The explosion of popularity in esports means now there’s more talent out there than ever before, which makes even the earliest stages of the Major cycle are far more impactful and interesting than ever before. Though it’ll be hard for any of these teams to win the Major outright, who knows whether we’ve already caught glimpses of another ENCE- or AVANGAR-style Cinderella story in the making?
The difference in funding between some of the orgs at this level is frankly ridiculous, so while we are sure Jason Lake is very proud of his juggernaut, we’re not really going to praise some of the highest paid players in world CS:GO for making it through a Closed Qualifier for a Minor. Well done to blameF, and you can only beat what is in front of you, but yeah, Complexity failing is the only way they could make news at this particular point of the competition.
The most interesting part of the EU Minor – which is the door Complexity knocked down with money thanks to the tragicomedy of MAD Lions – was probably the fact French outcast mix Team Heretics managed to make top four, while the much-discussed Dignitas line-up finished 5-8th. As with many former greats (see kennyS, shox, FalleN) there is a feeling among the pundits and people who watched them dominate that the former NiP core has top level potential, but that is most likely born of nostalgia rather than empirical evidence, at least at this stage.
On the other side of the spectrum, there’s HellRaisers, who entered the CIS Closed Qualifier knowing they had to beat the likes of Syman Gaming, Gambit Youngsters and Team Spirit among other luminaries of the game but sadly fell short. It’s crazy to think that it was just two years ago when ANGEL was being touted as the person who could lead Na’Vi to the top – or that this org actually made top eight at the FACEIT London Major –, and yet today he and HellRaisers are unable to make top 8 even at the Closed Qualifier for the CIS Minor. Time waits for no man. In another surprise, forZe also fell at this early hurdle, which may surprise a few, but it just once again goes to show how unpredictable results can be in this region
The normal teams did prevail on this occasion over in the Americas, with the NA system sending the likes of Gen.G, Cloud9 and FURIA, while Red Canids and BOOM took the two places South America was offered in the next stage. The interesting Envy project scraped through too, and it will be a lot of fun to watch how Nifty, MICHU, Calyx and the rest get on representing an org that has been in CS:GO for a long time now, but with no real success in recent years.
Renegades, ORDER, VICI and Tyloo took their free spots from the Asian Closed Qualifier, as is often the case, while orgless Mongolian mix Mazaalai came through the East Asian section and Lucid Dream took top spot in SEA. Probably the last note of interest came in the Middle East, where Camel Riders ended up winning in controversial fashion – once again highlighting long-standing issues with online qualifiers –, but dominated on an individual level by TenZ, who was repping the otherwise toothless ATK and looks to still be keen on a pro career in the game. Whether he can earn another shot at the big time remains to be seen.
As we’ve said though, the real stories at this point aren’t the winners, but the friends we lost along the way. For Dignitas, HellRaisers and a couple of others, this could turn out to be a problem. With the next Major months away and only the uncertainty of the franchise leagues in the meantime, it may even prompt roster moves from some of the teams with more volatile management, such is the pressure on teams to perform in Valve’s official tournaments. A chance in the spotlight has become more valuable than ever, ramping up the pressure on everyone involved.