• Elliott 'aizyesque' G

Seven Biggest Storylines of the Berlin Minors

The Minor system may have its flaws, but there’s no doubt that it makes for a very interesting fortnight of Counter-Strike. With so much on the line in terms of money and reputation — for the bigger teams who need not to be gazumped, and for the smaller teams aiming to be immortalised in the game via stickers — the stakes are extremely high. Not everyone was able to watch everything from the Minors, so we’ve distilled all that energy into seven talking points.

1. Big names miss out in EU

As was pointed out beforehand, there were plenty of Counter-Strike’s biggest players and organisations involved in the EU Minor and it was inevitable that some of them were going to come away disappointed. That said, it had been a long time since fnatic missed out on a Major. Even though they aren’t the titans they once were, fnatic is still a huge name in CS:GO and not seeing Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson at a Major feels pretty weird. Despite making it through their group with a statement 2-0 win over pre-tournament qualification favourites North, they faltered to an imperious mousesports and then CR4ZY in best of threes, leaving North, Mouz and CR4ZY to go through.

Speaking of big names, however, Berlin International Gaming, better known as BIG, disappointed and have since announced that some changes will be made. The German team with a Turkish flavour missed out after getting roundly beaten by North twice in groups. The addition of Denis "denis" Howell has turned out to not be the ingredient to complement the aforementioned Turkish flavour of Ismailcan "XANTARES" Dörtkardes, and with some roster changes already confirmed, we will likely see a different side of BIG shortly.

2. CR4ZY and NoChance showed a marked improvement

NoChance missed out on getting out of the EU Minor, but gave a very good account of themselves by taking two out of four maps over Minor winners mousesports. Though NoChance didn't sneak out ahead of CR4ZY and mouz in the group, little was expected of the orgless roster made up of ‘loose pieces’ of other teams. It was bittersweet for Martin "STYKO" Styk, who had plenty to prove against his old team, and though he showed a good level, it wasn’t enough to push the mix team further. However, it’s good to see teams who would be considered tier two or three improve via smaller events and online qualifiers and NoChance look like a team who could go on to do some damage in the future.

CR4ZY came in with a bit more expectation, but flying through as one of the top two was probably a little bit surprising. CR4ZY are another team who have shown an ever-increasing level in the last year and have used DreamHack Opens to improve, grow and are clearly now capable of taking on the big boys of Counter-Strike. It’s refreshing to see some new blood fight their way into the major and CR4ZY look like they could be a serious threat later on in the Major.

3. forZe are the real deal - but Team Spirit smells a bit off

I was personally very disappointed in Team Spirit - they were one of the favourites going into the CIS Minor and boast a line-up lathered in talent. Despite upsetting to get into the last two Majors, they will not be joining the best teams in the world this time around in Berlin. Their fate was sealed after losing 2-0 to surprise hotshots DreamEaters (who snuck through in the Minor play-in), but with the talents of Viktor "somedieyoung" Orudjev and Artem "iDISBALANCE" Egorov, and Major upset veteran Leonid ‘chopper’ Vishnyakov, Spirit were this time expected to make a splash ⁠— alas, it wasn’t to be.

forZe, on the other hand, did exactly what was expected of them. The Russian outfit have terrorised the qualifiers of loads of tier-one tournaments this year, but visa issues stopped them attending IEM Chicago. Thankfully, such issues will not stop forZe from attending a Major and they will finally get their chance on a big stage — and what a baptism of fire this could be for the Russians. forZe looked exactly as solid as one would hope at the CIS Minor, unlike the previous team mentioned, and should be a fun dark horse team at the real Major.

4. somebody came to play at the Asia Minor

HaoWen "somebody" Xu is simultaneously the most intriguing and baffling player in the world. somebody does not push something unless there is a smoke or Molotov in the way, and he’ll only enter close-quarters combat if he has the longest range gun in the game. He grew into his infamy during the last few Majors, with his ability to clutch in the strangest manners and his complete refusal to follow the protocols and rules of Counter-Strike.

All that said, he’s actually a super talented player, capable of ripping heads off with a rifle or ploughing through a smoke and no-scoping you with an AWP. At the Asia Minor, somebody smashed the competition. Although Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand also put up big numbers, somebody is the most exciting player to watch and the real X factor for TyLoo. If the same somebody shows up at the Major, TyLoo can put a dent in a big team — you can’t prepare for such chaos.

5. Brazil has lots of depth

Whilst it shouldn’t be surprising that Brazil — a nation that has had two different teams in Major finals — has an array of talent, MiBR’s slump has cast doubts over a once-great Counter-Strike country. Some of those fears would have been allayed by the Americas Minor, which was littered with Brazilian flair. The most obvious beneficiary of the Minor was Vito "kNgV-" Guiseppe, who boosted his already sky-high reputation inside the server with some ridiculous carry performances for INTZ, who made it through the Minor play-in.

FURIA continued their meteoric rise to the top of the Counter-Strike with a clean qualification to the next stage, and Sharks can feel a little hard-done-by to miss out after some impressive performances over the five days. João "felps" Vasconcellos and Ricardo "boltz" Prass — both former SK Gaming players — failed to make it through the Americas Minor with Luminosity, such is the depth of Brazilian talent.

6. Grayhound are not to be trifled with

Crass jokes are far too easy to make with Grayhound and the star of their PR, Ollie "DickStacy" Tierney, but it’s time we start to take them seriously inside the server. They showed incredible resolve to come back from a big deficit twice in the final of the Asia Minor against Minor veterans TyLoo, and it was a Herculean effort from the oft-ignored Liam "malta" Schembri, who blitzed the Asian superteam with 45 frags in 42 rounds on Train — the next highest fragger on his team body-bagged just 29 opponents. DickStacy, not trying too hard to be taken seriously, offered his teammate an unrepeatable-in-polite-conversation reward in his post-game interview.

The Aussie roster won every map in the Minor before facing TyLoo, including a brutal 16-0 against AVANT. Simon "sico" Williams went — *ahem* — ‘sico mode’ on them, with 13 AWP frags and 10 others in 16 rounds. Grayhound’s refusal to give up will make them dangerous at the Major and Australian fans may have twice as many teams to support at the Major than they used to.

7. mouz look like a potential top 10 team

Making sweeping statements about the level of a team qualifying from a Minor might seem a bit premature, but mouz’ potential has always been of a top team. A roster awash with fragging ability coupled with a veteran IGL in Finn "karrigan" Andersen made the team one to watch, and with comfortable best of three wins over an improving North and a less-impressive fnatic set them apart as the best team in the EU Minor. With the teams at the top of the HLTV rankings not being particularly convincing as of late, this mouz team has shown they can quite definitely be a op 10 team and possibly a top 5 one.

It was David "frozen" Čerňanský who was the carry against North in the upper-bracket final of the EU Minor, dropping 49 frags in 50 rounds over the two maps, but it’s fair to say everyone in the roster showed a capability to step up when needed. Against fnatic, for example, mouz recorded another 2-0 against a big side and only six kills were separating the bottom and the top fragger.