After only just getting over the hype that was the MLG Columbus Counter-Strike major there’s another tournament right around the corner in Malmö, Sweden. So as to not shake up the format too much the group and playoff stages will work the same as the previous major with four groups of four teams with best of one matches aside from the decider match which will be a best of three. The top two teams of each group move to the playoffs to compete for the $100,000 1st place prize.
While the format hasn’t changed we are definitely seeing some changes of the teams that are competing. Most notably, It looks like injury has plagued some of the best players in the world forcing #1 team Fnatic to miss this tournament due to Olofmeister’s hand injury and Natus Vincere are forced to substitute their star AWPer GuardiaN for their current coach Starix. After stepping down from the current Na’Vi roster just over a year ago we will see what kind of impact he will have on the team.
With all the out of the way here are my thoughts on each of the current groups as well as my predictions for which of these teams will make it to the playoffs this weekend.
TL;DR Predictions: Luminosity Gaming and Mousesports to make it to playoff stage
After dominating all other teams less than a week ago, Luminosity Gaming became the first team outside of Europe to win a Major tournament. Their roster isn’t making any changes and with the group they have been given I have no doubt they will leave Group A in first place. The Brazilian team has accomplished so much in the last 12 months it’s amazing to see their players still be so consistent across each map they play. With this being said, Team Liquid, MouseSports and TyLoo still pose a serious risk during the group stage and they shouldn’t take their competition too lightly.
But the tougher question is which team will take the second spot. I believe that MouseSports showed they are more than just a one man team with NiKo dragging them along kicking and screaming. ChrisJ had a huge impact for the team at MLG Columbus and with that LAN experience behind them I think they can pull this out and make it out of the group stage.
MouseSports also has an advantage as they have not made any changes to their lineup. Despite Team Liquid’s AdreN playing some amazing Counter-Strike after standing in for Koosta it looks like he will be dropped for this tournament. This means that Team Liquid will need to adapt their play style again for the new player with little time to work with. I believe this is going to cause teamwork issues with members not being used to strategies that worked in the previous lineup.
Finally we have the main wildcard of Dreamhack Malmo in the form of TyLoo who after dominating the Asian CS:GO scene may still need some practice against the American and European teams. This tournament will definitely give them that but I can’t see much happening outside of a few close losses to the other teams in Group A.
TL;DR Predictions: Natus Vincere and G2 Esports to advance to the playoff stage
The biggest change coming in to looking at Group B is that Natus Vincere will not be the 5-man team we have seen compete over the past 12 months. Star AWPer GuardiaN has decided to take a step back after MLG Columbus due to a nagging arm injury that he previously suffered while playing football.
With that in mind I still believe Na’Vi will make it out of the groups stage in first place. They have been dealt a really good group and even when GuardiaN had been playing subpar through MLG Columbus the rest of the team were able to carry on through and make it to the final without dropping a single map.
Much like Group A, the toughest choice is the second place finisher and this time I think G2 Esports are going to make it through alongside Na’Vi. While the organisation has recently dropped in-game leader Ex6TenZ and picked up boddy for LDLC White, the team has also been dealt quite a lenient group stage for this tournament. The hope is that G2 picks themselves up from the previous tournament and realises that they have a great chance to make it through to the playoffs.
Counter Logic Gaming haven’t been performing well recently, only just making it to the playoffs at MLG Columbus before getting kicked out by Team Liquid. To add to this, CLG has had an astonishing 3 – 11 win/loss in the ESL Pro League and this is against North American teams.
Finally, a semi wildcard coming into this tournament is GODSENT who is a newly formed organisation with ex Fnatic player pronax at the helm. This team still has a long way to go before accomplishing anything fantastic but the guidance given to them by pronax could lead to an upset in Group B and push them towards a decider match.
TL;DR Predictions: Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas to advance to the play-off stage.
I’m going to be honest here and say that I don’t have too much information on two of these teams going to this group. What I will say though is that it will be interesting to see how the first matches will end up playing out. Since anything can happen in a best of 1 match up we could see either of these legend teams fall to an upset in the opening match only to best the other in the best of three in the decider.
I still see Astralis quickly making it to the playoffs in the first two matches of their group. NiP always seems to take a few matches to warm up in tournaments and I think after a best of one loss to Astralis in the second stage they will pull their heads in and quickly close out the decider best of three before moving onto the playoffs.
The question is, who will face NiP in the group decider and from my limited information I would have to go with Dignitas. The second Danish lineup has been having online success over teams like Virtus.Pro, EnVyus and Mousesports which should bode well as long as they can hold it together in a LAN focused tournament.
TL;DR Predictions – My hope is on Virtus.Pro and Tempo Storm advancing to the playoff stage but this is going to one crazy group.
This group is probably the most exciting group stages I have seen in a long time as there are no clear winners in my mind. We have three teams that have had a variety of internal issues and roster changes over the last few months and an explosive Brazilian team by the name of Tempo Storm who has come out of nowhere under the wing of Luminosity’s FalleN’s guidance. My hope is that the young Tempo Storm can upset these established teams and make it out alongside whichever team decides to actually turn up for their matches.
If you asked me 6 months ago, who would be at the top of this group you would instantly hear me say EnVyus but today it’s a different story and we have seen one of the biggest changes of form in the history of Counter-Strike. Even if Virtus.Pro has struggled online for the longest time they made it count when they came to the major. EnVyus barely showed up to a single match and was promptly kicked out in the group stage. I don’t see this form changing in the span of two weeks and they may just be kicked out once again.
I believe that Virtus.Pro has have now become the unpredictable beast in the corner that you really don’t want to poke with a stick. After having a string of terrible performances they quickly closed out their MLG Columbus group, only losing to finalist team Na’Vi before coming back and beating G2 Esports again in the decider. This then lead them to giving the other finalist team Luminosity a vicious run for their money before succumbing to defeat. If VP can keep this form up I see them easily coming out at the top of this group but one tournament doesn’t change their performance entirely.
Finally, I feel the FaZe Clan are in a weird position right now and with a quick roster change before the tournament I am unsure how they are going to match up against the other established teams. Maikelele has quickly stepped down from the main team after a shocking performance at MLG Columbus but he has been replaced by kioShiMa who arguably has been just as shocking while he was on EnVyus. My two picks for Group D come down to who will be able to pull their teams together when it actually matters.
DreamHack Masters Malmö will start tonight at 7pm when Luminosity will take on TyLoo in a best-of-one match. The game stream can be found over at DreamHack’s official Twitch Channel.