The CS:GO pro scene is back into full effect, with the sixth season of the ESL Pro League getting underway and the first premier offline tournament since the PGL Major in Krakow in July: Dreamhack Masters Malmö, taking place August 30th to September 3rd.
Group C is filled with teams ready to prove themselves on an international stage once more: Gambit Esports, FaZe Clan, mousesports, and Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Gambit Esports: A Championship Team in Shambles (HLTV Team Ranking: #3)
- Mikhail “Dosia” Stolyarov
- Rustem “mou” Telepov
- Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev
- Abay “HObbit” Khassenov
- Bektiyar “fitch” Bahytov – trial player
After coming off the win in Krakow and officially signing HObbit from Tengri, the defending Major Champions have since lost their coach, Mykhailo “Kane” Blagin, and their in-game leader, Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko, to Natus Vincere, due to internal conflicts.
Natus Vincere has been drawn into Group B for Malmö, alongside ELEAGUE Major Champions Astralis, Polish legends Virtus.Pro, a Natus Vincere without their star AWPer, Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács, and a fiery Renegades.
Since then, they have picked up trial player fitch from Tengri, but their results have been disappointing, barely missing ESL One: New York 2017 after losing to the Frenchmen on Team EnVyUs in the Grand Finals of the EU Closed Qualifiers 0:2 and placing 18th in Season 25 of ESEA Premier.
Winning a major, then losing the two strongest minds that helped you get that victory…Gambit now have to prove themselves and see if their performance at Krakow wasn’t just a fluke. Can they make it to the stage in Malmö?
FaZe Clan: The Superstars to Beat (HLTV Team Ranking: #6)
- Håvard “rain” Nygaard
- Finn “karrigan” Andersen
- Nikola “NiKo” Kovač
- Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács
- Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer
- Robert “RobbaN” Dahlström – coach
After FaZe Clan’s rather abrupt group stage exit from the Krakow Major, you have to ask yourself: what did they do wrong? Apparently, the problems were nowhere to be seen, and yet, Finnish AWPer Aleksi “allu” Jalli and French rifler Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey were dropped from the roster
Now, a month later, looking at the team’s roster on paper, you would expect FaZe to win the entire tournament. And you are absolutely right to think that. With two high-profile pickups coming in the form of Natus Vincere veteran AWPer GuardiaN and star FNATIC player olofmeister to replace allu and kioShiMa, respectively, FaZe Clan are destined to destroy their competition. Their online performances have justified the additions of the superstars as FaZe currently stand atop the EU ESL Pro League after one week with a 6-2 record.
A team shining with superstars, and most likely the favorites to take home the trophy. Can they meet expectations and head to the stage in Malmö?
mousesports: A Whole Lot of Unknowns (HLTV Team Ranking: #16)
- Chris “chrisJ” de Jong
- Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný
- Robin “ropz” Kool
- Miikka “suNny” Kemppi
- Martin “STYKO” Styk
- Sergey “lmbt” Bezhanov – coach
Their 1-3 group stage exit at Krakow says a whole lot about players like ropz and oskar, who had never attended a Major until Krakow.
In the month off, mousesports have been shuffling around their roster, dropping Denis “denis” Howell and Christian “loWel” Antoran for HellRaisers’ STYKO and PENTA Sports’ suNny, respectively. These roster changes have yet to yield any results, with mousesports currently sitting in 11th place in the EU ESL Pro League with a 1-2 record.
mousesports have a new roster with lots of raw power. Can they make it to the stage at the Malmö Arena?
Ninjas in Pyjamas: Old Legends, Fresh Blood (HLTV Team Ranking: #12)
- Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg
- Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund
- Richard “Xizt” Landström
- William “draken” Sundin
- Fredrik “REZ” Sterner
- Björn “THREAT” Pers – coach
NiP have missed both Majors for 2017 and made a shocking roster change in which REZ was acquired from Epsilon Esports to replace long-time NiP player Adam “friberg” Friberg, who eventually left and has since signed on to OpTic Gaming, the North American organization.
These changes have slowly paid off, as the Ninjas have been on a slow rebound, making it out of the group stage at ESL One: Cologne 2017 before dropping to Cloud9 in the quarterfinals and winning DreamHack Valencia a couple of days after.
They did fail to qualify for ESL One: New York 2017, losing to BIG 0:2 in the quarterfinals of the EU Closed Qualifiers, and have yet to play their first week of matches in the EU ESL Pro League as of writing.
The Ninjas come into Malmö as hometown favorites and defending champions, beating Natus Vincere 2:0 to take the title last year. REZ and draken get a chance to prove themselves on the international stage, while the legends – Xizt, GeT_RiGhT, and f0rest – need to show the home crowd and the world they still have what it takes to compete at the highest level of professional Counter-Strike.
Hometown favorites and defending champions means a lot, especially to a legendary team like NiP. Will they be able to see their fans at the Malmö Arena?
My Group Predictions:
- FaZe Clan – 2-0
- Ninjas in Pyjamas – 2-1
- mousesports – 1-2
- Gambit Esports – 0-2
Though it could be argued that any of the bottom three teams can make it through as the second seed in Group C, overwhelmingly, this is the Ninjas’ defining make it or break it moment. The pressure all lies on them to make it out of groups, and with their performances as of late, I think they will make it through.
FaZe Clan should easily make it through to playoffs, given their raw firepower and recent online performances.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?