Writing about the Minors is generally a pretty good announcement of the beginning of Major season. Yes, it’s that time once again, where we ramp back up to the most exciting event in Counter Strike. This European Minor is one of the most stacked I’ve ever seen, and it’s assuredly going to turn into a bloodbath.
It’ll be a tough task to determine who will come out of this event victorious, but such is life. I’m going to run through each team, give you my thoughts, and at the bottom I’ll give you my two picks to make it out of the tournament, as well as the team that will end up in the 3rd place play in game.
Do remember to check out our recommended betting sites here:
Cr4zy, formerly known as Valiance, are perhaps the biggest dark horse candidate in any of the Minors. They’re a multinational lineup who have been plugging away in tier two for seven or eight months now. They narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Katowice Major, and have battled their way back to the European qualifier once again.
This team is heavy on the firepower, at least for where they stand on the worldwide ranking. EspiranTo, nexa, huNter, and ottoNd all have the potential to put up monster performances in any given game, which makes the exceptionally dangerous for a tier two team. In fact, I’d even say that Cr4zy are the prototypical upset team. They have the firepower, they have the map pool, and they have the hunger.
The biggest issue for them is probably their lack of a superstar. Fnatic, Mouz, North, BIG, all of these teams have a singular superstar, or in some cases multiple, that elevate them beyond being just good, or being just an upset team.
If Cr4zy were to make it out of the Minor, it would likely have to be off the back of an ascendant performance from one of the players on this team. Assuming one of them makes a big leap, and we are talking about them as the next big thing, I could see them making a run to the Major. But that’s a really big if.
Fnatic have had a tough couple months. After IEM Sydney I was over the moon about them, and for good reason. They had taken two second place finishes at two of the biggest events of the year, and looked like they had broken through. Talking about them as a top five contender didn’t feel like a stretch, and they seemed to be on an upward swing.
Unfortunately for the Swedes, that ended up not being the case. Since their back-to-back second place finishes they’ve gone out in 9th-12th at two tournaments in a row, against subpar competition. They have wins over Cloud9 and Grayhound over those two tournaments, which is not something a team with championship aspirations should be proud of.
It’s hard to discount Fnatic, what with their combined experience and pedigree, along with the potential in their young stars, but this tournament will be anything but easy for them. The field is stacked, and it’ll be a tall order for the Swedes to make it through.
This is the biggest test this roster has faced so far, and it’s poetic. Mousesports’ old roster was blown up because they failed to make it through the European Minor for the Katowice Major, and they built their current roster for the sole purpose of clawing their way back. Their current lineup has been working towards this tournament since their formation, with Karrigan and ChrisJ helping to groom the younger players and prepare them for a deep run in Berlin.
Mouz has only played one tier one LAN so far with this roster, and it was an impressive showing. Wins over TyLoo, North, and FaZe at the EPL Finals make for an encouraging resume for such a young team. Even their single loss at the tournament looked okay, pushing Liquid into overtime on their map pick in the semi-finals during their 0-2 loss.
Woxic in particular impressed at the EPL Final, which is something Mousesports will have to rely on moving forward. All of their young talent performing at 100% will be crucial if Mousesports want to make it to the Major.
I like this team a lot, and I think they have as good a chance as anyone to make it through.
I’m so wary of North. Every time I think they’re finally on the upswing they end up losing to AVANGAR or something. They had some solid results earlier this year, with playoff appearances at DreamHack Masters Dallas and the ECS Finals, but they haven’t been further than a 4th place finish since the last European Minor.
Their losses aren’t terribly embarrassing, which is a good sign. They’ve been knocked out of tournaments by MIBR, Furia, Fnatic, Vitality thrice, which are all respectable enough. It seems like North have taken up the duty of being the gatekeepers of tier one, rarely losing to teams of a lesser caliber while being unable to punch above their weight.
This bodes well for them at the Minor. The only teams better than them here are mousesports, and maybe Fnatic. If they play up to their usual level, they should at least be able to snag the third place spot.
Honestly, if you put a gun to my head, I wouldn’t be able to tell you who was on BIG. They have three guys on the bench, any of whom might be playing at any particular tournament for some reason. Denis is on this team now? Denis hasn’t played on a tier one team since NiKosports in 2016, which is absurd. How did he get a spot on this team, I don’t understand.
There was a time when I was really hopeful for this team. Gob B was a great IGL, he had XANTARES to work with now, after they got over the language barrier it was going to be smooth sailing. A player of XANTARES’ caliber paired with a top five IGL was supposed to be a nigh unstoppable combo. Not to mention tabsen’s veteran leadership and solid AWPing to help them hit their full potential.
Instead we got this confusing mess of players bottoming out at LAN after LAN. They have eight players on their roster and they can’t even beat Virtus.Pro. I have little hope for this lineup moving forward, and bar a miracle, they aren’t going to the Major.
Team Ancient +800
If the third best Swedish team makes it through this qualifier, I’m going to lose my mind. Team Ancient looks like the Swedish All Wasted Potential team, with big names like draken, disco doplan, and freddieb wasting away after bottoming out of the top tier Swedish teams. All of those guys have played for Godsent, NiP, or Fnatic, and yet here they are.
If Team Ancient ends up surprising me, I’ll revisit them and talk about how their veterancy and skill allowed them to outwork their opponents, which then let them sneak into a Major spot. But I doubt it.
To qualify for the Minor, Sprout beat Maknitude and OpTic Gaming. If you can name a single player on Maknitude, without googling it, I’ll paypal you 5 dollars. Honest to god.
Beating OpTic is at least a little bit of an achievement, as those guys have an organization that’s willing to pay them real dollars to play Counter Strike. In fact, on paper, they have a much better roster than Sprout. How are k0nfig and MSL not playing at the Minor, but Spiidi is? Is this a mistake? I’m going to go check the tape.
Last but not least we have NoChance, a grab-bag of European rejects. This team does inspire some nostalgia in me, and for that I’m thankful. I’ll always have a soft spot for Maikelele led mix teams, as that’s how we got the current FaZe Clan lineup. That being said, I’ll be surprised if this team attains the level of success that early Kinguin did. STYKO and kRYSTAL are both solid players, but they pale in comparison to the high end of the players in attendance.
My picks to make it through are mousesports and, as much as I hate to say it, North, with Fnatic picking up the third place spot. I could see an argument for sliding Fnatic up to the second place spot, and putting Cr4zy in at third, especially if North see some sort of horrible collapse in the group stage of the tournament. But for now, those are my picks.