With, a smaller prize pool of $100,000 this will be viewed mainly as a smaller LAN compared to the IEM and Dreamhack Master spectacles, but for most teams attending it may be their last shot at redemption and for some to make a statement. Here are four key story lines to follow and players to watch perform in Kiev.
Has it gone to South for North?
This will be the fourth offline event for North since the acquisition of Marcus “Kjaerbye” Kjaerbye and Daniel “mertz” Mertz and so far the results have not been pretty. MSL and co. have been disappointing both offline and online. Failing to qualify for Dreamhack Masters Marseille at the end of the month and currently sitting in 9th place in the ESL Pro League things have not gone the way they surely expected. At the most recent Copenhagen Games this past weekend, North was invited and were the clear cut favorites at the time especially due to their Danish counterparts, Heroic were missing their star Awper JUGI due to personal issues.
North placed first in their group which landed them a date with the former MANS NOT HOT squad now signed under the Imperial badge. Tenzki and his squad beat North rather convincingly 2-0 and left many questions surrounding the Danish side. They were picked apart on Mirage and the young firepower of “EspiranTo” carried them to an OT victory on Overpass. Expectations were sky high for North and yet again they disappointed us. Norths string of lack luster performances have caused many fans and analysis to point their fingers yet again at Aizy and MSL. The duo seemly are the usual suspects of blame on North as event to an event they rarely show up during the crucial moments and for MSL his tactics are being to put into question and his caliber of IGL will be at test yet again to turn this squad around.
North come in to the Bet.net Masters as the second highest ranked team attending the event per HLTV, but yet with the most to prove. With lack luster results over the recent months this may the last crack at the barrel that this lineup has. They are looking for redemption here and the field is much stronger than Copenhagen so everyone will have to show up and salvage this sinking ship.
Is there more to VP?
At the V4 Future Sports Festival we saw a reemergence from Virtus.Pro. The Polish squad finally seemed at adapted and comfortable to their new line up but one tournament is not enough to judge it off. MICHU carried them through the semi-final versus Faze where he showed us the skill level and aim that people have been talking about for years now but there are still many questions for VP. Snax previously regarded as one of the best players in the world has still not regained his form, he has shown glimpses of it but other times he has gone missing and a non factor. VP over the last year have become notorious for preforming exceptional during one event then falling off the face of the earth for the next 6 months, we saw it at the PGL Major and Epicenter where they proved all the critiques wrong but then drastically disappointed us until V4. Byali has seemed to regain his form and with the addition of MICHU no longer has to entry frag and thus has more space to himself and can serve more of an impact throughout each half. Virtus.Pro 2-0 Faze at V4 and then lost in a narrow grand final arguably the best team in the world right now of Mouse Sports.
This is a new chapter for the former Polish giants, coming into a smaller event such as this one can give lots to a team still struggling to find their form. The plow was at full steam in Budapest and we will wait and see if it can continue in Kiev.
Can GODSENT prove the doubters wrong?
GODSENT have been mediocre with this current iteration of this lineup, bolstering sub par performances at lans and failing to qualify for big events. Not all is bad for the Swedish side as they have surprised a few teams, most notably qualifying for ECS Season 5 after surprising Navi in the semi-final and placing top 8 at WESG just a few weeks ago. The lineup has notable names in it, twist and disco doplan have both been in major semi finals and have both evidently both been criticized for inconsistent play. The addition of Brollan has rejuvenated the lineup in ways, the young Swede has been the teams highest rated player in the last few months and many look to him to take over the game and to propel this lineup to the next level. With the recent surge of Fnatic this year and this new look NIP still struggling to find who they are as a team, there is no better time for GODSENT. The trio of Brollan, twist and hampus will have to show up this weekend if they will make some noise. Placing top 4 at this event with the caliber of teams attending Kiev will be a bigger selling point if the rumors are true of the organization looking to sell the roster.
Coming into Kiev, the Swedish lineup has more to prove then one may think at first glance. Brollan and co are looking to notch more upsets under their belt and make a case for them as the 2nd best Swedish team at the moment. Maybe after all God did send the right team.
Gambit looking to bounce back.
The once major champions are at a crossroad. Shuffling back and forth between IGL’s and failing to make it out of group stages is what CIS team has drifted too. The addition of Seized brought a lot of questions to the team as throughout 2017 he had experienced a disastrous year, being left to manage a Navi lineup that had seen better days, ultimately saw him being removed from the team and have a stand in with Flipside Tactics but has found a new home on Gambit.
Gambit have been more than disappointing since their Cinderella run at the PGL Major, not making it to the finals of any big events and most recently failing to make it out of the group stage at Katowice and Star Series. We have seen past lineups in the scene try to make a star player into an IGL, most notably G2 and although they won events, it left the team with fairly inconsistent results and no true leadership. The same can be said with Gambit as they have cycled through Adren, Hobbit, and Dosia as the captain and they all have failed, we need to witness the previous version of Gambit where the two star players were firing on all cylinders which made this team one of the up-and-coming teams.
There is still lots of time for Gambit to prove themselves as this lineup is fairly new but if things dip too far they may not be able to recover.
Players to look out for
- Stavn – Fragsters -> The young 16 year old has been praised by many in the Danish scene as one of the best up and coming talents. This will be one of his first big lans he can throw down with the big dogs.
- woxic – HellRaisers-> The young awper was most recently the highest rated player at the V4 Future Sports Festival and will have to continue to reach his strive if HellRaisers are to compete in Kiev.
- Aizy – North -> This may be the last time we seen Aizy in a North uniform. With constant disappointing play out of the once hot prospect, we will wait and see if he can still capitalized on that potential.
- MICHU – Virtus.Pro -> Once again all eyes are on the newest addition to the Polish side. His play was incredible in Budapest but consistency is key in the world of CS and MICHU needs to prove he’s capable of this.
- Hobbit – Gambit -> The Rookie of the Year of 2017 is struggling to find his form he stormed onto the scene with. For Gambit to make a push back to the top, Hobbit will need to find a spark to help his team.
- 1. HellRaisers
- 2. Virtus.Pro
- 3/4. GODSENT
- 3.4. Gambit
- 5/6. North
- 5/6. Fragsters
- 7/8. Red Reserve
- 7/8. forZe
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