Adam Boothe provides his expert betting insight into the DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 and identifies where the value may lie in the matchups at the tournament. Read on to find out more
In the world of CS:GO, an entire week without top-level action is so very rare, especially after the December break. However, this is what was provided to us after the most recent iteration of BLAST ended. While a few top-calibre rosters participated in the Funspark event during this time, it was clear it was comprised predominantly of teams who have been sliding in recent years or had only posted a mediocre showing earlier in 2021.
DreamHack Masters was at one time the best event outside the Majors. And though it might not stand out as it once did, it is still notable in the current age of CS:GO. It boasts a 16-team field with $250,000 up for grabs. The prestige is displayed by the quality of the teams attending - the current top five in the world, nine of the top 10, and 13 of the top 16. It is stacked with talent!
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The format is a little complicated compared to some other events. There are two groups of eight playing through double elimination brackets. One team will progress from the upper bracket of each group and get a bye through to the semi-finals of the playoffs.
As for the status of teams entering the event, there was one move that shook the CS:GO world on Friday – Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz leaving Astralis for NiP in a reported $1 million deal. It will forever separate Astralis’ history into two definitive periods – the “dev1ce” era and the post-“dev1ce” era. While some might be preaching doom and gloom for the remaining four players and his replacement Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen, it should be noted that the star AWPer is not what made them great. “dev1ce” has been a model for consistency throughout his career and that is truly what makes him one of the best on the planet but he has never been in the ‘greatest of all time’ conversation unlike his old team as a whole have been.
“dev1ce” entered the HLTV Top 20 for the first time in 2014 at number 20. From there it was a straight jump to number three during the following year and he has been placed in the top five every year since. However, he has never held that number one spot. He has been playing with the same core three teammates, including Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Andrea “Xyp9x” Hojsleth, dating back that far and only finished as high as second, behind “dupreeh”, in the 2014 rankings.
For the first three years he was in the top five, “dev1ce”, and the Danish CS:GO scene generally, were overshadowed by the success of the Swedish (Ninjas in Pyjamas) and then Brazilian (Luminosity/SK Gaming) eras (the only two which existed prior to the rise of Astralis). That changed when Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander entered the team and they removed Finn “karrigan” Andersen. The team had been consistently in the mix of decent competitors until that point; however, “gla1ve” brought them to the top almost immediately - gaining a second-place finish at ELEAGUE Season 2, a win at ECS Season 2, followed by their first of four majors at Atlanta 2017.
Heading into BLAST 2021, it was mentioned that Astralis had not been knocked out of an event 0-2 in back-to-back matches in their entire history with “gla1ve”. Yet, it finally happened at ESL Pro League Season 13. This was followed closely by a third consecutive 0-2 against OG days later - also a first for the team. It is safe to assume things were likely far from perfect in the Astralis camp.
In my opinion, “Bubzkji” is not a suitable long-term replacement for “dev1ce” if they hope to restore their dynasty; however, it should be noted that this is not a situation like we have with Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev or Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut, who are considered irreplaceable individual talents on their teams. Astralis became the best because their performance as a whole team has been superior over a number of years of competition.
The other point to make here is that signing “dev1ce” is not a huge upgrade for NiP. Yes, “dev1ce” will probably have a superior rating to Tim “nawwk” Jonasson, but we should remain sceptical of that actually translating to tournament victories, which is clearly the expectation of the Swedish organization now that they have acquired the Danish AWPer.
While the DreamHack Masters Spring event will not showcase NiP, we will get to see how “Bubzkji” performs with Astralis, and whether he has made improvements since we last saw him play in an official match. Astralis will open their tournament against North American side Extra Salt. In terms of price, we are seeing a much closer spread in contrast to when these teams last played on LAN in 2020. The rosters are not identical though. As discussed, Astralis have seen the departure of “dev1ce”, but Extra Salt have also seen the departure of Ian “motm” Hardy for a different team and Ricky “floppy” Kemery for VALORANT.
A year ago, at Katowice 2020, Extra Salt (ex-Cloud9) were at around 30% to take a map off Astralis, while they are currently 35% to take an entire best-of-three on Thursday at DreamHack. While “Bubzkji”'s role as a sixth man was not to sub for “dev1ce”, he has played 17 maps in his time with Astralis and against a field of teams of better quality than Extra Salt. That being said, Extra Salt have arrived in Europe in fantastic form, winning against teams like Dignitas, BIG, and forZe while not being favoured against any of them. It is understandable that the market would price them as having their best chance to take the former world number one team down after Friday's news.
In other event news, the Heroic and Gambit rivalry is looking like the Astralis vs. Natus Vincere one of old, with both sides looking good enough to challenge for titles for the rest of the year. However, don’t dismiss the latter two teams either, with both Astralis and Natus Vincere holding a top-five world ranking.
To round out this preview, it would be too perfect to have one of the North American sides surge in form suddenly and take the throne that Astralis has now left unattended... I am looking at you Team Liquid!