The field for the StarLadder Berlin Major is now set.
The Third-Place Play-In for the event has wrapped up with North, HellRaisers, and INTZ Esports rounding out the field of challengers, with MVP.PK falling short of qualifying. The former three join the previous field of qualifier winners, which includes top squads such as Furia Esports, NRG Esports, and Mousesports, as well as regional staples such as TyLoo and ForZe.
Though the play-in is typically designed to admit two teams into majors, INTZ benefitted from the ongoing struggles of Cloud9. The popular organization will be watching the major from home after splitting off from most of its roster from the IEM Katowice Major.
With Cloud9 out, just five teams retained Challenger status from Katowice, with each one enjoying varied levels of success in the months since.
Team Vitality is arguably the best team in the Challengers Stage. The French team has enjoyed top-five status in recent months after hoisting trophies at events such as the ECS Season 7 Finals, and CS Summit 4. They stand as a legitimate contender to win the major, and could easily breeze their way through the stage with a 3-0 record.
Also among that lot are Avangar and G2 Esports. The teams have run completely different paths since Katowice, with Avangar looking strong immediately after, and then falling off since. Meanwhile G2 is riding a hot streak. Finally, CompLexity Gaming and HellRaisers face long odds due to recent roster changes.
The qualifiers field added 11 more teams to the list. Mousesports and CR4ZY won the Europe Minor, Grayhound Gaming and TyLoo took Asia, NRG Esports and Furia Esports won the Americas Minor, and finally ForZe and Syman Gaming came out on top for the CIS.
There was a lot of confusion regarding the roster rules for the returning Legend-status teams from the IEM Katowice Major, but everything worked out in the end.
Ninjas in Pyjamas managed to find a strong stand-in for Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora in Maikil “Golden” Selim, following some confusion in regards to Plopski’s status for the major. Finally, a late rule change for the event by StarLadder allowed MiBR to play following a prolonged breakup with one of its top players.
Liquid will enter the tournament as the on-paper favorites to win, but they have some intense competition. Astralis has a real chance of taking their fourth major victory, despite some recent struggles, while ENCE and Vitality have shown that they are capable of beating Liquid in the past.
The New Challengers Stage of the StarLadder Berlin Major kicks off on August 23.