Round 3 of the New Challengers Stage marks the point where things get serious as the elimination matches kick in. Both the 2-0 and the 0-2 series are going to be best-of-three, with juicy barnburners on all sides of the bracket. North get a chance to avenge their loss in the Europe minor against CR4ZY, karrigan's mousesports can put down a marker against G2 while AVANGAR and Hellraisers will duke it out in a CIS showdown on day 2 of the StarLadder major.
G2 vs mousesports (15:30 CEST)
It's interesting that the bookies consider karrigan's men the favorites for the blockbuster matchup of the day if you consider how close they've cut it against AVANGAR and how shox and kennyS both seem to be online for G2. You could even make the argument that the Frenchmen had the tougher opposition so far in the bracket.
North vs CR4ZY (18:45 CEST)
This is going to a juicy rematch between two teams that already met up in the Europe minor where huNter- and co. managed to upset the odds on their way to securing direct qualification for this event. However, even with their impressive pedigree in the tier 2 circuit, it's likely that this is the first time they face top-tier opposition while actually being taken seriously – and the Danes should be ready for anti-strats this time around, and it seems crazy (pun intended) that the bookies consider CR4ZY the favorites for this one in a best-of-three.
Vitality vs DreamEaters (13:00 CEST)
Even though you're looking at teams on different sides of round one upsets, normal service seem to have resumed for both in the subsequent match. Not only is the skill gap massive between the two teams, but the world #2 are likely not going to make the same veto error they did against Syman Gaming. Best of one or not, we just can't see it happening again.
NRG vs Syman Gaming (13:00 CEST)
This has "upset potential" written all over it. Syman are still flying under the radar but they've established that they can play multiple maps on a level where they can challenge top ten sides. We've mostly gone for the favorites for this round but this is the one big exception.
FURIA vs forZe (14:15 CEST)
Well, forZe's win came against arguably the worst-performing team in the entire field and even though FURIA aren't firing on all cylinders just yet, the CIS side hasn't shown enough so far to suggest an upset result here.
AVANGAR vs Hellraisers (14:15 CEST)
It's a local derby, and those are always unpredictable, but AVANGAR were a lot more consistent across the two maps we've seen them play so far, and oskar has not bothered to show up for Hellraisers at all. AdreN and co. deserve the favorites' designation in our eyes.
Complexity vs Tyloo (15:30 CEST)
Even the bookies consider this one too close to call as it's very difficult to tell which team is ahead in this sad race to the bottom. They've posted 35 rounds across their four maps combined so far, signalling they're way behind the rest of the pack. We'll go with Tyloo just because their players likely have a higher individual ceiling, but this is essentially a coin toss of sadness.
Grayhound vs INTZ (18:45 CEST)
Though INTZ had awful showings so far, they at least have the excuse that they've run into top teams (North and Vitality). Grayhound can't even hide behind that, and neither their impending post-major roster change nor their previous international LAN showings inspire confidence.
Odds are, of course, subject to change.