ESTNN’s Benjamin Hodge Mckenna breaks down the European teams that managed to secure a spot to the StarLadder Major in Berlin.
This weekend saw the end of the StarLadder Minors which culminated in the Minor play-in to determine who would be making it to the new Challengers stage. Now that the teams have been finalized, here’s a breakdown of the European teams that have qualified for the Major.
Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen will return to the Major circuit with his new Mousesports roster. Accompanied by veteran AWPer and former IGL Chris ‘chrisJ’ de Jong, Andersen will attempt to prove the he still has what it takes to lead a team through a Counterstrike Major. Özgür ‘woxic’ Eker and Robin ‘ropz’ Kool will need to perform at their highest level if Mousesports will go far in Berlin. It will also be the first Major for the young David ‘frozen’ Čerňanský, a monumental task for a player who is just 17 years old.
The European mix qualified by claiming first place in the StarLadder European Minor. They had a rocky start to the tournament; dropping maps to both NoChance and Sprout in the early stages. However, Mousesports would go on to secure their spot. They fought a convincing series against Fnatic in the upper bracket, ending in victory for Andersen’s squad and contributing to the Fnatic’s elimination from the Minor. Mousesports faced North in their final series of the tournament. Here, an impressive performance from Frozen led to the Dane’s demise. Mousesports defeated North 16-11 on Inferno and 16-7 on Mirage, ending the series 2-0 and earning themselves a spot at the Berlin Major.
Once known as Valiance and Co, CR4ZY is the second team to make it to Berlin after placing 2nd at the European Minor. The mainly Serbian roster, lead by Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković, was one of the underdogs coming into the tournament. However, CR4ZY looked strong right off the jump. They began the minor by beating Sprout 16-13 on Train, then they convincingly took care of NoChance 2-0 and earned themselves a place in the upper bracket. Their first big test was against the Danish side North. Unfortunately for CR4ZY, the Danes proved to be too strong and defeated CR4ZY 2-0 in a best-of-three.
Things then began to look shaky for CR4ZY as they would have to face Fnatic in the first lower-bracket series. The veto ended with Fnatic picking Train, CR4ZY picking Dust2 and Mirage being left as the decider. Things started out excellently for the largely Serbian mix, as an impressive CT-side performance saw them shut down Fnatic on their map pick with a 12-3 first half. The Swedes attempted to concoct a stalwart CT defense, but they were unable to stop CR4ZY from taking the four rounds they needed. That gave CR4ZY the first map 16-13. Dust 2 would be a much more competitive affair, with the first half ending 8-7 in CR4ZY’s favor. The second half would be just as close. Fantastic fragging, however, from Otto ‘ottoNd’ Shivo and Team Captain Isaković allowed CR4ZY to take the map 16-13 and the series 2-0.
CR4ZY's final test was a rematch against North. This time though, CR4ZY would show a much higher caliber of skill and quickly dominated North 16-7 and 16-6 on Mirage and Dust 2; closing out the series 2-0 and earning them a spot at the Major.
Valdemar ‘valde’ Bjørn’s Danish roster North has certainly had a rocky road to the Challengers Stage. Most analysts considered the new-look North, with fresh addition Jakob ‘JUGi’ Hansen, one of the top teams at the European Minor, but things didn’t pan out the way they expected.
North began with an easy 16-6 victory over BIG on Dust2, but their joy would be short-lived. A swift dismissal from Fnatic caused North to lose Nuke 2-16 and Train 9-16, forcing them into the lower bracket. North would then win their rematch 2-0 over BIG and defeat CR4ZY 2-0 in their series. However, things would quickly go downhill for North, as 0-2 defeats against both Mousesports and CR4ZY would forced them into the Minor play-in.
The Korean roster MVP PK now stood between North and access to the Major Main Qualifier. The series began on Nuke, where a masterclass CT-side saw North claim the first half 11-4. This, plus an impressive performance from Nicklas ‘gade’ Gade, saw the Danes win MVP PK’s pick 16-10. Next up was Inferno. This time it was the T-side that provided the early advantage and a 9-6 first half went North’s way. The Danes would continue their performance on the CT-side, claiming the map 16-10. With this win, North earned themselves the final European Qualification slot to the new Challengers stage.
Images VIA: StarLadder, CR4ZY