Two more of the New Challengers have been determined in the Twickenham Stadium, the gauntlet of the CIS major giving us HellRaisers and Spirit as the latest qualifiers for the FACEIT London major. It’s been a more straightforward affair than the Americas edition, but it has nonetheless given us a few more pointers about the lay of the land in the CS:GO scene – as it turns out, it isn’t all quiet on the Eastern front.

It is really quite sad to see that a major qualifier is missing out on a team because of visa issues – the Belorussian roster of Nemiga were denied visa applications and therefore couldn’t attend the event, meaning that “six months of our hard work [was] wasted” as they’ve put it in a post on their website. It’s a real shame too: they have only dropped a single series against eventual winners HellRaisers throughout the whole qualifier and would have probably been a contender in the minor as well.

Hellraisers ISSAA

It’s a real shame that such issues still persist in the scene, and perhaps the most unfortunate part of it all is that such problems can also arise in Europe, not just the relatively picky United States. The 100 Thieves story at Boston was more of a case of naked opportunism, therefore it was tough to feel that bad about it all – but this is a real shame, especially if you consider how it led to an unbalanced group stage for the event.

HellRaisers never had it this easy

It was all very straightforward when it mattered: not only did HellRaisers end up with a three-team group to begin with – getting a bye to the winners’ match to start things off –, but they haven’t lost a single map until the grand final – and their major spot was already secured by then. This event marked the first time they could go through the comparatively easier CIS path as opposed to the European meat grinder with its 1000+ teams and the difference clearly showed: while they haven’t exactly been in top form before the event, they breezed through it all in a way that was worthy of the designation of “favorites”, even if the international roster almost managed to drop the ball in the final against Spirit.

Ceterum censeo DeadFox esse delendam: he has bottom-fragged in all but one series throughout the event, finishing third on his team in the upper bracket semi-final. This is the rule, not the exception for this player: 0.59 kills per round throughout the last three months is unacceptably low. Especially with woxic on the line-up, there is no need for the Hungarian’s continued disappointing presence in this otherwise promising roster. It is an incredibly easy upgrade opportunity for the side, especially now that they are no longer participating in the European minor.

3 month CSGO graph

Team Spirit in high spirits

The Russo-Ukrainian roster has always been there or thereabouts, only missing out on the last major by a single series after losing to Quantum Bellator Fire in the final decider game for a spot in Boston. This event marked their fourth consecutive minor appearance, the sixth for the veteran COLDYY1. This time, they’ve managed to crack the code, showing impressive resilience after a disappointing 2-0 defeat to pro100 in the semi-finals, getting quite the revenge in the decider re-match.

They can also take away a lot of positives from their encounter with HellRaisers in the final – especially after losing their opening map pick – could have been the icing on the cake, but woxic’s incredible one-man show denied them on Dust 2 against all odds. Still, if you look at how much more impressive their best-of-one group stage performances were compared to their longer series throughout the event, they might just end up as dark horse candidates for the New Challengers stage thanks to its dodgy single-map Swiss format in the early rounds.

Close but no AVANGAR

It’s ridiculous how close the Kazakh roster was to an appearance in London, starting from their impressive first-stage Boston performance: they’ve ended with a 2-3 record, losing to Quantum Bellator Fire who they’ve beaten in the minor qualifier previously, then made it to the last chance final against Team Liquid to potentially take 100 Thieves’ spot, losing to the American side in overtime.

This time, they were unfortunate enough to run into both of the eventual finalists early on in the playoff bracket, sealing their fate after a complete collapse on the third map of the elimination map against Team Spirit, who they’ve already lost to previously in the minor qualifier as well. While they are certainly not a high-tier side, they’ve given a good account of themselves at StarSeries as well back in June, going out with a 2-3 score once again, running into the eventual winners of Na’Vi in the decider series. The potential is certainly there but there’s still quite a lot of work to be done.

Next up: the Asia minor, starting on the 16th of July. Renegades and Tyloo are the known quantities – but judging by the way the previous qualifiers have gone, there’s always some sort of an upset around the corner at the Twickenham Stadium, and it should be a great opportunity for some of the other teams to make an impression on Western audiences as well.