The New Legends stage is over, and now there are only seven best-of-threes between now and the eventual Major championship. But before we get to the final bracket, we need to talk about last stage and what we learned. We’ll hopefully find some insights for the next stage, which will help with our future picks.
Astralis Are Still the Best
Surprise, surprise, Astralis are still the best team in the world. They dropped on map in overtime, which was plenty surprising, and made quick work of all their other maps, obliterating Cloud9 16-0 and breezing past compLexity 16-6. They have three players in the top 10 at the event so far. Device comes in first with a staggering +43 kill differential, with a K/D of 1.68. Xyp9x comes in fifth with a kill differential of +29, and a K/D of 1.52. Gla1ve comes in ninth, with a differential of +23 and a K/D of 1.37.
Yes, you read that right. Their IGL is the ninth best rated player at the event to far. Every player on Astralis has a K/D over 1.2, which is just absurd. Astralis leads in about half of the statistical categories, including opening kills, opening duel success, KAST%, deaths, and K/D difference.
Now, this is a small sample size against teams that are barely tier one, so with any other team I would caution against overreacting. But this is just Astralis providing more evidence that they are hands down the best team in the world. I don’t see many scenarios where they don’t win this Major.
Liquid’s Roster Move Works (So Far)
I was worried about Liquid’s roster shakeup over the player break. They traded their coach and their support player to MIBR and got Stewie2k in return. This led to some role conflict that concerned me about the structure of their team, and I wasn’t sure if they would be able to contend at the highest level.
It appears my concerns were unfounded, as they strolled through the Legends stage 3-0, defeating AVANGAR and NiP in fairly close best-of-ones, then dismantling Na’Vi 2-0 in their advancement match.
Everyone on the roster had a big game in the Legends stage, which is encouraging. Twistzz is having a great tournament so far, and surprisingly nitr0 has had several big maps for Liquid, pulling off an ace clutch against NiP amongst other heroics. The most disappointing player so far has been Stewie2k, who has had middling performances on all four of their maps so far.
They’ll likely need an extra boost of firepower from Stewie and EliGE if they really want to leapfrog Astralis as the best team in the world. They won’t be able to rely on just nitr0 and Twistzz in a best-of-three against the absolute top tier of CS and will need everyone on the team firing on all cylinders.
Renegades Are Still Kicking
Somehow Renegades made it through again. They went 3-1 in the Legends stage, beating ENCE, FaZe, and Vitality, as well as taking a map off Astralis. They weren’t a team that was on anyone’s radar headed into Katowice, but their performance so far has been impressive.Whether they make it any further is doubtful, seeing as how they have a pretty serious lack of top tier experience. But I like them a lot going forward, especially as an upset candidate. Although, to be honest, they are barely an upset candidate at this point. Another performance or so at this level and they’ll be a real contender.
NRG and BIG
Two teams with star imports, CeRq and XANTARES, both went out 0-3. Their losses can both be attributed to a no-show performance from their aforementioned star, which throws into question their whole roster construction strategy.NRG arguably had the worse losses of the two teams, so we can start with them. The mostly American squad went 3-0 in the Challengers stage, primarily off the backs of Ethan and Brehze’s monster performances. They were the two top rated players in the first stage of the Major, and they looked like legitimate star players who could, in theory at least, contend at the top tier.
Brehze carried this form into the Legends stage, going positive in all four of their maps and leading the team in ADR and K/D. Ethan struggled a little more than Brehze, as he got outperformed by daps in their best-of-one against NiP, and went negative against compLexity in their elimination best-of-three.
The biggest disappointment for NRG is CeRq, no question. He went 12-21 in their first game of the stage against NiP, which they ended up losing 14-16. If he had even an average game, it isn’t crazy to think they might have pulled it out against the Swedes. He went on to outperform daps by a hair in their game against AVANGAR, and then went even in the best-of-three against compLexity.
BIG had a similar scenario, albeit with a bigger collapse from a bigger star. Let’s hit the good stuff first. Nex was consistently playing well in the Legends stage, and he was their best performing player in their best-of-three against ENCE. He had an ADR of 87.7, a team best by a wide margin, and a +22-kill differential. This helps assuage any doubts we had about his post injury form, which is going to be a positive for BIG headed into the rest of the year. That’s about it.
No one else on the team had a good tournament. tabseN was up and down, tiziaN played okay in their elimination match, gob b had a good game against G2, but no one showed up for all five maps.
Most disappointing though, for BIG and for pretty much anyone who did the pickem challenge, XANTARES fell completely flat. Not only did he perform poorly, but he lost BIG a couple key rounds, including a botched retake on Train, map two of their elimination match. Hopefully this was just a symptom of XANATRES having to speak a new language and playing with new teammates for the first time in years, but it’s impossible to know.
XANTARES and gob b were supposed to be a perfect pair, one enabling the other with aim and with tactics. There’s still plenty of time for them to click, but they didn’t impress in Katowice.
French Cs Comes up Short
Another Major, another French collapse. This Major had two reasonably promising French teams for the first time in a while, and neither team made it. Vitality had a deeper run, although not by much, and they certainly look to be the more promising team. G2, on the other hand, won only one map against BIG, one of the 0-3 teams.
Vitality tried to rally around ZywOo, which was their win condition. ZywOo looked like a tier one player at times, although he failed to hit the superstar level that was necessary to make the next stage. He ended up in the high teens in the rankings, oddly enough with an identical K/D to his teammate apEX.
Simultaneously the most disappointing, and most exciting part of their performance was their 2-1 game against Renegades. ZywOo had a lackluster performance throughout the best-of-three, which was likely their best chance at making the playoff bracket. It isn’t strange that ZywOo choked in this series, in fact it’s expected. And while yes, it is a shame they won’t be able to show off their skills in the Spodek arena, this is extremely valuable experience for ZywOo. Not every 18-year-old professional player gets to play in games this important. There are plenty of players in their 20s that have never, and likely will never play in a game of this magnitude. If ZywOo can take this performance, learn from it, and use it as fuel, Vitality will only continue to get scarier.
G2, on the other hand, had much less to be excited about. While their younger additions played about as well as you’d expect, shox’s in-game-leading leaves much to be desired. I worry the ceiling for this team is much lower than the roster and the organization think it is, which obviously isn’t a good sign for them moving forward.