The Danes of North finally broke out of their prolonged slump, securing first place at this year’s DreamHack Tours event.
North have generally been down
North have been a perplexing team all year, with the questionable acquisitions of both Kjaerbye and mertz in place of cajunb and k0nfig leading to a general downturn. Coupled with the recent ascension of Astralis with Magisk, formerly of North and OpTic, North have continued to struggle to crack into the top tier of Counter Strike for most of the year.
Dust II a useful map
DreamHack Tours, however, presented a unique opportunity to both pick up a tournament win and gain some of their confidence and swagger back, with essentially a field of Tier 2 and/or 3 teams all with more weaknesses than strengths.
The opening map appeared to be more of the same from North though as they struggled out of the gates against little-known Imperial. With only three rounds secured in the first half, concern was already in full effect, yet North showed a mental fortitude that has been lacking for much of the year in their ability to remain calm and mounted a comeback for a 16-14 victory on the newest map to the pool; Dust II.
This was primarily off the best performing player for North in recent memory, valde, who dropped an absurd 35 kills in the 30 rounds of play.
North continue to roll
In the Group B Winners’ match, North once again found themselves on Dust II, this time against EnVyUs, who had utterly destroyed HellRaisers in their opening match.
North enjoyed a methodical and controlled victory though, defeating EnVy 16-8 and placing themselves into the semifinals, where they met Gambit Esports. This was an intriguing clash between two flawed teams, with North looking for the correct talent around solid fundamentals and tactics, while Gambit continue to change in-game leaders constantly in an attempt to find something that works.
North find Gambit a challenge
This series went largely to form, with each side opening up with a victory on their map pick. This saw Gambit win 16-13 on Train, before North answered back on Dust II 16-11.
This meant the series came down to Overpass, where North dominated the first half on the typically non-favoured T (terrorist) side 13-2. It was essentially all over from there, with North quickly closing out the map 16-5 for a spot in the Finals against HellRaisiers.
HellRaisers with momentum
HellRaisers had an incredibly odd path to the Finals, dropping their first match against EnVyUs before pulling off six straight victories with three clean 2-0s over Imperial, EnVyUs and GODSENT.
The Finals were fairly uneventful, with North snowballing two quality T-sided first halves on Mirage and Inferno into fairly comfortable 16-12 and 16-9 victories. North looked comfortable by the time the Finals had hit, controlling the tempo of the game and having surprisingly consistent output from the likes of Kjaerbye to compliment valde.
Valde the MVP
To the surprise of no one, valde received the MVP award as he continues his excellent form despite the occasional chaos and instability around him. The question for North now is what they were able to learn at this event in order to help them move forward, alongside a hope that this is the springboard for some much-needed momentum.
One note that could become crucial later is that North have shown an early willingness to play, and dominance upon, Dust II; a map many teams are happy to attempt, yet a map on which only a limited number of teams are confident. This could be the lynchpin for an improvement in North’s overall play, with the ability to leverage this new map into a more favourable map pool. Add in more consistency from the likes of mertz and Kjaerbye in order to assist valde and all of a sudden North could be on their way to becoming a top tier team again.