DreamHack Winter 2017: Event Preview

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Esports Update: The attention of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world now turns to the DreamHack Winter 2017 at the Elmia Convention Center in Jönköping, Sweden with a $100,000 prize pool and a $50,000 first-place prize on the line.

Eight teams are in the field, with Gambit Esports, Heroic, Natus Vincere and Rise Nation in Group A and mousesports, BIG, Team EnVyUs and North Academy in Group B.

Two Obvious Favourites in Group A

Group A contains arguably the two best teams, with both Gambit Esports and Natus Vincere entering with high expectations. Gambit have seen a surprising amount of success after the loss of in-game leader Zeus to fellow Group A members Na`vi, a move that was expected to cripple the team. However, the introduction of fitch to the lineup has allowed the continued growth of star player HObbit, who has continued to shine no matter the circumstances.

The key to Gambit’s success at DreamHack Winter will rest on the shoulder of streaky AWPer mou. While not even the best or second-best player on the team, Gambit appear to go as mou goes, with their peaks falling during the same period as mou’s best play. If mou can find any form of consistency, Gambit could take home first place.

Na`vi are an incredibly difficult team to forecast, given the recent roster addition of electronic. After Zeus joined, many thought Na`vi would return to being a top five team, but the opposite has in fact happened, with the team struggling against even the lowest tiered competition.

That said, the presence of electronic has given new hope to the roster, as the pairing the young star with s1mple, one of the best players in the world, gives Na`vi an incredible two-headed monster. Synergy is a concern, as both players have typically had the team based solely around them, thus Na`vi’s performance in this tournament will be incredibly interesting to track.

Heroic Ones to Watch

The most likely candidates in Group A to pull an upset is Heroic, as they typically play up to their competition. Heroic are a team that continually pull off upsets in group stages, yet lack the consistency against bottom-tier teams that is required to go further in tournaments. With such a limited group stage, Heroic could find themselves in familiar territory by defeating Gambit while losing to Rise Nation, who come in as a surprise entrant with minimal expectations, even though they have done well in lower tiered play.

Group B Should Be Competitive

Group B looks to be an incredibly competitive scrap to make the playoffs, with mousesports, BIG, and Team EnVyUs looking to claim one of the two available spots. Mousesports appear to be the best team on paper, yet they have shown limited success in the small amount of competition they have had since offseason roster changes. AWPer oskar is arguably the best player in the group, alongside EnVyUs’ RpK, giving mousesports an edge they can build around. Given BIG’s recent struggles, mousesports should be the favourites to secure a playoff berth.

The aforementioned BIG have struggled as of late, continually underperforming at event after event. The basis of this team is two-fold: in-game leader gob b is one of the most tactically gifted players in the world, while tabseN is one of the better riflers in the game. This one-two-punch should be the core of a top ten team, but the pieces around them continually fail to perform on a map-to-map basis, although gob b also has significant troubles in terms of kills. If nex or keev can have quality performances alongside tabseN, then BIG have a shot to make it through.

EnVyUs Have Issues

Team EnVyUs are a peculiar team, defeating top tier teams online while struggling against middle tier teams on LAN. EnVy’s RpK has been on a tear recently, constantly putting up impressive numbers despite stiff competition. What has constantly failed EnVyUs is AWPer SIXER, who has been in an incredible slump for a prolonged period of time.

The duo of RpK and ScreaM can be deadly at times, but the constant struggle of SIXER has let the team down, with no sign of recovery in sight. If, however, SIXER can find even remotely decent form, then EnVyUs would in fact be the favourite to qualif from the group. North Academy are in a similar position to Rise Nation, where little is expected of them given their limited experience against even tier two teams.

The cream of the crop should rise, with five teams fighting for four semifinal places. However, with such a small field, upsets could well happen and it will be fascinating to see which team ultimately claims the DreamHack Winter 2017 crown.