By Pavo Jurkic
August 23, 2019
This is it, guys! The first day of the StarLadder Major craze has started, and it already brought forth several surprises. Yep, Challengers Stage upsets strike yet again, featuring the central Challengers Stage favorites, NRG and Vitality.
The majority of CS:GO fans expected NRG and Vitality to finish in the 3-0 category. Moreover, these two teams ought to be among the most common 3-0 picks for this Major’s Challengers Stage Pick’Em. However, they both failed to win their opening matches and now have to battle their way through the lower end of the second round.
That’s pretty much what I warned you about in my Challengers Stage Pick’Em Predictions – never put the main favorites in the 3-0 spot. One slip up, just like this one, and you basically lose two precious Pick’Em entries.
Back to topic, let’s check out the round 1 results before moving onto the actual Challengers Stage upsets!
Here’s how the initial round of matches in Berlin panned out:
The Challengers Stages of CS:GO Major Championships are almost always packed with upsets. The same goes for this Major too. Vitality and NRG are the first massive Challengers stage upsets, having lost to total outsiders from the weakest CS:GO region, CIS.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to belittle Syman and DreamEaters, it’s just that their recent performances didn’t suggest they’ll make a sensation in Berlin. Especially not against the likes of Vitality and NRG, second and sixth teams in the world, according to HLTV.org.
Let’s see what exactly went wrong with Vitality and NRG in their opening matches!
Vitality vs. Syman was the opening match of StarLadder Major Berlin. The entire CS:GO community expected nothing but an easy win by the Frenchmen. After all, they’re the second-best team at the moment, enjoying their gameplay and winning at will against anyone who dares to question their superiority.
However, this being a Bo1 contest (especially Dust II), perhaps it’s not even that surprising to see Vitality lose. Dust II is known as the most upset-friendly match in best of one series, and Syman Gaming perfectly depicted that with their aggressive T-side second half.
ZywOo was completely blocked off. He did have 20 kills at the end, but that was still not enough to lead his team to 1-0. T0rick, on the other end, had 30 kills and established himself as the main fragger very early on. With perfect dueling choices, on-point rotations and brilliant T-side that got them the well-deserved win, t0rick and Perfecto reigned supreme.
As stated above, Challengers Stage upsets are a common sight in Bo1 series. Still, NRG losing against DE was something no one could’ve predicted. In NRG’s defense, Overpass was a pretty close contest. It ended on overtime with DE taking away crucial rounds and seeing NRG off to the 2nd round lower bracket.
NRG’s performance against DreamEaters wasn’t half bad, unlike that of Vitality against Syman. It’s not that Brehze and the boys place awful, it’s that each DE player showed up for the occasion and displayed his A-game.
If speed4k and kinqie successfully transition their form to the round 2 match against G2, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go 2-0. Yes, that’s coming from a guy who expected DE to finish without a single win on this event.
These Challengers Stage upsets made my Pick’Em predictions look outright silly. Jake wasn’t any better either. We went with Syman and DreamEaters to get 0-3’d and our picks crumbled to pieces right after the first round. Tough luck, huh…
At the time of writing this article, the first round 2 results just came in. North had a tough job with Syman in the second half but managed to pull the match in their favor with 16-14 on the scoreboard. NRG, on the other hand, bounced right back up and secured a much-needed win against TYLOO.
By the time this article gets uploaded, I reckon Vitality vs. INTZ will be all done. Fingers crossed ZywOo and the company can pull themselves together and make a comeback against mediocre INTZ. If not, I guess we’ll have more Challengers Stage upsets to talk about here.
If you want to watch the StarLadder Major action live, check out the official SL Twitch stream here.