Cloud9, G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, Space Soldiers, mousesports, Team Liquid, Quantum Bellator Fire, Vega Squadron, and Natus Vincere are the nine teams that qualified for the next stage of the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 (also known as the Boston Major).
But winners and losers go beyond who qualified and who, unfortunately, did not.
Some teams emerged victorious, starting off their 2018 on a high note.
To no one’s surprise, the European powerhouses made it through to the New Legends Stage (formerly known as the Group Stage) with relative ease. They entered the Boston Major on a high note, winning the ECS Season 4 Finals last December over mousesports in a nail-biting 2-1 series.
Led by Norwegian star player, Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard, with a 1.47 rating across their four maps in The New Challengers Stage, FaZe powered through Team Liquid in their nail-biting opener, 16-14 on Overpass. After a stunning upset loss to Vega Squadron on the second day, convincing victories against Quantum Bellator Fire and Natus Vincere led the Europeans to qualify the next stage of the Major.
Given how dominant FaZe were in 2017, their 2018 looks to be another dominant one — that is, if they can keep their form here and break Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač‘s curse of failing to make the playoff stage of every Major Championship he has attended. A stunning upset to Vega Squadron in their second day match puts a doubt on whether FaZe can perform at this major, but this should not be an issue, given the raw firepower and in-game leader Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen’s ability to lead such a world-class team.
Mousesports came into the New Challengers Stage on a hot roll, ending 2017 with a grand finals appearance against FaZe at the ECS Season 4 Finals that went all three maps.
On their way towards the New Legends Stage, the European mix swept the likes of Renegades, 16-4, and Natus Vincere, 16-2, on Mirage. FPL prospect Robin ‘ropz’ Kool led mousesports with a 1.25 rating, but every single member — apart from Martin ‘STYKO’ Styk — finished the stage with a 1.00 or higher rating. They came close to qualifying with a 3-1 record, but a breakdown in communication and play towards the end of regulation led to Space Soldiers claiming victory and qualifying for their first-ever Major Championship with a 3-1 Swiss record in the New Challengers Stage.
It should be noted that mousesports played Mirage four out of their five matches, with a 75% win rate. Other teams may insta-ban it in the next stage, as they lost the only other map they played, Train, 5-16 against Cloud9. This may show a sign of a shallow map pool, something that will pose an issue if mousesports make it through to the New Champions Stage (formerly known as the Playoffs), where they will play single-elimination best-of-threes.
Cloud9 had the chance to become Legends at the Krakow Major, but fell short against hometown favorites, Virtus.Pro. After a grand finals appearance at ESL One Cologne 2017, roster changes, and back-to-back semifinal appearances against FaZe Clan, they’re back at the Boston Major, ready to give it another shot.
They made it through to the New Legends Stage in swift fashion, first rolling over Team EnVyUs on Cache, 16-11. They then took down Sprout on Inferno, 16-5, before closing their undefeated run against mousesports on Train in another 16-5. Timothy ‘autimatic’ Ta led the American squad with 92.7 ADR and 64 impactful kills. Tyler ‘Skadoodle’ Latham posted some significant kills and clutches in their 3-0 run, which shows the potential firepower this roster can show on a good day.
Despite Cloud9 having an in-game leader in Tarik ‘tarik’ Celik, the team still relies heavily on fragging ability. And against the likes of Astralis and Natus Vincere, both of whom play very methodically and strategically, that may be an issue.
They rose to fame by upsetting the Ninjas in Pyjamas at last year’s ELEAGUE Major Qualifier in quite a stunning fashion. Their first Major appearance, the Krakow Major, was a brief affair. And now, they’re ready to show the world what they’re made up at the Boston Major.
In their upset against FaZe, which ruined the pick’em hopes of everyone, it was Leonid ‘chopper’ Vishnyakov who led the Russian squad, posting a 1.57 rating and some impressive clutches, including this 1v3. Despite two close nail-biters against Renegades and Team Liquid, Vega closed it out in both instances, 16-14 on Mirage.
Despite the team’s performance, it must be noted that Pavel ‘hutji’ Lashkov and Sergey ‘keshandr’ Nikishin looked underwhelming in this stage of the Boston Major. Counter-Strike is a team game at its core, and if these two players don’t step up their play, Vega Squadron will have to rely on their hyper-aggressive playstyle and chopper to pull off an upset or two.
Some teams came close, while others were not up to par with the level of competition present.
Quantum Bellator Fire
Quantum Bellator Fire had the path of least resistance to the New Legends Stage, in my opinion. They drew wins against Flash Gaming, who were called in last-minute to replace TyLoo; Team EnVyUs, who were playing with an ailing Cédric ‘RpK’ Guipouy; and AVANGAR, who put up more of a battle against teams like Team Liquid and Misfits in the New Challengers Stage.
Like Vega Squadron, their first Major appearance will be a swift affair, and the caliber of teams and players in the next stage will be too much to handle for the Russian squad. The inexperience of players like Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov and the lack of major international experience may prove to be a deadly combination that will ultimately lead to their exit.
With this, the player to look out for is Boombl4. In QBF’s run through the qualifier, the 19-year-old star played well, picking up some amazing frags, including this triple kill to open their match versus FaZe. Given adequate time and exposure, I believe he can develop into a disciplined fragger with potential to move up the ranks in the CIS scene.
AVANGAR came withing striking distance of a spot in the New Legends Stage of the Boston Major. Despite finishing with a 2-3 record, the withdrawal of 100 Thieves gave them another shot at qualifying. However, they fell short against Team Liquid in the decider match, which the Americans won in overtime, 19-15.
The Kazakhstani team opened their stage run with a nail-biter against mousesports, where Timur ‘buster’ Telepov showed off his raw aim and potential to the CS world. After a loss to Space Soldiers the following day, they would face off against fellow CIS team Flipsid3 Tactics for their tournament lives in day three. Again, it was buster showing up with frags like this, that ultimately sent legendary CIS players Yegor ‘markeloff’ Markelov and Denis ‘seized’ Kostin packing.
AVANGAR and its players have potential to grow as a team. It is truly a shame we could not see that potential grow here at the Boston Major.
Misfits could never flex their muscles and pick up the wins to move on to the New Legends Stage. A missed opportunity for the North American squad, who have shown steady improvement over the past several months.
Their match against Space Soldiers on the third day highlighted fundamental flaws and mistakes that cost them. In this round, Misfits’s execute onto the outer site was slow, and you should not be pushing one-by-one. Errors like that cannot be rectified, and that’s what ultimately led the Turks to victory. Sean ‘seang@res’ Gares had a poor showing that match, picking up only eight kills
Misfits were just out of their league at this qualifier, and I see none of their players having a breakout year. Keep an eye on the American trio — seang@res, AWPer Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan and rifler Hunter ‘SicK’ Mims — in the upcoming weeks as they explore new opportunities as free agents.