StarSeries begins the 30th of March, and it has positioned itself as one of the premier CS events of the beginning of 2019. 12 teams were invited, with 6 teams qualifying through various qualifiers. The event is using a swiss system, all best-of-threes, with the top 8 teams moving on to the event playoffs, where they will battle to a best-of-five grand final, a rarity in professional CS.

I’m going to highlight the most exciting teams at the event, then give my picks for winner and the two teams we are likely to see in the finals.

All odds are from Bovada, check out our recommended esports betting sites:

“Trophy" Teams


  • +120 make the finals
  • +325 to win

MIBR, in my mind, are the prohibitive favorites for this event. They are the team on the biggest upswing in this group, and they have some of the best talent out of everyone attending.

What makes me most excited about them at this event is how many games they’ll get to play. Every team in attendance plays at least three best-of-threes, which bodes well for MIBR. At IEM Katowice, MIBR had a dangerously slow start. They played Cloud9 on Inferno and lost 3-16, which isn’t generally how teams want to start off tournaments. After this loss, however, MIBR clawed their way back, and swept the rest of the competition until they reached Astralis in the Major semi-finals.

This MIBR lineup seems to be one that gets better over time. The more maps they play, the more likely they are to be successful in whatever event they are attending. Not only should they do well at StarSeries, playing this many best-of-three’s against high level opponents is going to help them level up, and continue to increase their cohesion with this new(ish) lineup. Depending on how they play in Sao Paulo, I’d feel very comfortable slotting them in as taking this tournament.


  • +175 to make the finals
  • +450 to win

I’m still conflicted about Na’Vi. I really don’t like the way their team is setup. Their overreliance on s1mple make me nervous, and the inconsistencies in their supporting cast don’t do much to relieve the burden from the young star’s shoulders. What makes me even more nervous is that it seems this is the way the players want the team to function. They’re happy to place the burden almost wholly on s1mple, and it seems that s1mple is happy receiving it.

Na’Vi had encouraging results in Katowice, which only serves to confuse me further. Flamie had his best event since the ELEAGUE Major in 2018, and Na’Vi made it all the way to the semi-finals, before losing a close series to ENCE. Can I trust Flamie to keep up this form moving forward? I’d imagine the answer is no, but it’s hard to tell.

Na’Vi has the best player in attendance at this event. The only players who are in the same tier are prime coldzera, prime NiKo, and that’s about it. But I’m not sure if Na’Vi has the consistency to win three best-of-threes against the field at this event, and the odds just aren’t good enough.


  • +225 to make the finals
  • +550 to win

I wish I could say FaZe is a big question mark, but they really aren’t. Asking this roster to win three best-of-threes is a tall order, one that NiKo and co won’t be able to handle. They continue to look confused and disorganized, and it’s going to take a big performance at BLAST Sao Paulo to change my mind.

NiKo’s firepower is undeniable, but he’s splitting his mental resources too many ways, which is causing him and his supporting cast to be less effective. Rain has fallen off a cliff, GuardiaN is on his way out, the whole roster is a mess.


  • +550 to make the finals
  • +1200 to win

North are one of the frontrunners for worst managed CS:GO team in the scene. They went through a flurry of roster changes in 2018, which mostly treading water. cadiaN is their in-game-leader right now, and their firepower leaves a bit to be desired.

They don’t stand out as fraggers, nor do they impress with their tactical depth, which makes them a thoroughly uninteresting candidate for anything other than the occasional upset win. Worst of all, with Karrigan officially signed and done, the road upwards looks treacherous for North. There is no clear roadmap for improvement, which isn’t something you want to hear when talking about any professional sports organization, much less the second most prestigious CS org in one of the best CS countries in the world.


  • +650 to make the finals
  • +1400 to win

StarSeries is NRG’s first shot at redemption, after their collapse at the Major. NRG is one of the most stacked young rosters in terms of raw firepower. Or at least, they should be. CeRq was previously a highly touted prospect, mentioned in the same breath as frozen, ropz, draken, and the rest of the next generation of Counter Strike.

Unluckily for NRG, CeRq failed to live up to this demanding reputation, and although ethan and brehze put up impressive performances in Katowice, NRG went home with their tails between their legs.

StarSeries is their next big event, and they should be ready to send a statement to the rest of the scene that they’re for real. Hopefully CeRq was hitting the DM servers in a big way since Poland, and I’m excited to see how he looks.


  • +550 to make the finals
  • +1200 to win

Another redemption candidate, although I feel better about BIG than I do about NRG. With more time for the gobfather to assimilate star fragger XANTARES into the lineup, BIG should only be looking scarier. Not to mention nex should be playing better and better, as he continues to rehab his wrist. BIG are the kind of team I’d expect to do well at such a heavy best-of-three tournament, especially if they can get all the parts working the way they’re supposed to be.


  • +550 to make the finals
  • +1200 to win

Poor Fnatic is a mess right now. They were 16-0’d for the first time in their history as a team recently, and to AGO no less. Roster changes don’t look to be far away from the Swedes, as I wouldn’t be surprised to see them move away from Xizt, and maybe one other player. This team just doesn’t seem like it’s fitting all that well together, which isn’t terribly surprising. It was mostly assembled from scraps in the Swedish scene, and Fnatic may look to go back to the well for some more young Swedish talent.


  • +450 to make the finals
  • +1000 to win

NiP just keep hanging in there. They haven’t won a tournament since late 2017, and yet they keep on trucking. After a surprisingly strong placing in Katowice, they are hoping to keep their streak of good form headed into Shanghi. I don’t think NiP will ever win anything again, much less this relatively stacked event. I’m afraid NiP is going to go the way of our old friends Virtus.Pro. The only question is, how long will the GeT_RiGhT and f0rest retirement tours last.


  • +450 to make the finals
  • +1000 to win

This event is going to be ENCE’s second LAN event after Katowice, which means it’s their second chance to prove that they aren’t a flash in the pan. ENCE seem to have one of the most exciting young cores in the game right now. Sergej is on his way to bona fide all-star, Allu has had an against all odds resurgence, even xseven is looking good coming off his rock solid performance at the Major.

The big questions for ENCE are whether they can do this consistently with such a young roster, as young rosters are more prone to inconsistencies, and if Aerial and xseven can continue to produce. I like this roster a lot, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the playoff mix at this event.


  • +750 to make the finals
  • +1600 to win

HellRaisers have suddenly become very interesting due to the Mousesports shuffle. They’ve added oskar and lmbt and have one more slot to fill before the event. Hobbit, oskar, and ISSAA make up a formidable trio, which could (in theory at least) go toe-to-toe with some of the tier one teams. The onus in this team is on ANGE1, to see if he can integrate a veteran all-star in oskar with his other young star. The other big question is for management, to see if they can actually pull off the acquisition of one more tier one caliber rifler. If they can, HellRaisers could be a dark horse at this tournament.

“Trophy" Winner

MiBR is the favorite at +325, which makes a lot of sense. They look like the most complete team, they have a championship pedigree, and coldzera looks like he’s playing himself back into form. Especially with all the CS this team will have to play at the event, which will surely help them play back into shape, I feel comfortable putting them down as a lock.

If you’d like something a little more outlandish, with some longer odds, look at ENCE at +1000 and BIG at +1200. If everything goes right for those two teams, continued excellence by a roleplayer for ENCE, and the integration of a top 10 talent for BIG, they could both be fearsome competitors vying for the title.

Na’Vi is absent on purpose here. I’m worried they’ll drown in pools, as that’s a lot of matches to play for a team which is constructed so precariously. At +450 I don’t love the value either. So, for me, Na’Vi is a stay away. If you’re a little more bullish on Flamie’s form and their coherence as a team, give them a shot, but I will be placing my money elsewhere.

“Trophy" Make the Finals

This is a more interesting question. Obviously, I like MiBR at +120, but after that the field tapers off. BIG at +550, ENCE at +450, even NRG at +650 are all interesting ideas. ENCE is the one that stands out for me, as I think people still aren’t taking their lights out performance in Katowice seriously enough. I think that HellRaisers at +750 has some merit here as well. Depending on their fifth player, they could be scary.

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