Megan Bess, January 27, 2017

Your New Legends for the ELEAGUE Major

The storylines of the past four days at the ELEAGUE Major have been accented by traditional upsets that we’ve grown accustomed to at Valve events. With competition so fierce and the overall skill-ceiling progressively increasing, we find ourselves in a new era of CS:GO, where a dominant force is hardly discernible anymore. Top contenders like G2, EnVyUs, and Optic Gaming going out so early is a testament to that.

Oddly enough, only two of the prior eight legend teams didn’t defend their status for the next major. Despite Elige being the uncontested top fragger throughout groups, his insane firepower wasn’t enough to push Liquid past their purgatory of incessant overtime matches. Then there’s FlipSid3. The time-tested veterans have always found a way to squeeze through to playoffs by means of upset or close victories. Unfortunately, with the current climate of CS, coupled with their poor performance, they couldn’t net a bye into the next major.

Here are your new CS:GO Legends, long may they reign.

Na’Vi

Since the addition of s1mple back in August, Na’Vi has made some huge strides but struggled finding the necessary cohesion to make their name feared once more. Despite winning ESL One New York back in October, Na’Vi showed signs of tension at IEM Oakland, taking 9-10th place, and at EPICENTER: Moscow placing 3-4th, falling to the former Dignitas.

That is, until now. The storied CIS quintet all but decimated everyone in their path during groups. Even the reigning two-time Major champions SK Gaming were made short work of by the ferocity they brought. Na’Vi most definitely has the edge going into their quarter-final against Astralis, as they’ve been firing on all cylinders, and the Danes have been struggling to keep their engine turning this week.

Astralis

Going into this event Astralis was widely praised as a favorite to take home this championship. With a stylish first place finish at ECS Season 2 Finals and just falling short of an ELEAGUE Season 2 title, the Danes had been on an upswing.

Astralis’ group stage performance was surprising to say the least. Falling to a historically struggling GODSENT with a 16-6 scoreline set the tone for the following days to come. In day two they barely edged out a win against the North American homeboys Optic Gaming, followed by a strong rebound against G2 Esports. Just falling short of securing their legendary status to SK in overtime, they breezed through Liquid in the very last game of groups to solidify themselves in the playoffs.

Fnatic

Since the bout of Swedish roster shuffles that tore them apart last year, Fnatic has lacked that divinity their name once garnered. Their performance thus far in the event hasn’t been stellar, but considering they’re the B-side of your old favorite mix-tape, they did as well as anyone could have hoped for.

With their only loss being to G2 Esports—a likely semi-finalist in many people's eyes—Fnatic has shown that you don’t need an all-star line-up to get the job done. Although they’re coming off a three-game win streak, every game was actually quite close this week, which isn’t convincing when they had the easy route of North, Mousesports, and EnVyUs.

Gambit

To some, Gambit was an underdog coming into this event. Although they haven’t acquired any prestigious titles, they have been plowing through the CIS competition as of late. Gambit has taken first at all three of the recent LANs they have attended, and let us not forget they did snag a Legends spot last Major. This team has been on the rise and hard at work, sneaking beneath the radar to catch ELEAGUE’s competitors by surprise and keep their title.

Considering Gambit’s dominant performance against the likes of GODSENT and North, with a relatively close game vs Virtus.pro, I would have to say their semi-final against Fnatic is the most unpredictable in the playoffs. If Gambit’s performance is telling at all, I would call this 2-1 in the CIS squads favor, but the Swedes could be back on form.

Virtus.pro

A team that needs no introduction. Virtus.pro has had a solid run of making it to every semi-finals in recent memory at LAN events, and with the hallowed “instant access” 3-0 record in this event so far, it appears there are no brakes on that train.

Although none of their victories were in dominant fashion, I don’t think it was too expected for them to make short work of any of the teams they had to face. Wins over Optic, G2, and an on-fire Gambit are nothing to scoff at, and the “plow” wasn’t even activated.

North

North, formerly Dignitas, has been on an upswing well before striking out on their own to forge a new name for themselves. With the deep veteran roots of cajunb and MSL, accented by the rookie talent of Magisk, k0nfig, and RUBINO, these Danes have rightfully earned their place as Legends this year.

Although they were the only team to come back from a 0-2 start, North did struggle to complete the reverse sweep required to make it to playoffs. An oddly comfortable 16-9 against G2 was overshadowed by an uncharacteristic overtime against 0-3 Hellraisers, and a 19-17 overtime to knock out GODSENT from the major. No disrespect meant to the teams they had to overcome, but we’re talking about a team that has either won or taken 3rd in the last 5 LAN’s they’ve attended.

Even with the rocky start, North has the chops to take it to VP if they put this struggle behind them. Considering they’ve conquered the Poles in the last two best-of-threes they’ve met, we can expect a well-prepared match from both sides. Map vetoes will be everything here, but I predict this going to three maps as well.

FaZe Clan

FaZe, like North, is another team that is finally hitting their stride. Taking first place in the Major qualifier was a precursor to the story their group stage performance would tell. That, married with their three semi-final finishes at IEM Oakland, IBUYPOWER Masters, and ELEAGUE Season 2 show us they’re a force to be reckoned with.

In groups, FaZe came within two rounds of toppling SK in OT, and secured their legends spot by ending NV’s run in the major. Their battle is one of the uphill variety, but their perseverance and potential is infinite given their roster.

SK Gaming

What more can be said about SK gaming? The Brazilians stormed through the scene like a freight train, and only of late have they seen resistance. As the team began to decline due to chemistry issues leading to the removal of fnx, they picked up fox to round out their roster. What appeared to be a questionable addition by some at first has proven fruitful for the short run he’s expected to stay for.

During groups they breezed through HellRaisers on day one, but had to be pushed to their limits against FaZe and Astralis. In their match vs Na’Vi they appeared as if lost, and had one of their worst defeats to date. All things considered, the likes of the Brazilian powerhouse are not to be taken lightly. After all, they still have three of the top 20 players in 2016 on their payroll.

Megan Bess

Megan is a demon at CS:GO and Overwatch, though you can call her devil. You can find more words that she thought about and then committed to the internet at twitter.com/csgodevil