Dreamhack Malmo is just around the corner, with the tournament starting on the 30th of August and concluding on the 3rd of September.
Dreamhack Malmo is the first international tournament since the conclusion of the player break. During the player break, players were able to rest and recuperate, teams were able to make changes to their active roster and then go on to practice with their new team.
Most of the changes have occurred recently, which makes Dreamhack Malmo a “test the waters” tournament for a vast majority of the teams attending. Whilst the online season of the ESL Pro League has commenced for both North America and Europe, it is safe to say that online matches are not a clear indication of how a new roster performs. They might give some insight, but that insight is limited due to the nature of online Counter Strike.
Overall, Dreamhack Malmo boasts the “how will they do?” question that a vast majority of fans will be asking headed into the tournament.
With that being said, let’s take a look the five teams to keep an eye on during Dreamhack Malmo:
1. Ninjas in Pyjamas
NIP have made two roster changes this year. The first was the acquisition of draken from Epsilon eSports in March, and the second was REZ, also from Epsilon eSports in June. These players replaced pyth and friberg respectively. NIP’s tournament appearances have been limited throughout the year. With that being said, they looked like a new and improved side when they played at ESL One Cologne 2017, winning all three of their group stage matches against Cloud9, G2 and mousesports, all of which were on Cache.
The Ninjas would then go on to meet the North American side Cloud9 in the quarterfinals, and it was here that they were knocked out after fighting through a best of three that stretched through all three maps. Their only win in that series was on Cache.
The Swedes then travelled to Valencia to play at Dreamhack Valencia, and it was here that they would claim their first tournament victory as a team, beating the likes of Heroic, Red Reserve and CLG to lay claim to the title.
Whilst this tournament was not a tier one level tournament, it could have been a nice confidence booster for NIP, who have had a difficult year thus far.
Since then, NIP have had more time with REZ, and should have integrated him into their system of Counter Strike, or adapted to his strengths. REZ gave a good account of himself at ESL One Cologne in particular, and incredibly talented as an individual, He brings a decent amount of fresh firepower to the Swedish side.
It’ll be interesting to see if NIP have gelled well with their “new” fifth, and whether or not they’ll be able to do damage with their line up in this tournament.
2. FaZe Clan
As pictured above, FaZe Clan has most recently acquired Olofmeister, as well as Guardian. These are two players that were extremely dominant throughout 2015. Olofmeister had found immense success with the Fnatic line up of 2015, and was one of the most dominant players to grace the server during that time. Guardian was also successful in his own right, and had his own spell of dominance throughout his tenure at Na’Vi.
Unfortunately, these two legends of the game have been unable to replicate the success or the form they once had after suffering wrist injuries.
Olofmeister and Guardian were acquired by FaZe Clan to replace kioshima and allu respectively.
It is too early to judge whether Guardian and Olofmeister are good fits to FaZe, or if they were the right players to grab, but this team is one to keep an eye on. Despite the fact that Olofmeister has been with the team for just over a week, it begs the question as to whether or not FaZe may retreat to that looser style that we saw when they acquired NiKo and then competed at Katowice, or if they already have a set style and game plan headed into the tournament in Sweden.
On the 15th of August, Cloud9 acquired RUSH and tarik and replaced shroud, who went on to full time stream and become a bench player for the Counter Strike team, and n0thing.
These two additions to the Cloud9 roster are definitely an improvement to the team overall. Cloud9 added a solid rifler in the form of RUSH and added tarik, who can use both the AWP and the rifle. Both of these players are also less prone to mistakes.
However, as is the common theme with the teams attending this tournament, roster changes require time to gel and set. Unlike FaZe Clan, who’s roster changes have been met with scepticism, Cloud9’s roster changes are for the better, but these changes were made recently, and unfortunately roles may not be defined and tarik and RUSH may not be used to the style of play that Cloud9 may want to run.
The key factor to keep an eye on with this new Cloud9 roster is who fills which role, and if these roles vary from map to map. Their performance at this tournament, like many of the teams attending, may not necessarily matter, but it will be a good tournament to test the international waters with their new roster.
On August 2nd, lowel was released from mousesports. Two days later, sunNy was signed from PENTA, and then four days after that, mousesports made another roster change and signed STYKO from HellRaisers and released denis.
The mousesports roster now looks like this:
Overall the roster is an improvement from the previous iteration. The loss of lowel is unfortunate, but mousesports were able to compensate with two very strong riflers. sunNy is a solid lurker, and STYKO has put in some decent performances under the HellRaisers banner.
It’s delightful to see another international roster formed, and unlike the majority of the teams attending, mousesports has had some time to test the waters with their new roster. Whilst it only has been over twenty days, mousesports surely will look to do some damage with their new roster, and can certainly do so considering two other teams in their group (FaZe and Gambit) are going through a period of transition themselves.
Regardless, it’ll be interesting to see just how well mousesports does with their bolstered roster at Dreamhack Malmo.
A team that has not been prone to roster changes as of recent, B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape head into this tournament as the only representation from the Asia-Oceania region. They were able to oust teams such as Greyhound Gaming, ViCi Gaming and TyLoo to qualify for this tournament.
There is not much known about the Singaporean side. They have been dominant domestically, but that seems to be a common trend amongst most Asian teams that play in international tournaments.
The element of this team that is striking is not the players, but the coach. Dsn was a Counter Strike 1.6 player that hailed from Sweden, largely known for his long tenure on Fnatic, which stretched from 2005 – 2011.
The style of Counter Strike that dsn may have introduced to the Singaporean side will be team based, and it will be interesting to see whether or not the Singaporeans will be able to execute it effectively against top tier opponents hailing from Brazil, North America and Europe.
- Fnatic –> will be interesting to see how Golden meshes with the squad. In game leading players such as JW, KRIMZ and flusha may seem like an intimidating task, but as he settles in, he should be able to do well. For now, Dreamhack Malmo should serve as a testing ground for Golden, and a tournament for him to get a taste of what’s to come.
- North –> valde acquisition is great. Another young and individually talented player, but whilst it may take him a bit of time to settle in, the main concern still lays with aizy, and whether or not with this roster change he will be able to do more for the squad and perform at a higher level.
- Gambit –> Zeus-less and Kane-less Gambit will be interesting to watch and to see how different they are on a tactical level.
- Na’Vi –> Reacquired Zeus, will be interesting to see how Zeus utilises s1mple, and whether or not Na’Vi need time to adjust or will hit the ground running.
Not Team Related
While this change is not team or player related, the coaching change brought in by Dreamhack will also be another factor to keep a close eye on. For those of you who are unaware, the changes are as follows:
- 4 timeouts per match for 30 seconds each. They can be used however the teams see fit. No restrictions per half. Combined with freeze time, teams then have 50 seconds.
- Timeouts are not stackable. Only one timeout can be used at the time of calling the timeout.
- Coaches can talk for 20 seconds during freeze time
- Coaches can talk for 60 seconds during half time
- Everyone is muted during technical pauses
- Unused timeouts will travel to overtime
- Coaches can talk for 30 seconds in half time going to overtime
- Coaches can talk for 30 seconds in half time during overtime
How teams approach this and utilise their coach will be another interesting aspect headed into this tournament.
Dreamhack Malmo runs from the 30th of August – 3rd of September with 16 teams competing for a prize pool of $250,000 and the title of Dreamhack Masters Malmo Champions.