ELeague Major Qualifier Recap

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What a crazy year for CSGO! We’ve seen the rise of the Americas with the Brazilians of Luminosity Gaming, now better known as SK Gaming, winning back-to-back Majors and Team Liquid securing 2nd at ESL One Cologne 2016 – the highest Major placement ever for an NA team. It’s been a changing of the guard, a year of redefinitions as the French and Swedish titans of competitive CSGO fell from their once untouchable perch atop of nearly every CSGO Major tournament.

Even though the Majors were done back in July, 2016 wasn’t done surprising everyone. The ELeague Major Qualifier was just held to determine the final 8 teams that would secure a spot at 2017’s first CSGO Major. Recent upsets and changes in the competitive scene left the qualifier stacked with household names like Envyus, NiP, Mousesports, Dignitas, G2, Cloud 9 and many others battling across four days for a chance to kick off 2017 right.

The results of the qualifier left commentators and fans alike scratching their heads in disbelief.

NiP is OuT at 1-3

nip-f0restIt’d be inappropriate not to start with the biggest headline of the tournament. Ninjas in Pajamas, aka NiP, failed to secure a spot at the Eleague Major coming up in January 2017.

On Day 1 it seemed like NiP was certain to be one of the eight teams walking away with 3 victories. They handled Renegades with relative ease as pretty much everyone expected, winning 16-9. NiP’s 17-19 overtime loss to Hellraisers on Day 2 didn’t seem like cause for concern. Eyebrows raised a bit when NiP lost on Day 3 to Optic 9-16, but hope remained that the old Swedish CSGO giant would pull through on the final day of the qualifier.

NiP had what should’ve been an easy matchup against Vega Squadron. While the Russian contender had managed a slight 14-16 upset of sorts against CLG on Day 1, they’d lost as expected against Immortals and G2. While most onlookers expected Vega Squadron to be an easy warmup game before NiP went on to play at 2-2 match against a more seasoned opponent, they were instead obliterated 2-16 and spanked out of the qualifier in shocking fashion.

Not to take anything away from Vega Squadron – they played solid CS the entire match – but NiP simple didn’t show up. They only managed 36 kills throughout all 18 rounds against Vega’s 86. GeT_RiGhT ended the match 2-18.

The ELeague Major in January will be the first CSGO Major NiP has ever missed. Despite what’s sure to be an exciting tournament, NiP’s absence will certainly be felt when the group stages of the next Major kick off on January 27th.

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Immortality Isn’t Free of Heartbreak

Immortals weren’t expected to breeze through the qualifiers, but eyes were on them to do well. After beating Envyus and Vega Squadron it looked like Immortals might make it to their first ever CSGO major. They had three chances to qualify. Three separate best-of-one games that would have placed them in the group stages in January. Unfortunately it seems fate wasn’t on Immortals’ side.

Their downfall began when they lost to Faze 11-16 at the end of Day 3, failing to become the second team to go 3-0 after Godsent coasted their way into being the first team to secure a spot at the Major. (Godsent won all three of their games 16-11, by the way.) On Day 4 Immortals had a meltdown on Cache against Mousesports, getting outkilled 47-91 and becoming the victims of the second biggest loss of the day after NiP.

Immortals then drew against G2 for their 2-2 matchup and found themselves on Cache again. This time they showed up to play and seemed ready to finally find their way through to the tournament after winning the first half 11-4. G2 won the pistol round and strung together a few rounds, but Immortals kept their composure and managed to take the game to 14-11. They seemed sure to win until back-to-back clutch performances by G2 shifted the momentum of the match and quickly Immortal found their dreams of making a Major on the line. Despite managing to get to OT after going down 14-15, Immortals lost to G2 in OT 17-19.

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EnVyUs Enjoys the Hard Route

It’s no secret EnVyUs hasn’t been playing to form recently. They failed to get out of the group stages of both Majors this year, which led to them losing Devil and picking up Sixer last October. Still it was assumed by most analysts that EnVyUs would find their way through the qualifier to the ELeague Major with relative ease. However their path wound up being anything but easy.

EnVyUs was one of the first teams to go down 0-2 and risk being kicked out of the qualifier. They lost to Immortals 11-16 and G2 12-16. It looked like the team would miss its first Major since it was formed in February 2015. However fate seems to have been on EnVy’s side. Their last three matches were against Team Spirit, Tyloo and Vega Squadron, the latter of which only tested EnVy a little before they won 16-12 to secure their Major spot.

As it stands, if EnVyUs show up to the ELeague Major performing as they did at the qualifier, they’ll wind up out in the group stage of the third consecutive time. If that happens, EnVyUs may remain a shell of its former dominate self for good.

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Overall Assessment

The ELeague Major Qualifier didn’t make up for a lack of a third major but was still a great way to end the year. The stage is set and the ELeague Major competition looks poised to kick off 2017 in spectacular fashion.

Who do you think will win the first Major of 2017? Does EnVyUs have enough time to return to form? Will SK Gaming win its 3rd consecutive Major? Can Team Liquid show up for NA CS again?

Hope you have a happy holiday season and a merry New Year!

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