A couple of successful underdog stories and some big names unable to make it through.
In what could be hailed as the most competitive Major qualifier in recent history, this weekendâ€™s ELEAGUE Major qualifier featured four days of top-notch CS:GO. Sixteen teams (eight coming from the bottom 8 of the previous Major, ESL One Cologne, and the other 8 coming in from the minors system) all fought for the eight slots to join the top 8 teams from Cologne for the Major in January.
The qualifiers were played in the Swiss Format â€“ simply put, a team will need three wins to get into the major, while incurring three losses means theyâ€™re out of the competition. After the first round of random draws, each team will be facing off against a random team with the same score standing.
Letâ€™s look at the teams who made it out of the qualifiers and into the Major:
The all-Swedish squad led by Markus â€œpronaxâ€ Wallsten performed amazingly in the qualifiers â€“ edging out a couple of favorites such as G2 (who they defeated 16:11 on de_Overpass) and Dignitas (16:11 on de_Mirage) the final map to secure their spot came in by the way of another 16:11, this time versus Hellraisers on de_Train. GODSENT were seen as underdogs coming into the qualifiers from the European minors, and were heavily doubted after losing Freddy â€œKRiMZâ€ Johansson to Fnatic, but they pulled off a perfect 3-game win streak here and are capable of upsets at the Major.
The only other team with a clean win record coming out of the qualifiers is FaZe Clan under the helm of captain Finn â€œkarriganâ€ Andersen, the mixed European squad beat out Cloud9 19:17 on de_Mirage, OpTic 16:11 on de_Overpass, and secured their slot with a final 16:11 vs. Immortals on de_Mirage. The win over OpTic was a true upset â€“ as their previous face offs at ELEAGUE and ECS have gone to OpTicâ€™s favor, but FaZe pulls through here.
Some analysts were counting out mousesportsâ€™ chances to make it to the Major, Â seeing as how tough the competition would be, but the mixed European squad pulls through thanks to some phenomenal plays as to be expected from Nikola â€œNiKoâ€ Kovac, and his team stepping it up. They lost to HellRaisers on Train 6:16 on their first map, but proceed to win the next three, 16:5 vs. NiP on de_Overpass, 16:3 vs. TyLoo on Train, and finally 16:3 to Immortals on Cache.
Coming in after their win at ELEAGUE Season 2, and a 2nd place at ECS vs. current #1 team Astralis, it comes as no surprise that OpTic is going to the major. Perhaps losing 11:16 vs. FaZe on de_Overpass was quite unexpected, but they make up for it by taking de_Overpass 16:9 vs. Tyloo, the same map 16:9 vs. NiP, and de_Train 16:10 vs. HellRaisers.
Most notable for their recent win at EPICENTER Moscow only weeks ago, Team Dignitas were certainly no underdogs here at the qualifiers. They lost to an on-form GODSENT 11:16 on de_Mirage, but won 16:11 on the same map vs. Team Spirit, and 16:9 vs. CLG. Their 16:9 win over G2 on Nuke secured their slot to the Major.
After being on somewhat of a slump in form and middling results at recent tournaments, NV had their work cut out for them here at the qualifiers â€“ but with in-game leader Vincent â€œHappyâ€ Cervoni and superstar AWPer Kenny â€œKennySâ€ Schrub showing great form along with their other French teammates, they took a hard-earned spot to the Major, losing their first two games and making up for it with the last three maps on de_Dust2, with 11:16 vs. Immortals on de_Cobblestone, 12:16 vs. G2 on de_Dust2, 16:2 vs. Team Spirit, 16:9 vs. Tyloo, and a final 16:12 vs. Vega Squadron.
Somewhat of a dark horse coming into the qualifiers due to some great 2nd place finishes but hampered by inconsistent placings at tournaments, G2 were able to secure their slot to the Major despite losing 11:16 on de_Overpass to GODSENT, and de_Nuke 16:9 to Dignitas. Their wins were 16:12 vs. NV on de_Dust2, 16:6 vs. Vega on the same map, and 17:19 on Cache vs. Immortals
Perhaps the most successful underdog story of the Qualifiers comes from the CIS squad of HellRaisers â€“ counted out by most of the analysts, and coming into their fourth Qualifier (having failed the previous three) from the Minor system, the young squad led by the veteran Kirill â€œANGE1â€ Karasiow certainly had a lot of work on their hands. However, they start with a very strong 2-game win streak by winning 16:6 vs. mousesports on de_Train and by winning 19:17 vs. NiP on de_Overpass. They lost their next two games, 11:16 vs. GODSENT on de_Train, and 10:16 vs. OpTic on the same map, but come back on the last game of the qualifiers with a 16:13 win over Cloud9 on de_Overpass.
There are a couple of big names who will be missing out on the Major after these qualifiers: Cloud9 being one of them, after winning ESL Pro League Season 4 last October. But the biggest surprise was certainly Ninjas in Pyjamas failing to qualify â€“ they were a true favorite to make it to the Major after winning three premier LAN tournaments this year, DreamHack Malmo last April, Starladder StarSeries Season 2 last September, and most recently, IEM Oakland only last November they were an extremely strong team based on recent results, so being eliminated from the qualifiers by none other than Vega Squadron â€“ a fairly new CIS team who were probably the biggest underdogs of the qualifiers, on one of their best maps, de_Cache, and in such a dominant fashion (Vega won with a 16:2 round score) was a shock to everyone. It will be the first Major that NiP will be absent from in the history of CS:GO, and rumors are already abound about a possible roster shake-up for the all-Swedish squad.
The journeyâ€™s just begun for the eight teams coming in from the qualifiers, as theyâ€™ll be joining even bigger names at the Major in January, whoâ€™ve gotten their slots through placing in the Top 8 of the previous Major: Fnatic, Team Liquid, Virtus.Pro, Astralis, FlipSid3 Tactics, Gambit Esports, Natus Vincere, and current defending champions, SK Gaming. Itâ€™s looking to be the most competitive Major in CS:GO so far, and with no team showing clear dominance throughout the season, itâ€™ll be hard to predict winners. The ELAGUE Major will run from the 22nd to the 29th of January next year, and will be held in the Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia.