DreamHack Masters CSGO takes place from May 28th to June 2nd with 16 CSGO teams battling it out for the biggest slice of the $250,000 prize pool. Tim Masters takes a look at the teams and who should fancy their chances in the Lone Star State
It’s been a quiet few weeks for the tier-one CSGO scene, with nothing more than a tour of France and a blast around Madrid to keep you entertained, alongside the normal mountain of drama. As you will all know, there is a real problem with events right now and which qualify as "tier one", and a lot of that seems to be (in fan eyes at least) about which teams are in attendance.
To some extent, DreamHack Masters CSGO is as much about the teams that won’t attend as those that will, which is a constant theme in 2019 CSGO. It’s not just world number one Astralis taking time off, but also the Dallas Cowboys’ own esports project Complexity Gaming, who entered the NA qualifier in their "home" town (having been bought by the team, rather than born and raised in Dallas, so to speak) and ended up fifth of eight, behind such luminaries of CS as EUnited, Denial and Envy.
That was awkward for COL as they had recently rebranded, giving up one of the oldest and most established logos in the CSGO, if not esports space to fall in line with the plain, uninspired imagery of the Dallas Cowboys. With that team one of the most valuable in all of sport, it makes sense in some ways to use their logo, but it is sad and somewhat confusing to see such a powerful brand in the esports space bought, presumably at some expense, and then turned into ‘Cowboys Gaming’, when Dallas could have just hired the talent and created their own brand from day one.
Still, as my mum once said to me on my birthday, it’s not about who didn’t come to your party, but the people that cared enough to attend, although in this case we’re talking about a selection of the world’s best CSGO teams and not just my Uncle Keith. There is a lot of exciting CSGO ahead of us, and after IEM Sydney we know we can have a cracker without the Danes, so let’s have a look at who might take home the prize, and who is going to be done in Dallas after a couple of days.
There are levels to this game, and of the teams that will attend DreamHack Dallas there are probably four that can reach a strata of play none of the rest can, even if it’s not reliable. For the vast majority of the time Team Liquid and ENCE look like world class, elite CSGO teams, capable of winning any tournament and even beating the world number ones, as we saw in Madrid and at IBP. Outside of that, we know that FaZe and Renegades have that level in them, but struggle to produce it consistently.
With the doors now open on Luckbox for you to bet on CSGO, a lot will come down to the price you can get on a FaZe or Renegades in their matches. At decent odds the former are always a good pick, especially with NiKo back in place and new IGL Neo seeking to impress, but their recent form doesn’t justify putting them in the same bracket as the Finns or TL. As for Renegades, they haven’t totally dropped off after their impressive Major run, but it will be tough for them to produce that form in Dallas, especially if Gratisfaction is stuck in New Zealand with visa issues.
NIP, Fnatic and potential surprises
There are some storied names in the pack for this event, with former greats like Ninjas In Pyjamas and Fnatic both attending and looking much better in recent weeks. The latter made the final in Sydney and put up a decent fight against a Liquid that looked prime to choke, while the former has the sort of dangerous talent that makes them a threat in any match, and can still put some magic together now and then.
However, if there is a team to watch out for in this part of the pelaton we think it’s Furia, the team that is making a great case for being Brazil’s best right now. Led by KSCERATO and arT, the five-man unit has a real cohesion to go with their star power, and are unknown enough to be a real threat. There is plenty of talent travelling to Dallas for Vitality, North and NRG too, and all three have the ability to win (almost) any game, but the odds of them making a miracle run to the final AND THEN beating a Liquid or ENCE are pretty slim.
This event has basically all the good NA teams in attendance, with Liquid and NRG here, and it would be great as a fan of CSGO to include 2018 Boston Major Champions Cloud9 in that list, but we just can’t. For all the ability autimatic clearly possesses, it’s obvious the org is no longer willing to support a tier one American team, and that’s sad as hell after the peak they reached. The same goes for G2, and to some extent even Tyloo, who we know to have masses of talent but to rarely produce on the big stage, despite the former being very well paid.
The Asian team obviously have great upset potential in best-of-one matches, but of the teams that look a bit lost here it’s Windigo we want to pick out, as the all-Bulgarian team is much better than most people realise, and have a star in the making in the shape of Poizon. As for Isarus and Lucid Dream, playing at this level is going to be hugely useful for teams from Argentina and Thailand respectively, and will hopefully equip them to improve, but their fans shouldn’t expect too much from their week in Texas.
Dreaming of Dallas
The latest episode of our CSGO podcast looks ahead to DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019, with Tim Masters and Dr Waldo shooting the breeze over what we can expect to see.
Image: IEM, Helena Kristiansson, ESL.