After an embarrassing defeat at the hands of Astralis during Europe’s first Road to Rio tournament, G2 gets a lucky draw at DreamHack Masters Spring. It will face off against North, a team that will play without one of their best veterans in Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye. With Kjaerbye set to miss an indefinite amount of time due to health problems, the beaten and battered G2 should have an easy match to start DH Masters Spring.
It’s hard to tell what effect G2’s 3-0 loss to Astralis will have on the team, but there are few positive points to take away from the blink-and-you-missed-it match. G2 standout Nemanja “nexa” Isaković struggled along with the rest of his team against the Danes, but this should be his bounce-back game.
nexa is quietly turning into one of Counter-Strike’s unsung heroes, resembling Team Liquid‘s Keith “NAF” Markovic more and more with each passing match. He very rarely gets the credit, but his consistent output provides a strong foundation for a G2 team that hasn’t been able to count on star AWPer Kenny “kennyS” Schrub of late.
Taking the Road to Rio’s grand finals out of the equation, nexa isn’t just in-game leading at a high level, he’s fragging at a clip that would draw favorable comparisons to Astralis’ Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander. There is one problem, however. Kenny is a notoriously emotional player, and G2’s loss to Astralis is likely to hit him hard. There’s no doubt that he’ll be able to push through it come G2’s matchup against North, but it’s a factor worth noting.
North’s match against G2 is going to be a sneak peek into what fans and bettors can expect from North in the near future, especially with Kjaerbye’s return date uncertain. All eyes will be on his replacement, Kristoffer “kristou” Aamand and how he performs under the metaphorical bright lights of DreamHack Masters Spring.
The 18-year-old is lucky. His debut is the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive version of a soft-opening, and he’ll face down a titan of CS like KennyS from the comfort of his own home instead of on a stage. This has the potential to foster solid play from Kristou as he settles into what is probably a daily Counter-Strike routine, but it could also have the exact opposite effect. The young player is stepping into some big shoes without an extended period of time under North’s IGL Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen, which could spell trouble. He might not have actually met any of his teammates in person before North gets into action.
That said, MSL is considered a veteran for a reason. He’ll likely use Kristou loosely, setting him up with a “do you” script while North’s remaining four work around their new fifth.
It’s not a bad strategy to use against a well-known opponent. Team Liquid used a similar strategy against Astralis after Jacky “Stewie2k” Yip’s addition, famously winning their first best-of-three against the Danish team all the way back during iBuyPower Masters 2019. If Kristou can find even the smallest amount of comfort on the server tomorrow, he should do fine.
But that doesn’t mean that this is a surefire win for either team. Despite a head-to-head record that strongly favors G2, North managed to take their last matchup 2-1 only eight days ago. While all the stats point towards a G2 win, this is very much in North’s wheelhouse. And with Winners.bet setting the odds for the matchup at G2’s 1.28 to North’s 3.30, there’s a solid opportunity to recoup any Road to Rio losses. If players aren’t willing to take the upset, there is still every reason to believe that North can cover. Four out of five contests between the two teams have been decided by four rounds or less. Finally, a flyer on an even final round count is worth it for players looking for a safer alternative. Once again, four out of five matches between North and heroic have ended with an even number of rounds played.
G2 versus North kicks off tomorrow’s DreamHack Masters Spring at 11:30 a.m. EDT.