Given that we're still hot off the heels of the excellent MLG Columbus Major championship, there's a feeling that the DreamHack Masters Malmö event is almost coming too soon. When it kicks off on Tuesday, it'll have been only nine days since Luminosity emerged victorious and lifted the trophy.
Yet here we are on the cusp of another premier tournament that - while not a Major in name - features most of the same teams, a similar structure and a prize pool akin to previous majors.
But if you think we're in for a repeat, you're wrong. It may only have been about a week since MLG Columbus ended, but it sure has been an eventful one. Injuries and roster changes have thrown enough wildcard factors into the mix that we're likely to have a very different tournament in Malmö.
And with all that taken into consideration, here's our run-down for each of the four groups, along with predictions about who will make it to the playoffs.
Luminosity Gaming became the first non-European team ever to win a Major championship less than a week ago, and that makes them the favourite to win at Malmö as well. The Brazilian team has been on an incredible power-rise this year and show no signs of slowing down. They dropped only one map at Columbus and bested both Team Liquid and Mousesports, who they share this group with.
So the question is what team will take second place. Mousesports have shown many moments of brilliance this year, but the team relies entirely on NiKo to be able to do his thing. Whenever an opponent is able to shut him down, Mousesports lose. And given how Team Liquid sensationally managed to get a read on Fnatic and beat them at Columbus, we're betting that they can do the same to NiKo.
There's another factor here though: Team Liquid won't be playing with adreN at Malmö, despite his stand-out performance at Columbus. AdreN stood in for koosta at that event, as qualifier rules had made koosta ineligeble for the Major, but he's back for Malmö. Koosta's performance with Liquid has been disappointing so far, but given Hiko's leadership and the fact s1mple prefers him over adreN, we'll still take Liquid over Mousesports.
Chinese team TyLoo completely dominated the Asian qualifier for DreamHack Masters, but they've never played against a European team. While the Asia-Pacific region has grown stronger, we don't expect them to have much of a chance here.
Gamereactor's prediction: Luminosity Gaming and Team Liquid advance.
If there's anything that characterises Natus Vincere, it's consistency. The team is incredibly disciplined, and them making it to the finals of MLG Columbus was an entirely predictable result. What wasn't predictable was the conditions they were playing under. As revealed after the finals, GuardiaN was playing with an injured wrist (an injury he sustained playing football), and thus was playing with four times his usual mouse sensitivity. That both explains his lacklustre performance at the Major, and also makes it kinda miraculous that he hit any shots at all.
GuardiaN won't be playing with Na'Vi at Malmö, choosing to stay on the bench to recover from his injury. Instead, the team is pulling a NiP and are having coach and former player starix step in. He's only played eight maps with the team for the past year, but given that he likely knows Na'Vi's tactics better than anyone and the team's overall level of play, they should do better at Malmö than Ninjas in Pyjamas did at Columbus with their coach standing in.
While Na'Vi are favorites to win Group B, the second place is more or less a toss-up. Counter Logic Gaming made it to the top 8 at Columbus, but they arguably had the easiest group of the tournament. HLTV.org rankings put G2 Esports as the better team, but they're only here because Fnatic pulled out. The team fizzled at both qualifiers for DreamHack, and got knocked out in the group stage of Columbus (though their group was arguably the most contested of the tournament).
Making predictions even more difficult is the outsider Godsent, known as Team Ancients until recently. Godsent is the brainchild of former Fnatic in-game leader Pronax, who led his previous team to the most successful run of any team in CS:GO history. DreamHack Masters is their first showing in a premier tournament, and they don't have much history to go on for predictions. They did better than G2 in the qualifiers, and based on that we're inclined to give them the edge over the French-Belgian team. CLG's result at the Major carries the most weight, but like we said: toss-up.
Gamereactor's prediction: Natus Vincere and Counter Logic Gaming advance to playoffs (we don't have much faith in the latter prediction, though)
DreamHack has played up the age-old Denmark vs Sweden rivalry in the lead-in to Masters Malmö, but with Fnatic withdrawing for them tournament, that rivalry has lost some of its shine. It'll still play out though, as both Danish teams and the only other Swedish team besides Godsent have ended up in Group C.
Astralis are the clear favourites to win the group. The team has more or less consistently gotten top 4 finishes for as long as anyone can bother to remember, and they picked Fnatic apart at Columbus before a heartbreaking loss to Na'Vi in the semis. And with Na'Vi being held back by injuries in this tournament, Astralis are probably favourites to reach the finals along with Luminosity.
While the tale of Ninjas in Pyjamas last year was about their seemingly never-ending slump, this year's story has been about the team getting back on the right track. Their top 8 finish at Columbus was just about the best result they could hope for given their situation at the event (having to play with coach THREAT due to pyth's visa issues), so a decent showing at Malmö seems like a reasonable expectation.
The other Danish side, Team Dignitas, went on a rise in form after adding RUBINO and k0nfig to their roster, but the team has been struggling again recently. They missed both Columbus and Katowice and came nowhere near expectations at Copenhagen Games. Given that they're up against Astralis and NiP, we don't expect them to survive this group.
Lounge Gaming beat Dignitas in the qualifiers for Malmö, but we don't expect them to defeat Astralis or a newly rejuvinated NiP.
Gamereactor's prediction: Astralis and Ninjas in Pyjamas advance.
Brazilian shooting stars Tempo Storm made an exciting showing at IEM Katowice and became fan darlings since Natus Vincere knocked them out. The tutelage from Luminosity's FalleN has served the young team well, and we fully expect them to make it to the quarterfinals.
Virtus.Pro are in a weird place, it appears. They've been downright terrible in online matches for the past three months, but they still know how to step their game up at LAN tournaments. At Columbus the team survived a much tougher group than the one they're facing in Malmö, so barring a miraculous return to form from EnVyUs, they should be able to make the playoffs here.
EnVyUs made history last week by becoming the first ever defending Major champion to be knocked out during the group stage. Trading kioShiMa for DEVIL clearly didn't fix what ails the team in time for Columbus, and we doubt they've managed to do so in the short timeframe since then.
FaZe Clan have struggled to get results this year, and the team took a massive blow right after the blow as Maikelele announced his exit from the squad. There's still no word on who'll be replacing him or standing in at Malmö, so FaZe's chances look dire.
Gamereactor's prediction: Tempo Storm and Virtus.Pro advance.
The full schedule for DreamHack Masters Malmö is below. All times are in CEST, so subtract an hour if you're in the UK, Ireland or Portugal. Note that no games are played Friday.
Tuesday, April 12
10:30 - Pre-show
11:00 - Luminosity Gaming vs. TyLoo - BO1
12:30 - Team Liquid vs. mousesports - BO1
14:00 - Na`Vi vs. GODSENT - BO1
15:30 - G2 Esports vs. CLG - BO1
17:00 - Astralis vs. Lounge Gaming - BO1
18:30 - NiP vs. Team Dignitas - BO1
20:00 - Virtus.pro vs. FaZe Clan - BO1
21:30 - EnVyUs vs. Tempo Storm - BO1
Wednesday, April 13
10:30 - Pre-show
11:00 - Group A - Elimination Match - BO1
12:30 - Group B - Elimination Match - BO1
14:00 - Group C - Elimination Match - BO1
15:30 - Group D - Elimination Match - BO1
17:00 - Group A - Winners Match - BO1
18:30 - Group B - Winners Match - BO1
20:00 - Group C - Winners Match - BO1
21:30 - Group D - Winners Match - BO1
Thursday, April 14
10:30 - Pre-show
11:00 - Group A - Decider Match - BO3
14:00 - Group B - Decider Match - BO3
17:00 - Group C - Decider Match - BO3
20:00 - Group D - Decider Match - BO3
Saturday, April 16
10:00 - Doors open
10:15 - Pre-show
11:00 - Quarter-final #1 - BO3
14:00 - Quarter-final #2 - BO3
17:00 - Quarter-final #3 - BO3
20:00 - Quarter-final #4 - BO3
Sunday, April 17
10:00 - Doors open
11:15 - Pre-show
12:00 - Semi-final #1 - BO3
15:00 - Semi-final #2 - BO3
19:00 - Grand Final - BO3