The Minor’s Third Place Play-In Stage Preview.

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The IEM Katowice Minors have come to an end with two teams from each region securing a spot at the Major. However, we still have two more spots vacant at the Major. These two spots will be decided via a third-place play-in tournament. This tournament features the teams who secured the third place at each of the four Minors.

The teams participating at the third place play-in tournament are :

  • Winstrike
  • Team Envy
  • North
  • Vici Gaming

Let’s take a look at each of these teams before the start of the event. Only two of the teams will qualify for the Major. It is the last chance for any of these teams to secure a spot at the upcoming Major.

Winstrike

 

Winstrike had a dominating performance at the CIS MInor. Can they secure a spot at the Major?

Winstrike Roster:

  • Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov
  • Aurimas “Kvik” Kvaksis
  • David “n0rb3r7” Danielyan
  • Georgi “WorldEdit” Yaskin
  • Jan “wayLander” Rahkonen

Winstrike is a team that has two very strong and inconsistent veteran players on their team. WorldEdit has helped prodigies such as S1mple in the past. He is one of the most respected Awpers in the CIS region. He has problems on the CT side, however, especially against a team with proper grenade usage and better riflers.

The Winstrike team has many new names on their team. These players are upcoming talent in the region. However, they lack the experience of playing on the big stage. Despite this, we saw them put up a strong performance at the CIS Minor. They had a strong showing against Gambit Gaming and won that quarterfinal 2-1. However, when faced off against Team Spirit and Avangar, they were unable to cross the finish line. They did have a great performance managing to take one map from each of these teams.

This team might not have the big names on their roster, but their performance is already better than some of the other teams at this event. They are definitely a top contender to secure a spot at the upcoming Major. With Team Envy not looking as strong, Winstrike’s chances for making it to the upcoming Major are very high.

Team Envy

 

Karrigan is on loan to Team Envy from Faze Clan.

Team Envy Roster:

  • Tayler “Drone” Johnson
  • Stephen “reltuC” Cutler
  • Noah “Nifty” Francis
  • Josh “jdm64” Marzano
  • Finn “karrigan” Andersen ( on loan )

Team Envy had high hopes going into the Americas Minor. With the addition of Karrigan [ on loan from Faze Clan]; this roster did look very strong on paper. However, the timing of the roster movement was definitely unfortunate for the players. They did not have enough time to practice their strategies together. The lack of practice is quite evident from their gameplay, especially when it comes to their Counter-Terrorist side. The team lacks adequate communication for the most part which is why we see delayed rotations at times.

JDM’s performance has been underwhelming so far at the Major.

However, the North American roster has the potential to easily make it out of this Stage. With the third place play-in stage hosting the third placed teams at the Minors, Team Envy will have to go against Winstrike in their opening match.

Team Envy has a smaller map pool, mostly emanating from their lack of practice time together. The team has little to no experience which plays a significant role in their final results. However, the players and the team has potential. Whether they can translate this potential into a possible victory ( or a top two finish ) is another matter altogether.

North Gaming

 

North Gaming Roster:

  • Philip “aizy” Aistrup
  • Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså
  • Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye
  • Casper “cadiaN” Møller
  • Nicklas “gade” Gade

North Gaming are the favourites to definnitely find a spot at the upcoming Major. Despite not being in the best of form, North has a lineup of strong individual players. The players have proven themselves on the International stage in the past. Their familiarity with the Danish playstyle ensures that they are extremely efficient and have a wide map pool.

North has a strong line-up; but have not produced the best results so far.

Cadian is the leader on the team and he has a deep playbook. His guidance in the team has worked well for them so far, despite the lack of form on individual players presently. North’s performance is strongest on Cache. It is their favourite map by far and they have a very high win percentage on it. Apart from Cache, we have seen the team play on multiple maps including Nuke, Dust 2, Inferno and Mirage. Train and Overpass seem to be their weakest maps so far, but that does not mean the team is invalid on these maps. North’s forte is their strong CT side. Keeping up the tradition of strong CT sides for Danish teams, North’s performance has not disappointed their Danish fans. However, they lack to produce results on their T side which is a worrying sign for Cadian and co.

North recently started a campaign against Toxicity in esports

Regardless of their poor performance, the quality of opposition in this event is not that high. With teams like Vici Gaming and Winstrike coming into the Play-in Stage; North has a very realistic chance of making it into the Major.

Vici Gaming

 

The Asian team has their task cut-out for them ahead of the third place play-in stage.

Vici Gaming Roster:

  • Weijie “zhokiNg” Zhong
  • Wing Hei “Freeman” Cheung
  • Zhihong “aumaN” Liu
  • Zhuo “advent” Liang
  • Andrew “kaze” Khong

The Vici Gaming roster is arguably the worst team at the 3rd place play-in stage. The teams at this stage of the Minors definitely have the potential and are here because they were barely one match away from a direct qualification to the Major.


Vici Gaming has several top stars in the Chinese region. With the likes of Zhoking, Advent and Kaze on the roster; this team has been a strong force in the Chinese CS: GO Scene. Unfortunately for them, the Chinese CS: GO scene is simply not as developed as the western regions. Even then, Vici Gaming is not the best Chinese team and regularly fall short of their opponents in the region.

For them, winning this tournament would depend on their ability to surprise their opponents. If Vici Gaming manages to pick up the slack on their roster with some tactical acumen to their gameplay. If Vici Gaming manages to surprise North in their opening match; they have a realistic chance of making it through to the Major. However, overcoming North will be a bigger obstacle for the team.

The 3rd Place play-in stage will take place on the 27th of January 2019. Only two of the four participants will receive a spot at the upcoming IEM Katowice 2019 Major. You can catch all the action live on Twitch here.


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