Last weekend's DreamHack Austin Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament seemed to be the precursor to DreamHack Tours, which takes place May 6-7 in Tours, France. With eight of the best teams gathering to fight for a $100,000 prize pool spread, there are an abundance of storylines to watch out for.
Misfits, for example, still need to prove they're relevant. Na`vi's upward trajectory is at risk of ending at the hands of lower-tier teams. Hellraisers want to prove their semifinal finish at Star Series wasn't a fluke. Heroic is on the upswing. Mousesports has a chance to show life without Nikola "NiKo" Kovač isn't so bad. EnVy has to show signs of life. Heroic wants to take the next step and become a top tier team.
And maybe most important, G2 still has something left to prove.
Who's afraid of G2 Esports?
There are a few factors to keep in mind before dissecting G2 Esports. First is the historical pattern with French teams in CSGO: Start off strong, peak in the first few events, decline step by step until irrelevance, begin the roster moves.
G2's recent form -- sluggish and unable to leverage wins over weaker opponents -- has been a cause for concern. At DreamHack Austin, G2 struggled to find its groove, often stringing together massive leads while completely unable to close out the game. This was an obvious problem against Cloud9, and it eventually led to G2's demise against Gambit. While Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Kenny "kennyS" Schrub's can open up rounds, the team as a whole remains inconsistent and unable to finish. The French squad is in dire need of patience, often giving up needless deaths and frequently losing rounds where it has the man advantage.
Fortunately, there's more to the story. The silver lining is G2 has only lost its best-of-three series to eventual winners Gambit and FaZe. And despite looking uncoordinated against FaZe, G2 managed to fight them off tit for tat, an impressive feat given FaZe's form in the final rounds of DreamHack Austin. It doesn't seem like G2's struggles are due to its shallow map pool; rather, its losses seem to stem from being outmatched in the server.
Posing a question for G2
However, while these forgiving statements might alleviate the burden of G2's failure, it certainly does not remove them. G2 was built on the expectation of greatness. Some of the most dynamic and storied players in Counter-Strike succeeded in uniting under a single roster, and G2 Esports is no different. Or at least, it should be no different. But while being unable to beat FaZe might be seen as a disappointment, losing to Gambit feels like failure.
While Gambit is strong, its results have proved that it cannot defeat the best. Facing them was a litmus test for G2, a necessary condition for their future success. If they cannot beat Gambit, how could they possibly hope to beat the world-class teams in Astralis, SK Gaming and FaZe?
Fortunately, G2 has a shot at redemption at the DreamHack Tours. It's likely to face off against the resurging Na`vi, who look much more improved after earlier struggles plagued the lineup. A win against Na`vi would cement G2's ability to compete with elite teams, and a win against Gambit would rebuild its confidence from the ground up.