All four CS:GO minors are done, and the team list is set for the FACEIT Major in London. Coming out of the minors, what are some key storylines that we can take away from this event?
NRG fails to qualify for the FACEIT Major
NRG was the obvious favorite for this event, and it was confirmed with a quick 2-0 in their group to advance to playoffs. Yet almost immediately, NRG lost to compLexity and got tossed to the lower bracket to play eUnited. Then disaster struck as NRG lost 2-1 and was officially eliminated from the minor. Most people would have thought that NRG was a “sure thing” after their solid performances at Starseries i-League season 5 and ECS Season 5 Finals, placing 2nd and 3rd/4th respectively. Now, however, it is unclear what the next step for NRG is, especially after vehemently stating that there will not be any roster changes for the foreseeable future.
Rogue looked… good?
Rogue looked surprisingly solid throughout this minor, although their qualification was a shock. Spencer “Hiko” Martin looked great, posting a 1.13 HLTV rating for the event. Not to be outdone, Casper “cadiaN” Møller boasted a 1.19 HLTV rating. While there were problem spots for Rogue tactically, they also have several strengths they can utilize going forward. Hiko and cadiaN have both been to majors previously, and they have a level of experience that they can utilize. If they can clean up their play, Rogue could very well scrape together three wins to become the upset team at the major. As for now, they looked good, but only against teams with very limited experience and prestige.
Hellraisers’s time to shine
Hellraisers looked a tier above the competition at the CIS Minor, as they should. Their lineup has been on a steady rise for the past three months, so it was not much of a shocker to see them qualify. Özgür “woxic” Eker was by far the best player at the event, dropping a 1.48 HLTV rating. In fact, he only dropped below a 1.15 rating once for the entire event. Issa “ISSAA” Murad was also stunning, giving HellRaisers a deadly one-two punch that none of the other teams at this event could handle. This is the perfect opportunity for HellRaisers to become a top team and make it far at the major.
The fight for second place
Any of the three other teams in the playoffs could have made it. AVANGAR had the misfortune of playing against HellRaisers and Spirit, and Pro 100 completely collapsed against Spirit in the final best of three. In the end, all these teams were reasonably similar skill-wise, with Spirit making it through. It is unlikely that Spirit makes it far, considering they are ranked 32nd in the world. However, Quantum Bellator Fire was ranked 76th when they became legends in Boston, so crazier things have happened.
The same two teams
Renegades and TyLoo making it through to the major shocked nobody. No other team at the event had anywhere close to the international experience as these two. However, it was a mild surprise that “the boys” won the minor over TyLoo. Both teams looked mortal, with Renegades losing to the rising Japanese team SCARZ Absolute in the group stage and then dropping a map to them in the lower bracket. TyLoo also looked pretty sketchy in most of their games (especially the final), but they were still able to sweep the upper bracket. I want to see TyLoo do well, but based on what they showed at this minor, I’m skeptical. Hopefully, both teams can clean up a lot of things during the break.
Ninjas in Pyjamas qualifies for the FACEIT Major
NiP has been absent from the majors since the middle of 2016, having failed to qualify ever since Vega Squadron bounced them out of the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta. Fans have been waiting for a long time for NiP to finally reach the biggest stage in Counter-Strike, and they did so in style, beating both ENCE and OpTic to win the minor. Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund had a much-needed positive event to regain his confidence after his disastrous 0.46 HLTV rating performance at ESL Cologne. If NiP is going to make it anywhere at the major, GeT_RiGhT needs to show up.
Can OpTic be a top team?
With Danish teams like North and Heroic going into a slump, OpTic Gaming showed a rare sight: promise. They were well structured and reasonably clean gameplay-wise. Now that they can spend time to refine their play during the break coming up to the major, OpTic has the potential to be a stable top 10 team. They have been able to control opposing star players and limit their enemies’ overall effectiveness on certain rounds. If things start to go OpTic’s way, I can imagine a world where they can challenge for legend status. On the flip side, their firepower can go completely absent at times. During the grand final of the minor, OpTic just didn’t hit the shots that they needed to, and that will need to change going forward. When they have to play real teams like Astralis or Team Liquid, we will really see what OpTic Gaming is made of.
This iteration of ENCE shows a massive amount of promise despite finishing 3rd in the European Minor. The 16-year-old Finnish rifler Jere “sergej” Salo caught some eyes with some beautiful rounds throughout the tournament. However, his lack of consistency got the best of him, and he ended the event with a 0.98 HLTV rating after getting blasted by NiP. ENCE was two wins away from qualifying for the FACEIT Major, despite being a reasonably new team. This team has a bright future, especially if players like sergej develop their skills further.
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