The offline qualifier for the PGL Krakow Major had all the drama Counter-Strike fans expected. Upsets happen, a North American team found a new way to not make the Major and, as always, Flipsid3 Tactics found its way there. As such, here are the five biggest takeaways from the event:
FlipSid3 proves magic is real
After making every single Major since ESL One Katowice in 2015, you’d think this roster would come up short at least once. Flipsid3 put the nail in Team Liquid’s coffin this time after a back and forth overtime battle to qualify for the major. When it matters most, Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy prepares his team effectively and efficiently. A star studded performance from youngster Denis “electronic” Sharipov definitely made it easier. I would keep any eye on him post-Major.
Immortals breaks the curse
Immortals has finally qualified for a Major, one of the last hurdles this team had left to jump. Their performance wasn’t particularly impressive with close wins against Dignitas, Godsent and HellRaisers, but they got the job done. Ricardo “boltz” Prass has done an great job both playing and in-game leading, assuming that roles didn’t switch again before this event. Unfortunately for Immortals, new addition Vito “kNg” Giuseppe struggled in almost every match. This is an issue they’ll need to correct to ensure they are competitive at the Major.
Cloud9 emerges, OpTic disappoints and Team Liquid leaves heartbroken
Just another week in the North American Counter-Strike merry-go-round. OpTic Gaming had one of the most disappointing results at the Major Qualifier with respect to the level of players on the team. With recent coach James “Hazed” Cobb taking over the in-game leader position, they had limited time to prepare. But that still doesn’t excuse the poor team play and losses to Penta, Vega Squadron and Renegades. This roster is better than each and every one of those teams, but OpTic couldn’t put it together.
Team Liquid was on the brink of qualification with three match points in second overtime before struggling on T-side and eventually losing to FlipSid3. This is one of the most gut wrenching losses of the year, considering how good this lineup can actually be. Young star Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken showed he can be the best player in any given match, which is reassuring heading into the latter part of the year. Chalk this one up as an unfortunate sacrifice the world has made to keep Flipsid3 relevant.
Cloud9 was the best North American team in Bucharest after qualifying with one loss, and that coming to the best team at the event in G2. Cloud9 had no trouble with FlipSid3 and BIG, two of the better led teams in the Qualifier. I think this is clear evidence that this team is most dangerous with a consistent AWP and heavy hitting performances from Timothy “autimatic” Ta. If they are missing either of those, they struggle.
One of the younger teams at the event that was often overlooked by many — including myself — was Penta. They nearly went 3-0 but narrowly lost to mousesports after stomping Team Liquid in impressive fashion. Both Kevin “HS” Tarn and Miikka “suNny” Kemppi really stepped up and will need to once again come time for the Major. I don’t have this team progressing to the playoffs, but automatic qualification to the next Major Qualifier is worth its weight in gold. Just ask NiP.
We have shark stickers
I’d be shocked to find out if anyone had predicted Vega Squadron to qualify for the Major. Thanks to the nature of the Swiss system, some teams had a much easier route than the rest, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the reason Vega made it. They had to play HellRaisers, OpTic, TyLoo, Dignitas and Penta, many of which have better rosters. I’m having a hard time figuring out who is better, Dmitriy “jR” Chervak or Nikolay “mir” Bityukov.
Cover photo courtesy of Turner Sports/ELEAGUE