The StarLadder Berlin Major is just around the corner. In anticipation of the largest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament of the season, Valve has once again released the Viewer Pass to give players multiple ways to engage with the tournament and support their favorites.
The Pick’Em predictions return, giving fans more reason to root for their favorite teams as they look to earn in-game rewards.
Fans that don’t keep close track of the ever-changing world of competitive CSGO might not be certain who to choose here. With that in mind, WIN.gg looked at all sixteen teams set to compete to pick out the eight teams likely to advance, as well as one of the two unlucky squads that may go winless in Berlin.
The squad has won three prominent live events, most notably taking first place at the ECS Season 7 Finals. They also took the top prize at the CS_Summit 4, besting top-ranked Team Liquid in the grand finals. Even when Vitality isn’t winning tournaments, they’re putting on solid performances, reaching the grand finals of ESL One: Cologne and placing top-four at Intel Extreme Masters XIV Chicago. Their only real road block has been the dominant top team, Team Liquid.
While each member of Vitality is a proven talent, Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut has stepped up to a new level over recent months. The 18-year-old has been dazzling fans and opponents so often that some wondering if he may challenge Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s reign as the game’s best individual talent.
All of this combines to make Vitality a consensus top-five CSGO team, as well as the easy pick to go 3-0 in the Challengers Stage.
While there are never any guarantees at a CSGO major, there are five teams that stand a cut above the rest in the Challengers Stage. Joining Vitality on the list of teams that have a strong chance of advancing in the StarLadder Berlin Major are NRG Esports, Mousesports, Furia Esports, and G2 Esports.
While NRG is still looking to shake off the lingering memories of its flop at the IEM Katowice Major, the squad is still well-established as a top-10 team. A crowning moment at a prestigious event still eludes NRG, but the organization has performed well throughout 2019 with the new Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz-led lineup posting respectable efforts at ESL One: Cologne and BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles.
Mousesports is still dogged by inconsistency despite rebuilding their roster in March, but has generally proven itself to be a strong team with its win at DreamHack Open Tours and a top-four finish at the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals. They have struggled against the cream of the CSGO crop in recent months, but they aren’t going to encounter many of those teams in the Challengers Stage.
G2 Esports is largely in the same spot as mouz. The French team is still trying to return to its prime form but has found opportunities to assert itself as a high-caliber team, taking second place at the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals and a top-six slot at DreamHack Masters Dallas.
Finally, Furia was one of the standout teams of the summer, posting a number of strong performances at big events including the ECS Season 7 Finals and DreamHack Masters Dallas. While they have not yet won an especially big tournaments, they have found opportunities to beat established elite teams like Vitality and Astralis.
Some of these teams have looked the part of serious contenders at times but haven’t held up consistently enough to serve as confident picks here. Meanwhile, others haven’t had a chance to compete at a such a big live tournament, but do have the tools to take on serious competition.
North and CR4ZY, who were formerly known as Valiance, have become staples of the European Counter-Strike. North hasn’t posted any particularly strong placements in recent months but has looked solid in events like DreamHack Masters Dallas and the ECS Season 7 Finals against top-notch competition. CR4ZY hasn’t been as prominent in their showings, but their second-place finish at DreamHack Open Tours and at the Europe Minor Championship earn them a nod all the same.
ForZe has been flying under the radar in recent months, but the team has proven that its first-place finish at the Copenhagen Games was no fluke. The Russian team has consistently performed well in regional tournaments like the LOOT.BET Smack My Beach Cup and the Kalashnikov Cup and should be able to take wins over many of the squads in the Challengers Stage.
Picking out one of the 0-3 teams is much trickier than picking out one of the 3-0 teams. Everyone competing in the Challengers Stage is solid on paper, and there are few that don’t have a legitimate chance of advancing. Add to that how each team is guaranteed to play at least two best-of-one series and there is no sure means of picking out a winless team.
Looking over the recent results for each squad, the shakiest team heading into the event may be Syman Gaming.
The team has been something of a feed organization in 2019, with bigger organizations like Team Spirit and Avangar plucking away some of their best players. That has left them struggling throughout much of the season, with their second-place performance in the CIS Minor Championship standing in stark contrast to everything else they’ve done in recent months.
They might be able to break off a win, but they face the longest odds of anyone competing in Berlin.