Upsets and surprise results have become expected at CS:GO Major tournaments, with each Major championship bringing its own new flavor to the competitive Counter-Strike scene. StarLadder’s Berlin Major is no exception, as a number of unexpected results have already made their mark in this tournament’s story. As we wait for the Champions Stage to begin, let’s take a look at three of the biggest surprises from Berlin’s group stage.
Avangar Make a Statement
After a relatively uneventful Challengers Stage, most expected Avangar to drop out of the tournament once they reached the Legends Stage. Though the team has been on the rise over the last couple of years, they are yet to make an especially deep run at a Major. Prior to Berlin, their best finish at a Major was a group stage exit from IEM Katowice earlier this year. Despite the team’s undeniable skill, early tournament exits were becoming routine for the team - that is, until now.
After a crushing defeat by ENCE in the opening round, Avangar took down Renegades, Team Liquid, and G2 to secure their first-ever Major playoff appearance. This is the first Major playoff for four out of the team’s five players. With a roster now bolstered by Major winner Dauren “AdreN” Kystaubayev, Avangar looks to make an even bigger statement as they take on Vitality in the quarter-finals.
Renegades Complete the Reverse Sweep
Coming into Berlin as a returning Legend, Renegades looked different from their IEM Katowice form. Though they still field the same roster, the team has dropped off both in results and rankings. Their quarterfinal elimination in Katowice was the best result any Renegades roster had achieved at a CS:GO Major. Their LAN results following the Katowice Major weren’t inspiring much confidence, as they placed 9-12th at IEM Sydney, 7-8th at DreamHack Masters Dallas, and 13-16th at ESL One Cologne. Things seemed to be going south for the Aussie squad as they fell in their first two matches here in Berlin, losing to both NRG and Avangar.
Facing elimination and a potential setback to the Asia Minor, Renegades immediately found their footing. As the best-of-threes continued, Renegades took wins over DreamEaters, FaZe Clan, and G2 to send them straight into the quarterfinals. This completed their reverse sweep of the Swiss group stage, echoing the memorable runs of Cloud9 in Boston and ENCE in Katowice. However, an impressive group stage run doesn’t guarantee them a Grand Final appearance, and Renegades will have to fight past ENCE in the quarterfinal if they want to make a deeper run in Berlin.
Team Liquid’s Disappearing Act
Team Liquid’s recent form has been a force to be reckoned with, potentially even topping that of Astralis in 2018. The North American squad came into the Berlin Major as a clear favorite to take the title, though that quickly came into question after their multiple stumbles throughout the group stage. Liquid started off the Legends Stage as expected, taking a strong victory over Major newcomers CR4ZY. They then suffered two consecutive upsets at the hands of NRG and Avangar, two teams no one had expected to challenge Liquid the way they did.
As the best-of-threes got underway, Liquid was able to save themselves from an early elimination by easing past North and defeating Mousesports in a close 2-0. Team Liquid’s quarterfinal match-up places them against 2018 rivals Astralis, who’ve looked much better so far. Though you might say Team Liquid is still the favorite to lift the trophy, we must admit that they’ve looked like a shadow of their former selves. Berlin’s play-off stage gives them a perfect opportunity for redemption, and to show exactly why they are the number one team in the world.
The StarLadder Berlin Major’s Champions Stage is set to begin on September 5th, with Renegades and ENCE going head-to-head in the first quarter-final.
Images VIA: StarLadder