By Pavo Jurkic
August 19, 2019
It’s the calm before the storm! There hasn’t been that much top tier CS:GO action these last few weeks but it’s all about to change next Friday with the start of the highly anticipated StarLadder Berlin Major 2019. Yep, we’re just a week away from the initial Challengers Stage matches, and by looking at the team compositions, we can safely assume the event will start with a banger. After all, if The Challengers Stage teams weren’t that good, I wouldn’t end up with three of them on my StarLadder Major Power Rankings list.
This Major iteration will be a bit shorter than what we’re used to, featuring seventeen days of CS:GO action. Earlier installments were around the 20-day mark but I suppose that was a bit too long. Plus, CS:GO pro players’ schedule is as packed as they come so every day cut is a welcome bonus to these hard-working esports athletes.
StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 is the 15th CS:GO Major Championship, the fourth one held in Germany and the first one in Berlin. The main venue that’ll feature The Champions Stage matches is the mesmerizing Mercedes-Benz Arena, capable of fitting roughly 17,000 people. Yep, this upcoming StarLadder Major will be a proper spectacle, that’s for sure!
Today, we’ll be focusing on StarLadder Major Power Rankings. In other words, we’ll go through the eight best teams which will be competing in the Major and rank them according to their strength.
It’s pretty straightforward, right?
Obviously, Team Liquid is the number one team on this StarLadder Major Power Rankings. The boys in blue shirts won pretty much every event they attended during the last few months. Six trophies in as little as two months, winning the second season of Intel Grand Slam with four out of four on the score sheet. Yep, it’s safe to say Team Liquid is the epitome of CS:GO perfection at the moment.
Even though their key virtue is their teamwork, NAF and ELiGE have to be mentioned as the two strongest individuals. Sure, the rest of their colleagues aren’t far behind either, but EliGE and NAF’s significance, especially in crucial rounds, has to be emphasized.
Overall, if Team Liquid continues their brilliant run of form they’ve been enjoying since early June, I don’t see a reason why they couldn’t take home their first-ever Major trophy. In fact, I’ll even dare to say I can’t see a single team beating Team Liquid if they play their best game. Not even Astralis.
Let’s just hope adreN, Team Liquid’s coach, had enough time to prepare his team both in-game and mentally. It’s really difficult being consistently at the top of your game and at the top of the pro scene, and Astralis did a wonderful job of showing us all the things that can go wrong in a GOAT roster.
Even though HLTV.org Rankings place Astralis as the third-best team in the world at the moment, I just couldn’t put the young French team (Vitality) ahead of The Great Danes. Being the number one team for more than a year straight brings forth enough leverage for device and the rest of the Danish boys to be placed as the second-best team on our StarLadder Major Power Rankings.
On the other hand, I can’t really say Astralis’ game has been that good in recent months. In fact, Astralis won a single notable event ever since their triumph in Katowice. And, to be honest, that was a BLAST Pro Series events so I’m not exactly sure just how much credibility we got going on there.
Poor performances on both ECS and ESL Pro League season finals leaves much to be desired. Dupreeh, device, heck, basically the entire team looked outright desperate at times. Worst of all, they lost Nuke as their unconquerable territory. Even though it’s still one of their strongest maps, recent losses against the likes of FURIA have really shaken The Great Danes to the core.
On the bright side, their ESL One Cologne adventure wasn’t all that bad. They finally got a hang of things and managed to reach the semifinals without too much hassle. Their group stage game was on point, securing effortless wins and skipping over the quarterfinals with ease. Unfortunately, ZywOo appeared when Vitality needed him the most, winning important rounds and carrying his team to the grand finals.
Another positive for Astralis is the sheer amount of rest they got. I know I know, the majority of competing teams had plenty of time to rest, but I reckon Astralis will benefit from the off-time the most. Not for relaxation, though, I’m sure zonic made his players miserable all summer long, scheduling practice after practice to get every last bit of details in order. I guess we’ll find out if his rigorous summer camp was any good roughly three weeks from now…
Team Vitality comfortably takes the third place on this CS:GO StarLadder Power Rankings. We’re talking about a baby organization here that joined the professional CS:GO sphere in October last year. Even though they’re yet to reach their 1-year anniversary, Team Vitality has already established itself as one of the top CS:GO teams in the world. In fact, they’ve singlehandedly managed to get France back in pro CS:GO conversations. Sure, in-form G2 was there as well, but Team Vitality was the one doing all the hard work.
Much of Vitality’s success lies in their young prospect, ZywOo. This 18-year-old fragger is already ranked as the best fragger in the game, recently surpassing the legend himself, S1mple. Even though he still has much to learn in years to come, his talent and sheer willpower cannot be denied. He’s responsible for numerous wicked comebacks, clutch round wins, and carrying his team to new heights over the course of the last few months. Even though ZywOo is the first name on the team sheet, there are others who’ve also stepped up for the occasion. I’m mainly referring to NBK who’s been in terrific form over the last month or so.
Esports Championship Series Season 7 trophy is by far the biggest and most notable one in Vitality’s cabinet. It came roughly two months ago followed by spectacular displays at cs_summit 4 and Charleroi Esports 2019. ZywOo was their strongest link across all three competitions, further establishing himself as one of the toughest individuals to play against.
Team Vitality starts the Major from The Challengers Stage since they failed to impress in Katowice, losing against NiP in the crucial Legends Stage match. This can be a double-edged sword for ZywOo and the boys. If they start the event off on the right foot, their individual strengths could easily snowball to the Legends Stage. If, however, ZywOo fails to find his stride early on in the competition, we could end up seeing Vitality fail big time.
Here we have ENCE, last Major’s grand finalist. The Tenacious Finns were by far the biggest sensation in Katowice, eliminating legend after legend and sweeping their way to fight the main boss of the CS:GO pro scene, Astralis. As you all know, Astralis stomped the potential Cinderella story and, obviously, angered the Finns.
No worries, allu and the boys found their revenge, disrupting Astralis’ era and dealing the first blow that led to their eventual downfall. But what’s so special about this often underrated Finnish team? What makes them tick? Well, they’re tenacious! They’re incredibly tenacious and refuse to give up even in the craziest of situations.
However, their biggest virtue seem to be the basics. Yes, as silly as it may sound, ENCE are doing the basics exceptionally well. They’re making timely rotations, great IGL decisions and winning most of their duels. Their teamwork and cohesion seem to be second to none, allowing them to withstand pressure from energetic sides such as Astralis, Team Liquid, and NaVi.
Sergej and allu are leading the charge, enjoying their playtime and establishing themselves as one of the best duos in the top ten CS:GO teams at the moment. However, they’re starting from The Legends Stage and they’ll have to be on their A-game right from the start. The Legends Stage competition is tough and ENCE ought to have a lot of pressure on their shoulders. If they manage to squeeze through to The Champions Stage as they did in Katowice, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them reaching far into the playoffs.
Natus Vincere is still near the top of the CS:GO foodchain. This CIS side is like wine, the older they are the better they perform. To be honest, S1mple is still the main driving force behind NaVi’s success. If success is the right word for it, that is. You see, we’re talking about a team that won just one notable tournament in 2019, just like FaZe Clan (more on them down below). Other than that, their 2019 hasn’t been good at all.
Poor BPS displays and semifinals finishes on ESL One Cologne and IEM Katowice Major are, alongside StarSeries S7 trophy, NaVi’s biggest achievements thus far in 2019. Of course, a breakthrough campaign in Berlin would do them a world of good. And, who knows, with BOOMBL4 onboard, perhaps the best CIS team can finally make a proper stance.
Well, in all honesty, BOOMBL4 doesn’t seem to be fitting in NaVi that well. His initial displays leave much to be desired and I can’t see him making an impressive comeback in Berlin. On the other end, if S1mple steps up a notch, Natus Vincere could be a force to be reckoned with in The Legends Stage. Perhaps they even snowball well into the playoffs and make a proper run in Berlin.
Alongside ENCE, the second most notable team to deal nasty blows to Astralis’ era is FURIA. And that’s due to a very specific piece of FURIA’s gameplay that just doesn’t work in Astralis’ favor. You see, FURIA’s Nuke has been brilliant over the course of the last few months. Even though their Mirage matchups are looking solid as well, FURIA’s Nuke gameplay seems unbeatable at times.
Astralis got the taste of this, losing two Nuke maps against FURIA in a short time span. True, both contests were pretty tight but, in the end, the young Brazilian team emerged victoriously and kicked Astralis out of the event. Those two maps are enough to pave the way for FURIA’s inclusion in our StarLadder Major Power Rankings.
Coming into the StarLadder Major, FURIA is rocking a pretty solid track record, eight wins, and two losses. However, the teams they’ve played against last month aren’t really that prominent. We’re mostly talking about their NA colleagues from the Americas Minor. There is, however, a solid Bo3 win against Vitality, perhaps their biggest scalp in the last month or so.
Next up, we have FaZe Clan. Their current track record marks five wins and five losses, which perfectly describes their entire season. Once again, this seemingly perfect team with superstars such as NiKo and GuardiaN are coming into this tournament nowhere near the position of heavy favorites. And it’s sad, no doubt about it, but perhaps the newest arrival, 32-year-old polish legend NEO, might prove his worth in Berlin.
FaZe has one somewhat notable trophy this season, BPS Miami, which they won in April while they were still featuring Adren. Since then, their performances encountered another rough patch with not a single noteworthy campaign since April.
A part of FaZe Clan’s troubles falls on the fact they’re still heavily relying on Dust II. Sure, their top fraggers do have the individual qualities required to win duels in this deathmatch of a map, but often times it’s just not enough. Especially against tactically superior teams whose moves FaZe Clan fails to predict. With NEO coming in, perhaps we’ll finally see them try to improve their Inferno and Mirage performance, with both falling well below the 50% mark in 2019.
All in all, at best, FaZe Clan will reach the Champions Stage just like they have last time out in Katowice. However, at that point, the competition will just be too tough for them to handle. Unless, of course, they finally adopt a more strategy-based approach on maps like Mirage, Inferno, and Nuke.
To be honest, Stanislaw’s arrival didn’t have as much of an impact as I hoped. Even though we’re talking about a prolific IGL that can both lead his team to victories and frag his way through crucial rounds, his initial events with NRG weren’t all that impressive. Don’t get me wrong, Stanislaw had a solid patch of matches fragging-wise, but his IGLing wasn’t on point, making his team miss out on even better event placements in the last two months.
Of course, there’s still plenty of time for stanislaw to sync up with his teammates. This process ought to be that much longer since we’re talking about the in-game leader here, the player that has to transition his CS:GO philosophy to his teammates if they want to contest the best of the best.
NRG’s main fragger, 21-year-old Brehze, is in solid form, coming off brilliant series of performances during Americas Minors and ESL Pro League S9 Finals. Looking at The Challengers Stage teams, NRG seems to be among the strongest ones. That said, I really can’t see them failing to qualify for The Legends Stage. Who knows, if Stanislaw manages to get his message across to his teammates, perhaps they’ll even qualify for The Champions Stage.
If you haven’t followed previous CS:GO Major Championships, things might seem a bit too complicated. No worries, our StarLadder Major Viewer’s Guide will bring you right up to speed. It features pretty much everything you need to know about the event including stage-by-stage explanations for your convenience.
That’s it for our StarLadder Major Power Rankings. Let’s just hope the SL Berlin spectacle brings forth a ton of epic CS:GO clashes!