The tournament calendar rolls on after a packed September: next up for our betting fans is to bet on StarSeries & i-League Season 6, once again taking place in Kiev featuring an interesting posse of participants and a revised format. While many of the big boys opted to skip this event, tournaments like BLAST’s Istanbul outing showed that this doesn’t have to come at a cost of entertainment value: in fact, it’s a great opportunity for those perennially stuck in the heavyweights’ shadow to finally rise and shine.

You’re not the same anymore

The recent seasons of StarSeries & i-League featured a best-of-three Swiss bracket in the group stage, a mind-blowingly intensive format chock full of games that made the upset wins all the more impressive. You can expect things to be more chaotic this time around as the opening portion of the event will now only feature single-map clashes much like the recent majors, which will likely led to a ton of upsets early on, especially considering the many participants that are flying under the radar. The playoffs will feature the familiar best-of-three matches up until the final, which will be played in a best-of-five format. It will be interesting to see whether such a long match can be as exciting with lower-quality teams as it was recently at New York.

Only one of the top five teams in the world made it to the tournament, their spots taken by many of the DreamHack Open circuit’s familiar faces. Fragsters, The Imperial, North, Gambit, ENCE: this is probably one of their best chances to make a big mark on the field.  The exception to this is mousesports: they return to perhaps their favorite hunting ground as unlikely champions of ESL One New York, fresh off a shock victory in a stacked invitiational. Despite all their recent troubles, they clearly enter this event as the favorites based on the rankings and the quality of personnel available to them: it will be interesting to see how they will cope with the undoubted attention they will receive from their opponents. Their first game will pit them against Sprout, and one has to wonder whether the major’s demons were to come back to haunt them in case of an upset defeat.

Mousesports at ESL One New York

The American civil war

An exciting subplot of the event is the meeting of NRG and compLexity, two of the up-and-coming rosters of the North American region: it was widely considered a travesty that FugLy and co. didn’t get to compete at the major despite constantly improving offline showings and a top ten spot in the rankings, but it’s safe to say that this compLexity side has proven that their triumph in the minor was no fluke: they’ve given a fantastic account of themselves over the course of an unexpected journey all the way to the New Champions Stage, guaranteeing a return to Katowice and quite the grudge match over here – lest we forget, NRG made it to the finals of this tournament the last time around, even if they had a slightly skewed playoff bracket to thank for it.

Specifically, the battle of the two AWPers should be the most juicy one if the two teams were to meet up directly during the tournament: CeRq and ShahZaM have both been in excellent form recently and will likely play an integral part in their teams’ success or failure at the event.

NRG at ESL One New York

BIG trouble in little Kiev?

It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly gob b and co. stand right now: there are persistent rumors about smooya’s dissatisfaction in the lineup, and while they did manage to make top eight once again at the major, they offered almost no resistance against Na’Vi, losing in the most one-sided playoff match in the history of the competition. Based on potential and rankings, they should be there or thereabouts at the business end of this tournament, but it’s difficult to be sure: they haven’t participated in that many events over the course of the last six months and their HLTV position is heavily bolstered by their Cinderella run at ESL One Cologne. Still, the significantly lessened quality of this field should suit them very well judging by the way they’ve blazed through the Swiss stages of the FACEIT major.

HellRaisers are in a similar situation as well: they made it to the playoffs at the major without beating a single top ten team during the tournament and now they’re once again in an environment that should suit their skillsets well – despite all the hype, they haven’t really managed to make deep runs or get big scalps in any other tournament recently, so a good result here could be fairly important for them. They are not the only ones who could use a strong performance here: the stock of North and OpTic have both fallen heavily after their recent showings, and this could be just the right opportunity for them to make a good impression.

The tournament will also provide us with the first glimpse of the new-look Renegades, fresh off the arrival of liazz and Gratisfaction. It’s a move long overdue for a roster that never managed to elevate themselves to the next level, and it will be interesting to see how they will stack up against their long-standing regional rivals TyLoo.

Ghosts in the night

Vega Squadron are actually playing Counter-Strike outside of a major! This spectacle should make the event a ton of fun just by itself as the MAC-10 rushes repeatedly light up the scoreboard. They should still be considered a mostly unknown quantity – much like CyberZen, the second Asian qualifier for the tournament. In fact, the event has its fair share of mysterious challengers for the casual viewer – and interesting betting opportunities follow in their wake –: Fragsters and The Imperial have both done fairly well in the DreamHack Open circuit recently and the former has also made it to the semis of the recent Games Clah Masters LAN in Poland – much like NRG and many other teams, it will be interesting to see how they will cope with the busy schedule.

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