Multiple upsets in the minor qualifiers led to some unusual teams qualifying for the upcoming StarLadder CSGO major in Germany. We’re going to introduce to the newcomers and outsiders for the challengers’ stage of the Berlin Major.
The most well-travelled of these teams, Grayhound qualified for their second major after winning the Asia minor. However, they will be hoping for a better performance than in Katowice, where they failed to win a single map. The Oceanic side has established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the Asian region, but struggle to make a real impact when qualifying for international tournaments. Grayhound’s most impressive performance came at IEM Sydney this year when they upset FaZe Clan before getting eliminated by eventual finalists Fnatic. The Berlin major could be the last tournament for the fivesome as Mongolian in-game leader erkaSt is facing visa issues in Australia.
Player to watch: Simon ‘sico’ Williams. A recent signing, the Kiwi was a stand-out performer at the Asia minor and could give the team the firepower they’ve been missing.
The core of forZe has been playing together since they represented Spartak Esports in early 2017, but they have flown just below the radar of many international fans. Regarded as one of the best teams in Russia, they’ve won multiple regional tournaments but rarely travel outside the country. They caused a minor stir by winning Copenhagen Games earlier this year but faced a lower standard of competition than they will play in Berlin.
Player to watch: Andrey ‘Jerry’ Mekhryakov. A long-standing member of the team who will finally have his opportunity to show what he can do on an international stage.
INTZ was the landing place for infamous Brazilian player kNgV-, a former major finalist with Immortals. After being removed from 100 Thieves days before the ELEAGUE Boston major amid controversial statements, kNgV- has found his way back to the big time on a team comprised of former Luminosity players and Brazilian journeymen. INTZ has frequently struggled to qualify for international tournaments above fellow Brazilians Furia and MIBR, but respectable performances in online leagues will give INTZ hope.
Player to watch: Vito ‘kNgV-‘ Giuseppe. The story for INTZ goes hand in hand with the story of kNgV-. Does he still have what it takes to perform at the highest level?
While Syman has been close to the top of CIS CSGO, they have failed to break through and become one of the top teams in the region. This team has minimal offline experience and struggles to reach the later stages of local tournaments. Nonetheless, Syman has a golden opportunity to change their fortunes, and a strong performance in Berlin could see them rise through the rankings and stake their claim as one of the best teams from the CIS.
Player to watch: Nicolas ‘Keoz’ Dgus. A recent addition to the team, solid performances from the Belgian were crucial to overcoming DreamEaters during multiple overtime maps.
The team formerly known as Valiance has finally cleared the final hurdle and has qualified for their first major. The European side has struggled to break into top tier events but has built a reputation as a team to beat at lower level LANs. The addition of experienced in-game leader nexa and Lithuanian wunderkind EspiranTo has given CR4ZY the talent boost they were waiting for; the team now finally has the opportunity to test their might against the best sides in the world.
Player to watch: Nemanja ‘huNter-‘ Kovač. The brother of legendary FaZe player NiKo, huNter- is building a reputation as a reliable fragger for CR4ZY. Can he translate his high level of performance to a world-class event?
DreamEaters came from nowhere some time in the middle of 2018. A team of youngsters with little to no competitive experience in the game, they’ve proven themselves capable of upsetting more tenured CIS teams in online competition. However, this will be their first tournament outside of Russian and Ukraine, and the first time they’ll play international squads in such an environment. How they’ll fare is anybody’s guess.
Player to watch: Vladislav ‘Krad’ Kravchenko. There’s very little to go on with this team outside of Russian online tournaments, but Krad proved vital in the sides upsets of INTZ and Team Spirit en route to the major. DreamEaters will need a similar level of performance if they hope to proceed through the event.