Major participants, recent form and chances of advancement
After we have already dealt with all the details of the new update in yesterday's article, today we will discuss the Pick'Em's of the Challenger Stage. This article is not intended to give reliable tips, the Challenge should only serve as a basis for a preliminary report on the Major. We will look at the participants analytically.
In doing so, we will focus on the form before the event and thus on the last tournaments and results. Based on this, we will decide, together with a little gut feeling, which eight teams will overcome the first phase.
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Table of Content
THE NEW CHALLENGERS STAGE
For the Challenger Stage a total of 16 teams are qualified, which will play in a Swiss system for advancement. Except for the deciding matches, all duels will be played as BO1 and there will be a maximum of five rounds. Eight of the teams will have collected three wins at the end of the matches and thus advance to the Legends Stage. The Pick'Em Challenge is now about selecting those eight teams that will advance. In addition, you have to choose one lineup which will advance with 3:0 and one which will be eliminated with 0:3!
Who takes part?
At the new Challenger Stage, the eight Challengers from the different regions have to prove themselves against eight Contenders. All in all a diverse mix of lineups with different world rankings and Tier-1 experience. According to the EsportFire World Rankings, Astralis is the highest ranked team with the current position of seventh.
Which notable teams actually failed to qualify? In the European region, the main ones to mention here are OG, Complexity, FunPlus Phoenix and fnatic. Four teams, which would definitely have the resources and also the potential to play along to the world's best and hopefully will come back by next year. In the CIS region, forZe had to admit defeat against strong competition.
Among the eight Challengers are already some top-class teams, which also have quite realistic chances for top-4 placements. We will go into the teams in alphabetical order.
Astralis: The Danish defending champion narrowly failed to qualify for the Legends Stage of the event as fourth in the RMR rankings. For the Major, IGL gla1ve returns to the lineup and will replace Bubzkji. Although the team has yet to record a tournament win this year, Astralis showed that they are still among the absolute best in the world with four consecutive fourth-place finishes. The Challenger Stage should not be a problem for the team.
Latest S-Tier event results: BLAST Fall Groups: 4th-6th/12, ESL Pro League S.14: 13th-16th/24, IEM Cologne 3rd-4th/24;
BIG:The German top team showed solid performances at the RMR events and finally found themselves about 1000 points away from the Legends Stage in sixth place. However, one cannot speak of a really successful year for the team around the new fifth "gade" so far. Apart from an A-tier event success in April, the performances have been very mixed. At the moment, BIG doesn´t seem to be a title candidate. For now lets keep the team around IGL tabseN as uncertainty in mind.
Latest S-Tier Event results: BLAST Fall Groups: 4th-6th/12, ESL Pro League S.14 : 17th-20th/24, IEM Cologne 7th-8th/24;
ENCE: The mixed team kept it very exciting until the last event, but was able to deliver under enormous pressure at IEM Fall and qualified for the Major with a fifth place in the RMR ranking. The team had to fight for S-Tier entries in 2021 and could only participate in two top events. However, the second place at the IEM was a great success for the team and the performance at the ESL Pro League was also convincing. Our second climber!
Latest S-Tier event results: ESL Pro League S.14: 5th-8th/24, ESL Pro League p.13: 9th-12th/24;
Heroic: Besides Astralis, the second Danish top team is also represented as a Challenger at the Major. The team around cadiaN was heavily affected by the HUNDEN scandal and only recently published an emotional statement on the subject. Unimpressed, however, the team continued to show solid results in 2021. Only the 12th place at IEM Fall was disappointing and resulted in the team around CadiaN not being represented in the Legends Stage. Heroic is a clear favorite to advance.
Latest S-Tier Event results: ESL Pro League S.14: 3rd-4th/24, IEM Cologne 7th-8th/24, IEM Summer 9th-12th/16;
Mousesports: With a new logo back on track? Mouz quite surprisingly managed to win the first of two RMR events this year, the Flashpoint 3, but has been far from being a top team since. Their last performance at IEM Fall was also rather disappointing, ultimately putting the team just 200 points away from failing to qualify for the major. The Mice are definitely still an uncertain factor.
Latest S-Tier event results: ESL Pro League S.14: 9th-12th/24, IEM Cologne 13th-16th/24, DreamHack Masters Spring: 9th-12th/16;
Movistar Riders: The Spanish top team qualified for the Major with a sensational fifth place at IEM Fall as seventh in the RMR ranking. Like ENCE, the Riders participated exclusively in the second RMR tournament and had no points from last year's cycle. In 2021, the Spaniards participated in only one S-Tier event and achieved only mediocre finishes. The team will be a big unknown at the Major. Even though the motivation will be high after the successful qualification, it should not be enough for the promotion against numerous Tier-1 teams normally.
Latest S-Tier Event results: IEM World Championship: 21th-24th /24
paiN: The Brazilian top team was able to finally qualify for the Major with conviction thanks to two good performances at the cs_summit 8, as well as the IEM Fall and managed to do so almost as a "Legend". However, just like Movistar Riders, the team is clearly in the Tier-2 scene and only participated in one S-Tier event throughout the current year. Participation in the Major is a great success, but it will not be enough for promotion.
Latest S-Tier Event results: DreamHack Masters Spring 2021: 13th-16th/16
Spirit: The Russian top team made the breakthrough last year and established themselves at the top of the world. After a strong start to the current year, however, the team has been struggling with difficulties for some time and still has not found back to their top form. They qualified for the Major in third place behind NAVI and Gambit in the heavily populated RMR cycle in the CIS region. Another uncertain position in our ranking for the promotion spots, which we will come back to later.
Latest S-Tier event results: ESL Pro League S.14: 17th-20th/24, IEM Cologne: 13th-16th/24, IEM Summer: 9th-12th/16.
Copenhagen Flames: The Danish team was one of the big surprises at the IEM Fall 2021. With five wins in Group A, among others against G2, BIG and mousesports, the lineup secured the entry into the playoffs. Finally, they secured the Major qualification in a direct duel with Fiend. The team around IGL HooXi is certainly good for one or the other surprise in Stockholm.
Latest S-Tier event results: none
Entropiq: The Russian Tier-2 team managed to qualify for the Major as fourth place in the CIS ranking and could convince at the IEM Fall once again. For a participation in an S-Tier event, however, it was not enough so far. However, an advancement to the next round would be quite doable.
Latest S-Tier Event results: none
FaZe: The international top organization could so far not convince in 2021. For the Major, the team around IGL karrigan qualified just eleventh. It remains to be seen how FaZe will perform in Stockholm, but a promotion to the next round is must!
Latest S-Tier Event results: BLAST Fall Groups: 4th-6th/12, ESL Pro League S.14 : 13th-16th /24, IEM Cologne: 3th-4th/24
GODSENT: The Brazilian lineup around IGL and veteran TACO managed a small sensation at the IEM Fall: North America! With four wins out of five games in the group stage and a 2-0 win against Liquid in the semifinals, the team finally secured second place and thus the qualification for the Major. Advancing to the next round would be a great achievement for the team.
Latest S-Tier Event results: none
Renegades:The top team from the Oceania region qualified for the Major again this year. A total of five teams competed in the region for the one Contender spot in Stockholm. Qualifying is a great success for the organization every year, but advancing seems out of reach.
Latest S-Tier event results: IEM Cologne 13th-16th/24, ESL Pro League S.13: 17th-20th/24, IEM World Championship: 17th-20th/24
Sharks Esports:The Brazilian lineup secured the only spot at the Stockholm Major in the South American region. In a duel with MIBR, the team around IGL jnt finally prevailed. For the team, which has played only a few A-tier events this year, the participation is a great success, but the chances of advancing are very slim.
Latest S-tier event results: none
TYLOO: Also in the Asian region, there was a one-on-one battle in the RMR event at the IEM Fall. The first chaser ViCi was about 150 points behind TYLOO. Also due to COVID the team around IGL Summer did not participate in any A-Tier events so far this year. The chances for a promotion are very bad.
Latest S-Tier Event results: none
Virtus.Pro: At the end of our Contenders list is still an absolute top team, which had however in the near past quite some problems and almost missed the Major qualification due to the early elimination at the StarLadder CIS RMR 2021 event. However, a good performance at the IEM Fall CIS finally secured the fourth place in the RMR ranking. Due to a lineup change, the team then finally slipped to fifth place. The team has in any case good chances of promotion and should manage to do so without any major problems.
Latest S-Tier-Event results: ESL Pro League S.14: 13th-16th/24, IEM Cologne: 5th-6th/24, IEM Masters Summer: 5th-6th/16
Summary and picks
We first take a look at which teams we definitely see moving on to the next round. These are: Astralis, ENCE, Heroic, FaZe, Virtus.Pro. So we have five of the eight promotion slots already allocated.
In the next step we will look at those teams, which we assign, according to the analysis, a very poor chance to qualify: paiN, Renegades, Sharks, TYLOO, GODSENT.
So we are now left with Spirit, BIG, Movistar Riders, Mousesports, Entropiq and Copenhagen Flames for the remaining three promotion spots.
-) Even if Movistar Riders showed solid performances at the IEM Fall, it will not be enough for the Spaniards in the duel with the other teams. -> - Movistar Riders
-) Entropiq will have to admit defeat next against the strong competition of the remaining teams. Especially the lack of S-Tier experience last year was the deciding factor here. -> - Entropiq
-) The final decision was between Spirit and Copenhagen Flames and was by no means an easy one. Due to the recent successes and performances, we decided to advance Copenhagen Flames, which showed sensational games at the IEM Fall. -> - Spirit
Over thus remaining for the three other promotion places: BIG, Mousesports and Copenhagen Flames. Regarding our 3-0 pick, we have decided on Heroic, which have shown in recent weeks and months that they can handle pressure situations well. As a 0:3 pick, TYLOO, Renegades, and Sharks would all be good choices. In the end, the decision came down to Renegades.
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