DreamHack Open January EU will give eight teams a chance to secure a smaller trophy early on this year. The spiritual successor to DreamHack Open Leipzig will be the first international online tournament for the new FPX and Sprout rosters. Four CIS teams will compete against BIG and Evil Geniuses for a shot at $70,000. So who’s got the upper hand here?
BIG AREN’T QUITE BACK FROM THE WINTER BREAK
In the midst of a global pandemic, this team managed to write international CS:GO history as the first German team to ever make the first place in the HLTV World Rankings. They did so after sweeping the summer tournament lineup. The consistently great individual output of Florian “syrsoN” Rische eventually helped him to a Top 20 finish for the year as well, another first for the German scene.
After their summer dream run, the Germans descended in the rankings again. In interviews, Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz openly talked about the team slowly losing steam and attributed this to the constant onslaught of online matches. Towards the end of the year, however, they secured another great placement at the IEM Global Challenge. Ending the year on a high note, they must have gone into the winter break feeling pretty accomplished.
— BIG (@BIGCLANgg) January 25, 2021
So the (hopefully) well-rested team came back from the break… and promptly lost to Sprout at ESL Meisterschaft. Even though these national rivals are, in a way, their kryptonite, and have beaten them in German events numerous times, BIG have shown that they need to complete a few more matches before they’re warmed up again.
So the question for this event isn’t whether BIG pack the skills to make first place. Looking over their accomplishments of the last 12 months, it becomes obvious that they have the biggest claim to the trophy. Under good conditions, they should sweep this bracket – but that’s precisely the issue. Can BIG perform a cold start? How long will they take to show up in full force?
EG HAVE TO PROVE THEMSELVES
Last year, EG were the undoubted leader of the North American pack. While they did have to bow to the Brazilians of FURIA, they definitely put the likes of Liquid and Chaos in their places. In 2021, however, they have already lost to Team Liquid and shown to be out of form a bit. This means that even Sprout and FunPlus Phoenix can become potential threats. Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz and Tarik “tarik” Celik will have to step up their individual level, so that Evil Geniuses are less dependent on Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte and Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov popping off. But even if they do this, even if the players manage to secure more than a 1.0 rating at the event, will this be enough for BIG and FunPlus Phoenix?
WHO IS THE FIFTH MAN AT FPX?
After their attempt to secure the services of the Heroic roster failed, things got quiet around the organization for the better part of a year. While they did vow to return to Counter-Strike, they apparently haven’t really found the right opportunity – that is, until now. GODSENT were interested in selling off their international roster in order to sign a Brazilian lineup. So FunPlus Phoenix are now fielding a competitive lineup in the form of Martin “Styko” Styk, Jesse “zehN” Linjala, Pavle “maden” Bošković, Asger “farlig” Jensen, and Coach Jonatan “Devilwalk” Lundberg.
However, they’re still lacking a fifth man. Earlier on, Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend had manned the in-game-leader position for them, but apparently his individual form wasn’t quite enough for the team. So far, they haven’t announced a definitive replacement, but Chris “ChrisJ” De Jong is rumored to be that man. Should this be the case, then there are new problems on the horizon for the team. Who will take up the leading reins? Should this task really be handed to ChrisJ? After all, he doesn’t really belong to the top of the class in that field.
The players’ individual level should suffice to at least mount a deep run in this event. But without any playtime with their fifth man, it will be most difficult for them to actually contend with the rest if BIG and EG show up on a good level.
You don't want to miss a single map let alone a full series, so here's a breakdown of how, when, and where to watch all the games for #DHOpen January!https://t.co/MBwSX6XMZz pic.twitter.com/SwGMcfGyrR
— DreamHack Counter-Strike (@DreamHackCSGO) January 25, 2021
THE CIS UPSET POTENTIAL
Last year, Team Spirit have left no doubt that nobody is safe from their region. During ESL Pro League, they took down enemies of Vitality calibre and even advanced to the playoffs. While this wasn’t enough to mount a deep run at the end, they at least proved that virtually any team can be beaten – even in a Best-of-Three series.
This means that BIG, who had really gained in form towards the end of last year, should be afraid of HellRaisers as well. With the Opening Match being just a small Best-of-One, they can’t really allow for any mistakes. Otherwise they risk dropping down to the Elimination Match and facing FPX or EG there.
DO SPROUT STAND A CHANCE?
Sprout are under a heavy siege in Group B. They did show great synergy with their two new players and have made their mark on the German scene already, but will that be enough for them to beat the CIS trio? Facing Gambit, forZe and Spirit in one group, they need to be wary of any upsets. However, should they make it to the playoffs in one piece, things might get a lot easier for them. Unlike Evil Geniuses, they aren’t out of form, and unlike FPX, they have already had a month’s worth of training with their lineup. They constantly manage to hit the achilles heel of the biggest German team – so even in the playoffs of DreamHack Open January, BIG won’t quite be safe from Timo “Spiidi” Richter and his men.