Cloud9, North America’s last hope, are pitted against the French superteam, G2 Esports. FaZe Clan, the pan-European superstars, battle it out against another pan-European squad: mousesports.
Quantum Bellator Fire, the underdog no one expected to make it through, face off against Zeus’s Natus Vincere. FNATIC and SK Gaming: two legendary organizations duke it out for pride and glory.
These are the quarterfinal draws for the Boston Major. Who moves on and who goes home?
FaZe Clan vs. Mousesports
07:00 PST / 10:00 EST / 16:00 CET Friday
FaZe Clan: olofmeister, NiKo, karrigan, rain, GuardiaN
Mousesports: ropz, suNny, chrisJ, STYKO, oskar
A rematch of the grand final at the FACEIT-backed ECS Season 4 Finals, the pan-European teams are the first to square off against each other at the Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. FaZe Clan, spearheaded by Swedish legend Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer and Norwegian star Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard, are looking to continue their dominance at the Boston Major against FPL prospect Robin ‘ropz’ Kool and his red-hot mousesports squad.
In order for FaZe Clan to win:
- Shut oskar down on T-side
- Ban Nuke from mouz
- Cobblestone pick should be off the table
If FaZe are to win this series, it’s going to be by shutting down Tomáš ‘oskar’ Šťastný, who has played an instrumental role in mouz’s Terrorist halves. Whether it be through rain’s flexible positioning, GuardiaN’s lightning-fast entry kills, or karrigan’s tactical prowess, they will need to shut down oskar if they want to keep mousesports at bay.
FaZe’s map pool also bests mousesports, though with some caveats. SixteenZero, a new Counter-Strike analytics company, suggests FaZe have at least a 75% chance winning on all maps, aside from Cobblestone and Nuke. The last time the Europeans played Cobblestone on LAN was at the grand finals of IEM Oakland 2017 against NiP, which they lost 10-16. In an interview with HLTV, NiKo hinted FaZe was shying away from Cobblestone, in hopes of it being replaced by the newly-refreshed Dust II. And as for Nuke, the last time the European superstars played the map was at the ECS Season 4 Finals 一against mouz, of all teams 一 and lost 14-16.
In order for mousesports to win:
- Nuke must be open and picked
- Oskar needs to get rolling on the T-side
- Individual performances from ropz and suNny
- Close the maps out
Mousesports are familiar with FaZe’s playstyle and have a map pool that can favor them under the right circumstances. Given FaZe seems to be shying away from Cobble, picking it if decided to be left open would be a silver lining. Add that to a potential Nuke pick 一 again, if FaZe leave it open 一 and mousesports have a real shot at taking the series.
However, the team also needs some individual performances if they are to be competitive in this matchup, particularly from ropz and suNny. This will be their first appearance in a Major Playoffs, and it will be up to them to shine on stage. Both players have shown up at the New Legends Stage, with a 1.20 and 1.06 rating, respectively, after disappointing exits at the Krakow Major. As a whole unit, mousesports need to be able to close out maps. In their grand final series against FaZe, they were up 15-13 on the last map. However, poor decision-making let FaZe get to overtime and eventually win the map and series 2-1.
They fell victim to this again in their 2-1 match against Quantum Bellator Fire. Up 13-2 on Train, mouz needed only three rounds to qualify with a 3-1 record. The Russian squad took it over the finish line, winning 14 of the 15 rounds in the second half to close it 16-14.
My Prediction: FaZe 2 – 1 Mousesports
Unless mousesports play some near-perfect Counter-Strike and players like ropz and suNny show up, FaZe still have the upper hand. They are considered the best team and the overall favorites to win this Major, and with raw aim in NiKo and olofmeister, alongside GuardiaN’s entry prowess, it will be too much for chrisJ and the mousesports squad in the end.
Natus Vincere vs. Quantum Bellator Fire
09:30 PST / 12:30 EST / 18:30 CET Friday
Natus Vincere: Zeus, s1mple, electronic, flamie, Edward
Quantum Bellator Fire: Boombl4, waterfaLLZ, jmqa, Kvik, balbina
The tenured Natus Vincere, led by in-game leader and Krakow Major Champion Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko, are up against 19-year-old Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov and the rookie Quantum Bellator Fire squad. A clash of old and new, classic and modern. This will be the CIS clash to watch
In order for Natus Vincere to win:
- Star players s1mple and electronic need free reign to roam
- Zeus needs to be more flexible in his calls and tactics
Zeus’s slow, methodical, and execute-based playstyle is simply too predictable and often times, can backfire in Na’Vi’s faces. On countless occasions throughout his career, this playstyle has led to running out of time, missing bomb plants and, on occasion, getting killed after time, which ruins your T-side economy. He needs to allow Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov, two of the CIS region’s best players, to freely roam around the map and play their looser style.
Over the course of this Major, Na’Vi have had some stumbles. In the New Challengers Stage, they bested an untested Sprout Esports roster, Team Liquid with coach Wilton ‘zews’ Prado as a stand-in, and their opponent, while also being handed swift one-sided losses to mousesports and FaZe. In the New Legends Stage, they started with yet another defeat at the hands of defending Major Champions, Gambit Esports. A one-sided win over German squad BIG the next day gave Na’Vi the momentum to plow through Liquid and FNATIC to qualify. It seems as if Na’Vi can easily best teams better than them, yet struggle to match up with better opponents.
In order for Quantum Bellator Fire to win:
- Quickly adapt to the best-of-three format
- Need individual performances from waterfaLLZ and Boombl4
This Russian-Lithuanian squad are a whole lot of inexperienced rookies, who have nothing to lose at this point. Despite being the dark horse at the Major and overcoming all odds, they may just have met their match in Natus Vincere, who simply have more experience and explosive firepower. In their match against Na’Vi in the New Challengers Stage, s1mple and co. swept them away 16-8. A best-of-three format is a completely different beast compared to the best-of-one Swiss format they have been playing, and if they are to have a fighting chance, they must be able to quickly adapt in between maps.
Nikita ‘waterfaLLZ’ Matveyev has stepped up in this Major, posting a 1.22 rating and a +17 K/D differential across their four maps in the group stage. Boombl4, who showed up massively during QB.Fire’s miracle run in the New Challengers Stage, has been a tad quiet, posting a 0.98 rating and a -6 K/D differential 一 not bad for the 19-year-old, but just not the same player we saw a week earlier.
My Prediction: Natus Vincere 2 – 0 QB.Fire
I think QB.Fire have met their match. Despite beating Polish legends Virtus.Pro, a hot mousesports, and defending Major Champions Gambit Esports, Na’Vi are simply looking for blood. The best-of-three format is something I feel they are unprepared for, and even if QB.Fire upset here, they won’t make it any further than semis. Zeus wants to create another Major Championship-winning team, and he may have it here.
G2 Esports vs. Cloud9
12:00 PST / 15:00 EST / 21:00 CET Friday
G2 Esports: kennyS, apEX, NBK-, shox, bodyy
Cloud9: Skadoodle, Stewie2k, tarik, RUSH, autimatic
After eight attempts, Tyler ‘Skadoodle’ Latham has finally made the playoffs of his first-ever Major Championship. He will have to play his heart out in front of the North American crowd, as Cloud9 are up against G2 Esports, the French superteam led by Dan ‘apEX’ Madesclaire and Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub, in the third quarterfinal match.
In order for G2 Esports to win:
- Shox and kennyS need to show up
- Train must be banned
Given the recent changes made within this roster, with star player Richard ‘shox’ Papillon back on his classic lurking role and Nathan ‘NBK-’ Schmitt picking up the secondary AWP, G2 have all the pieces needed to make it all the way at the Boston Major. Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub has been instrumental on that AWP, picking up 34 of them in the New Legends Stage and posting a +22 K/D differential.
However, the French team lack a dedicated IGL, which has plagued them in recent times. They crashed in the quarterfinals of ELEAGUE Premier 2017, swiftly exited the group stage at IEM Oakland 2017, and placed fifth out of six in BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen. Given Cloud9 has an IGL of sorts in the form of Tarik ‘tarik’ Celik and their results, this could prove a bit troubling for the French squad. The map pool seems to be dead even, with Train being the one map they have historically turned their backs on. Cloud9’s historical dominance on that map should call for an instant ban in the first round of the pick/ban phase, and picking up Cache.
In order for Cloud9 to win:
- Ban Nuke outright
- Tarik needs to show up, as an IGL and a fragger
- Skadoodle needs to be the anchor on that defense
Like their French opponents, Cloud9 also lack a dedicated IGL. However, that role has been filled by tarik, who has taken Cloud9 to new heights since uptaking it. They have made top-four at every single event, apart from ECS Season 4 Finals, where they lost to Astralis and FaZe in the group stage. Interestingly enough, tarik has also been Cloud9’s best player during that very same time frame 一 which shows how consistent he has been.
As previously mentioned, the map pool is dead even. Cloud9’s instant ban should be Nuke, as the Americans have not played it since August, which they lost to L4Org in the ESL One New York NA Closed Qualifier, 9-16. Overall, they hold a 0% (0W – 1L) win rate with this lineup, compared to G2’s 77.77% (21W – 6L) win rate with their current lineup. Cloud9’s map pick in the pick/ban phase will most likely be Mirage.
My Prediction: G2 1 – 2 Cloud9
I think the American upset is possible. The French have not shown up at a Major Championship since 2015, when Team EnVyUs 一 then consisting of NBK, apEX, kennyS, alongside their current in-game leader Vincent ‘Happy’ Schopenhauer and free agent Fabien ‘kioShiMa’ Fiey 一 won DreamHack Cluj-Napoca. Cloud9 have been on a steady upswing, and given their head-to-head against G2, it seems that they are poised to make a run at the Agganis Arena. G2, while a strong team in their own right, are going to crumble in front of this North American crowd. The deciding map will most likely be Cobblestone, as Cloud9 will most certainly not want kennyS holding down the defense on Inferno.
SK Gaming vs. FNATIC
07:00 PST / 10:00 EST / 16:00 CET Saturday
SK Gaming: coldzera, fer, FalleN, TACO, felps
FNATIC: KRIMZ, JW, Golden, Lekr0, flusha
Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo will lead the Brazilians against FNATIC, whose in-game leader, Maikil ‘Golden’ Selim, is paving the way for the resurgence of the once-mighty organization who dominated most of 2015. Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell, Robin ‘flusha’ Rönnquist, and Freddy ‘KRIMZ’ Johansson were a part of that historical era. And they’re looking to dismantle the SK era, defined by Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David’s rise to prominence.
In order for SK Gaming to win:
- Coldzera needs to step up big time
- Ban Nuke and Inferno outright
Despite coldzera posting a +26 K/D differential and a 1.22 rating at this Major, his kills have not been as impactful or flashy. This may be due to João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos, as Valve’s roster lock prevents their current fifth, Ricardo ‘boltz’ Prass, from playing in the SK jersey. If they are to sweep FNATIC out of the Major, coldzera is going to need to win those one vs. x rounds and play the “in your face” entry role, relegating felps to more of an anchor player, supporting the team with trade kills.
As for their map pool, Nuke should be their instant-ban, given that they and FNATIC don’t play it. If the Swedes plan to throw SK’s game plan out the window, it will most likely be through Nuke, so banning it would give the Brazilians the best path to move through to the semifinals.
In order for FNATIC to win:
- Golden brings his A-game
- Risk the Nuke pick
- Leave Inferno up to be a potential deciding map
Risk is the name of FNATIC’s game if they are to move past SK. Like their Brazilian counterparts, they don’t play Nuke, but picking it up would throw a massive wrench in their game plan. Picking that map in the first round and banning Overpass could leave Inferno as a decider, assuming SK don’t ban it in the first round. SixteenZero’s models favor the Swedes on Inferno. And that’s about it, as SK are favored on the rest of the maps, demonstrating how developed their competitive map pool is.
As an in-game leader in his first Major appearance, Golden has proven to be a capable one. A -15 K/D differential and 13 opening deaths, however, does reveal some weaknesses in him as a player. If FNATIC are to move through, he is going to need to pick up the slack, as it’s KRIMZ performing all the heavy lifting 一 the third-highest player at the entire Major thus far, with a 1.50 rating, and a +46 K/D differential 一 with flusha right behind, opening up 15.9% of the rounds they won.
My Prediction: SK 2 – 0 FNATIC
FalleN’s experience in-game leading will trump that of Golden’s, simply put. FNATIC, despite having nothing to lose, will most likely play it safe, with the series being played on Mirage, Train, and Cobblestone 一 three maps that both teams are quite comfortable on. The Swedes will need to play some near-perfect CS, with stand-out individual performances from everyone. It may not be enough, as coldzera will shine on the stage in Boston.