Getting this far is an achievement in and of itself. Breaking through the open qualifiers to get a spot in the closed ones and, subsequently, having the chance to become one of the eight Minor participants is an arduous journey. That’s the road for many teams in the four eligible regions, Europe, America, CIS, and Asia, and only the strongest survive.
The start of the first Minor marks the countdown to the start of the Major.
Lately, Minors have been hosted by the same city which is hosting the Major. Teams arrive there and get comfortable. You need to be one of the two best teams in your region (or place in the top 2 in the play-in tournament for the 3rd place finishers) to earn your place. Only ten out of the thirty-two teams we now have will compete with those already waiting for the challengers.
This is where we are now.
European and Americas Minors kick off tomorrow, on June 17. At this point, we need to take a look at the participants, choose our favorites, and make some predictions.
*An important point to note is that the teams we call “pretenders” are not “bad” teams. These are just the teams that we don’t foresee being able to overcome the stronger teams in the tournament.
From, at one time, being Legends, BIG have become a regular in the qualifiers. Their results in 2019 have been nothing but awful thus far. Changing players and switching roles (recently, tabseN took over the IGL duties from gob b) hasn’t seemed to work. To me, it’s obvious they have no chance of reaching the top 2 or even making it to the play-in tournament.
The European Minor seems like a tournament in which Maikelele and STYKO could have another chance to relive their glory days. But the mixed lineup’s opponents in Group A appear way too tough for them. Their team name is a fitting way to summarize the likelihood of them making it through.
Another mix of skilled players who will come to Berlin as not much more than tourists. Yes, they were tough during the open qualifiers (they made it to the Closed Quals on their fourth attempt). And it looks like Draken and Plopski would definitely love to face NiP in the Legends Stage. But their path is too long and the competition is too tough.
Their results during the last three months have been pretty solid. There’s only one “but”. The teams they’ve come up against have been much lower level squads than the guys they’ll need to beat to advance. They’ve been the biggest fish in the small pond but will look much less menacing when the monsters like Mousesports and North are circling in the water.
The team shouldn’t settle for anything less than a 1st place finish here. The momentum karrigan’s team has gained during the last 3.5 months is huge. A top 3-4 finish at ESL Pro League Season 9 (losing in the semis to Team Liquid) and a top 7-8 finish at ESL One: Cologne (losing to only Na’Vi during the tournament) prove that. With the proper attitude, mouz won’t have any problems on their way to the Major.
The Danes were in this same position seven months ago, but with a different trajectory. Before IEM Katowice, North were on a downward trend, which is opposite to what’s going on now. Since JUGi’s arrival, North have earned their spots in DreamHack Masters Dallas, ECS Season 7, and ESL Pro League Season 9, playing well in matches vs. Vitality, MIBR, FaZe, and Liquid. Given that, valde’s roster is not only able to place third but can fight for direct entry into the Berlin Major.
Formerly Valiance, nexa’s team are more mature and experienced than they were seven months ago. After the IEM Katowice European Minor, where they lost only to Vitality and ENCE in tough matches, they managed to keep their roster intact. For them, it has to be a top 2 finish. And if not, they definitely deserve an additional chance to qualify through the play-in tournament.
It’s always hard to put big names onto the “pretender” list. Luckily, we had an extra spot in here. Yes, they haven’t been doing well lately. But this Major is “do or die” for fnatic.
It all started in London, where they failed to reach the Major playoffs for the first time in Major history. It got even worse in Katowice where they couldn’t get through the New Challengers Stage. If it ends here, at the Berlin European Minor, that’s going to be all she wrote. Their story shouldn’t end this way. Putting fnatic onto the contenders’ list is more of a manifestation of faith and belief rather than something rational. But so be it. Let JW, KRIMZ, and Brollan shine.
You can find our predictions for the Americas Minor here.