Heroic: friberg, mertz, AcilioN, es3tag, MODDII
Heroic have been relatively quiet in the first half of 2018. Despite three top-four finishes, the team’s roster has been in turmoil ever since losing star players JUGi and Snappi to OpTic. The Danes have rotated through two Norwegian stand-ins — RUBINO and cromen — in addition to a Swede and a Dane. The aforementioned Swede and Dane — friberg and AcilioN — were both signed to long-term contracts with the organization. And on 8 August, niko was traded to North for mertz.
On paper, mertz is a strong player. His explosive playstyle is very similar to that of niko’s and can fit very well into this roster. However, this team has had very little time to prepare with mertz, having only played four official maps together since his acquisition. And during his tenure with North, his unrelenting aggression has backfired. As an AWPer, there is a line to be drawn between playing the information game and getting overzealous. Aggressive positioning with the AWP allows an IGL — Acilion — to make a mid-round call or to quickly initiate a rotation.
If Heroic is to overcome the wrath of FaZe and OpTic, mertz has to either control his aggression or AcilioN has to forcefully rein that aggression in and may force a more passive style from the ex-North player.
FaZe Clan: NiKo, GuardiaN, karrigan, rain, olofmeister
(Photo courtesy of Angelica Aguilar.)
All eyes are on olofmeister as he mounts his comeback to competitive play, following a personal leave of absence that saw him out for most of the first half of 2018. FaZe, despite this, has stayed competitive at the highest echelon of tournament play. In six events without him, the European superstars placed inside the top four five times, which included two trophies: one being with Xizt at IEM Sydney, the other being with cromen at ESL One Belo Horizonte. Those two victories were crucial: with three wins in ESL and/or DreamHack Masters events, FaZe are now one win away from taking home the first-ever Intel Grand Slam and an astounding US$1 million prize. And they could achieve with another trophy in Stockholm.
FaZe have all the parts they need to overcome their opposition and advance to the Ericsson Globe: a consistent AWPer in GuardiaN; an explosive fragger in NiKo; an anchor of a player in rain; and a tactical mastermind in karrigan. Despite their poor showing in Atlanta at the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier, Stockholm has much more on the line for the squad. It will show whether olof is back and if FaZe have what it takes to hold on to their Legend status at the upcoming FACEIT Major.
OpTic: gade, Snappi, cajunb, k0nfig, JUGi
Stockholm will test OpTic’s ability to compete alongside the world’s best. Currently sitting at #15 on HLTV’s world ranking, a deep tournament run here would bring them to within striking distance of the top ten, and make them a potential favorite for the upcoming Major Qualifier. With the next season of ESL Pro League and StarLadder i-League coming up shortly after the Major period, having a good performance means teams in those events have another threat on their hands to worry about.
Despite the squad’s shocking defeat to Ghost and subsequent early exit at ZOTAC Cup Masters, OpTic can recover from that setback and return strong enough to run over the competition and make it to the Ericsson Globe. Competent AWPers in JUGi and cajunb, complemented by a fearless star player in k0nfig and a tactical master in Snappi, the Danes might forge a path to the top ten of HLTV’s world ranking.
fnatic: flusha, KRIMZ, Xizt, draken, JW
FNATIC were looking strong early in the first half of 2018, picking up two victories at IEM Katowice and WESG with Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim leading the way, as well as a top-four finish at the previous DreamHack Masters event in Marseille and maintaining Legend status for the upcoming FACEIT Major. In May, the organization benched Lekr0 and signed Xizt, who came off a win at IEM Sydney with FaZe; the very next month saw Golden benched in favor of NiP’s draken. Since the roster moves, FNATIC have not seen the same success they once were, placing 5-6th at ESL One Cologne and ELEAGUE Premier.
All eyes turn to Xizt’s style of shotcalling and KRIMZ’s ability to fit into that system. Historically, KRIMZ has succeeded best under a rigid structure with defined roles; the pronax era was a clear example of that, and more recently so with the Golden period. If FNATIC is to make it out of the group stage on home turf, Xizt will have to be the IGL that pronax and Golden once were if KRIMZ and the rest of the team are to succeed.
- FaZe Clan - Despite olofmeister not having played competitively for most of 2018, the team’s raw firepower and tactical prowess outclasses their opposition by a landslide — on paper. If the Swede does not show up on the leaderboard, a player like NiKo or rain can easily fill in the gap.
- OpTic - The Danes have been on the upswing in recent months. Having qualified for the upcoming Major Qualifier and ESL One New York, Stockholm will gauge whether Snappi and co. are ready to break through and become a top-ten team.
- fnatic - Unless Xizt can position himself as a rigid IGL that allows the likes of KRIMZ and JW to succeed, fnatic’s run on home turf will be short-lived. More time will be needed for the Swedes to synergize together; with the FACEIT Major on the horizon, Stockholm will be another chance for this team to test themselves against the competition to prepare for the Major and beyond.
- Heroic - The team is outclassed on paper. This event will more or less be a test for the squad, to determine whether they can hold their own against this tier of teams. Given the fact this will be mertz’s first offline appearance under the Heroic banner, expectations are low.