The StarLadder Berlin Major Challengers Stage is now complete.
Eight teams have been eliminated from the event while eight others moved forward to compete in the Legends Stage.
When it came to which teams were eliminated and which moved forward, things went generally according to plan. The Challengers Stage featured a number of top-notch Counter-Strike: Global Offensive squads that ran over the competition, alongside some wounded rosters that limped into the event and fizzled.
But not everything went as one would expect.
European Counter-Strike stood tall in the first few days of the Berlin Major, as North and Mousesports were the first to advance with 3-0 records. Both looked strong in best-of-ones and got the better of their opponents in qualifying best-of-threes, slipping past CR4ZY and G2 Esports, respectively. CR4ZY and G2 didn’t stay down for long, though. They qualified in the next round with 3-1 records.
The only non-European team in the top five was NRG Esports. NRG suffered a surprise upset loss on day one but broke off a streak from there, moving on with a 3-1 record. NRG has hovered around the top-five of most world rankings of late and was expected to move through with ease.
The list of 3-2 teams is where things get a bit strange.
Avangar squeaked into the Legends Stage with a win over Syman Gaming. Despite being truly impressive at the Katowice Major, Avangar have fallen off hard in the months since. They didn’t look exceptional in the Challengers Stage and likely won’t make top-eight, but just advancing is a win of sorts for the team.
The top star of the Challengers Stage was DreamEaters. Despite being pegged as an 0-3 candidate by many analysts, the Russian squad managed to work their way to a 3-2 record against some remarkably stiff competition. Their future is uncertain but right now, they look hot enough that they have a real chance of making noise in the Legends Stage.
Rounding out the top eight is Team Vitality.
Vitality has been unanimously regarded as an elite CSGO team in recent months and have lived up to that billing with strong performances at a number of prestigious live tournaments, most notably their first-place finish at the ECS Season 7 Finals.
Despite that, Vitality went 1-2 in best-of-ones and didn’t look exceptional from there. They managed to slip into the Legends Stage with a tight 2-1 victory over Australian underdog Grayhound Gaming and looked shaky enough that it’s hard to regard them as a strong top-eight candidate.
While eight teams advanced on, eight teams were also eliminated from the event. There weren’t too many surprises in terms of who got sent home.
TYLOO was expected to be among the first eliminations. While the team made some noise in the Katowice Major’s Challengers Stage, the team would have needed to go above and beyond in Berlin to get a repeat performance.
INTZ Esports was in a similarly tricky spot, but some had higher hopes for them. The Brazilian team was short on results but long on talent in a way that suggested they could get hot and win their way deeper into the tournament. Their elimination was no doubt a hit on some players’ Pick’Em predictions, and also helped contribute to what could be a rough event for Brazilian teams.
Complexity Gaming was the most discussed elimination, though it had little do with their actual play in-game. The team entered the event with a patchwork lineup and was eliminated 1-3. That prompted Complexity CEO Jason Lake to get on Twitter and openly state he is looking to start over and “build a juggernaut.”
The CIS region had a mixed bag of results in the Challengers Stage. Though Avangar bounced back from a rough few months and made the Legends Stage and DreamEaters was a pleasant surprise, the majority of CIS teams competing did not make the cut. CIS Minor teams ForZe and Syman Gaming were both eliminated with 2-3 records, while HellRaisers disappointingly went 1-3.
The biggest shock of the entire Challengers Stage was the elimination of Furia Esports.
Furia was a strong candidate to advance and has been heralded by many as Brazil’s top CSGO squad with the recent troubles experienced by MiBR. The team has performed well in prominent tournaments including a top-four finish at DreamHack Masters Dallas and second place at the ECS Season 7 Finals.
For whatever reason, those successes didn’t translate here. Furia started with a win over HellRaisers but then dropped two games to CR4ZY and ForZe. That put them into elimination range, and a 0-2 loss at the hands of Syman Gaming sealed the deal.
Grayhound Gaming was the final elimination. The Australian squad had some strong moments during the Challengers Stage but fell to Team Vitality in a tough draw in an elimination series.
Each team heads home facing very different futures. Some will likely remain intact and continue to work on the regional level while others will see massive roster changes over the next month. All eight will be looking to get back on track for the first major of 2020.