After a long journey through the Counter-Strike desert, it appears an oasis is on the horizon, and this time it’s not a Zotec mirage, but a genuine water-hole. Dreamhack Masters Stockholm is the first proper event we’ve had in a while, and with the Major in London just a week or so away, there is a level of excitement for this tournament that many Dreamhack events have failed to garner in recent years.
First place takes $100k, which doesn’t seem like a small amount of money, but actually isn’t that impressive in CSGO in 2018, either, and we have a number of potential contenders for the major at the event. With that in mind, we’re going to run down what the top teams need from Dreamhack Masters Stockholm, and what they can afford to lose while still being in contention when they get to London.
The world’s best team come into this with a real conundrum ahead of them. They could probably take this tournament if they wanted, having had a number of weeks off to create new strategies and work out how to prevent other teams from operating. The problem for the team is how much of their hand they show, with the Major so close, as there is a chance to give away their plan if they prioritise this too much.
After their win over Grayhound, Dupreeh revealed that the team had taken a few weeks off during the player break, rather than just spending the entire time in-game and working on new strats. This might not seem like the most Astralis thing to do, but they think about all aspects of the game, including how to stay fresh, and we have no doubt they managed to get a bit of work done on CSGO as well.
What we will most likely see is the Danish line-up honing their gun skill and maybe trying out a few things, but it will probably be the pre-player break Astralis we get, rather than the version of themselves they are saving for the major. In some ways it is a surprise they even decided to play here with the health problems their star player experiences, but the warm-up will be worth the risk.
A week ago, people would have told you that Na’Vi were right up there with the favourites for this event, and rightly so. They are in possession of the world’s best player, and two of the top five right now, with the god s1mple ably backed up by electronic, who is fast becoming a deity in his own right. However, some gossip from a source that cannot be outright dismissed has rocked the black and yellow boat a bit.
It seems as though there are some issues around flamie at present, with Nel having reported that the team was practicing with other players in the lead up to Stockholm, but it has been confirmed he will play for his team in Sweden. However, the timing is very unfortunate for a team that had been winning events prior to the break, and it would be a real shame if Na’Vi weren’t able to perform at the major because of it.
Still, that is all just a rumour for now, outside of the team practicing with a different player, and it may be that he was simply on a family trip or dealing with personal issues. What is for sure is that Na’Vi look most likely to worry Astralis both here and in London, provided flamie burns bright, rather than burning out.
The problem for the longest time was that FaZe could not get their preferred five man unit onto a server and play. Now, with Olofmeister back, the problems are more complicated, and probably stem from the need to adjust to the fact that they are no longer working around a player of vastly inferior quality.
In his first appearance back in the team, the Swede looked pretty good, but the team clearly had massive issues in playing as a five. Karrigan’s strength has always been his ability to get a group working quickly, but it remains to be seen if he can find the way soon, or if the problems that plagued FaZe in the pre-departure of Olof phase return, or if this is a team that can challenge for the major. At this point, you’d say they can’t.
No, we aren’t taking the piss by including the former world number one and Major-winning team in this list, but hedging our bets. Pre-player break, betting on MIBR would be as sure a way of losing money as paying massive buyouts and contracts for a team that wins nothing, Noah, but today there is a glimmer of European hope on the horizon for the American mess that is MIBR.
Since joining, YNK has clearly been working on a number of issues from tactics to morale, as is clear if you follow them even on social media, and there is a small percentage chance he is what they need to compete. If the team fails here and at the major, then they will be relegated to the ranks of former greats, like NiP and Fnatic, but there is still a chance they turn it all around under the weatherman-turn-coach.
The winner in Stockholm is guaranteed nothing of course, but you’d always rather win than lose, and the curious calendar CSGO works on means it could mean a lot. Plus, we know there are millions of CSGO fans who are desperate for any kind of action after a few weeks off, even if TI8 was amazing, and are going to be glad of the chance to watch some high level play. We know we are.