The American organization advanced to 3-0 in the New Challengers Stage with a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Tyloo. That victory earns the team a spot in the New Legends stage and sets them up to face established elites like Astralis and Team Liquid.
Though many expected this outcome for the team, success did not come easily.
Game one on Inferno started as a battle of momentum. NRG opened on T side and racked up six wins only to have Tyloo respond with nine straight of their own, burrowing under NRG’s skin with unorthodox strategies and map placements.
Though the second half started similarly, it boiled down to a one-versus-one between NRG’s Vincent “Brehze” Cayonte and Tyloo’s Hansel “BnTeT” Ferdinand. Brehze posted gaudy numbers while defending bomb sites, but BnTeT countered with multiple clutches that kept NRG uncomfortable. Rounds were traded back and forth until Ethan “nathE” Arnold stepped up down the stretch to help NRG secure a narrow 16-14 win.
The second map, Mirage, saw BnTet cool down while Brehze stay white hot. Spearheaded by his 21/8 first half, NRG was poised to close out the game early. A strong Tyloo rally in the second half threatened, but NRG managed to settle down and reel in the 16-13 win.
Despite entering the New Challengers stage as the sixth seed, NRG has a strong case for being the best team in the field.
Though the organization had never participated in a major tournament before, first-place finishes at notable events including Intel Extreme Masters XIII Shanghai and CS_Summit 3 had NRG sitting near the top of many rankings. The team earned a spot in Katowice with a dominant showing at the Americas Minor Championship in January, establishing itself as a real contender at the major.
While Tyloo proved to be a challenge for NRG, the team still looked excellent throughout the New Challengers Stage and has a strong shot at advancing to the deciding playoffs.
Despite the loss, Tyloo remains in the hunt to join the Legends Stage as well. The team will look to advance at the expense of Avangar in a best-of-three series.