In less than 24 hours, DreamHack will kick off its first event of the year with the Masters in Marseille, where 16 of the best teams from around the world are set to duke it out over the $250,000 prize pool. Twelve teams were invited to event, while the four remaining spots battled through the open and closed qualifiers, where One North American, two European and one Asian qualifier made it through to the tournament; featuring the likes of Renegades, Space Soldiers, Valiance and TyLoo.
DreamHack Masters Marseille will begin the group stage action on Wednesday as the tournament will feature the GSL format, where the top two teams from each of the four respected groups will secure their place in the single-elimination playoff bracket. The Le Dome de Marseille will be packed with a live audience in the final two days of the event where the next Masters champion will be crowned.
- Team EnVyUs
- FaZe Clan
- G2 Esports
Advancing: FaZe Clan & Cloud9
The first group in the competition has been filled with storylines leading up to the event, such as Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer taking a leave of absence with FaZe, Oscar “mixwell” Canellas’ trial with G2, and the ELEAGUE Major champions Cloud9 having a new leader in Pujan “FNS” Mehta at the helm. All the while, Team EnVyUs is coming in as the only members in Group A to remain intact leading up to the event.
As a result of olofmeister taking a leave of absence for an indefinite amount of time, FaZe Clan gained a rather familiar face, with former Ninja and Pyjamas in-game leader Richard “Xizt” Landstrom filling the void. The announcement was made by the organization on the suspicious Aprils Fool’s Day, however, the “joke” was made clear that Xizt was indeed stepping up to the plate. The change overall isn’t bad, if anything FaZe have gained an experienced mastermind who can also get his hands dirty. For FaZe, experience goes a long way and with their recent addition, they should have no issues with their playoff appearance.
The North Americans of Cloud9 have been through a lot since winning the ELEAGUE Major: Boston back in January, with Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham’s sudden step down and the departure of Jake “Stewie2k” Yip to SK Gaming. Yeah, it wasn’t a dream. All that really happened. While Cloud9 may have dropped in the ranks due to the sudden changes, the team revamped with the addition of former compLexity member, Pujan “FNS” Mehta as their dedicated in-game leader. In the weeks since the initial shakeup, Skadoodle returned to the lineup to help the team through their Pro League regulation matches and the addition of FNS has brought about a change of pace that has seemingly sparked a new flame.
Unfortunately for French fans, the inconsistency from Team EnVyUs through various offline and online tournaments have left its mark on the team, while the struggles of G2 Esports have left them to trial the Spaniard mixwell until Richard “shox” Papillon returns from surgery. Outside of the game, both teams have had their differences in efforts of forming another “French super team” that may have been a result of their results as of late.
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
- SK Gaming
Advancing: mousesports & Ninjas in Pyjamas
Group B also featured some changes to team’s prior to the event, with the biggest coming from SK Gaming, who saw the departure of Epitacio “TACO” de Melo and the entrance of Stewie2k. The moves have done nothing to silence the critics who wonder if this team can survive in the long run. The Serbian-based team, Valiance, have been on the rise since February and continue their journey after sweeping Quantum Bellator Fire and Heroic in the European closed qualifier, but their road to France will come up short in the group stage where experience lacks within the roster.
mousesports have been on the rise since the end of 2017 and through 2018, finding success from individuals retaining their consistency throughout their offline competition with Tomas “oskar” Stastny and Robin “ropz” Kool leading the way. One significant change has come to mousesports’ leadership with Chris “chrisJ” de Jong returning to the in-game leader role while Martin “STYKO” Styk focuses on support. Minor changes to mouz gives the German-based team the best chance to come out and even top Group B to reach the quarters.
Ninjas in Pyjamas also made changes with Dennis “dennis” Edman leading the way, while seeing off five-year veteran and captain, Xizt, in February. NiP have been rather lackluster online and offline in recent months, however, the team made some adjustments to their forefront that has since given the team confidence once more. dennis has been the pied piper since taking the role which has led NiP to clinch their spot at the Pro League Finals. The results have been awry but NiP are known to find their magic offline and will do so to advance to the playoffs.
- Natus Vincere
Advancing: Fnatic & Natus Vincere
The Swedes of Fnatic are the hottest team to come into Group C after proving critics wrong when claiming back-to-back titles at IEM Katowice and at WESG 2017 World Finals, their first wins in almost two years. Now, Fnatic have started a new chapter under the helm of Maikil “Golden” Selim, who has brought life back to one of the most notable names in CS:GO to reach the playoffs in France.
On the other side of the group, Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko’s Natus Vincere had seen some rough patches through the start of 2018. Falling short in the semifinal at the ELEAGUE Major: Boston and following that up and a runner-up finish at StarSeries i-League Season 4 has been the storyline for Na’Vi, but the CIS giants have been poised through each of their group stage performances thanks to the consistency of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Egor “flamie” Vasilyev. Through the best-of-one’s, Zeus and co.should have an easy route to advance into the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Renegades and TyLoo, the depth of both Fnatic and Na’Vi is far more than both teams could partake through the best-of-one’s. Given credit where credit is due, Renegades won’t make it easy for both Na’Vi and Fnatic and TyLoo can put up a fight as well.
- Team Liquid
- Space Soldiers
Advancing: Team Liquid & Space Soldiers
Group D is a rather interesting group. Yet again there have been roster changes but this time, it’s a roster change that makes a lot of sense for Team Liquid, which should make other teams cower with fear.
Lucas “steel” Lopes’ short time with Team Liquid came to an end when the availability of TACO fell in the team’s lap. The results with steel have been good but not what the team has needed, which all changed when TACO signed with Nick “nitr0” Cannella and company. Team Liquid has gained a support expert with two Major titles under his belt, adding far more depth within zews’ men. Consistency is TACO’s nature as he can clutch in near impossible situations or give the team the early edge in rounds played. Although TACO is still adapting to his new team, the instincts of the player never left that will give Liquid the edge to advance to the playoffs.
It won't be easy for Team Liquid, though, nor will it be for the Turks of Space Soldiers. Engin “MAJ3R” Kupeli and his men have been climbing the ranks ever since their breakout at the New champions stage at the ELEAGUE Major, continuing their run at WESG 2017 World Finals with a runner-up finish to Fnatic. Since then, the team has qualified for three major events, including Marseille. Space Soldiers have also been keen during their recent online performances, leading the EPL EU division in first-place and clinching their spot in the finals.
Both Gambit and Astralis have issues of their own as roster changes have not been the best motives for either team as their recent results have been far from great. Although both teams could find their rhythm during their best-of-one run, it will untamitely come down to pressure to close out their hopes to reaching the playoffs.