With THOR Open's 130,000 SEK (~$19,600) Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament quickly approaching, the time has come to preview the eight teams competing in Stockholm this coming weekend.
The eight participants at THOR Open all qualified via online qualifiers that took place during the last nine weeks. Swedes rule the list with five teams, while Hawks snuck in from Finland and the top two Danes will also take part.
Who will surprise at THOR Open? Can someone dethrone NiP? Who will emerge as the top three teams with VeryGames unable to qualify for the event? Find out what Tomi "lurppis" Kovanen thinks below.
NiP (f0rest, Fifflaren, friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt)
NiP are sitting at a 41-0 record as a team since they were born in early August. Considering how few actually close games are in that number, that is actually scary if you're on one the teams competing against them, which I believe is how VeryGames feels now and likely plays a part in their growing lack of success versus the Swedish giants of CS:GO.
The ninjas are obviously huge favorites to top group A, and while theoretically it's certainly possible for them to drop a map, I don't see it happening in the group stage here. They are simply too strong overall for each of their three opponents, and should advance to semi-finals without much hassle on day one.
Predicted finish: 1st in group A
Copenhagen Wolves (gla1ve, Herden, HUNDEN, Nico, smF)
Copenhagen Wolves have seen their stock fall a lot since the group stage ended at DreamHack Winter, as they got taken out by the British mousesports squad in quarter-finals in Jönköping and have since then bombed various online tournaments, albeit with a stand-in in most of them. Nevertheless, it would be hard to expect the Danish Wolves to play as well as we've seen them play in the recent months.
I think NiP is out of reach for the Danes, and while they could struggle versus gosu, I think they are clear favorites over them. This leaves them with Curse. The former Hawks squad took the Danes down 16-3 in SLTV StarSeries IV just days ago, although Copenhagen Wolves were missing Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander. I think Curse are favorites to advance over the Danish side, but you definitely can't count them out; based on their interview with us it just seems they aren't fully focused this time.
Predicted finish: 3rd in group A
smF from Copenhagen Wolves
smF's Cph Wolves are in a tough spot
Curse (allu, naSu, natu, reflex, ScurK)
Curse are inconsistent. They showed flashes of greatness versus VeryGames at DreamHack, only to lost two save rounds, including a catastrophical four-on-one failure against a lonely P2000. That was followed up by a weak match against Absolute Legends, that saw the Finns leave Jönköping with a weak 9-12th place. Since then they've had some rock solid results online, but then at the last hour, lost two matches yesterday, including one against zNation.
I don't think Curse can realistically challenge NiP unless they were to win both pistol rounds and have tons of rounds go their way, so that one's out. I also think they will take down gosu without too much trouble, unless they don't show up to play. As mentioned in the paragraph about the Danes, it will come down to the match between the two. I think Curse has an edge right now, not only due to the online results of the past two weeks, but based on the interviews with the Danes and Curse's Joona "natu" Leppänen.
Predicted finish: 2nd in group A
gosu (cayzer, hoddi, snokz, tinka, major)
gosu didn't look very strong at DreamHack Winter despite of winning the Swedish online qualifier, as they were blown out by both ProGaming.TD and Copenhagen Wolves after tying the much weaker American Curse team. To make matters worse, their statistically by far strongest player, Anton "waver" Wiberg departed the team, forcing them to attend with stand-in Andreas "major" Major.
No matter how optimistic you might be, it's simply impossible to predict the Swedes to go through this group, regardless of what you base your prediction on - as long as you, in the end, base it on something factual. They also stated in their interview that their preparation hasn't been great, so while the young team will gain some invaluable experience here, it won't be enough to put them through this group.
Predicted finish: 4th in group A
hoddi from gosu
hoddi & co have more than their work cut out for them
Anexis (coloN, MSL, Nille, Pimp, ruggah)
Last few tournaments have seen Anexis come in with a ton of promise and exit after a disappointing group stage. Ever since René "cajunb" Borg's decision to step down from competitive gaming and the Danes' choice to recruit former CS 1.6 AWPer Morten "coloN" Johansen, the team has changed quite a bit in terms of its outlook and it could certainly be for the better, although it's impossible to say until we see the renewed Anexis in action.
Anexis has looked strong since their HastaLaVista days, so if Johansen can hit some shots with his AWP, I think the Danes can not only advance out of the tough group B, but also contend for a spot in the grand finals. They've missed that little something in the recent events, but Bord has been one of the strongest players, so it's tough to say how it will wind up going. My money is on Anexis at least finally progressing from the group stage.
Predicted finish: 2nd in group B
Absolute Legends (lidde, pita, pronax, rdl, zneel)
Absolute legends had a promising showing at DreamHack Winter despite early difficulties in variouis online tournaments leading up to it, including the Swedish DreamHack qualifier where they fell short against a weaker gosu squad. They ended up going out against Lemondogs, who share group B with them, posing a question of whether or not Faruk "pita" Pita's squad can deal with domestic squads.
The team has been playing well overall, but I simply think Anexis and Lemondogs will have their number in Stockholm this weekend. They definitely have the potential to beat one or even both of them and top the group, but I just have to go against someone in this group, and this time it's Pita's team.
Predicted finish: 3rd in group B
Lemondogs (berg, cype, Spitfire, twist, zajp)
Lemondogs looked like a solid team at DreamHack until they ran into a French brick wall in VeryGames, who completely shut them down as a team and scored an easy win against the young Swedes. They also seemed to lack some killer instinct against Absolute Legends, but managed to come through in the end, unlike in the semi-finals one round later.
I think Lemondogs are indeed the strongest team in group B, although Anexis and Absolute Legends both have potential to upset them, especially if Johansen is already well adjusted to CS:GO. They are the favorites on paper to finish second, but we will see how it goes in the end.
Predicted finish: 1st in group B
Lemondogs manager cheering for his team
pani will undoubtedly be motivating Lemondogs at THOR
Western Wolves (devilwalk, flusha, schneider, waver, zende)
Western Wolves burst onto the scene as SY_b when they beat NiP a few months ago at a THOR Open qualifier, which saw them qualify for this weekend's event in Stockholm. While they have improved from DreamHack on paper with the addition of Wiberg, it's tough to predict them to finish ahead of some of these teams in group B.
Overall, b ased on past results I have to predict them to go out in this group, although as said before I think this group is very, very evenly matched and it wouldn't surprise me too much even if they managed to advance to the playoffs. This is another team full of young, not very experienced Swedes, and how they do individually will define their fate in Stockholm.
Predicted finish: 4th in group B
waver shaking frozt's hand after a tie
waver needs to make a difference for WW
THOR Open kicks off on Saturday at 11:00 at Kistamässan in Stockholm, Sweden. The event will run on December 8-9, and HLTV.org will be on-site to provide you full coverage.