Preview: the favorites of StarLadder Berlin Major New Challengers Stage

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StarLadder Berlin Major will start this Friday and fans are definitely ready for it. After all, the Major will be the first premier tournament after the player break that lasted one month.

Before the tournament starts, however, is always interesting to know which teams are taking part on it. As the Major is divided between three stages, we will start by taking a look at the favorites for the first one.

NRG is eager to show their potential

The strongest North American team in the first stage of Major, NRG, is coming with high expectations. It’s hard to say where they stand as before the Major the team swapped in-game leaders, though.

However, fans already have an idea of what NRG brings in their games. The squad is able to dynamically change their approach mid-game to surprise opponents.

More importantly, whether they decide to take a slower approach or a more explosive plan, they have the backbones to do both. This makes NRG one of the most versatile teams in the whole tournament.

What fans can expect from NRG?

As stated before, this Major will be the first time that fans will be watching NRG under a fully new system. Their new in-game leader, ‘stanislaw’ is a veteran and he’s known for getting everything from his teams.

We can’t discard the fact that this NRG system hasn’t been fully tested and it might bring their players infamous inconsistencies to light. While teams like forZe and Grayhound might not be able to exploit this, veterans like Mouz certainly will.

NRG’s first match will be against DreamEaters. The CIS squad has no experience in Major and are favourites to be eliminated without a win. NRG certainly will go fully confident in this game and they have all they need to get their first win.

Going forward in the tournament, a possible encounter with the likes of Vitality or Mouz might not go on their way. After all, this will be the games that will put their brand-new system to test. Otherwise, NRG shouldn’t have any issues.

Karrigan first Major with Mousesports

When Karrigan was brought to Mousesports, analysts and fans alike saw it as a possible best player change of the year. After all, a veteran leading three up and coming talents without any clear skill ceiling was apparently a recipe for success.

So far, Mousesports has done deep runs in premier tournaments and they aim to repeat that at the Major. After all, they are a heavy candidate to advance to the next stage unbeaten.

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While not versatile as NRG, Mouz features an explosive approach that can slow down even teams that massively focus on raw skill. This will prove to be a very important characteristic, as the underdogs aim for this kind of game style against favourites.

Can Karrigan repeat his FaZe success with Mouz?

A lot of eyes will be on Mousesports this Major. After all, what ignited their major roster change early this year was also their performance in the Major circuit.

Fortunately for them, Mouz has already tested their game approach and had time to iron it out during the player break. Previously, we saw an unstoppable team that was able to adapt if one of their players underperformed.

Now we can expect an even more dynamic squad, ready to change as their players need. This will be demonstrated early as their first challenger is forZe. This is a team that has a completely different style than the usual competition that Mouz faces.

After forZe, Mouz has only one team that can be their nemesis, Vitality. Other than the Frenchmen, most other teams won’t have an easy time against Mouz. The likes of North and G2 will even consider Karrigan’s roster as their own nemesis.

The second-best team in the world is ready to do damage

Vitality has overcome most other teams in the scene to achieve their current position in the world rankings. The Frenchmen which once was criticized by heavy relying on ‘ZywOo’ is now a fully blown squad.

Going for their second Major as a team, Vitality is a different team. Back in February, Vitality was a team that depended on ZywOo to be successful. Now, while ZywOo still is a vital piece, the team is able to work well, even if he underperforms.

Vitality is clearly aiming for a possible semi-final placement in this Major, which is completely possible. To make things better for them in this stage, there’s no sign of any teams other than Mouz that can challenge them consistently.

While Vitality is a strong competitor, they can’t get overconfident

Vitality has shown in past tournaments they attended that they might go overconfident. This led to losses to Heroic during IEM Chicago 2019 and FURIA, in ESEA Season 31 GC.

This makes things interestingly dangerous for them. Like the previous Major, this one features a couple of best of ones, and if Vitality doesn’t take enough care, teams like TyLoo can surprise them.

However, should they give all they have from the start, there’s no reason to doubt that they can go undefeated to the next stage.

Their first opponent, Syman, is one of the best coming from the CIS Minor, and the discrepancy between both teams’ levels is giant. Mousesports definitely should kick off with a win.

The dangerous dark horses of CR4ZY and FURIA

While CR4ZY and FURIA are expected to advance to the next stage, they still are underdogs. After all, while both teams ceiling is unknown, they have show issues big enough to slow them down.

However, is undeniable that no team can go unprepared to face either. FURIA was the team to put the nail in the coffin for the Astralis era. CR4ZY managed to overcome the likes of Mouz and Vitality in best of one’s games in the short past.

Coming to the Major, CR4ZY has no experience whatsoever, and FURIA has been in the big stage only once. Still, looking at their past results, they are able to overcome the pressure with their sheer raw skill.

Are FURIA and CR4ZY the next big names in the Major circuit?

Both teams still have a lot to prove and this Major is another step for them. FURIA is coming with mixed results in their last cups, while CR4ZY has positive results to back them, but those are mostly from online leagues.

While they might not reach the playoffs, the New Challengers stage is theirs to show their worth. Being the teams right behind NRG, they will certainly look forward to gathering experience and impress their fans.

Regarding their first matches, CR4ZY will face Grayhound while FURIA will take on HellRaisers. Both their opponents are way behind them in almost every in-game aspect. However, the pressure is on FURIA and CR4ZY as they want to start with wins.

Afterwards, both teams will be looking to take any team. With the following swiss round also being a best of one, this makes wins against the favourites possible. Again, both FURIA and CR4ZY are yet to find their skill ceiling as a team.

The Major starts on the 23rd

The Major starts this week and teams are ready for the next step in their careers. Will Mousesports and Vitality show why they are the clear favourites in this stage? Can NRG cement themselves as an NA stronghold?

Make sure to follow us in order to receive detailed analysis for each match of the upcoming Major!


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  1. Preview: the favorites of StarLadder Berlin Major New Challengers Stage – Esports Watchers

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