Top 5 Storylines at DreamHack Winter
I feel like every one of these starts with me asking if people are excited to see me. Of course you guys are! Right? Maybe you are more excited to see the DreamHack Winter event, and that's ok...
DreamHack Winter has been always an iconic event in esports, hosting a medley of competitive titles in the heart of Sweden. This is Overwatch’s first year at the event, and while we currently only know 4 of the 8 teams competing, there is a lot riding on winning this event. Let’s check out some of the storylines I think you should be following.
1. Life After
Breakups are messy. You build something up for months, only to have it fall apart when one of you decides to change the way the roll of toilet paper faces.
While the reasons may be more complicated than bathroom habits, both Fnatic and Misfits will be debuting new significant others for this clash in the north. The most notable is André “iddqd” Dahlström’s departure from Fnatic after the team cited compatibility issues. Replacing him will be former Project X and NWA player, Hafficool. At face value, Hafficool brings with him a very large hero pool, emphasizing a comfortable Genji and a pocket Hanzo. The diversity in the champions will give Hafficool the ability to adapt quickly to the surrounding team, who may be more set in their roles. However, Hafficool has not shown a McCree during his time with NWA, and buds seems to have significant overlap with the new addition to the team. This lack of a true hitscan player may leave Fnatic wishing for iddqd back, as the meta has since shifted to include a strong Soldier 76.
While Fnatic has had more than ample time to incorporate their new beau into the fold, Misfits faces a more pressing substitution. Less than a week before the event, flex player, KryW, indicated he would be going on hiatus from the team, amidst clashes with other team members. Misfits picked up former Anox support, Cooller, to supplement the roster, moving Zebbosai into the flex role. While recent role changes have proven to be very fruitful, transitioning a new Lucio into the lineup is always an extremely difficult process involving changing the team communication dynamic. Of course, if history has taught us anything, Misfits’ support changes often lead to positive results, with their last change resulting in the Overwatch Open title.
It’ll be up to these two new candidates to prove their worth in a very competitive free agent market.
2. NiP Magic
NiP.CSGO just came off a thrilling victory over the last Major winners to claim the IEM Oakland trophy. Now NiP.OW has the opportunity to do the same. As one of the most consistent teams in the European scene, the Ninjas in Pyjamas come to DreamHack with nothing more to prove. However, they will have a lot to lose. While their top competitors have been duking it out in Korea, NiP has sadly been left to their own devices in the lonely European landscape. Their domination in the Alienware Monthly Melee was impressive, but at the same time expected. In a world without Rogue and Envy, the Ninjas face the unique problem of demonstrating exactly how good they are compared to their opponents. Since MLG Vegas is a North American exclusive event, DreamHack Winter will be the first of two remaining international tournaments showcasing the Finnish talents. Losing here would put everything NiP has achieved in the past two months in question and, with the Overwatch League looming over the rest of the competitive calendar for 2017, NiP might not have the time to ever make it to the top. Winning here won’t do anything for NiP’s European Ranking, but it would silence a lot of the doubts in their heads.
3. It's a little complex...
When ranking North American teams, no one really seems to know where to put compLexity. A combination of missing out on the Overwatch Open and the Blizzcon break has limited our sample size for recent performances. The story of compLexity has been their tremendous swings in performance throughout their time as a team. Their victory over Immortals in October’s Carbon Masters is tapered by their first round loss to Faze at the MGA NA qualifiers. No one questions compLexity’s skill cap, but taking home some hardware would cement them in the upper echelon of the wild, wild North American scene. Keep an eye out for flex, Harbleu, as his Roadhog pocket pick might be the deciding factor against some of the more formidable teams in the bracket.
4. Come in Captain Kirkbride
After literally tens of Reddit threads calling for the inclusion of the Midwest’s best Overwatch caster, we finally get to see the LAN debut of Hexagrams. As one of the best native Overwatch commentators, Hexagrams’ debut to the scene also reunites one of the top casting pairs on the circuit. Hex’s bountiful game knowledge, coupled with a familiarity of player histories, makes him one of the most insightful analysts in Overwatch. Fans will be delighted by the return of great sell-out skills and enjoyable banter on the desk, but the story extends far beyond just this event.
With the announcement of Blizzard’s Overwatch League, Blizzard has been very quickly gathering the best content creators and resources to support the development of their esports nest egg. Depending on Hex’s performance on the big stage, he may draw enough attention to be considered for more opportunities in the future. As one of the last true homebrew stories in esports, Hex’s ascension from GosuGamers Weekly caster to a possible role in the development of Overwatch in the future would be a wonderful narrative. As a fan and a friend, I cannot help but keep my eyes on this rising star.
5. Sorry, this party is BYOC
One of the defining features of this year’s tournament at DreamHack is the BYOC tournament qualifier. While the tournament will feature eight total teams, only four teams have been invited, with the rest of the lineup to be decided with an on-site qualifier. Teams from all over have the opportunity to bring their own computers to the event and compete for a place in the main event. While this definitely is the first qualifier of its kind in Overwatch, a strong showing from the audience teams might promote further opportunities for open qualifiers in major tournaments.
Overwatch, since the start, has been a game for the average human. Many of our first tournaments had open qualifiers, giving even the pick-up team from your block the opportunity to compete with the big names. Some of these teams have faded from memory, but some have gone to achieve greatness.
Who can forget Graviton Surge or SG-1, who made their names on the GosuGamers Weekly circuit? Who can ignore the impact of NWA on the European landscape?
My hope is Overwatch will forever remain a beacon of hope for the Krusher99’s of the world, who have the dedication and commitment to pursue their dream to the zenith of the competitive world. So I implore you: if you have time this weekend and find yourself around Jonkoping, gather up some of your friends and participate. Who knows, maybe you’ll find yourself on one of these lists someday.
What are your storylines for DreamHack Winter? Do you agree with what I have outlined? Regardless, let us know in the comments about your thoughts for the tournament!
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