dealing with Richard "shox" Papillon's teams. On the other side of the bracket, Astralis were once again eliminated by Gambit, while North took out Immortals 2-0.
The first semi final saw Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and shox take on Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund once again, with the French side running out victorious this time around. North, who had been flying a bit under the radar until that point, took Gambit down comfortably to set up a rematch of the ESL Pro League S5 grand final.
|Group stage||Map (VOD)||Stage|
Winning the event, as it usually does, gets G2 on the list of the winners of DreamHack Masters Malmö. The French team had picked up their last title at the ESL Pro League S5 Finals, in June, entering a rough period after that. Losing out to Natus Vincere in the quarterfinals of ESL One Cologne, combined with a group stage exit at the Major, had dropped G2's stock going into Malmö.
And at the start of the tournament, the Frenchmen didn't look too impressive. A 16-13 victory over Envy was only possible after a strong T side comeback on Inferno, and Immortals were also a tough nut to crack for shox and co. The first two maps of the series against the Brazilians were strongly contested, but G2 were able to put up a strong showing on Overpass to close it out 16-10.
Being a map down and trailing their opponents 15-10 while playing on the T side of Inferno with just half-buy is the scenario in which G2 found themselves in the quarter-final against SK. Overaggression in B by João "felps" Vasconcellos and Fernando "fer" Alvarenga saved G2 there, allowing them to get back into the game and win the map in overtime before finishing off the series with a victory on a map they had just added to their pool: Mirage.
G2 rose in form over the course of the event, as their wins became much more comfortable from that point. NiP fell on two maps, with the Swedes only really contesting the game on Cache, while the final against North was in control of the French team at almost every moment.
With this win and kennyS in MVP-worthy form, G2 are back on track. However, a crucial component to this victory was Dan "apEX" Madesclaire, who not only called the shots on Mirage but was also close to picking up his first MVP medal, missing out due to kennyS outshining him in the final. NBK- and shox both performed admirably, with Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro's form the only worrying sign going forward.
Since their win at the ESL Pro League S5 Finals, bodyy has been on a constant downward trend, finishing the last four tournaments as G2's worst rated player. The problem might lie in the wrist issue bodyy has been coping with, but the French side will be hoping the issue can be resolved and that the 20-year-old can come back to his early 2017 form.
North have been lingering in the top 10 ever since their win at EPICENTER 2016 under the dignitas banner, but have lacked truly great results over the course of the whole year. Following another quarter-final exit, this time at the PGL Krakow Major, the Danish squad decided to remove Emil "Magisk" Reif and take in the free agent Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså. The move was criticized, with many citing Magisk's peak as an upside that warranted his spot on the team, and Philip "aizy" Aistrup looking like the player struggling the most.
Two weeks of practice with valde, combined with MSL having the team on a tighter leash once again, resulted in a great showing in Malmö. As North took down Cloud9, SK and Immortals and Gambit on the way to the grand final, everyone had to accept that North looked better in this tournament than they had at any other event this year.
The main driving force behind North is still Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke. "Mr. Arrogant" was the best-rated player of DreamHack Masters Malmö at 1.32 over the course of 10 maps. The new addition, valde, had a strong showing as well, but the rejuvenations of aizy and MSL were what made the difference in the end.
North, similarly to G2, also threw a curveball in the form of a new map in their pool. While shox and co. moved away from Train, MSL's squad embraced it, using valde's experience on the map from Heroic to add it to their arsenal. Train proved to be crucial in the series against Gambit and SK, in which the Danes were able to take down two strong Train teams to secure series wins.
Even though they weren't able to overcome G2 in the final—just like they had not been able to at ESL Pro League LAN, in June—North's victories over the course of the tournament and the level they displayed on the server will give hope that this team can continue with deep tournament runs. The only question is if they will be able to keep this up when teams such as FaZe, Natus Vincere and Cloud9 get more time with their new rosters and start reading and countering North's tendencies.
From internal problems to winning the Major and then losing Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko in a short period of time—Gambit has had a turbulent couple of months. The addition of Bektiyar "fitch" Bahytov, a player with no experience on the big stages, combined with the loss of the veteran in-game leader and with Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev taking over the role, instilled a large degree of uncertainty around the Kazakh team.
Gambit did lose to NiP in the group stage, but the series could've gone either way as the two first maps ended only after overtime. Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov's team stepped up and showed that they are still a force to be reckoned with after that, eliminating FaZe after being down 0-1 in maps and then repeating the Major victory over Astralis, closing out the series with a dominant 16-6 victory on the Danes' pick, Mirage.
The run ended in the semi-final, where they met North. In their second match against Danish opposition, Gambit were not able to get the good starts that they had built their game on throughout the tournament, showing that the team still has a lot to work on. However, the positive side is that AdreN was aware of that, even after their convincing win over Astralis.
The squad might not have the strongest tactical foundation right now, but they do have a couple of things going for them. Firstly, the new addition, fitch, has adapted to the premier level environment without any difficulties, finishing the event with a 1.06 rating and reminding us of Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov's performance at DreamHack Open Winter 2016. Secondly, Rustem "mou" Telepov, who had been criticized for his inconsistency and inability to show up in big games, had another great showing in Malmö, following up on his great Major performances with a 1.09 Rating on Swedish soil.
Gambit have proven that, even without Zeus, they will still be a solid contender. Now it remains to be seen how much AdreN can improve as a leader, and if the role will continue to have such a big impact on his individual game—which suffered this weekend in Sweden.
On home soil, the Ninjas were able to get another solid placing, finishing top four. Looking back at the events NiP have played since Fredrik "REZ" Sterner joined, the team has been trending upwards, finishing top eight in Cologne shortly after adding the 19-year-old, taking the title in Valencia and now losing to the eventual champions, G2, in the semi-final.
NiP's Nuke looked strong, making it their go-to map alongside Cache, but the Swedes also added Mirage to their repertoire, playing off the strengths of the two former Epsilon members REZ and William "draken" Sundin. And it paid off, especially considering the latter ended up being their strongest performing member at the event.
The two veterans, f0rest and GeT_RiGhT, also had a good tournament, which gives the team a solid three-man firepower foundation to build on moving forward. REZ had some good games as well, but struggled in the Cache game against G2, where he lacked support on the B bombsite.
NiP's DreamHack Masters Malmö result got the Swedes to a single-digit ranking for the first time this year, and with their next event almost three weeks away, NiP have enough time to improve on what they showed here to continue their upward trend.
From three straight first places to going out in the quarter-finals of two consecutive tournaments is how the story goes for SK. The world's No.1 team still remain in the pole position, but the title could slip through the Brazilians' fingers if they don't turn it around soon.
Taking a closer look at the last two events, the Major top-eight finish could be down to a loss against a very strong Astralis and a peak performance from Nicolai "device" Reedtz, but SK going out to G2 in the quarter-finals of DreamHack Masters Malmö is a bit of a worrying sign for the Brazilians. There were no big changes for SK, who still rely on the same map pool, players and style of play, so the loss here could just be down to some individual mistakes and a bit of rustiness from the player break.
SK will have a chance to get back into full force at ESG Mykonos 2017, which won't feature a lot of teams from the top 10. Only after that tournament will we be able to judge if Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and co. are in a post-summer rut, something they struggled with in 2016 (with fer's injury and issues with Lincoln "fnx" Lau not helping the matter).
Two losses to Gambit in straight tournaments left Astralis with underwhelming results as they slowly fall in the rankings. The most recent defeat to the Kazakh team broke Astralis' record of making at least the semi-final of every tournament they played with Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, hinting at a downward trend.
The dataset is still limited, though, as Astralis played only five maps over the course of the event, cruising past Renegades and Natus Vincere before losing out to Gambit in a pretty straightforward series.
Astralis are far from being in a crisis, as their convincing wins over lower tier teams and even a fresh Natus Vincere show, but the fact that they last won a big event in March, at IEM Katowice, cannot be ignored. Astralis are a team that has the pieces to win tournaments, but they just haven't been performing up to that level recently.
It's back to black for the Poles, who have added another group stage exit to their résumé. To make matters worse, the defeats weren't tight losses to elite teams, but a 16-4 stomping that handed out by Natus Vincere and a 16-7 loss to Renegades—who were practically playing with a stand in, as David "Jayzwalkingz" Kempner departed the team as soon as the event finished.
With this being the fourth time Virtus.pro have not been able to get out of groups in 2017, it's hard to continue to believe in the expression "Virtus.pro always turn it around". If this was any other team, from any other region, changes would have been made a long time ago, but Virtus.pro power on. As it stands, it seems like the five will stick together, hoping to mend the wounds with a strong run at ESG Mykonos.
Two blockbuster signings demand big results, and that is something FaZe didn't get in Malmö.
Yes, limited time to prepare and adapt to the new squad—which now features Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer—combined with a pretty tough group containing NiP, Gambit and mousesports are mitigating factors to FaZe's early exit, but there is no running away from the high expectations the "CS:GO Galacticos" now have on their backs.
The tournament started forFinn "karrigan" Andersen's team by banning Cache and Cobblestone, and playing Nuke against NiP. The notoriously tactical map simply doesn't seem like a smart choice for a team that has just started playing together, with other options potentially more suited for side that packs as much firepower as FaZe do. The same map came back to bite them in the series against Gambit too, as the European mixture couldn't close out a 13-10 CT side lead, which saw them eliminated by Hobbit and co.
Currently, FaZe are looking confident on Mirage, but they will need to show much more than that to live up to the names on the backs of their jerseys. Their first chance to do so will be this weekend, in the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier group stage.