Astralis: Xyp9x, dupreeh, gla1ve, device, Magisk
With seven top-four finishes including four championships in the first half of 2018, Astralis enter Stockholm as a heavy favorite to win the $250,000 tournament. A win would be important going into the Faceit UK major and be a major boost for the team's hopes of securing the Intel Grand Slam.
They can attribute the team’s dominant performance, especially over the past two months to the team’s solid fundamentals and teamwork. It is difficult to pinpoint a strength or weakness of the Danes, as gla1ve’s impressive fragging ability allows him to be a contender on the leaderboard. His flexible shot calling is equally as impressive, which not only allows for mid-round rotations but gives star players device and Magisk the chance to play their style and show up in a dominating fashion. Xyp9x’s consistent and supportive playstyle allows him to be a reliable anchor on the bombsites and has been one of the scene’s top 1vx players. And dupreeh’s role as a rotator/lurker plays a crucial role in the information game that allows Astralis to make those mid-round calls.
The world’s best is no match for the opposition.
North: aizy, valde, MSL, Kjaerbye, niko
North is coming off the player break with a new player on the roster. On 8 August, the Danes traded away AWPer Daniel ‘mertz’ Mertz to Heroic in exchange for rifler Niklaj ‘niko’ Kristensen. This comes six weeks after mertz was moved to the bench; during this time, the Danes picked up a trophy at DreamHack Open Valencia with Oscar ‘mixwell’ Cañellas as a stand-in.
On paper, North has the better player in niko. While both players have a rather aggressive playstyle stemming from their days on previous teams, niko’s playstyle is more coordinated and controlled. And that’s the player that fits perfectly into MSL’s system: an aggressive, yet coordinated player. However, this new MSL roster now has to overcome the fact that there is no dedicated AWPer, as mertz was.
We have seen rosters without a dedicated AWPer play out before, in the form of the current Team Liquid roster. Instead of forcing one player to take up the AWP, the North Americans instead pass the AWP around, dependent on the matchup and map. It will interest to see how this new roster plays out without a dedicated AWPer in the mix. The Danes’ performance in Valencia was promising, but has MSL had enough time to work niko into his system?
TyLoo: Mo, DD, BnTeT, somebody, xccurate
TyLoo are heading into Stockholm on thin ice. Despite having qualified for the Major Qualifier and placed runner-up at IEM Shanghai, the Indo-Chinese squad were the first team to be eliminated from ZOTAC Cup Masters, with Wiktor ‘TaZ’ Wojtas’s Kinguin handing them a nail-biting 1-2 defeat in the opening match.
The team’s recent offline results can only be attributed to the team’s rather aggressive and unpredictable playstyle. While it introduces an upset factor to their matches against top-tier teams, it often backfires on them. The team’s play is also inconsistent, which adds to the unpredictability and upset factor at the expense of a set structure and consistent tournament results. As the IGL, BnTeT must be able to set up such a structure where the team can play a variety of playstyles and default back to their classic aggressive playstyle when needed.
As time ticks down to the upcoming FACEIT Major in London, all eyes are on Stockholm. If TyLoo can shock either Astralis or North and make it out of groups, it will be a good indicator of their performance at the Major Qualifier. If they are to put up a good performance, Mo will have to step his game up. Since returning from hiatus due to a neck injury, the Chinese player has been relatively quiet. The Chinese star will be TyLoo’s x-factor at this event.
Grayhound: dexter, malta, Dickstacy, Gratisfaction, fetjz
The Australian team are attending the event without 23-year-old Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantulga, as the Mongolian player could not secure a Swedish visa. In his place stands rifler Kristjan ‘fejtZ’ Allsaar, who last played for HellRaisers at IEM Shanghai at the beginning of August. The 20-year-old Estonian player, who has experience playing at the highest tier of CS:GO events, can be a great addition to Grayhound, who have dominated the Oceanic scene but are relatively unknown and inexperienced internationally.
The Australians are coming into this event more or less for exposure to the international scene, to show the world what they are capable of against the world’s best players. Given that the team is relatively unknown outside of Oceania, it adds a variable of uncertainty during preparation. All the research and counter-strategizing in the world is not going to help the opposition in the slightest bit if Grayhound play super-aggressive and puggy. Having this variable in play also introduces an upset factor that makes the Aussies a team to look out for should they make it past the likes of Astralis and North and on to the playoffs.
However, the caliber of players that these world-class teams outperform that of the Australians in every aspect...on paper, at least. Only once they show up in Stockholm will we truly know just how capable this team is.
- Astralis - The world’s best team is no match for the opposition. All the counter-strategizing in the world won’t help much if the fundamentals of the game aren’t nailed down. And that’s what the Danes are good at: the fundamentals.
- North - Despite only recently picking up niko, North have a good chance at making it out of the group stage in Stockholm. The Danes have some strong fraggers in Kjaerbye and aizy, who fit well into MSL’S style of in-game leading. Add in niko, a player who is ready to prove himself alongside the likes of aizy, and this North team is a threat to the competition..
- TyLoo - Despite having a strong roster, their aggressive playstyle is simply too inconsistent. Add on to that their up-and-down tournament results as of late, and it’s easy to justify why the team will fall just short of the playoffs.
- Grayhound - This team, while the best in Oceania, is unknown to the international scene. Stockholm will be a major opportunity for players like Dickstacy to show what they’re capable of against the devices and gla1ves of the world, while allowing fetjZ to showcase his ability to compete at the highest echelon of competitive CS:GO.