Starladder Berlin Major: The Champions Stage Team Preview

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The Starladder Berlin Major Legends Stage has ended with eight teams moving forward to play at the Mercedes Benz Arena. The eight teams include a few surprises and the favorites to win the Berlin Major. 

The Starladder Berlin Major Champions stage takes place from September 5-8, 2019 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena with each match being a Best of Three elimination match. While some of these teams were top seeds for the event, there are few notable additions to the Playoff list. In this article, we look at each of the teams and their journey so far. 

Team Liquid

Team Liquid is still trying to find their Pre-Major form. Image Credit: Team liquid

The North American team is the best in the world and have rightfully earned their title after winning the Intel Grand Slam Season 2 with little competition. The North American team added Stewie2k and AdreN to their team, and this decision seemed to boost their performance and results. 

Before the start of the Berlin Major, anyone would predict a comfortable Team Liquid victory., the North American team was fresh out of four competitive tournament victories which secured them the Intel Grand Slam Season 2. The Intel Grand Slam is more prestigious than CS:GO Majors. It covers multiple events, all Best of Three or Best of Five matches spread across a few months. For a team to sustain the same level and emerge victorious at the end is impressive.

Twistzz is one of the key components for Team Liquid’s Major chances. Image Credit: ESL

Initially, I was a skeptic about Team Liquid’s performance. The Danish World Number 1 ( at the time), Astralis was not performing well, and they remained absent from many events. Their preference for BLAST Pro Series events and the selective attendance in CS:GO tournaments meant that they were not always present to stop the Team Liquid juggernaut. 

As fate would have it, Team Liquid play Astralis in the quarterfinals. It is a match-up worthy of a Grand finals in several events, but judging the two teams’ performance in Berlin, this seems an apt podium for either team. 

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ENCE

The Finnish team, ENCE is looking very strong at the Major so far. Image Credit: ENCE

The Grand finalists of IEM Katowice have secured their spot in the Berlin Major Champions stage. They have had a bittersweet story in between the two majors with the lack of results forcing them to announce a roster change days before the Berlin Major. 

Despite their decision to replace AleksiB, he seems to be one of their top-performing players at the Major. 

Image Credit: HLTV

His HLTV statistics for the Berlin Major place him in the top ten players at the event. This ranking is impressive considering the player’s knowledge about his future, which is not on Team ENCE. His professionalism to help the team reach the Champions stage and consistently putting up top-tier performances at the Major make him a lucrative pick-up in the CS:GO Market. 

There are organizations such as Complexity and 100 Thieves looking to enter the CS:GO market. These organizations have deep pockets, and AleksiB fits perfectly into their plans to form a world-class roster. 

Despite AleksiB leaving the team post the Major, he is a professional and putting up the best performances on the roster. Image Credit: ENCE

As we proceed further in the Major, ENCE is a wild-card entry. Their regular-season results did not show the same resilience and individual form compared to the present. However, with AleksiB relieved of his In-Game leadership duties, he is now free to put up strong individual performances.

ENCE play the first Quarterfinals against the team from down under, Renegades. The Finnish team has put up a strong performance in Berlin, which has excited their fans, but it also brings about a sense of gloom for ENCE fans. AleksiB, a player whom many associated with the team’s success is leaving the team post the Starladder Berlin Major. 

Our bookmaker’s odds favor ENCE heavily, and it is not without justification. The depth in their map pool and the freedom with which AleksiB can make individual plays removes a considerable burden from their shoulders. ENCE has already reached the Grand finals of one Major, and they can do it again in 2019. 

NRG Esports

NRG Esports at the Mercedes Benz Arena. Image Credit: NRG Esports

The North American team changed its brand, its logo and a big part of its identity in the face of much criticism for its new logo. Their CS:GO roster, however, continues to impress us with its consistent performance so far at the Major. The team’s fans are hopeful of a surprise victory in the quarterfinals, one which would help them reach a new high for the North American organization. 

NRG Esports won all three of their Legends Stage matches, and their opponents included two of the best Counter-Strike teams. NRG esports defeated Team Liquid 16-9 on Dust 2 in a ‘Best of One’ match; however, NRG repeated the strong performance against Astralis in the Round 3 matches. 

Tarik at the Starladder Berlin Major 2019. Image Credit: NRG Esports

The Best of Three series against Astralis resulted in a 2-0 victory for NRG. The first map on Train resulted in multiple Overtimes; however, NRG could hold their nerve and eventually come out victorious. 

The series against Astralis saw one of the longest matches in CS:GO history, before Astralis eclipsed the record in their subsequent match against CR4ZY. The match on Train saw 59 rounds played overall, with CERQ emerging as the MVP in the match. 

What fuels the energy in NRG?

Can Cerq replicate his performance from the Astralis match? Image Credit: ESL

Cerq has been the X-factor for the team many times in the past, but mostly in their online matches. Cerq has faced problems in replicating his online performance on LAN as the nerves of playing in front of a vast audience often deter the youngster. In their Round 3 match against NRG, however, he stepped up to the occasion with 52 kills to his name. 

Playing in front of an audience at the Mercedes Benz Arena is a different experience than playing behind the stage for the Legends Stage. So far, it seems Cerq is at the top of his game in Berlin, and if he continues in his current form, NRG is one of the strongest teams around. 

A big part of the strength in their lineup lies in the team’s synergy and coordination. The team has impressive individual players, ranging from Tarik to Brehze; and yet every player on the team can step up on a good day to dominate the server.

Avangar

Avangar reached the New Legends Stage for the first time. Image Credit: Avangar

No one expected Avangar to reach the Top Eight at the Berlin Major, and yet the CIS team has continued to surprise everyone with their performance. Avangar is 12th on the HLTV leaderboards, behind the other Top-eight teams at the Berlin Major. 

The team’s tactics and playstyle account for much of their success as they can find the right discipline and aggression in their attack. In an interview with HLTV, Qikert mentioned their aim to become a top ten team in 2019. Judging by their performance at the Major, it seems they might have achieved their goal much sooner than expected. 

I don’t really know. We are always saying like ‘we are unlucky, we are making mistakes,’ etc. I think it’s a lack of experience we were missing. Now, we are pretty experienced, we have been playing on LAN for two years, it’s pretty hard sometimes to get used to that, so now we are only playing LANs and not playing a lot of online matches. My expectation is that we’re going to make the top 10 of your ranking this year.

Qikert to HLTV

Avangar’s Berlin Major run bears many similarities to Gambit’s Krakow Major run in 2017. The team has already established itself as a formidable opponent by defeating teams such as Team Liquid and Renegades. Their sound tactics and synergy allow them to play off each other. 

So far so good, but can Avangar proceed further?

AdreN is leading yet another team towards the Grand finals. Image Credit: Adren

Individual performances from their players highlight the CIS team’s strong foundation. Ali “Jame” Djami is their AWP player on the CT side and is not afraid to take a forward position early in the round, calculated aggression as the Avangar players usually fall back after some time, irrespective of whether they were successful in their early aggression.  

Avangar play against Vitality in the Quarterfinals, a tall-task for the CIS squad but not impossible judging by their performance so far. Before analyzing the potential outcome of this match-up, let’s look at Vitality’s CS:GO roster and their journey till the Playoffs. 

Vitality

A face full of expressions, Apex of Team Vitality. Image Credit: Vitality

Vitality is the team that gets everyone excited, even if you are not a fan of the French team. The sheer brilliance of the team’s performance goes beyond Zywoo, their star player who is quickly challenging the likes of S1mple and Niko for the title of the ‘World’s best player.’ 

Zywoo is the star player for Vitality; however, other players such as Alex, Apex, and RPK have all stepped up when the occasion demands. RPK is one of the most reliable and consistent players in the game, providing the anchorage that the French players require. However, the player break has affected the French team adversely as they lost their opening match against Syman Gaming, one of the biggest upsets in the entire tournament. 

Is Vitality still a contender for the Major title?

RPK is one of the most consistent performers for Team Vitality. Image Credit: Vitality

The French team has improved their performance since then, although they have not yet reached the same form as before The Major. Zywoo’s first-aim accuracy is high, allowing him always to have the edge over his opponents in the server. You can never really count Zywoo out in the game, irrespective of how dire things might seem in their match. In their current form, Vitality is a contender for the Major title especially since Team Liquid and Astralis seemed to have suffered immensely during the player break; Vitality can step up to ensure French Counter-Strike rises to the top of the Counter-Strike scene once again. 

Vitality plays Avangar in the Quarterfinal, a match which the French team is the favorite to win as per our bookmakers. However, Avangar is no walkover, with Adren having nearly 15 years of experience in the game and already having one Major title under his belt. Vitality has not won a Major yet, and neither have most their players. This quarterfinal match between Vitality and Avangar takes place on September 5 at 1830 CEST. 

Astralis

Former World #1 team, Astralis. Image Credit: Astralis

The Danish team was the most dominant roster in 2018; however, the new year saw a massive dip in their form. Astralis’ decision to skip important LAN events and Team Liquid’s impressive run with four consecutive Intel Grand Slam victories, hurt Astralis’ HLTV rankings

The Berlin Major is a chance for Astralis to reclaim their lost glory; however, so far, the team has not provided us with the same tier of dominance as during their IEM Katowice 2019 run. So far, in the Legends stage, Astralis has played two long matches, with both the matches going into multiple Overtimes. In both the cases, Astralis lost the matches after the teams played nearly 60 rounds in each game. 

Can Glaive lead Astralis to their second Major victory of 2019? Image Credit: Astralis

Regardless of the hurdles, Astralis is still the favorite to reach the Top four at Berlin.  

The Astralis game is going to be down to who can fix their mistakes. 

Elige to HLTV

Astralis plays against Team Liquid on September 6 at 3 PM CEST, a classic match between the former World #1 team and the current #1 team. 

Renegades

The Team Down under surprised everyone when they eliminated Faze Clan. Image Credit: Renegades

The Australian team surprised everyone in the tournament with their dominance on Vertigo. The player break definitely helped the team as they could develop a new playbook according to their HLTV Interview. 

We had been running some stuff that was pretty old, so we got rid of things that weren’t working and we kept some things that were working and we added a lot of new things.

Jks to HLTV

Gratisfaction’s addition to the team substantially enhanced their skill ceiling. The aggressive AWP player is not afraid to take risky peeks and fall back after securing the advantage for his team. Gratisfaction is crucial as Renegades move forth into the Playoffs if he is having a bad day; it becomes monumentally difficult for Renegades to secure a victory. 

The Starladder Berlin Major is one of the most competitive CS:GO Majors in esports history. Team Liquid is the #1 team; however, their current form does not inspire confidence in their ability to win the Major. The Starladder Berlin Major Champions stage will witness multiple storylines unfolding in its final days. You can catch all the action live on Twitch here

 


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