Winners and losers of DreamHack Masters Marseille
As the action in France has been brought to an end, we took a look at what happened in the tournament and figured out who the winners and who the losers of DreamHack Masters Marseille were.
The tournament, which was stacked both in terms of the level of competition and the schedule, saw four teams eliminated after the first day. Besides the somewhat expected losses of underdogs, we saw Space Soldiers go out after just two BO1s. The tournament continued with the BO3 portion of the group stage over the next two days, where we again saw some upsets happen and favorites leave the tournament early.
Big names such as SK, Liquid and G2 couldn't make it to the playoffs, and neither could Envy, leaving the French crowd without a home team to support in the arena at the weekend. The playoffs saw Astralis kick into a higher gear, beating FaZe in the quarter-finals, fnatic in the semi-finals and Natus Vincere in the grand final—all without dropping a map. Among other results, it's worth noting that Gambit made a deep, semi-final run, while mousesports, who had claimed two titles from their previous two events, were stopped in the last-eight stage by Natus Vincere.
|Group stage||Map (VOD)||Stage|
|Cloud9||22- 20||G2||Mirage||Group A opener|
|Cloud9||16- 14||FaZe||Mirage||Group A winner's|
|Natus Vincere||16- 14||fnatic||Overpass||Group C winner's|
|Natus Vincere||19- 16||mousesports||Inferno||QF (M2)|
|Astralis||16- 12||fnatic||Mirage||Semi-finals (M2)|
|Astralis||16- 11||Natus Vincere||Inferno||Grand final (M2)|
There had been a certain excitement built around Astralis heading into the Marseille event. The Danes had been posting great online results, but unlike Space Soldiers, who were in a similar situation online-play wise, Astralis's core had already proven themselves as a title contending team offline in the past as well.
Everything fell into place right from the start for Astralis, who made it through the group stage by smashing the aforementioned Turkish team 16-2 on Inferno and later on defeating Liquid 2-1 in the group's winner's match—the Danes lost the opener on Mirage 16-14, but cruised to 16-3 victories on Overpass and Cache. Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander's team carried that form into the playoffs, where they managed to not drop a single map on their way to the title—and didn't look very challenged while doing so. It's also interesting to note that Astralis lost both the CT and T pistols in three playoff games, but still managed to recover and take the victory in every one of them, showing that, if needed, they can rely purely on their rifle rounds to win.
Considering the fairly one-sided results, it's not surprising to see four out of five Astralis players amongst the six best performing ones in Marseille, with Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen, the only one missing, still having a respectable 1.14 event rating. All of the standout players contributed in their own way: Emil "Magisk" Reif shined more during the groups than the playoffs, gla1ve had a great game in the grand final, while Nicolai "device" Reedtz and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth respectively excelled at CT side AWPing and clutching, which is what we had already come to expect from them.
Astralis are now in a great position. They have a positive outlook after winning their first event in dominant fashion and, moving forward, will be challenged by teams that are mostly still in flux, unsure of how to use their new rosters. Meanwhile, gla1ve has already drilled his troops and built a solid map pool: they look untouchable on Overpass and Nuke, while their Mirage and Inferno, maps that almost everyone plays at the moment, also look very strong. We haven't got a good look at them on Cache and Train yet, but the fact that their permaban—Cobblestone—has been replaced by Dust2, only makes them scarier moving forward.
Even though, at a glance, it seems like Natus Vincere is standing in place after finishing second at both StarSeries i-League S4 and DreamHack Masters Marseille, they actually have been moving forward and have reasons for optimism after the tournament in France. Unlike at StarSeries, where Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev was practically pulling Natus Vincere across the line single-handedly, at DreamHack Masters he had consistent support in the form of Denis "electronic" Sharipov, who had finally been unleashed to "go get kills" and finished the tournament with an impressive 1.36 rating.
Looking at their overall stats, Egor "flamie" Vasilyev, Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev didn't shine that much but had series and maps in which they contributed enough to get Natus Vincere over the hurdle. In the end, Natus Vincere can't be criticized too much for the defeat to Astralis in the final; the Danes looked dominant throughout, and even though they weren't able to neutralize s1mple, the young Ukrainian's performance in the grand final was subdued in comparison to the level he had displayed in the previous stages of the tournament
Natus Vincere's LAN run since adding electronic is nothing to sneeze at now. The Ukrainian team won DreamHack Open Winter, finished top four at the Major and second at two $250,000+ events. The only thing that has been holding them back in terms of ranking is a lack of offline appearances (caused by poor online performances), but that is about to change with IEM Sydney, the ESL Pro League Finals, the Adrenaline Cyber League, the CS:GO Asia Championship—and potentially even more—, awaiting s1mple and co. in just the next two months.
The expectations for Gambit were pretty low as DreamHack Masters Marseille was about to kick-off, as their recent results had been all but impressive. Group stage exits at the Major, StarSeries i-League S4 and IEM Katowice were followed by a 5-6th finish at the eight-team Bets.net Masters, and during the struggling period, the in-game leader duties were passed around like a hot potato in hope for a magical solution.
Denis "seized" Kostin had taken over the mantle at Bets.net, but it seems like the Russian needed more time at the helm to make it work—as Gambit looked reinvigorated in France. The team went back to the basics and had Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev take over as the main star again, with Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov standing out in the fragging department as well, especially on Train. That map is potentially their best one at the moment, as they eliminated Liquid, Space Soldiers and Cloud9 on it, with strong CT sides being the foundation for their upsets.
Gambit had to settle for a top-four placing after going out to their regional rivals Natus Vincere in the semi-final, but they will surely be happy with what they accomplished in France and the seven-place bump in the rankings that accompanied it.
The Turkish squad has been on a tear online in 2018, qualifying for four LAN events in a row: DreamHack Masters Marseille, IEM Sydney, ESL Pro League S7 Finals and ESL One Belo Horizonte. Not only have they taken down lower ranked teams in qualifiers, but they have also at times outclassed opposition in ESL Pro League, becoming the first team to secure a LAN finals spot. Space Soldiers have added some decent LAN showings to their name this year as well, coming close to a Major playoff spot in January and finishing second at the WESG World Finals, taking fnatic to overtime on the deciding map.
Combining the two made Space Soldiers an exciting prospect in Marseille, but Engin "MAJ3R" Küpeli's team failed to live up to the expectations and crashed out with two straightforward losses. They started the tournament against Astralis and lost 16-2, and were eliminated by a 16-7 defeat to team that had been struggling heavily up to that point, Gambit. Over the two games, Space Soldiers couldn't get their offensive side to work, grabbing just two Terrorist rounds in the first and one Terrorist round in the second game.
The small sample size doesn't allow us to draw big conclusions about the team's issues, but with a poor start to their LAN campaign and one of their best maps, Cobblestone, being removed from the map pool, Space Soldiers will need to pick up the pace soon or they will have a rough couple of months ahead.
French fans' thirst for some good domestic Counter-Strike was left unquenched after seeing G2's debut with Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt as the in-game-leader and a foreigner, Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas, coming into the fold. Their strong 10-5 CT half against Cloud9 gave some hope, but G2 would end up dropping the opening map of the tournament in overtime, after failing to capitalize on six map points.
Even though domestic rivalries are always volatile and upsets are likely to happen, the fact that they were eliminated in the next match by Envy—and in very dominant fashion—is still a valid cause for concern about the future of the current G2 project. The issues seem to be underwhelming T-sides, which in most cases fall on the back of the in-game-leader, and a newcomer who has not gelled with the team so far—mixwell finished the tournament with the lowest rating of the squad, 0.79.
Time could be the solution for G2; with more experience NBK- could evolve as an in-game leader and mixwell could adapt to the calls and to playing the French style of CS, but with Richard "shox" Papillon's return looming in the background and a new team cooking up, it feels like a lot of time before posting results is one thing that this team doesn't have.
Making a drastic change such as switching the language of communication will always come with its issues, so seeing SK not make it out of a pretty tough group that also featured NiP and mousesports should not be considered a big failure. However, the legacy Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Marcelo "coldzera" David and Fernando "fer" Alvarenga have built comes with the expectations of big results, despite any hardships they may encounter.
In Marseille, Ricardo "boltz" Prass's individual struggles continued, while fer also had an underwhelming tournament by his standards, potentially as he is adapting to Jake "Stewie2K" Yip taking some of his positions. However, considering SK as a team, the biggest warning sign was the decider series against mousesports, in which SK looked absolutely flat and got rolled 13-2 in the first halves of both Cache and Mirage. The Brazilian side won't have a lot of time to fix their issues before IEM Sydney, but the lower level of competition down under will allow them more leeway and time to get into the groove of things on LAN.
Finn "karrigan" Andersen's team find themselves in a position very similar to that of SK. After vying for the #1 spot over the majority of last year and claiming multiple titles along the way, they started dipping in form in the first part of the 2018 and then found themselves attending DreamHack Masters Marseille shortly after a player change.
FaZe, unlike SK, made it to the playoffs, but their path was an easier one as they only had to beat Envy twice to advance. FaZe also didn't have a massive change to adapt to, at least not as massive as that of SK, but Richard "Xizt" Landström's addition has still changed the team's dynamic significantly. They are no longer a heavy firepower team, but one with a more standard look with two players acting as the supporting cast to the star trio. Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Håvard "rain" Nygaard had good tournaments overall, Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács was just average, but the Bosnian star was completely missing (0.57 rating) in the quarter-finals, which allowed Astralis to outclass them and secure a convincing 2-0 win.
With their most recent placings, 3rd-4th at V4 Future Sports Festival and 5th-8th in Marseille, FaZe are no longer just a team that can't close out championships, but one that are not even getting in position to do so. Teams such as Cloud9, fnatic, Astralis and Natus Vincere have all gotten series wins over FaZe in the past few months, and all of them will be present in Sydney next week, which will make it tough for rain and co. to get back to winning ways anytime soon.