The ELEAGUE Major is upon us. Arguably the most competitive major to be. Since ESL Cologne we've had a different team winning the premier tournaments (NiP won two but with different lineups), but before we talk about the major, we need to know who will be attending. With the main qualifier being this weekend I thought I'd put out my predictions and discuss them. Here are the teams we will see at the major.
Cloud9's run at ESL Pro League has been buried under all the most recent group stage finishes. When you get past what they accomplished at that tournament you realize how lucky they got. Autimatic was having the best tournament of his career and because of that everything seemed to be working out for them. However, since then we have not seen the same thing from autimatic or the rest of Cloud9. It seems their reliance on playing really well is not working out and that's reality.
They lack any kind of structure at the moment and because of it they have nothing to fall back on in case Stewie or autimatic aren't playing well. They have no way of adapting when everything isn't going their way. They are missing consistent play and even if they did have a tactical style I wouldn't have hope that it'd be the answer. This lineup is overdue for some change and obviously it can't happen now. If not a roster change then why not get a coach who can call instead of Stewie.
Cloud9 is last on this list because it is most likely the team to get upset. I'd say EnVyUs would be on the same level, but they aren't prone to losing to lesser teams. As I mentioned before, without C9's star-players going off they can be in some deep trouble against teams like Renegades, Mouz, or GODSENT. They are capable of taking advantage of their inconsistencies and will take their spot at the major.
EnVyUs' position right now is funnily similar to G2. They are like gatekeepers of the top ten. The difference is that I'd never put nV over any of the top teams. If apEX goes completely nuts then it is very possible to win against the top three teams. Unfortunately though, if it's Kenny hitting his prime then it won't be enough to completely carry the team, but maybe he can win some crazy clutch situations or shut down some offensive sides that could give them the upperhand. Point is, EnVyUs is nothing to the the top five teams unless their star players play really well, but even then they aren't guaranteed to win.
The major qualifier is where teams like nV can have a chance at a good ending. Half of the teams in attendance are teams EnVyUs should be able to stomp if Kenny and apEX play well and luckily only half of the teams make it into the major. They are capable of also beating some of the favored teams to qualify provided that the star power is there. In-game EnVyUs hasn't impressed much as a team and other than KennyS and apEX I don't see anything else to call a strength, but at least they can beat anyone not better than them on a consistent basis.
The players on G2 have proved to be amazing during the summer, but we haven't seen that side from them in a while. Sure they have had their great performances, but they've also had their bad performances in between. They aren't as good as they were heading into the last major, but the skill is definitely there to even beat a top five team. G2 is a middling team who stands between top ten and top twenty. If you're a team looking to reach the top G2 would be a team you'd have to beat first.
In-game though G2 is a team that depends on shox and Scream to have a perfect game to win against better teams. That's where things get inconsistent, sure they can continually beat the teams under them, but that means that in this format they will win their first match, but then they might face a Dignitas or NiP and they get knocked back down and they will be put in situations where upsets are possible. They can still lose against Renegades or Mouz. If the superstar performance is there then, yes, they can get through 3-0 or 3-1, but if not then they will have a narrow qualification or not qualify at all.
Immortals is definitely middling here on this list of potential qualifiers. On one hand they have looked good against teams that aren't usually at the premier tournaments. On the other hand, we thought the same about them last major and they disappointed by having their journey cut short. This is hardly a different lineup with only steel being new and SHOWTIME not on the team anymore.
However, once you get past their past performances at major qualifiers they should really be favored to advance here. They looked great at IEM Oakland when steel was added and haven't looked like complete trash since then. ECS was an unfortunate finish, but the mistakes they made in their matches there seemed like an off thing for a team like Immortals.
With the teams in attendance I only really see them lose against NiP or Dignitas, I'd say it's even between them and FaZe or OpTic. Other than that though it should be clear skies. With that said, I wouldn't be surprised if I see them lose to Renegades, Cloud9, or G2.
FaZe has looked good at ELEAGUE and IEM Oakland. Like Immortals, they looked off at ECS, but even then I don't see them losing to any of the sub-top ten teams here. FaZe just has the skill alone to take them out like they used to with their old lineup. Karrigan's leadership wouldn't even be necessary, but it is a good thing to have. Unless they fall apart I don't see them getting upset.
Even the firepower of rain and aizy alone is enough to get through this qualifier and with Karrigan's leadership it'll only make it harder. FaZe is a lock in for sure to get to the major and there is little chance that they will get upset. No way they lose to a lesser team at the most important event.
OpTic is pretty much a lock in as well. Their players have shown to have good individual performance despite the roles they play. Being the current best North American team I don't see them having much trouble getting out of the qualifier. Maybe not a 3-0, but most likely with a record of 3-1.
The combination of talent and coordination will be enough to beat any of the teams not listed here. The only issue they showed this weekend was mixwell looking inconsistent, but if they can still get second place under those conditions then I don't have a reason to believe they won't qualify. Besides minor inconsistency from individuals and their small map pool there aren't many downsides. The chances of losing out on the major for OpTic are very slim.
There is zero doubt that Dignitas will not qualify. Their capability is way better than anyone else in attendance and they shouldn't have too many issues with any of the them. Maybe a loss to OpTic or NiP is possible, but even then they can handle themselves.
The firepower from Magisk and konfig is great and it should be a field day for them in the case that they lose on the first round since they will face weaker opponents from then on. They have a high chance of making it out of the qualifier with an undefeated record since they are more than capable to beat NiP, OpTic, or FaZe.
It should be needless to say that Dignitas is a clear dark horse for the major itself as they sit in a similar spot as G2 for Cologne. A team who is able to be a top team in the world and is capable of taking out the best. They play the role of being able to take down a favorite like Virtus.pro or Astralis. So their results here at the qualifier shouldn't be anything less than great.
The Ninjas are the only core team to win two premier tournaments during this parity era, but as I mentioned, one win was with Maikelele not pyth. The distinction between both players has been made by many at this point so no reason to go into that. NiP has looked like a different beast than from the beginning half of the year.
Since THREAT has stopped in-game leading for NiP they have had better results and look a lot better tactically. Xizt has done very well in his calling. It seemed like THREAT's style was figured out and to top teams it was predictable therefore their results dipped during the summer and they lost the major legend spot.
F0rest has lately been the main carry of the team and GTR has recently started to find his stride. If anyone suffered from THREAT's style, it was him. His performance was the worst it's been in CSGO, but since Xizt picked up in-game leading he has turned that around. NiP is 100% going to get through this qualifier. You'd be crazy to not think so.
Photo Credit: HLTV.org, ELEAGUE