The second stage of the major is upon us, and with it, the playoff participants of Katowice are ready to join the party. Historically, the teams that made it through the gauntlet of the New Challengers Stage tend to cause upsets in the early rounds due to having already been battle-tested, but could the gap be too big this time around for such results to occur? Read on to find out what our predictions are.
It’s no longer so EZ for ENCE and they’ve opted for a roster change after the major to shake things up: while the move was fairly unexpected for the wider community, it speaks of internal issues for the Finnish side. That said, AVANGAR had impressive performances in the early rounds of the New Challengers Stage, even if they fizzled out towards the end and barely made it across the finish line, but we can see them snatching an upset win here in a best-of-one.
The Danes are very much an unknown quantity coming into this event with very little LAN presence during and after their BLAST-ridden controversial period. Whether they’ve managed to find their footing since then remains to be seen. There’s a good argument to be made that many teams adapted the gameplay tactics that pushed them to the top, and even though DreamEaters beat the two highest-rated teams en route to the New Legends Stage, this should be a bridge too far.
Though the Aussies made top eight at Katowice for the first time and posted a few impressive results elsewhere in the circuit as well, it retrospect it seems like that grace period was mostly due to jks’ strong individual performances rather than anything else. With little to show since those days and coming in cold for this match, tarik @ co. seem like worthy favorites for this one.
As impressive as CR4ZY’s been recently, no one managed to stop Liquid since Katowice and we can’t see it happening just yet either.
This is the only matchup of day 1 featuring two teams from the New Challengers Stage duking it out against one another, and the HLTV matchups don’t tell the whole story. Only ZywOo and NBK- showed up for Vitality who barely made it through the first stage, somehow even managing to drop their own map pick to Grayhound in the 2-2 bracket. There’s a reason why the odds are very close for this one, and we’re going with North to follow up on their 3-1 record with another win.
Battles between karrigan’s new and former team always makes for great viewing and spicy banter, and it’s safe to say he knows how to take down FaZe Clan, winning six out of six maps against them they’ve played so far. With NEO being the kind of anchor that drags down the side, there’s little to suggest that they can stop the streak here.
The new-look Na’Vi is still somewhat of an enigma as they’ve only played at ESL One Cologne since Edward’s removal. We know s1mple’s been grinding his heart out and there was no question he’d be ready to go once the player break ends, but this could be one of those games where the team that has already battled through the previous stage is faster off the starting grid and consequently wins the upset best-of-one.
Historically, MIBR was able to take out the Ninjas even when the form table was against them, but benching coldzera is such a huge handicap that the Swedish side has become the bookies’ favorite overall. Then again, they also have their issues, with the clock ticking on GeT_RiGhT’s tenure and having to use GoldeN as a stand-in, not to mention the many allegations about the org which could very well have an impact on their performance. Lest we forget, the Brazilians actually made it to the playoffs of IEM Chicago using their coach as a stand-in, so it’s not a foregone conclusion. Still, we think the Ninjas barely edge it out in this battle between two diminished sides.
Odds are, of course, subject to change.