Berlin Bottom Eight: What It Means Moving Forward - Part One
The conclusion of the New Challengers Stage of the Berlin Major saw eight teams move on to the New Legends stage of the event while the other eight were left in the dust. With their respective performances, some teams will look to rebuild and others can keep their heads held high. In this two-part series, we will take break down what awaits each team in the upcoming weeks and months.
Starting from the top-down, forZe’s run in the New Challengers stage was more than most would have anticipated from one of the few CIS underdogs at the event. After initially falling victim to a dominant mousesports in their Inferno opener, the Russian rookies overcame both Grayhound and FURIA to reach a 2-1 record, one best-of-three away from the New Legends stage.
Very nearly breaking into the Top 10 players of the event statistically, Bogdan “xsepower” Chernikov showed a consistent level of excellence against high caliber opposition in the form of mousesports, FURIA, and G2 Esports. The Russian player ended the event with a 1.21 HLTV rating. The spread of firepower throughout the team was more than enough to grant the team a chance at a spot in the New Legends stage, but a defeat to their regional rivals in DreamEaters stopped them in their tracks.
In terms of what needs fixing for the future, the team is still young in more ways than one, with very little experience and an average player age of 21.5. The majority of the players on this team are not used to the constant competition that they face in an event of this level, especially in an offline setting.
The one issue in dire need of taking a look at would be the team’s overall mental fortitude in high-pressure scenarios. After impressing against stronger and more experienced opponents in the first four Swiss rounds, forZe struggled to deliver when it mattered the most, against a team that they have a winning record against and have come in contact with time and time again regionally.
The Oceanic team went into the event knowing they were to lose Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantulga due to his failure to secure a working visa. An incredible showing from team leader Chris “dexter” Nong brought Grayhound as close to the New Legends stage as they could have hoped for, bending the knee to Vitality in the fifth round after a thrilling three-map series.
With the loss of erkaSt, it can be theorized that ORDER's own star rifler Joshua “INS” Potter will soon act as his replacement since his unexpected benching last week. The community has been insisting that top Oceanic teams give a chance to INS since late 2017 and he may be getting his chance to show what he’s got at last, which could be this Grayhound core’s make or break.
It must be said that the team's figurehead Ollie “DickStacy” Tierney has been rather lackluster for his roles in the team, with the lowest LAN rating over the course of the last three months against Top 30 teams. If the team was looking to acquire some extra firepower, INS' former teammate Jordan “Hatz” Bajic is also more than proficient on a rifle. However, I personally believe that one or both of dexter and Simon “Sico” Williams are more than ready for a place in the Renegades lineup if they were in search of a change.
For one of the least proven teams at the event, Syman really pulled all the stops here to make it a close affair. Sweeping the legs of teams like Vitality in a best-of-one and FURIA in a best-of-three, the misfit lineup truly showed their worth in such a LAN environment as the Major. After pulling themselves back from the jaws of defeat, the team just missed out on their chance at qualification to AVANGAR in their fifth-round decider best-of-three.
There isn’t much to say about what the team could do to improve, but the one major possibility for them would be to pick up a player with either some experience or greater firepower. Such a name as Abay “Hobbit” Khasenov comes to mind who has sat inactive in HellRaisers going on nearly five months. The PGL Krakow Major winner and profound voice in the leaderless Gambit lineups, Hobbit would provide an impressive and much-needed mind for the game as well as some consistent vigor that the team may otherwise lack.
One of the more unexpected flounderings at the New Challengers stage in Berlin were FURIA, defying the expectations of many community members and talent in a negative way. The Brazilian team collapsed following a 16-6 opening round victory over HellRaisers, losing the ensuing two best-of-one matches against CR4ZY and forZe. The Brazilians were eventually knocked out of the event by the above-mentioned Syman in a fourth-round best-of-three.
In spite of Yuri “yuurih” Santos' heroics in their match against forZe and the first map against Syman, the absence of consistent support from his teammates throughout the three matches that transpired post-HellRaisers was too great to handle. Most notably, Rinaldo “ableJ” Moda Junior and Vinicius “VINI” Figueiredo looked much more uncomfortable than we have seen in recent history, which may imply some anxiety or nervousness at an event of such prestige.
Their 1-3 record mirrors their performance at the previous IEM Katowice Major, which must certainly take a toll on the progress that both themselves and the community saw them make since that time. With the dynamic duo of yuurih and Kaike “KSCERATO” Ceratohe being two of the most influential pieces to those success stories, we will need to see more from the AWPing in-game leader Andrei “arT” Piovezan both statistically and tactically to keep up with the ever-changing meta of the game as well as the incline of their opponents and peers.
Whether or not we will see roster changes from FURIA is unclear, however, it can be assumed that the team will continue to stick together and attempt to improve as a unit as they have done for the past eleven months. Also taking their recently signed long term contracts into consideration, it is unlikely those will be broken for a player to join another team any time soon.