The biggest non-Major event is right around the corner, and with it, a myriad of storylines for teams large and small alike. So much is in flux so shortly after Antwerp, and CS fans casual and committed alike will find a lot to enjoy even at the earliest portion of the event. The field is so stacked that even the play-ins will guarantee upsets and heartbreaks: the question is, who will make it to the groups and who gets left behind in the dust?
A quick look at the HLTV rankings shows us the potential perils of this play-in stage: seven out of the top eight have been seeded into the main event, with Team Liquid the big outlier, squatting in fifteenth place with the remnants of points from rosters long gone by.
This doesn’t make the play-in stage any less stacked: Team Vitality at #5 are the odd ones out in that field, and BIG can also consider themselves unlucky at #9 (and the way the ESL rankings shook out). Only OG and forZe are missing from the HLTV top twenty, making this one of the most stacked events in recent memory. Instead of them, ORDER and TYLOO make up the numbers, providing a nice bit of variety for the global fanbase.
…is this where the Source 2 joke goes?
Heroic are the clear favorites, no question about that. The real intrigue is whether they’ve managed to integrate Jabbi in a meaningful way after they’ve managed to win the Pinnacle Cup Championship with refrezh. It’s tough to imagine a stumble at this early juncture, even if Sprout are capable of shooting the occasional green leaves. Prediction: Heroic
Honestly, I’d love to see the upset result just so that someone may finally put this dexter-led abomination of a mouse out of its misery. Unfortunately, it looks like the pain will continue and paiN’s upper bracket run will not. Prediction: MOUZ
Yes junior, no party. Even if Team Spirit won’t be quite the same without degster. You just can’t carry an AWPer-sized albatross around your neck in modern CS:GO matches. Prediction: Complexity
There is a world where coldzera and co. pop off and the worst type of Astralis shows up. How long will they stumble on with this zombie roster, when are the rumored and inevitable roster moves coming? The upset is absolutely possible here, but you’ve got to play the percentages. Prediction: Astralis
Is it just me, or does the allcaps ORDER remind you of John Bercow, Former Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom? No? Just me? Okay then. For what it’s worth, BIG’s been playing quite well recently, online and offline alike, perhaps in part thanks to gob b’s return as a coach. If syrsoN is in form, mightier teams than this Oceanian bunch have been rendered ineffective by this squad. Prediction: BIG
Back in my day, the meme was “no fnx no Major.” Now it is “no major no Imperial.” The dictionary definition of an early peak, except for, you know. Prediction: Outsiders
Fresh off their victory at ESL Challenger Valencia, where they trashed their upcoming opponents 16-3, the only real issue of the Spaniards would be a bit of fatigue. Prediction: Movistar Riders
This is not your father’s TYLOO. There isn’t somebody to light up the fireworks. They even missed out on the Major. Can’t see the upset here even in a best-of-one with a ZywOo-caliber player on the server. Prediction: Team Vitality
11:00 – Heroic vs. Sprout, MOUZ vs. paiN Gaming, Team Spirit vs. Complexity
12:15 – 00 Nation vs. Astralis
12:40 – BIG vs. ORDER, Outsiders vs. Imperial
13:00 – TYLOO vs Vitality
14:20 – MIBR vs. Movistar Riders
12:30 – match #1 and #2
16:00 – match #3
19:45 – match #4
14:45 – Heroic/Sprout vs. MOUZ/paiN
16:00 – Team Spirit/Compexity vs. 00 Nation/Astralis
18:15 – BIG/ORDER vs. Outsiders/Imperial Esports
19:45 – MIBR/Movistar Riders vs. TYLOO/Team Vitality
16:00 – match #1 and #2
19:30 – match #3 and #4
The group stage begins on July 7.
Photo credit: HLTV