Meet the teams competing at DreamHack Masters Spring 2021
DreamHack’s first big international CS:GO event of the year is just over a month away, and the field is stacked. On March 24tg, the organizer announced the ten teams invited to DreamHack Masters Spring via either their DreamHack partnership or their ESL World Ranking. The remaining six already earned their spots via regional qualifiers or winning.
The statuses of all these teams are quite varied. There are good teams looking to return to form. There are teams operating at their highest level ever, and there are teams looking to prove themselves on a big stage and ones in the midst of serious transitions. Let’s take a good look at the entire field at DreamHack Masters Spring.
Howdy, Partners: Astralis, FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, mousesports, Natus Vincere
Astralis’ strong end to 2020 hasn’t yet translated to the dominance it’s used to in 2021. The team closed out the year with wins at IEM Global Challenger and DreamHack Masters Winter. It also finished second at BLAST Fall and the Global Final this past January. However, February saw a slight dip in its performance, with an early exit in the BLAST Spring group stage and a quarterfinals loss at Katowice. You could say they fell victim to the CIS showcase in Katowice, but the team has struggled to properly implement sixth-man Bubzkji as of late. DreamHack Spring should be an opportunity to get back on track.
FaZe Clan is still trying to get it together with its new roster. On paper, the team has everything they should need; firepower, leadership, and veteran experience. But so far, the results are far below the expectations. They notched only a single victory at IEM Katowice over OG. They went 2-3 in ESL Pro League and failed to make playoffs. The additions of Twistzz and karrigan are very significant, so some leeway is available, but they need to start producing results quickly.
G2 is very early into its newest phase. But the first test with JACKZ moved back to starter, and NiKo moved to AWP/rifle hybrid has seen some successful results. G2 went 3-2 in Group B play at ESL Pro League, which included wins over NiP, Vitality, and FaZe Clan. It did lose to ENCE and surprisingly mousesports, but these first results aver very early into its overall assessment.
Mousesports is in a similar boat as FaZe and G2. The team is trying to work out the kinks of their new roster formation. Its expectations are certainly lower, given the amount of star power on these other teams, and there are questions about mous’ future as well. If the team can’t capitalize on the unreal output they get from Ropz, the youngster may start to eye a spot on another roster.
Natus Vincere is in the best form of the DreamHack partner group. Currently ranked no. 1 on the HLTV ratings, the team won the BLAST Global Final in January and went right back to work in the BLAST Spring group stage. But even Na’Vi isn’t perfect, narrowly making it to the ESL Pro League’s playoffs after losses to Gambit and FURIA. However, its only lost five series all year: two to Gambit (the hottest team in CS right now), two to Liquid, and one to FURIA. The roster is good.
Best in the World (per ESL): Gambit, Virtus.pro, Team Vitality, BIG, FURIA
Is it disrespectful to group Gambit and Virtus.Pro in the same paragraph? Perhaps, but they’re both playing so well right now they probably don’t even care. Both teams from the CIS region have played some of their best Counter-Strike in years to start 2021. They met in the grand finals of IEM Katowice, where Gambit had the upper hand, but the series could go either way if they meet again. They’re both top five in both the HLTV and the ESL world rankings and have shown no signs of slowing down.
Vitality, however, has slowed down after its scorching hot end to 2020. A team that looked like the best in the world, with the best player in the world at last year’s end, has been sluggish to start 2021. After winning the bronze at the BLAST Global Final, it had poor showings at BLAST Spring, IEM Katowice, and ESL Pro League. Then there was the weird debacle with giving apEX time off only for him to return less than two weeks later. Now it has ditched its sixth-man Nivera after half a year. Vitality needs to pull out of this tailspin with a strong showing at DreamHack.
BIG and FURIA both had standout 2020 campaigns, filled with numerous impressive wins at several tournaments. Both teams are also working toward getting back into the conversation as top teams in 2021. BIG finished at the top of its BLAST group but struggled in Katowice and in Pro League. FURIA hasn’t won an event in a while. But it is hanging around in some of these international events, losing only to clearly superior teams.
The Qualifier Crew: Team Spirit, paiN Gaming, Heroic, Complexity, Team Fiend, Extra Salt
Not to be outshined by Gambit and VP, Team Spirit wants to continue riding high after its Katowice performance as well. Their victory at the January DreamHack Open landed it a spot at Masters. That victory was the momentum it needed to launch its Katowice run. It has high expectations now after its superheated start to 2021.
Despite all its success in 2020, Heroic pulled the trigger on a roster swap in late February. The team parted ways with b0rup and niko (not that NiKo) and added sjuush and refrezh. Their first results have been successful, as they defeated Team Fiend (VOYVODA) and Cloud9 to qualify for Masters.
Speaking of Team Fiend, the ex-Windigo roster playing under the VOYVODA name joined their new org after qualifying via the EU qualifier. It was a close-fought battle between the Bulgarian roster and Cloud9. The series went to three maps and VOYVODA needing at least 30 rounds in both their wins. It’s been a long time since this roster won big at WESG 2018 (held in 2019, confusingly). It’ll be a tough challenge for them to win at DH Masters Spring.
Complexity also booked its ticket to Masters via the Spring EU qualifier, beating Movistar Riders then OG to secure its spot. The juggernaut has been marred by inconsistency since adding jks in October. But it finally had a showing to be proud of at BLAST Spring. The team beat their entire group of Vitality, G2, and Evil Geniuses to qualify for Spring Finals. However, that momentum didn’t help them get out of the play-in stage at Katowice. Again, consistency has been a real issue for them.
Both paiN Gaming and Extra Salt defeated local North American competition to make it to Masters. paiN did so in the January DreamHack Open. Extra Salt did so via the Masters qualifier. Both teams looked dominant in both of those events. But they should both anticipate a steeper level of competition at the Masters main event. It will be an uphill battle.
DreamHack Masters Spring will split the 16 teams into two groups of eight. Each group will utilize a double-elimination GSL format. $250,000 is on the line, as well as a plethora of ESL Pro Tour points. The action begins on April 29th.