The first few days of DreamHack Masters Malmö were all about jetlag, but that’s mainly been forgotten, and soon people will start talking about the amazing shocks and maybe an MSL masterclass, forgetting how silly the schedule was for teams travelling from New York. As is often the way, it was Astralis who were best able to cope with the conditions, and today they find themselves in semi final one against Fnatic, before a rejuvenated Na’Vi take on Vitality in the second match. Let’s have a look at how both teams got here, and what could be the key factors in making the final…
Astralis v Fnatic, 15:00 CEST
Since the Major, Astralis have looked like their old selves a bit more, but there is still a massive gap between where they are now and their peak level. While the other ‘big’ teams have struggled here, namely Liquid and EG, Astralis have proven the value of structure and system when you aren’t at your best, and shown once again that they have the best B-game of any team at this level.
Their route here has been fairly simple, demolishing EnVy, G2 and Vitality, and to be honest two of those three results should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching CSGO. Their skill on Vertigo is also now a real factor, meaning their opponents have a tricky task that starts at the veto, and will continue until the final frag is found.
Picture: Copyright ESL / Carlton Beener
In their way stand the Swedes, whose name is a reminder of the old glory days, but who currently find themselves in a period of flux. The semi final will need to be played at a much higher level than the quarter was by Fnatic if they are to make the final, as their victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas could generously be called a scrappy affair. One thing is for sure, they look a far better team with Golden back in the line-up than previously, but there is a big gap between that and beating the Major champions.
The Danes haven’t been at their best, that much is true, and if they were in the other half of the draw you might think there was a danger of a shock here, but the day off to adjust to the time zone will have helped after New York. The one advantage Fnatic have is that you can’t really shut them down by stopping a single player, and their experience will help them to some degree, but it’s going to take everything JW and co have in the locker to make this a reality.
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Natus Vincere v Vitality, 18:50 CEST
While all the talk has been about Evil Geniuses, mainly because there are a lot of older folk on Twitter who remember their glory days, the ‘other’ potential big team has been making strides following the removal of their yoke. For all the tributes and kind words about Zeus in the wake of his retirement you can’t look at Na’Vi now and say they are worse off for the loss of their former IGL, or his sycophantic coach Kane.
With GuardiaN in the fold, Blade in the coaching chair and the toxic influence of the old leadership group gone, the team has improved already, and the level of talent on Na’Vi is actually crazy now with s1mple, electronic and GuardiaN in the same side. If any more proof were needed that s1mple is better off in the new team, Kane provided it on Twitter, sniping at the star ahead of this game, which s1mple dodged like a badly-thrown Molotov, something we are sure Kane knows all about.
This game is the ‘talent’ match to be honest, with Na’Vi looking stacked and their opponents certainly full to the brim of dangerous names. The quarter final between Mousesports and Team Vitality was an odd affair, with the likes of ropz, shox, ZywOo and woxic all taking turns to take our breath away with their talent, but eventually the French team prevailed, and find themselves up against a rested Natus Vincere.
This is a game that probably would have looked very much in the favour of Vitality a few months ago, when Kane and Zeus were still in yellow and black, but the changes made by both sides have balanced things out a bit. It looks as though the ceiling with shox will be higher for the French than it was with NBK, but finding the consistency might take some time, making this the hardest game to predict, but potentially the most exciting of the tournament so far. Certainly the matchup between ZywOo and s1mple looks mouth-watering, and then you have shoxie, electronic, GuardiaN…this is one you really don’t want to miss.