Group A at DreamHack Winter Europe has concluded. Four of the eight teams who entered the ring have been thrown by the wayside while the other four have advanced to the playoffs. Heroic and Gambit Esports flawlessly qualified in the upper bracket without dropping a map. Meanwhile, Cloud9 and Complexity fought through the lower bracket to take the final two spots.
Heroic’s Flawless Finish
As the highest ranked team at DreamHack Winter, Heroic was given the easiest schedule in the group stage. Their first match was against c0ntact Gaming. Mirage was c0ntact’s pick and they performed well at the start. A 9-6 T side half put them in a good position to take their map. Instead, Heroic unleashed a monster T side which featured four players at a 1.42 HLTV rating or higher. They only dropped two second half rounds on their way to a 16-11 win.
Nuke was more of the same. C0ntact looked competitive in the first half, keeping the score to a close 8-7 from the CT side. When the sides swapped, it was all Heroic. C0ntact once again could only manage two rounds on the back half of the map. A 16-10 victory for Heroic saw them advance with little resistance.
Heroic’s qualifier game was against Team Spirit. While not exactly a top-level team, they were no pushovers either. Mirage was up first once again. Heroic performed well on both sides. A 9-6 defensive start led to a comfortable closeout in the second half. Another team effort win was earned 16-9.
Things got dicey on Nuke for the favorites. Their T side that was good for seven against c0ntact got completely crushed by Spirit. Only two rounds went the way of the Danish squad as Spirit had the win in sight. However, Heroic was not about to drop their first map in this fashion. They opened up on the CT side with a six round win streak before Spirit hit 14. Seven of the next eight all went to Heroic, forcing overtime by the skin of their teeth.
Multiple extra periods would be required to separate these teams. It was a tight race all the way through with amazing plays from both sides.
In the end, it was Heroic who took it all in the fourth overtime 28-26. It took nearly two full games worth of rounds, but Heroic had qualified for playoffs without dropping a map.
Gambit Crushes the Competition
The biggest surprise of DreamHack Winter EU Group A was the rise of Gambit’s former Youngsters squad to world class form. Their road to a perfect playoff qualification wasn’t easy either. First up was the quickly improving Cloud9 roster. Vertigo was the choice of Gambit, and for good reason. Cloud9 had clearly not gone in-depth on this map yet as they got manhandled by Gambit’s T side. A 12-3 first half lead was easily capitalized on by Gambit, resulting in a 16-6 blowout.
C9’s Inferno was at least close. A 9-3 CT start by Gambit threatened to make the map one-sided, but C9 was able to double their score in the final three rounds of offense. A quick start to Gambit’s T side was answered by a seven of eight-round win streak to tie the game at 14 apiece.
Gambit kicked it into overdrive for the final two rounds of regulation to take a narrow 16-14 victory, taking down the Colossus in two maps.
The Juggernaut of Complexity was their next test. Surprisingly, this match proved to be even easier than the previous one. Gambit absolutely embarrassed Complexity on every front. Train began with a 10-5 lead for the CIS squad from the T side before transitioning into a perfect defense. A quick 16-5 put Gambit a leg up.
Complexity needed to get things going on their Mirage pick. Instead, Gambit came into the T side even stronger. A 12-3 first half erased almost any hope for Complexity to bring this back. Every single Gambit player earned a positive K-D ratio, including a monster 24-9 performance from Timofey “interz” Yakushin.
Another 16-5 finish solidified Gambit as a playoff contender.
Complexity Fight Back
After the demoralizing blowout loss to Gambit, Complexity needed to quickly regroup. FaZe Clan was on their way through the lower bracket and were Complexity’s last opponents in the group stage. FaZe chose Inferno for their map. They would instantly regret that decision. After winning the pistol, FaZe lost every single round on their T side. Complexity completely shut down their opposition to earn a monumental 14-1 lead. A 16-4 score line resulted in the quickest match of groups.
Nuke was Complexity’s pick and it presented problems for the squad. They couldn’t truly get off the ground in either half, remaining tethered to FaZe through the first 30 rounds. Benjamin “blameF” Bremer broke 40 kills in overtime, but was unable to stop FaZe from taking a 22-19 victory.
Mirage would be the tiebreaker map. FaZe opened up with a strong T side start, earning a 6-2 lead. However, Complexity bucked down and won seven in a row to end the half. A 9-6 score was close on paper, but Complexity had all the momentum. The streak proved to be too much for FaZe to overcome. Complexity’s T side went nearly flawless, taking seven of the eight second half rounds. A quick 16-7 ending placed Complexity into the playoffs.
Cloud9 Surge Late
Cloud9 were the first-round victims of Gambit’s rise, meaning they had to play through all of the lower bracket. ENCE were their first opponents. Map one was Dust2 courtesy of the Finnish side. Cloud9 got off to a hot 12-3 start on the CT side. ENCE was able to respond in kind, forcing overtime. It took three extra periods, but Cloud9 were victorious thanks to Alex “ALEX” McMeekin’s 54 kills, 108.8 ADR, and numerous clutch holds.
Nuke was a much simpler affair. Cloud9’s T side flourished on their map thanks to an early pistol win. The sole American on the roster, Ricky “floppy” Kemery, showed up big with a 21-7 K-D and 120.3 ADR on their way to an 11-4 lead.
ENCE simply couldn’t keep pace and eventually bled out. C9 took a comfortable 16-9 to advance to the final qualifier match.
There, they would meet Spirit. Cloud9 once again went with the Nuke pick. Although they had a strong 10-5 T side start, Spirit were nearly able to match their efforts. With one last chance in round 30, C9 were able to close out their map by the skin of their teeth 16-14.
Dust2 would be the final map of Group A. Cloud9 saw what Complexity did to FaZe on Inferno and decided to live up to their performance. After losing the pistol round, the Colossus crushed Spirit’s spirits with 14 rounds in a row on defense. The near-perfect performance was accentuated by a true 1v5 out of floppy to end the half.
The 16-4 map tied Complexity’s earlier in the day, sending Cloud9 through to the DreamHack Winter playoffs.
Group A’s four representatives have shown themselves to be strong competitors. They now await Group B to find out who will be matching up against who. DreamHack Winter EU playoffs begin on December 4th.