In the opening contest of the DreamHack Masters Malmö quarterfinals, the tournament's biggest surprise up to this point, TyLoo, faced off with Na`Vi, whose star player Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács was back on the server after getting his elbow treated by doctors mere days ago.
It was the first of four quarterfinal matchups on the fourth day of action at DreamHack Masters Malmö, setting the stage for an exciting day of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive action -- and by the close of Saturday's play, four teams had punched their tickets to the semifinals.
Winning both pistol rounds on inferno allowed TyLoo, the Chinese team that was attending its first international tournament ever, to keep the map competitive. In the end, though, Na`Vi closed it out 16-10, with four straight round wins on the defensive.
The second map was far more one-sided. Despite Na`Vi starting on the harder terrorist side of mirage, it kept racking up rounds -- and TyLoo lost its only chance to get back in the game early on when Denis "seized" Kostin won a key one-on-one clutch on an anti-eco round. GuardiaN, Na`Vi's Slovakian star, had not played Counter-Strike since the MLG grand final to let his arm rest, but the layoff seemed to have little effect as he closed out the series with an AWP ace in the B bombsite, a win on mirage 16-2 to clinch the series 2-0, and finished the two maps with a combined 1.36 rating and a +12 kill-death difference.
Next up was a showdown between dignitas, who missed out on MLG Columbus, and EnVyUs, the Frenchmen who failed to make it out of the group stage there. Dignitas had a good start on inferno, where its young star Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye led the way as the Danes put up a solid 10-5 lead at half on defense, with strong banana control to thank for most of it. Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen's leadership was not enough to power dignitas to a strong offensive half, however, as EnVyUs, led by Vincent "Happy" Cervoni Schopenhauer, simply shut its opponents out, winning the second half 11-2 and gaining a 1-0 map lead on its own pick.
The decider in this series, the second map, could be summed up in six letters: kennyS. Kenny "kennyS" Schrub, the AWPer who was formerly considered the world's best player, scored three pistol round headshots to win EnVyUs a three-on-five situation, then aced the Danes on their save round and completely annihilated his opponents throughout the half. In the end, the Frenchmen led 14-1 at half, and soon closed out the series with a 2-0 win with kennyS on top of the scoreboard with a whopping total of 34 kills in 24 rounds -- good for a 2.31 rating; that's roughly double that of the world's best players' typical ratings.
Markus "pronax" Wallsten and GODSENT played in the only match of the day that required all three maps to decide the victors against mousesports. The opener was cache, mouz's pick, where its often-invisible-offline star player Johannes "nex" Maget likely had his career-best game at a large event, finishing with a 26-9 K-D difference. Notably, nex has previously stated he does not enjoy playing in front of large crowds, practically the polar opposite of most top players, so a solid performance here could possibly signal he's bound for better play at such arenas in the future. After eight rounds as counter-terrorists, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač s highlight-worthy pistol round got mousesports an early lead in the second half, and it would win eight straight to close out the opening map.
NiKo's team started inferno up 4-0, but then won just one of the next nine games. GODSENT led 8-7 at half, a similarly close score to the one posted on cache, but again the second half was much more one-sided. This time it was GODSENT, led by strong play from its two stars -- Simon "twist" Eliasson, who turned down an offer to join NiP for this year, and Andreas "znajder" Lindberg, who won the first ever CS:GO major when representing fnatic. In front of a large home crowd that clearly had a favorite, pronax's team tied the series at one, giving GODSENT exactly what it wanted -- a third map, and a chance of advancing to the semifinals.
Once again the map's first half was very back and forth, with neither team having a clear edge. But this time around it was pronax and GODSENT who came out on top with a 8-7 scoreline, just as they had on the second map, on the harder side of the map. Much like the first two maps, the winner of the opening half came out on top in the end -- though a couple of incredibly close rounds towards the end, with mousesports down to low money, nearly cost GODSENT its tournament life. The top performer in the final map was Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson, the newcomer of the team, who proved his value and helped send GODSENT on to the semifinals.
The fourth and final match of the day was not only the one most fans around the world looked forward to the most, but also the one that the crowd most certainly wanted to see the most. From the get-go, it was clear Ninjas in Pyjamas had the most supporters in Malmö, and the team made sure everyone would know that throughout the showdown with Virtus.pro -- even those of us watching from home. Led by coach Björn "THREAT" Pers and the new tactics that have made NiP one of the world's best cache teams, the Swedes put up a 12-3 first half lead as terrorists, prompting Luminosity's leader Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo to tweet that he was going to add some of NiP's new tactics to the team's arsenal. In its usual fashion Virtus.pro mounted a massive comeback, but f0rest's strong performance was enough to clinch the opener 16-12.
Once again on train, the Swedes started off strong, opening a 10-2 lead as terrorists before a couple of round wins from Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas' team at least made the second half quasi-competitive. Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund's triple kill on pistol round effectively put NiP up 13-5, but once more Virtus.pro clawed its way back. Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski's strong play allowed Virtus.pro to win six of the next eight, making it 12-15, but in the final round Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi was able to get a clean shot on Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski in what wound up being the deciding one-on-one -- giving NiP a 2-0 win, and its first semifinal spot in a large tournament in months; in fact, its first since DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, which took place in early November.
Sunday is the final day of action at DreamHack Masters Malmö, featuring all of the semifinals and grand finals action. Na`Vi kicks off the day's action against EnVyUs, with the other semifinal featuring an all-Swedish match-up between NiP and GODSENT -- guaranteeing a home-field advantage for one of the participants in the grand finals. The final two teams close out the tournament Sunday night, determining the champions of DreamHack Masters Malmö and the winners of the $100,000 first place prize.