With 9Pandas confirmed to miss out on the Major, GamerLegion’s been drafted as their last-minute replacement. It’s a shame it had to come to this and no doubt we will learn more about how this could have been avoided heading forward. Perhaps the one silver lining from a fan perspective is that Snax and his merry men are a worthy replacement in all regards.

9Pandas miss out on the first CS2 Major

Is there a bigger possible disappointment in esports than not getting to attend a Counter-Strike Major you qualified for? Maybe The International of yesteryear counts, but the cosmetics here make it a much more equitable affair finance-wise than the super top-heavy Dota 2 circus used to do.

Details are still sparse, but reports suggest that the org only started the visa acquisition process after the team’s late qualification in the RMR decider, and it seems like some players couldn’t get their passport in time despite their Schengen visas otherwise getting sorted in time. With other Russia-affiliated teams and players all successfully sorting out their business, someone somewhere definitely made a mistake.

On a human level, missing out on the glory and the sticker money is a career-changing tragedy, and anyone involved with the mistakes that led to this situation, be it on the org’s part or the individuals’, needs to take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror.

It’s all really rather sad – but from a competitive perspective, this is as close to a straight swap as it can get.

GamerLegion at the Major – what can we expect?

So, GamerLegion are coming in as a lucky loser. From a competitive standpoint, 9Pandas never really set the world alight in the lower-tier online events, and it took a monstrous individual highlight reel from 30-year-old glowiing’s to ultimately push them past the finish line in the RMR decider.

Like most lower-ranked teams, they have soaring heights and devastating lows, and we got to see both in the Major qualifiers. There was the nervy stinker against AMKAL on the one hand, and their impressively clean wins over SAW and Astralis on the other. Ultimately, it was a close-fought affair against GamerLegion that settled the fate of the final European Major spot, and there was always very little to separate the two sides.

Considering all the issues with seeding and the messy best-of-one matches in the RMRs, this is as close as we could get to a meritorious replacement. GL still have some burning embers from Paris to light themselves with, and they will be in the exact same spot seeding-wise as 9Pandas would have been. Unlike how it would have been in the other RMRs, they distinguished themselves from the other 2-3 teams by playing out a separate bracket, and their matchup was close enough to make one think that the series could have played out differently on a better day.

While it would have been interesting to see seized back on the biggest stage of the game, especially after the move to CS2, at least we will have Snax to cheer on from the old guard of Counter-Strike veterans. With legends hanging up the mouse every passing day, it’s always heartening to see those who keep on toughing it out.

That said, one of the more intriguing storylines going forward will be Xyp9x’s surprise coaching move to MOUZ, in part because it’s been announced on the eve of the Major. Choosing an assistant position to start off is a smart move, especially as part of a well-oiled machine on an organizational level, a far cry from what he must have experienced in Astralis. It’s a cerebral move worthy of the clutch minister – but it still feels like a gamble for everyone involved on the eve of the biggest CS2 event to date. Is this really when you want to rock the boat? Unlike 9Pandas, MOUZ had a choice about the matter.