It is that time of the year! The Major is only a few weeks away, and the first stage of the major is loaded as per usual with quality teams from every region. The new system calls this stage the “New Challengers” stage, and StarLadder is making all challenger teams feel special because they will be playing in front of a live audience in Berlin’s Verti Music Hall to try and qualify for the New Legends stage.
Only eight teams are eligible to qualify, but today we are looking at our top five teams we feel good about going into the New Challenger stage in Berlin, Germany.
The fifth spot goes to the Brazilian surprise success story Intz. Led by the infamous Vito "kNg" Giuseppe, INTZ were the last team to qualify for the New Challenger stage but that does not mean they lack for firepower. While FURIA were all the rage after beating Astralis in a b03, INTZ have become the new flavor of the month, and supposedly, kNG is being recruited by Made in Brazil after the major.
All of INTZ have something to prove, and what better way to raise their value than by playing out of their minds? The Swiss system is ripe for upsets, and the field contains several teams outside of the HLTV top 25 ranking. FURIA on paper should be on this list (and will still qualify for the next stage), but INTZ are the team I am putting as my under the radar favorite to advance to the New Legends stage.
Expected Major run: Qualify for New Legends Stage.
4 G2 Esports
G2 Esports are an extremely curious case. The team has shown an affinity for playing Team Liquid well (even taking the occasional map), but have been unable to dethrone the current Kings of Counter-Strike in a full series. Yet, the team has a bit more of a mixed resume against the rest of the field. G2 Esports should be an exciting team to watch, but remember that French teams can be extremely unpredictable, and we have seen meltdowns at majors before.
G2 Esports have finally shown that they can contend, and that they can be one of the two top French teams in 2019. French Counter-strike is back! How long is it here to stay? As long as the French AWPers Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and Mathieu "Zywoo" Herbaut stay hot, we will be blessed with force buys and the flair for the dramatic.
Expected Major run: New Legends Exit 2-3
Mousesports have been such an exciting experiment to watch that I sometimes forget the team features mostly younger talent. David "frozen" Čerňanský is only 17 and playing in his first ever major after posting a 1.11 HLTV rating over the past three months.
Star AWPer and King of sensitivity Ozgur "w0xic" Eker has posted a 1.19 rating in the prior three months, and has been absolutely electric even when the rest of Mouz may have looked lost. Finn "Karrigan" Andersen has done it again, and hopefully this experiment guarantees we will see them in the major system for years to come.
Expected Major Run: Quarterfinal exit.
NRG have long flirted with greatness, but this major is their chance to prove that Team Liquid is not the only top team from North America. NRG have a bevy of talent, but the team has only been able to convert that into quarter and semifinal placings.
Similar to Team Liquid of old, NRG seemed to be hitting a ceiling and called on the services of North American journeyman Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz to try to break that curse. NRG took the number one seed out of the Americas minor, and should cruise through the New Challenger stage.
Expected major run: Quarterfinal exit.
Team Vitality may have stumbled a bit recently, but the team is the undisputed best team of all attending the first stage of the major. The team's resume from this year boasts tournament wins at CS_Summit 4 and ECS Season 7 Finals, and top four placings at ESL One Cologne, ESEA Season 31 Global Challenge, and IEM Chicago 2019.
Vitality have become truly world contenders, and the flamboyant French team are a Zywoo hard carry away from bringing the major trophy back to France for the first time since 2015. Unfortunately, their relative one dimensional team build has kept the team from beating Team Liquid with any regularity. To take the next step, Vitality need to become more than the supporting cast for Zywoo.
Expected Major result: Grand finalist
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?