The Road to Katowice 2019 – Meet the Teams Competing in the Europe Minor

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In two weeks, we will be seeing the final step for IEM Katowice 2019, the first CS:GO Major of 2019. This final step is of course, the Minors. If you are new or forgot how the CS:GO Major circuit works, don’t worry, because we also got your back covered here.

But mostly important, who are the teams who will be fighting for the 2 spots in the first stage of the Major? Let discover below, after a brief explanation of the qualification circuit.

What are the Regional Minor events in CS:GO? How does the qualification process work?

Each year, Valve select two tournament organizers to host the most prestigious events in CS:GO, the Majors. However, before reaching the main stage, teams that don’t hold a ‘Legend’ or ‘Challenger’ spot, will need to qualify through the regional procedure.

The qualification starts with an open qualifier in each region, where every team can join and try their luck there. From there, the 8 teams that reach the top of the open qualifiers are going to join another 8 invited teams in the Closed Qualifier.

The 8 teams that manage to top the closed qualifiers then proceed to the Minor stage. The Minor is an offline event that uses the double-elimination GSL format in group stage and double elimination in the playoffs.

This time around all teams from every region will be in the same venue. Then, the 2 top teams from each Minor will be qualified directly for the Major.

The qualification circuit has a small difference this time around though. The third-place team from each Minor will join in the Minors Play-In. There, four teams will play against each other and the two teams will also qualify for the Major.

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The Fallen Legends and New Contenders

This time around, we will be having four teams that were eliminated in the first stage of London 18’ (or last place in the second stage). Those are North, OpTic Gaming, Mousesports and the ex-Space Soldiers players.

Knowing this, obviously we also have four new contenders fighting for a spot. Those are Vitality, Windigo, Valiance and ENCE. So, who are those? What are the storylines behind each one of those eight teams?


Astralis leftovers – OpTic and North

Astralis is completely dominating the CS:GO scene. Denmark has consistently putting up and coming talents in the player market. North and OpTic, the two best Danish teams after Astralis are way behind them. Why is that?

OpTic, lead by Snappi, is coming to Katowice with ‘refrezh’ replacing ‘niko’, but the change might not be enough. It’s clear that Snappi is one to blame for OpTic’s lack of results. But there’s more than it as it’s clear that there’s something deeply wrong with OpTic.

North situation isn’t much better, but CadiaN get some slack since he joined North way after Snappi joined OpTic. It’s sad however, to see how North, house of one of the most promising players in Denmark can’t bring results for the organization.

Both teams had long breaks to prepare for the Minor though, and qualifying here is essential. Otherwise, we should be expecting to see a huge battle between those two for ‘Karrigan’, FaZe ex-leader who is temporarily playing on EnVyUs.


Mousesports and Vitality – It’s now or never

Mousesports being eliminated in last-place at the New Legends stage of London 18’ was quite a surprise. The squad was looking sharp and they definitely had potential to make through the playoffs. That didn’t happen though, and here they’re.

Vitality wasn’t present in the last Major though, and after replacing ‘Happy’ with ‘ALEX’ from LDLC, the team has their heads-up for this event. After all, it’s going to be the most important event for them so far.

However, both teams had struggles when it comes to important qualifiers. Mousesports is in a less worrying situation, especially now where they have their support player, ‘STYKO’, once again. Still, they aren’t off the hook, and not qualifying for the Major could mean a big hit in the team morale.

Vitality has shown to be victim of pressure, and while exchanging Happy for ALEX is a promising change, RpK still can’t put up the numbers in the scoreboard for his team. Having one inconsistent player and one unproven player definitely isn’t the best formula to qualify for the Major here. Considering this, all chances of qualifying are then held by ZywOo’s incredible fragging skill, NBK’s versability and apEX skillset.

During the Minor both teams, especially the Frenchmen, cannot fall for mistakes and get overconfident. Teams like Windigo and Valiance won’t let those mistakes unpunished and Mousesports knows very well that small mistakes can lead to big loses.


Valiance and Windigo – the dark horses that can surprise

Both Valiance and Windigo finished 2018 in a high note. Both teams were considerably on the top of the tier 3 European scene and ready to do the jump for the next level. Both teams also have been slowly getting experience in offline events, and pressure won’t be a problem since they’re the dark horses for this Minor.

Valiance had a hard time during mid-2018 but back in November, they did a very important roster change. Adding ‘EspiranTo’, ‘nexa’ and ‘ottoNd’ added some very powerful young talent among the team, all those who closely follows ‘huNter’ performances as a star fragger.

Windigo, the Bulgarian last hope in the international scene is coming fully confident too. Bubble is growing as a very skilled player and given their experience gained in the last months, they definitely can surprise. Indeed, OpTic and North can easily get eliminated by them.

So, while Windigo and Valiance aren’t the best teams here, they pose a threat. Vitality, North, OpTic and ENCE should be very aware of them. However, they also are here to get more and more experience, so it’s important to keep that in mind.

ENCE and ex-Space Soldiers – National Dreams

ENCE and the ex-Space Soldiers are coming as the best teams of their respective countries. While ENCE situation is closer to North and OpTic as far as this Minor goes, the Turks aren’t having an easy time lately.

Recently, ‘XANTARES’, the squad star and highest-performing player left them for BIG. In his place, the Australian ‘yam’ will be filling in. This isn’t a good signal for the ex-Space Soldiers members at all.

Unfortunately, they’re the team that every other competitor will be wishing to get as first opponent. They’re pretty much guaranteed a last place finish this time.

ENCE situation isn’t as bad, but not too good to be confident going for this Minor. The Finnish squad has shown that their young players still have difficulties dealing with high pressure environments and now, after almost one year since the team was built, they need to qualify, so it’s even more intimidating than before.


The Minors will be starting soon, who will be qualifying?

A total of 10 teams will be qualifying from all regional minors this time around. Now that you know the backgrounds of each team in the Europe Minor, who do you think that will manage to make through? Let us know below!

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