DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019 is set to kick off with the group stage on October 1st at the MalmöMässan Arena, and conclude on October 6th at Malmö Arena, which will host the playoffs as well as grand finals.
DreamHack Masters Malmö will be the third instalment of a DreamHack event in the city of Malmo, which already hosted two events in 2016 and 2017. The heavily anticipated CS:GO event will also be the third tournament of the Intel Grand Slam Season 3, and take centre stage barely two days after the second IGS event (ESL One: Cologne 2019) concludes.
Travelling to Malmo, we will see 16 elite CS:GO teams from all over the world. Out of 16, eleven received direct invites, whereas the remaining five had to fight their way through the qualifiers. The participating teams are as follows:
Invited: Astralis, ENCE, Evil Geniuses (formerly known as NRG), Fnatic, FURIA, G2 Esports, Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, North and Team Vitality.
Qualified: OpTic (DH Open Summer 2019), mousesports (EU qualifiers), Team Envy (NA qualifiers), Grayhound (Oceanic qualifiers) and TYLOO (Chinese qualifiers).
For the group stage, the 16 teams have been drawn into groups based on the regular season placements. There they will have to fight through two double-elimination GSL groups, used to determine which six teams have what it takes to advance into playoffs and compete for top spots. The initial group fixtures will be played as best-of-one (Bo1), whereas all the following will switch to a best-of-three (Bo3) series.
The top three teams from each group advance into the playoffs, where the group stage winner gets promoted directly into the semi-finals, the group stage runners-up enter quarter-finals as the high seed, and the third-placed team from the group stage advances into quarter-finals as the low seed. Playoffs (October 4-6) will be played in a single-elimination bracket, with all fixtures played in a best-of-three (Bo3) series.
With the $250,000 prize pool on the table, alongside a highly sought-after point that will count towards IGS S3 standings, we can expect all 16 teams to put up their best show in cold Sweden. However, there can only be one champion and there can be only one team that will elevate above the others. Now let's look over the competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately which team do we believe can claim the throne and take home the lion's share of $250,000.
First of all, we need to look over the teams, who unfortunately do not measure up to the standard that will allow them to go all the way here. In that category fall Grayhound, TYLOO, OpTic, Team Envy and Ninjas in Pyjamas. While all very solid teams that all have the right to be considered as one of the best CS:GO outfits out there, they will have a hard time measuring up to some of the heavyweights. That being said, with Bo1 in the opening fixtures, we could potentially see one of the mentioned teams surprise and produce an upset win. Going deeper into the tournament, however, is another story.
Next up, we have to look over the underdogs in terms of odds provided, which are G2Esports, North, Fnatic, FURIA, ENCE and Team Vitality. All of the mentioned teams are priced somewhere between $17.00-$26.00 at Skrilla.
ENCE are a team from which you don't know what you're going to get. The Finnish outfit just recently added Miikka "suNny" Kemppi and Slaava "Twista" Räsänen as their coach, which sparked some positivity in the team. That being said, ENCE failed to live up to the expectations with what they have shown so far. Sunny is arguably an upgrade over Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen in terms of raw firepower, but as it seems he needs some time to get it going. Will Sunny wake up in Malmo remains to be seen. However, if ENCE can perform up to par in New York, they could muster up something in Malmo as well.
As far as FURIA is concerned, they are not in a spot they would like to be at the moment. They just recently added Henrique "HEN1" Teles to the roster, hoping to salvage something, which is a solid try, yet we don't see them producing anything memorable in Sweden.
There is a lot of talk surrounding both Fnatic and G2, seeing how they just recently went through a major roster change. Now, is that something we would like to see in a team we are thinking of backing to win in Sweden? Probably not. No matter how the new additions will fit in with G2 and Fnatic, there needs to be a "test period" in which the squad learns to play together before they can utilize all their potential. G2 will have a shot to show their might in New York, whereas there is still a huge question mark above Fnatic.
Last but not least, we have to mention Vitality, who are a huge enigma to me. They have a solid roster, which includes ZywOo, one of the best players in CS:GO, yet they are so far down. They have just recently added Richard "shox" Papillon to the roster, which is something that can really go either way. He is a solid addition, but will he be the man to lift Vitality is something we can only guess at this moment. It’s worth noting that if both shox and ZywOo perform the best they can, Vitality could impress everyone here. They have the potential to defeat everyone on their best day, on the other side, they can lose to anyone on their worst day.
Despite two favourites in Astralis and Team Liquid, we also have Natus Vincere, mousesports and Evil Geniuses(NRG) who are considered solid contenders for the title.
I'm almost completely fine with the odds provided here, still, I am baffled by the fact mousesports are priced so highly. With all due respect, mousesports should not be considered a favourite here. The only way mouz can get into the playoffs here is if they get through EG in round two of playoffs, and I don't see that happening in a Bo3 series.
DreamHack Masters Malmo will be NaVi's first outing with their new roster, which will see the return of Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács to the team and promotion of Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy to the coach position. All in all, the roster changes seem solid, however, they could really go either way.
That leaves us with EG, Astralis and Team Liquid who are the three favourites to go all the way.
Out of the three, it's EG that is the one we should keep an eye on. They are arguably the hottest team in CS:GO, seeing how they impressed in Berlin, where EG (then NRG) went on to finish fourth, which was a huge accomplishment. The team is overall playing very well and should they impress in New York, I do believe EG can go far here as well.
When it comes to Team Liquid and Astralis, it seems like any of the two can win. Or none for that matter. Team Liquid have not been too convincing in Berlin and if they fail to convince us they still got it and achieve anything in New York, we don't see them to be a real threat to win the third IGS of the season. Astralis on the other side are undergoing the complete opposite experience in term of their form. They came out of nowhere and won in Berlin, which made them the most successful team in history, yet they still have a lot to prove before we can see Astralis as undisputed favourites in Malmo.
There is still a lot of unanswered questions ahead of DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019, most of which will be answered after ESL One: New York finishes. We can, however, place our bets before and take advantage of odds before they drop.
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