It's time to preview groups A and B of DreamHack Winter 2012's 300,000 SEK (~$45,000) tournament, which will be played tomorrow on Thursday November 22.
First day at DreamHack Winter 2012 will see the on-site BYOC qualifier be played out and the first two groups finish, which means half of the tournament's sixteen participants will be out by tomorrow evening.
Here is a preview of what to expect from the year's biggest CS:GO tournament in Tomi "lurppis" Kovanen's opinion, so continue reading to find out how the event's first day may play out tomorrow.
NiP (f0rest, Fifflaren, friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt)
There really is only so much to say about NiP. Apart from some questionable online losses, they have proven time and time again that they are the best team currently in existence in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive realm. Four of their players continuously put up big numbers allowing them to win rounds that look they should go to the opposing team, which makes it all the more harder for anyone to really challenge them.
Based on the tournaments so far in CS:GO I think they have four of the best five (and that is being generous towards a possible player in hiding I have missed) players in the game, and such individual skill goes a long way. However, Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson has been unimpressive in all of their tournaments in my opinion, and when going finally gets tough for NiP, and at some point in the coming months it will, he will have to chime in with some frags as well to avoid defeat.
NiP's only real problem is that they lack a top level AWPer. I know Johansson is their team's AWPer, but while I'm not sure if the AWPers in other teams at DreamHack Winter can make a big impact yet, while the best users of the big green across all CS versions get to a top level, NiP will have to fight snipers with rifles, and that could be a problem. However, I don't see anything stopping NiP in this group, and while they will likely lose a bit more rounds than they did e.g. against ESC online due to the Poles' nature of being an average team from home, they will still finish 3-0.
Predicted finish: 1st
Fifflaren will eventually have to step up if NiP wish to remain at their throne
ESC Gaming (kuben, Loord, neo, pasha, TaZ)
Despite people's low expectations of the Polish side at ESWC, I had a hunch they would do well at the event. Now you might argue going out in groups isn't a good performance, but considering they still managed to win two games and only went out against n!faculty due to losing both pistol rounds and the first gun round in each half, I think they are much better than they themselves let on, or might even believe themselves. Their recent online results of course offer no confidence, but it was never something the Poles needed in CS 1.6.
They have been bootcamping for five days in Poland in order to get ready for DreamHack Winter 2012, and although Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas questioned their form in our pre-event interview with the man, I think their performance will be better than it was at ESWC or has been online, and that should be enough to advance from group A, which despite some people including my colleague Luis Mira calling a group of death, actually looks fairly average to me. It's important to notice this isn't CS 1.6.
While I think ESC might put up a fight against NiP, I don't think they can reach that far just yet. The other two teams however are not only well within reach, but I'm not even sure if either one is a favorite over them. fnatic hasn't had much time to play CS:GO yet and it's impossible to guess their form because we haven't seen them play, but ESC definitely have more hours into CS:GO by now which should give them an edge. mousesports UK was hyped up upon CS:GO's takeover in tournaments, but so far the loudest noise they've made was when they bombed the UK ESWC qualifier.
Predicted finish: 2nd
Do you really think this guy isn't holding an ace up his sleeve?
fnatic (Friis, karrigan, MODDII, Rytter, trace)
The best CS 1.6 team of 2012 has switched over to CS:GO, albeit with a once again different lineup. I have heard mixed reviews of the Danish fnatic squad's preparation for the event, but I think Dennis "Rytter" Rytter's addition must help the team out quite a bit. Had they been able to make the switch a month ago and gotten some solid practice together instead of being in Shanghai for K1 League I would predict them to finish second, but their lack of experience with the game worries me.
First of all I simply do not know how big Rytter's impact on the squad will be. People often cite how CS:GO requires more strategies and pre-planned flashes and smokes in order to win rounds as terrorists, which is basically a 180 turn from how fnatic has dominated the Counter-Strike 1.6 competition this year. They obviously have a different in-game leader, but at the same time we have to remember that only Martin "trace" Heldt has had real success in the past playing the strict, planned version of CS, while everyone else flourished through their individual skill.
If fnatic's AWPers can get hot, which basically means they need pistol round wins to build money, I think they can pose a threat even against NiP, as they simply can't fight back in that domain. However, in just about every other way they are outmatched right now. ESC Gaming could go either way, but I will give the Poles an edge due to having more experience with the game. Finally, mousesports UK is a bit of a question mark due to their roster changes and could potentially even upset ESC, but I don't see that happening, meaning fnatic will likely miss playoffs with a 1-1-2 record.
Predicted finish: 3rd
mousesports UK (Mx, prb, pt, Rattlesnk, stingeR)
Last and in my opinion least is the British mousesports squad. One of the big names to switch over months ago, they've basically lost all their momentum by missing ESWC after a qualifier loss against a fm.TOXiC team that just about everyone has now deemed weak and who lost against ESC in ESWC, and then changing two members to old Norwegian players such as former team9 member Preben "prb" Gammelsæter. In the process, I would argue, they have also lost their privileges of being the number one team at mousesports. Should they wish to stay with the German organization, I think some wins at DreamHack are a must.
Much like fnatic we haven't actually seen mouz play much online, apart from a very weak 4-16 loss versus Redzone. It's hard to guesstimate how a team you haven't seen play will do, and had they stuck to their original lineup I would have predicted them to beat out the recently converted fnatic squad, but I don't have much faith in the mixture of a Norwegian-British lineup. It feels more like the British members invited some Norwegian friends over because they're fun to play gathers with online, knowing this is their only shot at staying in mousesports -- this is of course all, 100% speculation.
As mentioned before I expect mousesports to finish dead last in group A, although there is a chance they have secretly put in tons of work and will surprise not only me but the other teams in group A. However, I think the only rational call at this point is to assume they can't beat NiP, won't defeat ESC on LAN, and will face a motivated fnatic team, who with the help of Rytter are likely to be slightly better than one might expect, to determine who places dead last and who gets to escape with some of their dignity in tact.
Predicted finish: 4th
Copenhagen Wolves (gla1ve, Herden, Hunden, Nico, smF)
Copenhagen Wolves were a fairly successful CS: Source team in their days, even besting out the Finnish ROCCAT squad some months ago at Assembly Summer for the title. They have also shown good form online as well as defeated Anexis at a Danish LAN prior to ESWC, which I have to figure they only missed because they didn't sign up for the Nordic qualifier for reason or another. They also bested Anexis in the Danish qualifier for a spot at DreamHack Winter, and qualified for Thor Open.
The Danes were this group's top seed and it will show in their results. While ProGaming.TD -SBG is likely just as, if not more, prepared, I don't think they will defeat the Wolves who have beaten teams such as mousesports.de lately. On the other hand, they did tie ESC online and have yet to attend big tournaments in CS:GO, so there is definitely room for variance and a possibility to see them at least upset despite being favorites to take home the top seed.
I think Copenhagen Wolves will have little trouble with Curse and a competitive game with gosu, but will nonetheless come out of both with a win. The game against ProGaming.TD will be a better indication of where the best Danish team stands, but I believe they will be able to top group A.
Predicted finish: 1st
Curse (anger, frozt, juv3nile, Michael3D, Skadoodle)
Hold mouse 1, as they were called prior to joining up with Curse, were a team that had played various games such as Crossfire together in the past. After making the switch to CS:GO they had a relatively promising showing at ESWC North America just weeks after the big switch. Rumours have it some of their members have over 1,000 hours played in CS:GO, which is probably some of the most in the entire world.
That's where the good stuff ends though. Zach "tm-" Miller decided to quit playing before DreamHack which led to former Dynamic member Todd "anger" Williams joining, while Jeff "emong" Anderson broke his wrist some weeks ago, even forcing the team to skip the ESEA Season 12 finals in Dallas, TX, and recruit Carey "frozt" Kertenian as a temporary stand-in for DreamHack. Facing issues like this can not help a team that wasn't a favorite to advance to begin with.
I don't think they stand a chance against Copenhagen Wolves, and ProGaming.TD -SBG should also be far too prepared to fall against the Americans. Their only chance therefore lies against the Swedes of gosu, but unless Latham is the kind of player some of the Americans have hyped him out to be, they will have to use DreamHack as a learning experience, and not much else.
Predicted finish: 4th
gosu (cayzer, hoddi, snokz, tinka, waver)
The young Swedish squad has been very active in various online competitions, with their biggest wins so far coming over Absolute Legends, previously known as Team X during their Thor Open clash. gosu are headed to Thor Oepn two short weeks after DreamHack Winter 2012 which should take off some of the pressure over their performance, as they can theoretically allow themselves a learning experience in Jönköping; no one is expecting them to compete for the title.
I'm not overly familiar with the squad but knowing the CS: Source scene in Sweden was never particularly strong, I have to wonder if these guys have enough experience to do well at what I can only imagine to be their first major event. They are a solid up-and-coming team and will probably only get stronger in the future, but right now it seems that they've been thrown in to the deep end of the pool without actually ever trying to swim before.
I think Copenhagen Wolves is on a different level than their competition in this group, and even ProGaming.TD will probably be able to take down gosu due to their massive bootcamp and the advantage in experience. However, Curse has had to deal with some roster issues and with their main fragger Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham's skills on LAN being questioned by the North American elite, I think the young Swedes will walk away from DreamHack with a win, and possibly a close game to go with it, and be ok with their effort.
Predicted finish: 3rd
ProGaming.TD - SBG (cogu, rkz, Steel, zakk, zqk)
While it is unclear just how much ProGaming.TD's performance suffered at ESWC 2012 due to the problems team captain Raphael "cogu" Camargo suffered with his setup and gear, their close loss against NiP was at least promising and suggests, given the fact the Brazilians have had almost three more weeks of practice, that they are at DreamHack Winter 2012 to play and compete for one of the top finishes. That is what thousands of Brazilian fans are hoping for, in any case.
This is yet another team that has kept their cards close to the chest as the only teams who know how they like to play or what kind of form they will travel to Jönköping in are themselves as the teams they have chosen to practice against in the recent weeks. They showed signs of promise in Paris, and although Camargo's issues might not have carried over to the following games, the damage was clearly already done mentally, which means the problems may as well have persisted; it likely wouldn't have helped their results.
I don't think Curse will be able to do much due to all the setbacks their team has suffered leading up to this event, so ProGaming.TD should get a win against them. Copenhagen Wolves seem like a very good team based on their online play and should be considered favorites in their head-to-head match up, which means the group will come down to the last match against gosu. While the Swedes defeated Absolute Legends online, I'm not sure if that's a case of gosu being strong or aL being weak, and will therefore give Target Down the edge.
Predicted finish: 2nd
cogu receiving help from teammates
cogu & co will hope to revive Brazilian CS in Jönköping
Who do you think will make it through the first day? Will there be upsets? Can someone deal NiP their first defeat on LAN? Let us know in the comment section below!