With the qualification of NiP and Optic, we now know all the participants of the upcoming CS:GO major in London. Unsurprisingly, the old continent’s qualification process was the roughest of them all, with a whopping 1244 teams competing for the two slots available for the wannabe new challengers. It’s been a long and arduous process, but we can finally take stock of the entire tournament now that the battles of Twickenham are over and the smoke has risen.
LeftOut in the cold
It feels like this elimination marks the end of the road for the ex-EnVyUs line-up, which fell at the last hurdle despite their Cinderella-like story and performance at the CS:GO Asia Championships shortly before the minor. Despite the hype, they went out with a whimper rather than a bang, highlighting how important ScreaM’s world-class performance was for that deep run.
Was Happy the problem, as many have said throughout the years? It’s likely that this exact roster won’t stick around for long enough to answer that question The French scene still feels like its worst enemy, never fulfilling their undoubted potential. As the famous saying about the monkeys and the typewriters goes, they are guaranteed to find the optimal team setup at some point, even if it might only happen after the inevitable heat death of the universe.
As for the other team eliminated from group A, the only thing 3DMAX showed us is just how far the French are from the top overall, with the story of their coach maLeK especially highlighting a fall from grace, going from an unwitting stand-in at the Boston major to the grey eminence of a set of also-rans at the minor. As long as the qualification system remains untouched, it seems extremely unlikely that another French team beyond the already present G2 would be able to make it to the crown jewel of CS:GO events.
Poland and Sweden: old titans on different paths
While those who wish for another go by the venerable veterans of CS:GO can celebrate the qualification of Ninjas in Pyjamas after a long absence from the majors, the new venture of TaZ, one of the crucial members of the once-dominant Virtus.pro roster combusted spectacularly in the elimination match, crashing out of the event without winning a single map. Losing on Dust2 from a 15-6 lead against a team that has never played the map competitively before in its current iteration is inexcusable, and puts the Poles into the same awkward situation most minor participants are in: the team is certainly decent, and even the veteran performed adequately despite his IGL role, but their mixed recent results make it unlikely that they will ever be one of the two best European teams of the non-major participants.
As things stand, most of the other teams in the minor boast much higher potential – and with the national top spot wide open for the taking, it’s likely that a Polish shuffle could produce a strong team – however, it would be a real surprise if it featured more than one (or any?) of the world-conquering VP line-up from way back when.
Meanwhile, the ex-GODSENT team under the Red Reserve banner made a very good impression despite narrowly missing out on a playoff spot, giving two very good games to NiP, a team that still certainly have a set of their own issues despite winning the minor. Both the Swedish and the Danish rearguard have done well in the Twickenham Stadium, and with ENCE also overperforming recently, the north of Europe might be making a long-awaited comeback in terms of talent production.
The battle of past and future
It’s nice to have NiP back, but it really feels like more of the same with the team: as they are slowly but surely shedding their old core, seemingly in persistent transition, they’ve taken a risk by making Lekr0 their in-game leader for the first time at this event. It’s tough to tell where their ceiling is, as they’ve coupled way too many close calls and sometimes lackluster gun rounds with premium pistol work, struggling their way into the lower bracket final before switching gears and leaving both ENCE and OpTic in the dust.
Their game against the Finns certainly felt like a potential changing of the guard, one which was swiftly batted away by the Swedes. Still, as incredible GeT_RiGhT and f0rest were throughout their careers, and as well they’ve played in the latter portion of the event, it’s tough to imagine a permanent top ten placing for the Ninjas as long as they are still part of the roster. ENCE may have barely missed out on the promised land, but they certainly show an incredible amount of promise, and it would be very surprising if they weren’t once again there or thereabouts the next time, especially if sergej keeps up his unbelievable performances beyond the tender age of sixteen.
It’s also nice to see OpTic making a swift recovery from their infamous mixed roster not so long ago, and their heavy defeat in the final was fairly surprising if you consider how well they’ve done against the Swedes earlier on in the tournament. Based on what we’ve seen at the event, it’s definitely the two most deserving teams that made it to the major, but it would be tough to argue that some of the other qualifiers warrant their slot more than ENCE or even Sprout did based on play quality alone, a department in which this minor has clearly towered above the rest.
Reaching the top half of the New Challengers Stage isn’t out of the question for these teams with three of Boston’s Fallen – Gambit, Virtus.pro and Vega Squadron – clearly there for the taking. It’s tough to make a reasonable prediction about their chances with the chaos and unpredictability of the best-of-one Swiss system in mind, but if they manage to avoid some of the giants taking an unfortunate early loss, they might just make it beyond the first round to the stage where previous majors only got started.
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