Starving for some CS:GO? You and me both. Luckily there's about to be some great content for us to chew on with DreamHack Leipzig coming around the corner. The three-day event starts on Friday, featuring seven of the HLTV top 30 teams in the world in an eight team field.
All of these rosters feature new faces, new branding, or both. So let's look ahead at the matchups and take a stab at how each team will fare in 2020.
Check the , with standings updated throughout the tournament.
Heroic are, by all meanings of the word, one of the most solid teams at this tournament. Their players: solid. Their tactics: solid. They have the best track record against top-tier competition for sure but, in my opinion, they’re still feeling the results of Complexity luring away their monstrous IGL, Benjamin “blameF” Bremer at least a bit.
They're further removed from it than a lot of the other teams here that have made changes, but blameF had big shoes to fill (figuratively and probably literally too - he's a tank). They should be one of the favorites in this event, but I would argue that they have the most difficult first round matchup in MAD Lions, a team that has already managed to sweep them 2-0 en route to qualifying for IEM Katowice.
It's amazing what can happen when you pick up a team that functions as a cohesive unit and has chemistry instead of just throwing free agents at an opening and hoping something happens. This ex-ATK, now Cloud9 roster contains the most storied African CS:GO players of all time, and they are getting results.
If you've watched this team in qualifiers early in 2020, you can see clearly that the ESL Pro League upsets were no fluke. North have struggled lately, but G2 was no joke when they lost to the old ATK roster.
Their entries are aggressive without being chaotic and they're formidable as a sniping team. I would expect this resurgent brand to comfortably make playoffs in Leipzig and I expect that they'll make it out of the Americas Minor in Rio as well.
MAD Lions (18)
This is actually a bigger LAN for MAD Lions than most might realise. Not only do they have a real chance to defeat Heroic in their opening match, thus solidifying their argument as the number two Danish team, but I would consider them to be one of the two favorites at this event.
This isn't their first event with the Spanish org, but the move over from Tricked is still very fresh, and the ceiling for this roster is still really freaking high. Since I don't really have a lot to say in the realm of roster changes for MAD Lions I'm going to go bold here and call MAD Lions my breakthrough pick for 2020, I expect them to win a big event and/or break the top 10 this year.
The major runners-up. Not the plow of old perhaps, but the ex-AVANGAR squad are more likely to bring the legendary CS:GO brand success than any mix of Polish players at the present moment. This is a team marred by high highs and low lows. From beating Team Vitality in a major quarterfinal (and the subsequent semifinal) to losing to Syman Gaming in WESG qualifiers, this is a team of extremes.
I think that this squad is the team that probably has the most to lose in 2020. They need to produce results soon, or they'll run the same risk as so many other CIS teams, becoming a Na'Vi talent incubator. Personally I expect more of the same from VP in 2020, some really amazing wins and some really bad losses. I think they'll hover around #20 for most of the year.
Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen is (in my humble opinion) the most underrated and underappreciated IGL in the world, and not a half bad AWPer to replace Jakob "JUGi" Hansen either. If there is anyone who can turn this team around, it's him.
North are sporting a new logo (and sweet color scheme change) to go along with their new IGL, and are in search of newfound relevancy in the Danish (and international) CSGO scene. North are just the latest org to experiment with power over poise, then falling back on a structured leader after the extra fragger doesn't work out.
MSL has turned nothing into possibilities more than once (see OpTic, Rogue, North pt. 1, etc.) and there's no reason he can't do it again. I would keep it real for this event and not panic as a fan if North doesn't show out, but if we've learned anything in CSGO these last few years, it's that there are few things more valuable than a good Danish IGL. It'll come with time.
You might recognise much of this Renegades roster, but probably from their time representing Grayhound Gaming. The American organisation swapped out one Australian roster for another after their top-ten squad signed with 100 Thieves. One noteworthy absence is the CS:GO folk hero Ollie “DickStacy” Tierney. He’s been having some medical issues outside of the server (protect your eyes gamers), Renegades pulled from another Australian organization, Order, to fill the void.
Jordan "Hatz" Bajic is a talented and worthy replacement in the server, though I don't think anyone can replace the personality of DickStacy. This squad is on the up and up, and should surely navigate their way through the Asian Minor to make the main event in Rio. Don't know that they'll go much further than that, but I'd call it a good result for them.
The champions of ESL Meisterschaft Winter earned their place here in Leipzig by beating ex-Prismatic and ALTERNATE aTTaX without dropping a map to win the German domestic title. That victory is all but a formality, especially now that Mateusz "mantuu" Wilczewski has left for OG and their competition is all but gone. Florian "syrsoN" Rische and Nils "k1to" Gruhne departed to fill BIG's roster openings, shoes that were filled by Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný and Paweł "dycha" Dycha.
The newly formed lineup has to capitalise on a chance to prove themselves in front of a friendly crowd, as they may not be able to qualify for another LAN this easily for the rest of 2020 with how deep EU talent is right now (and CS:GO as a whole for that matter). Reasonable expectations for this year would be for Sprout to try to hover around in the bottom of the top 30, while getting a couple of key upsets on unsuspecting tier one or two teams.
Truth be told, if BIG weren't directly invited then they likely wouldn't have made it here. German Counter Strike is at a low point for sure, with their flagship team being the lowest ranked team at their home LAN. The departures of Johannes "nex" Maget and Owen "smooya" Butterfield to make room for Florian "syrsoN" Rische and Nils "k1to" Gruhne are a clear sign that BIG is trying to reload and rebuild, but the continued presence of Can "XANTARES" Dörtkardeş means that they still value his rifling more than the comfort of the whole roster speaking the same native tongue.
I think a realistic goal for BIG for this year would be to reassert themselves as the top German squad, as Sprout has proven to be a worthy challenger to that throne already, and they've reloaded with some serious talent.
Virtus.pro vs BIG
I’m personally excited to see this new German project at work, but I think that the major runners up might be a big ask for a first match. VP have one of the faster AWPs in the world and I think that he’ll be too much for BIG to handle, no matter who scopes in for the Germans.
VP 16-9 BIG
North vs Sprout
With a bootcamp under their belts, I think that MSL will have his troops ready for a dogfight. I think this matchup comes down to who has made more significant changes as of late, a win condition that favors North. Sprout are really going to be missing syrsoN and k1to if oskar can’t turn back the clock.
North 16-13 Sprout
Cloud 9 vs Renegades
This Cloud 9 roster is for real, and Renegades are still a bit fresh on the roster change to inspire confidence for me. I think Cloud 9 takes care of business and moves on to the winner’s match.
Cloud 9 16-11 Renegades
Heroic vs MAD Lions
This is the marquis matchup of the first round. I think that Heroic get their revenge in the BO1 opener, but don’t be surprised if these two teams end up in a rematch in the grand final as well.
Heroic 16-13 MAD Lions
So there you have it! My first batch of thoughts on the state of CS:GO in 2020 and the teams in Leipzig. Find me in the Luckbox Discord server if you disagree and want to tell me why. But one thing I think that we can all agree on is that we can't wait for a weekend full of high level CS:GO once again.
Picture: Heroic / Twitter