After a surprise-packed New Challengers stage in the StarLadder Major, fans now are getting ready for an even more competitive battleground.
In the New Legends stage, favorites to win the whole Major will clash with teams coming from the New Challengers stage. Often considered the main stage of the Major, this is the time to shine for every team alive in the competition.
However, it’s undeniable that there’s clear favorites, and clear underdogs. So, who are the most explosive teams going for this next stage of the Major? Let’s check below.
Liquid is coming to win
The current number one team in the world, Team Liquid is coming for the trophy. The squad is coming to the Major with a massive 22-win streak and they have won the three tournaments they played previously.
Of course, the Major is a different stage but if there’s one team that knows this is Liquid. After all, their players know what is to be two matches from a Major win. In fact, Stewie2K was part of the first, and so far, only NA team to win a Major.
It’s undeniable however that now that they sit in the top of the world rankings, they will feel more pressure than ever. Along this, teams like Astralis and ENCE certainly studied Liquid during the player break, so nitr0 needs to step up his game.
Nonetheless, Liquid has proven time and time again that they are worthy of their place in the rankings. Winning this Major will cement the start of Liquid’s era, and from there they might even rival Astralis era.
Liquid’s first match will be against CR4ZY, who is coming from the New Challengers stage with a 3 – 1 record.
FaZe might be on the verge of another roster change
FaZe inconsistent results have been plaguing the team since early 2018 and haven’t been solved yet. Right now, the international powerhouse is trying out the veteran ‘NEO’ but the experiment hasn’t been fruitful so far.
Their issues are clear, though. FaZe needs an in-game leader and ‘olofmeister’ need to step down. The first issue, however, might be close to being solved as ‘Aleksib’, ENCE’s in-game leader has been benched in a move received with mixed reaction from analysts.
What’s more, this tournament is ‘NEO’ and ‘olofmeister’ chance to prove that they’ve a place in FaZe. Moreover, while NiKo still is one of the best players in the world and he will for sure cause some damage.
FaZe will start the Major in an uphill battle against Mousesports. Mouz finished the New Challengers stage with a 3 – 0 record.
Vitality failed to impress initially but is back on track
In the first three swiss rounds of the Major, Vitality, the 2nd best team in the world didn’t impress. After all, the team lost to both Syman and DreamEaters, newcomers from CIS.
However, once ZywOo and his crew managed to get some steam no team could take on them. Vitality went on to eliminate HellRaisers and Grayhound in following matches.
Now, Vitality’s early performance show a clear problem with the team which was apparently solved. The team relies too much in ZywOo, and especially in best of one matches, this is hurting them.
Still, as the Frenchmen showed, once they pick steam, they are a hard challenge for any team facing them. After all, there’s a reason as to why Vitality is the team to rival Liquid in this Major.
Moreover, Vitality knows that they can let what happened early in the tournament happen again in this new stage. This time around, there’s no significantly weaker teams like HellRaisers in the playing field.
Vitality first match will be against North, who qualified to this stage with a 3 – 0 record in the New Challengers stage.
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Surprisingly undefeated, North is back in the Major circuit
North luck in Major since Krakow, back in 2017, hasn’t been the best. The team lost their spot as Legends and went on to not even take part in the last one, IEM Katowice 2019.
This is over, however, and North is back in the main stage of the Major. Most impressively, though, is how they achieved this. North went undefeated from the previous stage after beating INTZ, Syman and CR4ZY.
North is far from a perfect team, though. During their match against CR4ZY it was clear that there’s a lot of miscommunication going on. Their map pool also is fairly weak compared to other teams, which might be a problem later in the tournament.
Additionally, while North reaching the playoffs might be a far-fetched dream. Just like FaZe they can definitely bring some competitors to their max.
North’s first challenger is Vitality, who qualified to this stage with a 3 – 2 record.
Where Astralis stands?
Talking about Danish teams is impossible to not mention Astralis. The squad that turned the scene around last year and won two Majors back to back is coming to defend their title. However, it’s unclear as to where they stand right now.
In previous tournaments, fans watched Astralis being eliminated by FURIA in group stages and their form definitely isn’t the same. Coming to this Major, they are currently ranked as the 3rd best team in the world rankings, but this position could be disputed.
It’s easy to point Astralis flaws now that they have fallen, but it’s undeniable that their ceiling is incredibly high. While a fierce rivalry between Liquid and Vitality would be great, having Astralis there to push those to the limit would be even better.
Concluding, this Major will play a very important point for Astralis. Will they settle down and let Vitality and Liquid fight for their era? Or will Astralis bring back the competitiveness that once brought them to the top?
We have yet to see. Astralis first opponents is going to be DreamEaters, who advanced to this stage with a 3 – 2 record.
One last hurrah with Aleksib, ENCE future is up in the air
In a shocking move, ENCE announced that they would be replacing ‘Aleksib’, their captain, for suNny. SuNny, better known for his time on Mousesports as a main fragger is adding a lot of firepower but leaving a blank in the team.
What this means is that this is Aleksib’s last tournament with the team he helped to reach the top of the world rankings. If there’s any guarantee regarding ENCE in this Major is that team chemistry definitely won’t be good as they were used to.
Still, ENCE is a team capable even when it comes to focusing on their firepower only. This will also be a good showing for Aleksib to show how capable he is as a player if there’s any doubt left.
ENCE is a question mark and a lot depend on how the team dynamics are within the team. According to the now ex-ENCE member, he didn’t know about being removed so it might not be great, but they still can count on him as a professional.
ENCE first opponent is the CIS roster under the AVANGAR banner. They are coming to this stage after achieving a 3 – 2 record in the previous one.
The New Legends stage starts this Wednesday!
The New Challenger stage is over and the next phase is on the very close horizon. Teams that are starting their runs now are getting ready for a packed challenge as there’s no weak opponent to have here.