Stories to Watch at DreamHack Masters Spring Group Stage
DreamHack Masters Spring, the first DreamHack Masters event of 2021, is about to get underway. Sixteen teams from across the globe will be competing for a $250,000 prize pool and a big chunk of ESL Pro Tour points. Additionally, this will be the first Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event of the year. Teams will want to put up a good performance here to get their path to the Major later this year started. This will be a very stacked event, as 11 of the current top 12 teams in the world are present.
DreamHack Masters Spring will feature two groups of eight teams. Each group will play a double-elimination bracket, with the overall winners getting a spot in the semifinals. The runners-up and lower bracket winners will start their playoff runs in the quarterfinals. With almost every team having the potential to take home the trophy, there are plenty of storylines to keep track of.
Group A: The CIS Group of Death
Group A at DreamHack Masters Spring features all four of the invited CIS teams. Not only that, none of them have a round one matchup against each other. Gambit Esports, Natus Vincere, and Virtus.pro are by far the three favorites to advance to the playoffs. They currently occupy the number one, four, and five ranks worldwide and have been making waves all year. Team Spirit rounds out the CIS quartet at rank 11.
Gambit will be looking to put up an especially dominant performance. After its big coming of age party at the IEM World Championship, it was narrowly bested by Heroic in the ESL Pro League Season 13 Grand Finals. Just a week after that heartbreaking loss, Gambit was able to get its revenge at the BLAST Spring Showdown. The team took down Heroic in the final qualifier match, earned their spot at the Spring Finals, and secured the number one rank. To keep its successful streak going, playoffs are a necessity, and another big tournament win is the goal.
Na’Vi and Virtus.pro haven’t been as hot as Gambit, but both teams have been showing promising form so far in 2021. Na’Vi, however, is coming into DreamHack Masters Spring with a fresh roster change. Its lackluster finish at ESL Pro League has caused the team to move Egor “flamie” Vasilev to the bench while Valerii “B1T” Vakhovskyi will be starting every map. B1T previously only slotted in on select maps like Inferno for the squad, but Valve’s rule on substitutions costing RMR points means that having a static five-man roster is optimal. B1T could be the young firepower that Na’Vi needs to find some consistency.
G2’s Chance to Make Moves
Of the other four teams in Group A, G2 is the most likely to snag one of the playoff qualification spots. It has been almost two months now since Kenny “kennyS” Schrub was benched in favor of Audric “JaCkz” Jug. The new dynamic AWPing style has taken a bit of time to get rolling. Now, G2 looks to be trending upward for the first time in a while. It recently played in the BLAST Spring Showdown and the IEM Summer Qualifiers, running through both to earn spots in the main events. The teams they beat to do so include mousesports, FaZe Clan, and Team Spirit, all of whom are in Group A. If G2 can pull off one key upset win, it could find itself in the top six.
Group B: Big Names and Roster Changes
On the other side of the Group Stage, Astralis and Team Vitality are poised for a potential round two clash. While Astralis is currently ranked third overall, its recent performances have been far below its standard. Astralis hasn’t placed top four in any event since January. It was recently eliminated from the BLAST Spring Showdown in round one by OG.
On top of that, the departure of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz provides more questions than answers. Dev1ce is one of the greatest players in CS:GO history, and his legacy on Astralis is undeniable. With its extremely consistent AWPer gone, Astralis will be going through some rebuilding with Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen. Astralis is notorious for being able to bounce back, but with a key missing that has never been missing before, it will truly be put to the test.
Vitality has already been in a similar downward spiral, only more severe. The French squad that dominated in 2020 has been nowhere to be found. Since January, the team hasn’t broken top eight at any event despite the presence of Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut. As a result, long-time staple Cedric “RpK” Guipouy has been benched with young rifler Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van taking his place. Vitality needs this change to pan out. Otherwise, it could continue to fall out of relevancy.
Heroic’s Return to the Top
Heroic made headlines in late February with its double roster swap immediately following a weak finish at the IEM World Championships. That change turned out to be exactly what the organization needed. With the addition of Ismail “refrezh” Ali and Rasmus “sjuush” Beck, the Danish squad has risen to the top of the game once again. A win at ESL Pro League Season 13 saw it topple the best team in the world.
Now, Heroic has a new task on their hands. The pressure is on to continue its world-beating form. Ever since the roster changes, the only team that has even taken a map off Heroic has been Gambit, who happens to be in the opposite group. Heroic will be looking to fly through Group B, earn a spot in the semifinals, and likely meet its greatest competition.
DreamHack Masters Spring begins on April 29th at 6:00 A.M. EST. Day one will feature every round one match in a best-of-one format before moving onto best-of-threes. The initial matchups are:
Gambit Esports vs. Team Fiend
Team Spirit vs. G2 Esports
Natus Vincere vs. mousesports
FaZe Clan vs Virtus.pro
Astralis vs. Extra Salt
Complexity vs. Team Vitality
FURIA ESPORTS vs. BIG
paiN Gaming vs. Heroic