Without Natus Vincere or Vitality to beat them, which teams can make it to the Grand Finals?
For many top teams, DreamHack Masters Winter EU is the final event leading up to the BLAST Premier: Fall Finals or the IEM Global Challenge. The event features two Double Elimination Groups, in which the likes of Heroic, Cloud9, Astralis, and mousesports fight for a spot in the playoffs. Once there, it’s Single Elimination time. No second chances and, most crucially, no screw-ups if the teams want to make it to the end of the event alive.
WHO CAN SURVIVE GROUP A?
Finally, Cloud9 have claimed a victory with their new roster. So far, they have won two very close two maps over the Ninjas in Pyjamas, which granted them access to the Semi-Finals of their BLAST Premier: Fall Showdown bracket. But is this really redemption for them? The Ninjas haven’t exactly played great lately, finishing third in their Fall Regular Season group. So Cloud9 still haven’t got the win that would put them on the map as a dangerous competitor.
Even worse, their victory was completely based on Ricky “floppy” Kemery going above and beyond on a 1.43 rating. He was the best player on the server, which is actually a bad sign for Cloud9 in general. Their in-game-leader, Alex “ALEX” McMeekin, performed poorly. Their youngster, William “mezii” Merriman joined him at the bottom of the scoreboard. Özgür “woxic” Eker and Patrick “es3tag” Hansen contributed with positive ratings and quite a lot of kills, but these were still too few when considering who their opposition was. Most importantly, floppy is not the type of player who will show up in such a way on a regular basis.
During DreamHack Masters Winter EU, Gambit will get a chance to upset them early on. But even if Cloud9 were to win, there’s hardly any chance of them getting past Complexity. Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and his boys look poised to secure a playoffs spot early on.
On the other side of their group, c0ntact Gaming will have to fight Heroic in their Opening Match. While they did do some damage during BLAST Premier: Fall, they were hardly the kind of team that can tackle a team of Heroic’s calibre. The Danes will likely move past them and face the FaZe Clan next. Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer is confirmed to reprise his role as a stand-in for the Clan once more. While this arguably makes for a more stable roster than if they recruited a new player in the midst of this tournament season, olofmeister hasn’t been particularly great in his role. Just yesterday, FaZe were smashed by FURIA. Following an 11-2 lead on Nuke, they gave it all away and lost the map in overtime. Eventually, they were thrown out of the tournament on an 0-2 scoreline by a team that has looked quite disjointed itself.
So do FaZe actually stand a chance in this bracket? Their first challenger, Sprit, are already quite a tall order. While they certainly aren’t made of championship material, their upset potential is insane. They have shown time and time again that they can take down the likes of Vitality if Nikolay "mir" Bityukov has a great day. Even if FaZe were to win this match-up, Heroic would likely be the next opponent in line. While the Danes did go out relatively early during the IEM Beijing EU playoffs, they only narrowly lost to Vitality, the team that wound up taking the trophy home. So Heroic are pretty much dead-set on making playoffs, whereas FaZe will likely have to take a detour through the Lower Bracket.
G2 AND ASTRALIS ARE THE FAVOURITES OF GROUP B
Group B features an incredibly competitive lineup of teams. With Astralis, Team Liquid, mousesports, G2 Esports, and FURIA all concentrated into one bracket, not every super-team can actually make it out. Astralis have still not fully recovered from losing es3tag to Cloud9, but GODSENT look severely worse without Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend at the helm, at least for the time being. They got absolutely crushed by mousesports in yesterday’s BLAST Showdown stage, with Jesse “zehN” Linjala recording some of the worst stats in a long time. Astralis might be able to quickly advance to the playoffs, but the likes of Complexity and Heroic have shown great form recently and might be able to overthrow the Danes in this tournament later on.
In terms of storyline, Group B is G2’s time to shine. They have already put up a great show throughout IEM Beijing EU, only really dropping the ball to Natus Vincere in the Semi-Finals. Their path to playoffs is a clear-cut one, as they only have Sprout, FURIA, and North to deal with. Sprout were quickly dispatched by Complexity in the BLAST Showdown, and FURIA struggled mightily to even beat Isurus two days ago.
The tournament victory will likely be decided between Heroic, Complexity, Astralis, and G2. Without a Vitality or a Natus Vincere standing in their way, these four teams could arguably have made much deeper runs into IEM Beijing. So now that these two finalists are absent, there’s a chance for one of the four to quickly snatch a trophy on the way to the IEM Global Finals next month.
Images via DreamHack | BLAST | @G2Esports