Unlike the previous majors using a Swiss group stage format, FACEIT London will feature a best-of-three series on the final day to separate the wheat from the chaff, and we’ve got three fascinating matchups to look forward to today in the CS:GO Major New Challengers Stage.

Team Spirit versus TyLoo (11:00)

The opening matchup of Day 5 is probably the least exciting from a Western audience’s standpoint but there’s more to it than meets the eye. This really is a Cinderella run from Team Spirit all the way from the qualifiers – lest we forget, they were nowhere near a lock-in to beat out both pro100 and AVANGAR for second place and they also gave HellRaisers a really good game in the final –, and they were unfortunate enough to run into Astralis in the 2-1 bracket. If the CIS team manages to make it to the New Legends Stage, it would cap off a series of impressive showings.

They are not to be counted out of this one either, especially if you consider TyLoo’s lackluster

performances so far in the event: they’ve only managed to beat out a collapsing Gambit and their regional rivals in the form of Renegades (a team that has failed to make it to the last 16 seven times in a row), and even though they’ve pushed OpTic to the brink on Inferno, it told us more about the Danes’ inability to close out the game than anything else. Speaking of which, the Asian roster played the map three times out of the four rounds so far, and while we know their Mirage is excellent, one has to wonder whether Team Spirit can find some sort of additional edge in the veto process.

Team Spirit FACEIT

OpTic versus BIG (14:00)

Technically, all three Danish teams present for duty are still with a chance to qualify for the New Legends Stage of the FACEIT Major – but it’s safe to say that only Astralis have impressed so far. OpTic’s inconsistency continues, if not in terms of results, then performance: after being the most impressive team in the European minor, they were an absolute disappointment at ZOTAC Cup Masters – though a defeat to Ghost looks a lot less embarrassing in retrospect – and they’ve also failed to make a mark at Stockholm as their sole victory over Fnatic seems more like an indictment of the Swedish side than a proof of the Danes’ true capabilities.

So far, they’ve posted expected results in London but digging into their performances tells a more worrying story: losing to the clearly superior Team Liquid is no major concern, but only managing four rounds against them is. Similarly, scoring a win against the ailing Virtus.pro is the least you would expect, but giving them thirteen rounds when NiP and North only offered up five and six respectively is also not a good sign. Beating TyLoo is the least you would expect with the firepower available to you, letting it stretch into quadruple overtime after establishing a 10-2 lead early on in the game is anything but. You could also argue that the close loss to HellRaisers who have struggled to squeak past North and Gambit even with woxic in the lineup – again in a game that went all the way to triple overtime – was worse than what this team is capable of, meaning none of their results really paint their tournament performance in a good light just yet.

They are not alone with this though: considering the opposition they’ve faced so far, BIG’s 2-2 record has got to be considered a disappointment. While compLexity’s qualification was clearly the stage’s great upset so far, tabseN and co. really should have managed to push past them on Inferno of all maps, and you could perhaps say the same about their close defeat to Vega Squadron too. To be fair, they’ve done admirably well in the few best-of-three series we’ve got to see them in recently, and you can’t help but wonder whether they’ve actually got more of a big-game experience as a roster right now despite some of the veterans available to OpTic. Whichever team manages to clean up their act the most will make it through – this one is about the floor, not the ceiling.

tiziaN and smooya BIG

Vega Squadron versus North (17:00)

No matter the performances, Vega Squadron would have ended up as the surprise package of the New Challengers Stage either way: it’s a well-documented fact that the team has gone on a massive hiatus since Boston, and they’ve surprised everyone with their blistering start here in London, going 2-0 after two rounds relying on their trademark explosive Counter-Strike. A bit of a reality check followed with a defeat to Team Liquid – tough they have once again given a very good account of themselves, pushing one of the best teams in the world to overtime – before once again losing in extra innings to compLexity.

One has to wonder whether fatigue is setting in for the CIS side: beyond the event’s more than fair share of technical issues slowing everything down, they have played at least thirty rounds in every single match so far, winning 16-14 against Team Spirit before playing three overtime games in a row. One has to wonder how they will be able to cope in a best-of-three series with few to no competitive performances throughout the last few months – especially when they were “rewarded” for their top-seed status by a match against the team with the most pedigree out of the remaining ones in the event – at least on paper.

North could conceivably end up as one of the few teams that managed to run up the score from 0-2 down and make it through to the New Legend Stage: of course, the last ones to do that were Cloud9, who have gone on to great things at Boston. However, you can’t help but feel that a serious step up is needed from the surprise winners at Stockholm who have barely made it past an impressive Rogue in their elimination match and are yet to post a strong performance in London.

It’s a nice and positive development that the final decider matches are expanded to a best-of-three format, giving an extra edge to the sides with a deeper map pool and higher veterancy. We also rarely get to see teams like this participate in such extended series, which should make for an interesting viewing experience in the Twickenham Stadium.

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North wins Stockholm Masters