Dreamhack Valencia took place last week; although, it flew a bit under the radar, as bigger tournaments, specifically the Major and ESL One Cologne, overshadowed it. While it was no Cologne, this tournament was another tournament to use an idea for group stage formatting that could be massive for the scene. Before I get into implications in terms of tournament formatting, I’ll give my thoughts on the tournament results.
The New NiP
NiP with Fredrik ‘REZ’ Sterner at ESL One Cologne looked pretty decent, and at Dreamhack Valencia, they further cemented themselves back into the top 15 in the world. While they didn’t face the ‘best’ team there in terms of rankings, they laid the hammer down against the lesser ones. They may not have a very deep map pool, but their map pool is very tricky to play against. They are once again the best team in the world on Cache. You cannot play Cache against them, or you will go down 0-1. Their next best map is up for debate. For my money, it’s Nuke; however, they have looked pretty decent on Train as well. What makes their map pool tricky, is that no team in the top 10 besides Natus Vincere permaban Cache. This gives them a ‘free’ map in almost any series, and right now they look like they can play almost every map in the pool; admittedly they aren’t very good on most of the maps, but it is still an improvement for this squad.
The key for the Ninjas here is if REZ can prove to be a superstar player. The kind of player NiP has lacked since Christopher ‘GeT_RiGhT’ Alesund was in good form. He doesn’t need to be the next GeT_RiGhtT, but he does have to be their superstar. If he proves that he is, NiP could again be contenders for the world number one spot, as the supporting cast on NiP is among the best in Counter-Strike, with GeT_RiGhT’s recent resurgence.
The Rise of Red Reserve
The young Swedish team, that acquired Mikiel ‘Maikelele’ Bill a little over a month ago, managed to make the finals of Dreamhack Valencia. To do so, they upset Heroic, a favorite to make the final, in the semifinals in narrow fashion. This upset doesn’t really mean much in my opinion. To me, it just seemed like the new Swedish roster was just on a hot run this tournament, and will not pose a threat to any of the top 15 teams in the near future. Their play style is erratic, and they rely too much on the skill of their players. This style will not get them very far in the current era; however, one particular player that impressed me was Hampus ‘hampus’ Poser. He could be someone to watch out for as an up and coming star player.
Heroic Fall Short
I know I’ve already said it, but Red Reserve did upset this Danish Squad in narrow fashion. All in all, a bad showing from Heroic. Heroic with Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen is a pretty decent team; however, for my money, they could really make great use of a player like Philip ‘aizy’ Aistrup. As we know, aizy’s time in North is coming to a close. Es3tag has not been awful, but aizy is more skilled and would better fit this team. Not to mention, Marco ‘Snappi’ Pfeiffer, has shown us throughout his entire time with Heroic, he knows how to get players involved, and use them correctly. This is exactly what aizy needs to help get his career back on track.
The real headliner for Dreamhack Valencia, for me anyway, is the use of GSL format in groups; however, not the GSL Bo1 groups we are used to. Instead, the elimination matches were both best of three. I think this sort of group stage is a great idea and would love to see more of it; although, if I could have it all my way, I would make the first match a best of one, the winner’s, loser’s and decider matches would all be best of three. I think this would be the ultimate format for a tournament group stage, and would not even necessarily warrant an extra day for the tournament to run. Smaller tournaments can just invite fewer teams, and bigger tournaments would be able to fit the extra maps in.
The major for example has one day per group stage anyway, meaning this format would fit just fine. Not to mention, not every tournament organizer has to use this format; however, for a tournament that is seen as the end all for the discussion of who the best team in the world is, I think only the best format should be used, and the legend system simply must go, but that topic is for another article.
Dreamhack Valencia may not have had a huge prize pot, or all the best teams, but it did have some great formatting, that with some tinkering and patience, could well be the future of our game.
Featured image via https://www.hltv.org/