Counter Strike Major Qualifier Preview
The Minor is a Mini Major?
There has never been a time where the best team in the world, according to the HLTV rankings, be able to compete in the upcoming Major. The minor system that has been used in the last 3 majors has been taken away and the idea that certain teams will qualify or are suppose to qualify to the major has been taken away. The last major had upsets that were not foreseen and has caused this minor to be the toughest of all time. There was at some point where teams like NiP, NV, G2, and in smaller ways C9 were almost a lock to be in the major. This is no longer the case.
The recent HLTV.org standings are 6 of the top 10 teams in the world that are competing for a minor spot. There are also 5 champions of what are considered major tournaments. Yet, we cannot guarantee any spots that are going to certain teams. Sure you might speculate that NiP and Dig are almost for sure going to pass to the Major, but this Swiss system that is put in place for the qualifier can be difficult. With this Swiss system being a bo1 (best of one) and a random team at all times able to counter-strat teams makes matters difficult. We have seen teams like Cloud9, Dignitas and Optic bomb out of groups at Dreamhack winter. So this parody that is going on in cs at the moment might show pop up its dirty little head and produce a team that is unexpected going to the next major.
Locks for the Major
With that being said, I do believe there are teams that will pass with little to no problem. The teams I foresee going through are Optic NiP, and Dignitas. These 3 teams have been the strongest coming into the minor. NiP has won 2 tournaments in the last 3 months (IEM Oakland and Starseries). They are the only team to have won twice in what is the parody era (no team, other than NiP, has won a Major event since the Last CSGO Major) in CS. They have won with and without a sub in their roster. This is considered the most experience team in CSGO besides Virtus Pro. With the rest that they have received should be ready for this tournament and be able to pass without a problem.
Dignitas has been on the rise as of late. They won one tournament and made several semi-finals runs since the last major. They have changed the lineup from the last major by replacing Tenski for what can be seen as one of the next superstars in Denmark Magiskb0y. Since that change they were able to win Epicenter Moscow even though they were put in a group with G2 NaVi and NiP. They were also able to defeat NaVi Fnatic and Virtus Pro in best of 3 to win the event. They have had a stretch of bad luck as of late with Dreamhack Winter, Eleague and ECS but nonetheless they have proven themselves a tough competitor and have shown that they are capable of getting through to the major.
Optic at the moment can be seen as the hottest team in all of CS. They have been to the finals of 3 of the last 4 tournaments they have participated in and have won 2 of them (Northern Arena and Eleague). There is no doubt that they are playing with confidence and they have proven time and time again that they will battle each team to the end. The run at Eleague was completely shocking as most people had them picked as going out in the quarter finals vs mousesports but instead they beat mouz 2-0, beat Faze 2-0 in the Semis and beat red hot Astralis (coming off victories against NiP and SK) 2-1 in the Finals. This run was unforeseen but as of late the tandem of Tarik, Naf-Fly and Mixwell are playing at a very high level and we should see them in Major.
More than Likely to the Major
There are teams that are still left in the tournament that I can say their skill and talent alone should get them to the Major. Some teams are producing better than others but nonetheless the talent alone and the BO1 style of the tournament should help these teams adjust fast and pass to the major. Those teams are Faze clan, EnVyUs, and G2.
Faze as of late has been something of a surprise to most. Most analysts believe that while the loss of a talent such as Jkeam the addition of Karrigan would be better in the long run. They have participated in many events since that addition and change of both Karrigan and Kioshima but have performed above expectations. They have always been regarded as a team with firepower but no structure. Even when they were first announced this team was considered one of the most talented lineups in CS but were unable to obtain results. Since the addition of Karrigan they have received more praise and have shown better results. They got through IEM without losing a single Bo1 and got through to the semifinals automatically. They have been able to get through groups because of Karrigan and while they still have a lot to prove before they are considered world beaters they should be able to muscle through to the Major.
EnVyUs is an interesting team as they have struggled to fine form since the Major in Columbus. They have struggled as they changed Kioshima for Devil and eventually Sixer for Devil. It seems like they are lost and are unable to show that fire power that they once had. As of late they have improved both online and offline as they are getting better results. They were able to reach the semifinals of ECS and also win the majority of games online to reach the ECS Finals. Though results haven’t been produced as of late the return of KennyS to form should be alarming to the teams. There are very few players in the world that are able to carry their team and lead them to victory and KennyS is one of them. Regardless of how the team is doing the fire power of KennyS, Apex, NBK and Happy to a degree should be able to get through to the major.
On the bubble
The final two spots are up for grabs for these next teams. There is no other team that is above the rest. There are some teams that have had success as of late, but they too have been inconsistent. All these team have speculator aspects to them. There is one that is more likely to rise above the rest, but I would still find it hard to put them in on the next level of most likely to get through.
G2 has the best all-around player in the world and that is why they should be able to get into the Major. Shox is by far the most all-around player in the world and only Niko of Mousesports can rival him. He is the IGL of G2 and plays multiple roles on the team. While the results have not come easy for G2, the fire power of that team exists. When G2 is at their best not even teams like SK, who at the time were unstoppable, could defeat them. They would just beat you out of pure skill and talent. RPK would be consistent, Scream would destroy everyone with crazy one taps and Shox would clutch rounds that should never be clutched. This team has a high ceiling of skill that everyone knows about and while they are not at their best, you know that their skill alone can carry them to the Major.
Cloud9 was the first team to accomplish a major tournament win in CS in about a decade when they won ESL Pro League in Brazil. They showed a lot of potential and promise after that tournament, but since that win things have snowballed downhill. They have not been out of group stages since the IBP Masters. They have finished last in 2 of the last 3 tournaments and they have yet to show life of it turning around. There is no doubt that they should be considered as the best in NA, but even then the rise of Optic has changed even that accolade. The way I see C9 getting through to the major is if they hit the ground running and stringing victories because if they don’t, they will tilt and wont show a comeback.
The team most likely to get through would be Immortals. It is based on how quickly they have adapted to Steels new style. While Zews was changed and was considered a good tactician, Immortals never seemed to buy into that system and suffered defeats that were considered unlikely. Since the change they have regain some of their form and managed to win IBP Masters against Cloud9. They are a team full of passion, brotherhood and a sense of never giving in to their opponent no matter who it may be. They have the fire power and the talent to get into the major, but they still have a lot to prove and they must show their full potential if they are to get to the major. While some of their players have participated in a major before this team has shown some lackluster performances and have been unable to get through in the major. This is their time to prove they are one of the best teams in the world and get into the major.
Godsent is a team that has championship pedigree. They have 4 players that have won CSGO majors (Flusha, Pronax, JW and Schnider). All this experience and a hopeful up and comer is what makes a team like this dangerous. Yet, with all this upside there is quite a bit of downside. Their most recent performances have not been up to par. When this team was created after the huge shuffle of Fnatic and Godsent people believed that Godsent got the better deal and fnatic would take longer for them to recover. While fnatic is going through a huge transition as well, godsent is struggling way more than that of fnatic. They barely were able to qualify for he minor against LDLC, the third best team in the French scene. If they manage to get through, they will need a return to form of JW as well as those top level form that people have come to know of Flusha. Flusha tends to show up in majors in the highest pressure situation and if Godsent is to succeed they must be very reliant on his performance.
Aussie Aussie Aussie…Oy Oy Oy? Can this rally cry help renegades reach their first major in over a year? Of course the cry is just the first part of it, as it hypes them ,but the team can improve by having some mild results. They are still not showing a high level of play that we expect from a major qualifying team. They are without a doubt a team with a high skill set, but have not shown it consistently and the only tournaments they reach finals are those in Asia where the skill level is less than that of NA let alone Europe. This team can produce some crazy upsets, but as a fan I can see them making teams uncomfortable and giving them fits.
Six months ago this team was on the up and up when they had just acquired a highly rated player in Oskar. Since that fallout of leaving Mousesports, this team has been on a downward spiral. They still have a highly talented individual in Niko and a player that seems to be at his peak in ChrisJ, yet results have not been happening. There was a time where Niko single-handedly carried Mouz to victory, but since the last major Nikos performance has dipped a bit and mouz has struggled in tournaments. They finished last at IEM Oakland with zero wins in group stages. That is a tie for last place with Tyloo and some would say that tyloo gave a better performance than mousesports. There is still ray of hope for mouz as all they need Niko to return to form as well as ChrisJ finding the same form that he had in Eleague Season 1, but while at the moment we do not see that happening in this age of CS you never know when a team might show up at this tournament.
Teams that are Huge Underdogs
There are teams here that I do not see coming out of the minor and reaching the major. 5 of these teams I almost deem lucky to even be apart of this minor. That is if it wasn’t for being apart of the last major or being apart of a weak region they would be no where near to being in this minor. There is doubt that I see in these teams inconsistency and a skill level that is below average, except for the off map or favorable match ups I see these teams failing and not even competing.
CLG is a team that used to be considered the 2nd best team in the NA scene and at one point the best team in NA by some experts. Yet since their magical run to the quarter finals of MLG Columbus this team has done nothing to cement their legacy. They have a lineup of Koosta, Hazed, Cutler, nahtE and Subroza. This team has participated in very little LAN events and when they do they are at lesser events and are unable to even get out of groups. They looked a bit better in ECS online portion of the season. but nothing that shows a great deal of potential. This team does not have a player they can rely on to dig deep and carry their team to victory. The reality is that the only upside to CLG is the unpredictability that they have, but other than that they are just a remnant of what they used to be .
A scene that is growing slowly and is trying t be the next Brazil is the Asian scene. As of now there are only two or three teams that dominate that scene. Renegades, Vici Gaming and Tyloo are the three teams that dominate this region. Tyloo at the moment is the best in that region, but while they produce the best results when they are invited to tournaments that can potential open the door they fall flat on their face. They have been in the United States boot camping for IEM Oakland and IBP Masters and while they were able to get out of IBP Masters by the grit of their teeth they were less fortunate at Oakland where they weren’t even to conjure up one map. They have not shown any glimmer of light since they got out of groups at Dreamhack Malmo. They are a team that have some upset potential, but they must have to be at their best in order to produce results at this minor.
Hellraisers have always been deemed an upset potential team and yes they have some players that are capable but they are rarely seen. The last two tournaments that i can remember Hellraisers have been apart of was Epicenter and European qualifier for the minor. While they might have over preformed by reaching the finals of the qualifier they still were unable beat Godsent. They also were able to split some maps off of Virtus Pro and Fnatic at epicenter but were still unable to get out of groups in that tournament. We actually don’t know what we are going to get out of Hellraisers with the addition of Deadfox to the team and the lack of tournaments they participate just like CLG they can surprise a team and win a match and cause a shake up.
Of the last two remaining teams that are involved in this minor I don’t know much about.
Both Vega Squadron and Team Spirit come from the CIS regional qualifier, and of the two teams that the only name is familiar is Davcoast of Team Spirit. I am only putting them in this category because we know nothing about them. We can say that about team Kaboom of old that had players like Fallen and Fer that came out and showed the world what they are capable of, but we don’t now what if at all these two teams will produce results and like all of these teams in this category the lack of knowledge of play style and of strategy can become a benefit.
One thing we have seen since the end of last CSGO Major is that we must expect the unexpected and with the time of parody we can assume this minor is expected to be the most exciting we have seen. As previously stated, most of these teams have been seen as regulars at the major and they wouldn’t be caught dead in the qualifiers. Now there is nothing predicting outcome of any tournament. The time for this minor has finally come and everyone had hoped that parody would be straightened out, but it hasn’t so as I said time and time again there is an air of unpredictability that not even the experts can understand.