It was a very interesting week in Stockholm, headlined by a surprise winner of this leg of the Dreamhack Masters. The much-derided men from North have had to spend a while now hearing how they are the most overpaid players in CSGO, which is of course not true, but only thanks to the money Virtus.pro are throwing away.
Now, they can hold their heads high, and march toward the London Major feeling they are genuine contenders for the title. Wins over the best teams in the world, a best-of-three double against Astralis, this is the moment North ascended to a top-five team in the world, right? Well, maybe not, as it turns out, due to some pretty exceptional circumstance in Sweden.
Nobody else was trying
Now, this is probably not even close to true, but you have to put the event in the context of the calendar. While nobody wants to miss out on money, the reason so many teams came to Stockholm was to prepare for the Major, and a lot of those teams are going to be sitting on strategies that they have cooked up just for London.
With that in mind, the two BO3-wins over Astralis probably won’t bother the world number one as much as the analysts might imagine. For North, every resource being spent on trying to win Stockholm makes a lot of sense, but the likes of FaZe, the aforementioned Danish kings and maybe even Na’Vi were definitely undercooked or holding cards at Dreamhack Masters.
The player break
This event was essentially the appetiser to the main course, which starts in a couple of days, and that showed for some of the teams on show. Na’Vi had issues coming in with rumours flamie was a doubt after the team was observed practicing with stand-ins. Likewise FaZe went from hot to cold very quickly, a result of not just time off, but having to bed Olof back into the team, meaning this was far from the average field.
On the other hand a number of teams had clearly prepped for this one, and some bigger than you’d think, given it’s only $100,000 on the line. MIBR, who only care about the cash, looked like a decent side at points, having clearly spent most of the player break working under new coach YNK to get some kind of cohesion, but they were swept aside by Astralis as soon as the pressure came on.
Like North, the Brazilians were focused on this tournament, rather than building to the Major, and it showed on both sides, with an improvement in their play that only lasted as long as it took to find a proper opponent. Pundits will find it hard to write them off for London, but there is no reason to think MIBR will make an impact there based on their performance in Stockholm, and we CAN say North are a better team right now. It’s just sad for the Danes that being better than coldzera, FalleN and the rest no longer makes you an elite team.
The rules are different
For some reason, Dreamhack has continued to allow a different coaching rule to almost all other major CSGO series, and too many pundits have overlooked that when analysing the results. North have an in-game leader called MSL, who is famous for his meticulous approach in-game and ability to manage players around the map, and has been awful on the server for a while now. One look at his stats should illustrate why this could be considered an anomaly, and not something we should count on him recreating in London.
Over the last three months, MSL has a .97 rating on HLTV, with .64 kills per round and .70 deaths per round across 61 maps. At Dreamhack Masters Stockholm, where his coach Ave was able to speak freely and MSL was on the AWP, his rating shot up to 1.06, his kills per round to .72, and .67 deaths per round, and he duly took the MVP title as his team lifted the trophy.
With all of that in mind, it’s clear that while Dreamhack Stockholm represents a big jump forward for North, it equally is a very unique competition and we shouldn’t extrapolate too hard with London coming. Astralis are still favourites, and rightly so, and North are still not sure of making it out of the Challengers stage, which is where they begin their major journey. Repeating the steps they took in Sweden is not an impossible task, but magnitudes harder, and you can expect the giants to have fully retooled when it comes to the crunch.
Image credit: North