IEM Katowice Asia Minor
With the first Major of 2019 coming up in just under a month, it is yet again time for us to take a look at the Minors and figure out which teams will be moving onto the main event. All four will be taking place in Poland, and two teams from each minor are guaranteed a spot at the Major. On top of these two spots, there is a new stage called the “Minors' 3rd Place Play-in”. Each team that finishes in 3rd place will have one more chance to battle it out on the 27th of January. There are many promising teams spread out across the different Minors and the level of competition will be even higher with this new 3rd place stage of the Major process. Over the next 11 days we will be watching teams from all over the world compete and I will be informing you of the competition and who to expect to make it out of each Minor.
In the past, it has always been a battle between Renegades and TyLoo for the Major spots up for grabs in the Asia Minor. However, this time around the Australian group has a completely new lineup and the best Asian team in the world has already secured themselves a spot in the Main Qualifier taking place next month, making Renegades path to victory even easier. It is going to be almost impossible for them to get anything below a 3rd place finish. The now semi-new Australian roster found themselves in the top 15 at the end of 2018, something that the organization hadn't accomplished since their old roster back in August. Their movement up the global leader-board was mostly thanks to their wins at the EPL Season 8 Finals against G2 and BIG. As well as their 3-4th place finish at the Toyota Master Bangkok 2018. Since the addition of Liazz and Gratisfaction, the team has placed below top five at just one of the four LAN events they’ve attended. This success isn't just because of individual skill, no player has really stood out or improved tremendously, but it is clear that the team already has good chemistry with each other. The new additions to the team have left old time members like jks and jkaem rejuvenated and motivated to play the game again.
Their group consists of Aequus, CyberZen, and fellow Australian rival Grayhound. Opponents that this lineup has had little to no play time against, but do have the advantage of being much more experienced and skilled then. Renegades played both CyberZen and Grayhound once, at the very beginning of this rosters journey. Both games resulted in very questionable losses. It has been several months since these defeats, leaving Renegades with plenty of time to regroup and recalculate their approach to not just these two opponents, but the entirety of the competition at the minor. Given the circumstances, Renegades will feel pretty pressured to win the Minor especially considering how favored they are, by not just the fans, but the experts as well. The nerves of being a favorite has caused numerous upsets across the CS:GO scene over the years, and is one of the only factors that I believe could bring the team down. If they can keep themselves in check and stay concentrated on their game, then they should have no problem grabbing a 1st place finish as well as a spot at the IEM Katowice Major.
The Asia Minor is definitely one of the more difficult of the four to predict. Outside of the two Australian teams in attendance and MVP PK, there are very few attendees who even have experience competing with any of the globally ranked top-50 teams. Let alone lineups that have been together for a solid amount of time. It is weird picking two Australian teams to make it out of an Asian minor, but that is the direction my prediction is heading. Since losing Gratisfaction and picking up sterling the team has only lost 17 of the 60 maps they have played together. Granted a lot of these have been against teams from the Australian region that are nowhere near T1 Counter-Strike, the Grayhound players have proven to have more than enough skill to comfortably compete against anybody in or out of their minor group. Prior to joining Grayhound, sterling was arguably the best player on his former teams’ roster. Averaging a 1.29 over the course of 77 maps with the now disbanded Legacy org, the young New Zealand AWPer has proven time and time again his value and will be one of the key factors to the Australian teams potential success at the Asia minor.
Outside of their new pick up, we have also seen erkaST and dexter continue to stay in form, seemingly unfazed, if not better with the addition of a new AWPer. The teams individual performances may still be up to form, but that hasn't translated over to their team play. Both on and offline tournament results have been very up and down - going from finishing 3-4th at the MDL Season 29 Global Challenge to placing 9-12th at the PLG grand Slam. The talent is undoubtedly there for Grayhound, they just need to figure out how to put together the final pieces of their puzzle and solidify their team play. With none of their players having major experience, it is impossible to judge how they will be able to handle the pressure of playing at one of the most prestigious tournaments held in Counter-Strike, but they’re definitely a favorite given the raw talent and skill each player on Grayhound has shown. The Australian team is more than capable of beating any OCE team on any given day, and being able to go toe-to-toe with the best Asia has to offer is a challenge they are very familiar with. Even with the favorites of the tournament, Renegades, playing in the same group as them there is a very good chance that Grayhound book themselves a spot at their first ever Major.