The playoffs of the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) DreamHack Masters (DHM) Spring 2020 NA are about to begin. With the Group Stage over, six teams remain. With FURIA and 100 Thieves sitting safely in the Upper Bracket, it falls on four teams to see who can fight to stay alive and reach the grand final.
The first two teams who risk elimination are Team Liquid (TL) and Gen.G Esports. Second in Group A and third in Group B respectively, both have much to gain and everything to lose in the upcoming lower bracket semi-final on Friday.
Team Analysis: Team Liquid
Team Liquid has struggled since their peak in the summer of 2019. The once indisputable best team in the world currently stands at sixth in the HLTV World Rankings. Since their loss at the StarLadder Berlin Major, Team Liquid hasn’t had much success.
While some of this can be attributed to the transition to online Counter-Strike in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cracks in TL have been showing since even before during offline play.
Team Liquid’s recent results demonstrate the sheer inconsistency plaguing what was once an untouchable team. Team Liquid stomped Evil Geniuses 3-0 to claim first for the ESL Pro League Season 11: North America championship in April. Then, a month later in May, TL bombed out of the ESL One: Road to Rio – North America in fourth place against a flimsy Cloud9.
Most recently, Team Liquid flopped in a humiliating loss to Chaos Esports Club to open their Group Stage at DreamHack Masters. Followed up by a loss to FURIA, Liquid only barely managed to stay alive in the tournament by defeating MIBR 2-0.
It’s difficult to pin TL’s wildly poor performance on a single player. The team’s loose style of play, relying on individual skill and explosive outplays to swing rounds, means that it quickly devolves into chaos whenever any of their five stars falter.
If Team Liquid wants to emerge victorious in DHM, then they desperately need to turn things around. Unfortunately, it’s never so easy as just saying “Get good again.” If Team Liquid flops out of another tournament without at least seeing the final, especially a domestic North American competition, then it may be time to begin looking to make a change in the team.
Team Analysis: Gen.G
Gen.G is currently reaching new heights. The mixed roster saw a new peak in their HLTV World Ranking at 12. The team is slowly improving and as it gains experience, Gen.G is starting to rack up wins. Although they had a respectable but underwhelming finish on 5th/6th at Flashpoint Season 1, Gen.G has still shown promise. The team earned an impressive 2-1 win over FURIA at ESL One: Road to Rio – North America. However, Gen.G’s subsequent faltering at the BLAST Premier Spring 2020 Americas Showdown, finishing fourth, indicates that there is still much more room to grow.
Much of Gen.G’s improvement can be credited to the influence of Damian “daps” Steele. The long-time Canadian in-game leader has proven his worth once more by bringing together a disparate squad with varying levels of experience and forming it into a coherent squad. Proven talents in Timothy “autimatic” Ta and Kenneth “koosta” Suen continue to deliver the necessary firepower.
The Hansel “BnTeT” Ferdinand’s integration has been overall successful. Although not quite delivering the level of aplomb fans might have hoped from his previous achievements on TYLOO, he is still undeniably a star to always keep an eye on.
Gen.G’s weak link is still Sam “s0m” Oh. At this point in his career, it is evident he will not develop into a superstar or even a star player. Regardless, he still has room to grow tactically and as a support player, a consistently underrated position given how vital it has been to the success of Counter-Strike teams.
Eyes will be on s0m and koosta to perform. If they can step up their game, then it will be that extra kick needed to transition Gen.G into the Top 10 in the CS:GO world.
This match should favor Team Liquid. Gen.G are, for all their growth, still a team finding their footing. So far, it’s looking like Gen.G will shape up into a team respectably in the Top 15. Occasionally, it will slip up and falter against worse opposition, but Gen.G will also over-perform at times and land in the bottom fringes of the Top Ten.
On paper, this is the kind of roster that the experienced superstars of Team Liquid should easily beat. Pound for pound, Team Liquid’s players should simply be better than their Gen.G counterparts.
But the issue with Team Liquid is that lately it’s been a lot of “should win” and not many “will win.” The team has been far too inconsistent with wildly varying performances. Their loose structure style cannot work with that level of underperformance. Worse, it’s never the same player faltering, meaning that Team Liquid can’t prepare and adjust for a slump in form.
The map draft will likely go as follows:
- Team Liquid and Gen.G will go with their usual map bans of Train and Overpass respectively. This favors Liquid, as Gen.G defaults to Train for their usual first map pick.
- Team Liquid could then pick Nuke, Gen.G’s normal second map ban, and one which TL can play with decent success. Gen.G at this point would have the best success going to Vertigo, a map on which they are comfortable enough and Team Liquid has been shaky.
- For the final bans, Gen.G should remove Dust2, a frag-heavy map that favors Team Liquid’s superstars. Team Liquid should then remove Mirage, forcing the decider map on Inferno: a staple in their map pool.
If all goes to plan, then Team Liquid can be expected to win the first Pistol Round on Nuke and Inferno, while Gen.G has a chance to secure it on Vertigo. Whoever wins the first Pistol Round can then be expected to move on to reach five won rounds first, although Nuke often has options for the Counter-Terrorist (CT) side to grind out wins even with a worse economy.
After that, it’s all up in the air. Team Liquid should still be the favorites to win, but it is all on the players. If the matches begin to get close, viewers shouldn’t be surprised if TL begins to crumble once again as Gen.G gains confidence from keeping up with such an acclaimed opponent.
The match between Team Liquid and Gen.G Esports will take place on Friday, 12 June, at 8:50am PST. The broadcast is available on DreamHack’s Counter-Strike Twitch channel.
Written by NGame Esports Writer, Michael Jeong