The first FACEIT minor is now done and dusted. With that, we know the identity of another two participants of the New Challengers Stage in the major: compLexity and Rogue will be in London as they try to make it to the last sixteen and beyond. Some have risen, many have crumbled with all the glory and sticker money on the line, and now that the dust has settled, we can take a deeper look at the lay of the land in the Americas, at least where CS:GO is concerned.
Thanks to the new, expanded format of the Valve CS:GO majors, these results already guarantee the prestigious major slot for the two qualifying teams: what would have previously been the actual playoff for the 16-team main event is now treated as an integral part of the major, pitting the minor winners against Boston’s Fallen. They will not have an easy time if you consider the names they will have to go up against thanks to the many quirks of the current system: Astralis, Team Liquid and BIG all failed to make it to the playoffs the last time around, and while the slots of Vega Squadron, Space Soldiers, North, Gambit and VP are certainly up for grabs, this marks the only chance for quite a few of them to cling onto relevancy, meaning they will also likely fight tooth and nail to avoid a changing of the guard.
It's hard to pinpoint where exactly the two American qualifiers fit on the power curve, especially after the expectations were scrambled by NRG’s surprise elimination. Rogue has recently lost to Space Soldiers in the DreamHack Open Austin final after beating them in a best-of-one in the group stage. The same event saw compLexity being eliminated without taking a single map. Marred by many inconsistent performances and a seemingly non-stop flurry of roster moves, they certainly seem to be the less stable ones out of the two teams that qualified, despite their win in the final over Rogue.
It’s not just the Hiko show
Are you kidding me? Yes, he is back on the major stage after a long odyssey in the wilderness, but it would be a mistake to treat him as the sole star on Rogue’s sky. The two series against coL showcased both sides of the coin: he top-fragged in the first one to secure qualification, ending +13 on two maps, then finished fourth in the 0-2 defeat in the final, really struggling to find his feet on Mirage where they got decimated by their domestic rivals.
Veteran savvy, leadership, experience – even if you look at these intangibles, he wouldn’t be the only source of such wisdom in the line-up. Rickeh, and to some extent cadiaN have both seen their fair share of battles, which could prove invaluable in the chaos of the unseeded best-of-one Swiss kerfuffle currently plaguing the initial stages of the major. He will undoubtedly draw most of the attention directed towards the team: however, there’s a lot more to Rogue than just Mr. Spencer.
NTC: dead on arrival?
We all love redemption stories but this one may be just a bit too far-fetched: fnx ain’t no phoenix, as it turned out, and trying to cobble together something from FalleN’s rejects was always going to be a tough proposition, especially if you are willing to take on the ticking time bomb that is kNg to replace the Teles twins. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where this roster could become the second-best Brazilian side, even though the talent is clearly there: they bombed at Belo Horizonte and also failed to impress at the ZOTAC Cup Masters Europe Finals recently. DreamHack Masters Stockholm also remained a mirage after a defeat to Spirit in the qualifiers. It’s been rumoured as far back as early May that SK Gaming have picked up the roster in a long-term deal, and that now their defeat to eUnited prompted an ultimatum: lose to Swole Patrol in the elimination match and get dropped by the German org. They managed to avoid that fate so far, but that seems to be the only positive takeaway from their performances at the minor.
NRG: back to earth
Perhaps the biggest surprise is NRG’s failure to qualify for London, even if their strength was vastly overrated recently by the community. Making it through the easy side of the bracket at StarSeries 5 doesn’t magically turn a team into an offline powerhouse, and two best-of-one wins at the ECS finals isn’t worth salivating over either. They are certainly a good team – even if their top ten rating on HLTV beggars belief – and the potential is still there for greatness. However, it remains to be seen whether it can be realized – even though James Bardolph has launched a passionate defense both on air and on Twitter about the current NRG line-up, they might not get the sort of stability he’s craving for.
If reports are to be believed, Cloud9 will lose tarik to mibr in the near future, a development which could very easily kickstart an NA shuffle soon thereafter. Failure sometimes breeds knee-jerk reactions, and it is all in all quite likely that this was the last time we get to see many of the playoff participants with this exact roster now that they failed to grab the ultimate prize. compLexity and Rogue get to fight for glory: for the rest, this may very well just be about survival in the near future, depending on where the chips fall.