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To Kill a Giant: A DreamHack Tours primer

by Josh Bury May 11 2016
Thumbnail image courtesy of Scott Choucino / Blizzard Entertainment

The field of competitors at DreamHack Tours will be vastly different from that of the first EU Summer Regional in Leicester. Besides roster changes to some of the region's top teams, there are some new names among the challengers.

What hasn't changed are the region's frontrunners. Despite the recent warrior swaps between Team Dignitas, Fnatic and the ex-Natus Vincere roster now known as teh89, these teams remain the favorites to win the weekend.

Team Dignitas is a giant, and their recent addition of Alex "AlexTheProG" Grumstrup will likely only make them stronger. But will they persevere in the short term, or will they need some time to adapt? Here's an idea of what to expect when Europe's best hit the stage at Tours.

Team Dignitas: TheProG arrives

Dignitas's latest addition has a number of implications for the event. Firstly, as a result of the roster move, Jerome "JayPL" Trinh will move to the flex position. JayPL is a strong mechanical player, and may even slot in as warrior in some compositions.

Team captain James "Bakery" Baker has already said on Twitter that he is not worried about JayPL's swap to flex. "I have never had more faith in someone`s ability to role swap," he wrote after the trade was announced.

It's no secret that the player Alex is replacing, Jonathan "Wubby" Gunnarsson, brought some strong shotcalling and draft contributions to Dignitas. Bakery has further confirmed that Alex will take over shotcalling duties for the roster. How the team copes with the changes will be an interesting storyline to follow.

Thankfully for the team, they don't have to win this tournament to qualify for the Summer Global Championship at DreamHack Summer, since they won the first Regional — so there is a distinct lack of pressure to dominate all their opponents right out of the gate. Instead, they can focus on building team chemistry, learning to play with Alex's style and figuring out their new dynamic in drafting and shotcalling.

While the move could potentially mean a short-term drop in performance, it promises long-term gains. Alex has been one of the world's strongest warrior players for some time, and if he can gel here, this could be the strongest Team Dignitas roster to date.

Likely, it won't take Dignitas too long to adjust to Alex. Another first-place finish is potentially in the cards.

teh89 (ex-Na`Vi): Ride or die

Named after a Natus Vincere superfan, the dropped roster of Na`Vi has recruited Lawrence "Atheroangel" Harper to replace AlexTheProG at the warrior position.

They now face a similar dilemma to Dignitas: they need to build chemistry around a new shotcaller, but with a tighter timeline and harsher consequences for failure. They need to take first at this tournament if they want to head to DreamHack Summer, and they face a stacked group made up of Dig, mYinsanity and Never Lucky.

The good news for the team is that between their members, they possess a ton of competitive experience. Matic "Zarmony" Mikec has moved around the scene a lot, playing for many different teams, and Ivan "Sportbilly" Koturic has also spent time on a number of rosters since the collapse of Team ROCCAT. Aleksandar "ethernal" Milanov remains one of the region's scariest melee/flex players.

If they can put the pieces together quickly, they could knock out either mYi or the new Dignitas to make it to the playoff bracket. But time isn't on their side.

mYinsanity: A horse of a distinct shade

It seems like every LAN event for mYi is preceded by a sub-par online performance, but they inevitably show up to play at the tournament. Fans should expect nothing less here.

Though they are part of the Group of Death, both of their rivals are facing changes. This may be their best shot in recent memory to take it all: mYi remains the same team that has gone on deep tournament runs, and they've even added Oskar "Jowe" Halamus as a coach.

Online qualifiers for this event saw them fall 2-1 to Team Liquid and then 2-0 to Fnatic before finally clinching their spot at the Final Qualifier against Never Lucky. If this team wasn't mYi, that would be a huge cause for concern, but this is a pattern that's been repeated for months.

Though they've become the perennial runners-up, with Grand Finals losses at both Leicester and Katowice, mYinsanity has always been a team that opponents underestimate at their own peril. If mYi qualifies for a LAN event, they are a legitimate threat there.

Fnatic: Fully Swedish at last?

Atheroangel is no longer with Fnatic, and that means a replacement. The team have yet to announce who it will be, but the most likely candidate is Wubby, who would not only complete a fully-Swedish roster, but fits the needed warrior role and can shotcall if needed.

The team added a coach before the last regional at Leicester and emerged 3rd-4th after falling to mYinsanity. It isn't a poor result, but it also wasn't any improvement over a similar finish at Katowice. The bottom line is that Fnatic has yet to prove that they can defeat top teams reliably at LAN events.

On the other hand, many of the teams they'll be facing have a recent roster change to contend with. There's an opening for Fnatic to make a run, but they will likely be tested early, since they face Team Liquid in Group B.

Team Liquid: Unto the breach

At least in the short term, Team Liquid may gain the most from all the roster swaps — because they've had none of their own.

Liquid had flashes of brilliance at Leicester. And though they lost to mYi in the group stage and eventual winners Team Dignitas in the semifinals, it could be argued that Liquid were still adapting to the addition of Arturs "bkbgrnrjefek" Hlibovs.

That argument won't fly at Tours. Liquid has a clear path to the playoff bracket, and anything less than a semifinal appearance would be a disappointment for a squad this talented — especially given their rivals are fresh from roster changes.

It felt wrong to call mYi the dark horse this time around, since they've demonstrated that LAN events are their territory and, well, Liquid's logo is a horse. Expect a strong performance from this squad.

The Rest: Murlocs, memes and chips

It's been eight months since the all-French Evil Murkies have made it to the group stage of an official Blizzard tournament, but the murlocs will have home-team advantage at Tours.

Even if fans are not familiar with their previous appearances during the Europe Opens before BlizzCon, one name may stand out: Anthony "Danatan" Lossec, a noted high-MMR player who also spent some time with Na`Vi. In Group B, the Murkies will likely need to defeat either Fnatic or Liquid to advance.

The bizarrely named "put it in the chips" features some players who are well-known in the scene. Alexander "Remmerballer" Remmerswaal and Christopher "chriZplosion" Zerbe both played for MeetYourMakers and TCM-Gaming. Molnár "Holocarantus" Zoltán also played with TCM, and spent time with Mozzarella Break and Kappa123 before that. Vladislav "Neon" Zelinsky was a recent member of Virtus.pro, while Mark "Linked" Sepec's history in the scene extends back to the original SK Gaming squad and the first Team Dignitas roster that disbanded in July 2015.

Finally, Never Lucky features both Marcin "Wolfz" Radzewicz, who had a short-lived stint with Na`Vi, and Lampi, who was part of the rebuilt Team Sandwich Monkeys that formed after the first roster disbanded. We'll be watching to see if either of these new teams can make something happen at Tours.

Josh "Gauntlet" Bury really wants to understand what the chips are and why something is being put into the chips. You can find him on Twitter.

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