fnatic, NiP, complexity & more...
DreamHack Masters has one of the most stacked EU line-ups - especially in terms of Scandinavian teams. The top two Swedish teams and the top four Danish teams join ENCE - arguably now the second-best team in Finland - in an extremely interesting line-up.
fnatic beat mousesports in the final of the ESL Pro League, and the two teams have another mouth-watering clash lined up if they can make it through once again. mousesports need to prove that they can be the bride after far too many periods of being the bridesmaid, while fnatic have a chance to start their own era, even if it would be marred by the online-only play. Brollan might have to prove he can go AK-only and still be as effective, just after his career first MVP.
Astralis, MAD Lions, North and Heroic - ironically recently reborn from the ashes of Funplus Phoenix - are the Danish representatives. MAD Lions have looked like the best team at FLASHPOINT, but whether or not that translates to them being able to hang at the big table without HUNDEN at the helm is yet to be seen, while Heroic will be chomping at the bit after they have been unable to play due to the aforementioned contract problems.
North’s recent form has been underwhelming (some might argue ‘recent’ is a stretch there) but if a four-way Danish derby doesn’t get the blood pumping, then nothing will - and DreamHack tournaments have traditionally been kind to them. Astralis have also been underwhelming recently, but only by the ridiculous standards they set themselves; that doesn’t mean they don’t want or need to prove they can still win.
NiP and Vitality crashed out a little earlier than desired at Pro League, and early signs for both new-ish rosters haven’t been extremely promising. Vitality’s new recruit misutaaa hasn’t looked entirely out of his depth; instead, it’s the depth of the tactics that has been missing since ALEX’s departure. NiP’s struggles are hard to pinpoint, and seeing their fellow countrymen succeed will hurt. We say struggles - NiP have been inconsistent but at times have looked like a very competent team, which has been the NiP story in recent times. If we get the good NiP, maybe they can do some damage.
The Kovac brothers face off again, with both FaZe and G2 at DreamHack Masters. FaZe are arguably the most stacked roster in the world, with NiKo, coldzera and olofmeister all having periods where they were the best player in the world (for NiKo that is arguable), and rain and broky both being capable fraggers too. This has rarely transpired into a cohesive unit, but international teams often require time. G2 didn’t require that time at first, but since the recent knock-backs of under the weather appearances at tournaments, maybe the honeymoon period is fading and the issues are starting to show.
NaVi are consistently exciting and yet disappointing. s1mple and electronic are a two-man argument against FaZe being the most stacked roster in the world, but somehow they conspire to lose games they look certain to win. At their best, they’ll roll over everyone and win this tournament, but at anything else, they will roll over and let everyone rub their collective bellies.
Complexity are a juggernaut on paper, and on LAN they’ve looked like the juggernaut they promised to be, but online has so far been a bigger problem. They’re another team who if everything comes together, they can make a top 4 run, but more often than not the reliable fnatics, Astralis’ and mousesports’ of the world just outlast them. That said, k0nfig and poizon will always be fun to watch, so keep an eye on them anyway.
That leaves BIG and ENCE, and whoever qualifies from the two open qualifiers. BIG refuse to be anything other than disappointing - even when they get a 2-0 start in Pro League, they lose the next three and finish bottom of the group. The only team who out-disappoints them is ENCE, who since kicking Aleksib have been nothing short of appalling. Expect nothing from ENCE, and you may still come away feeling a little disappointed.
Image via DreamHack