The biggest CSGO tournament since Berlin Major is set to start from Thursday at Barclays Center (New York), where 8 teams will fight for a share in $200,000 prize pool. The event will also see a showmatch played on the reworked version of Cache, making it the first-ever live match of the new de_cache.
All the teams are divided into two groups of four, with Group A having Liquid, Ence, G2, and eUnited whereas Group B will feature Astralis, NRG, Faze and Optic. Every single match will be a BO3, with the exception of finals which will be played in a BO5 fashion.
This event will witness the race to No.1 as Liquid and their arch-rivals, Astralis look to grab the trophy and solidify their position in the Intel Grand Slam run.
While Liquid is still the World No. 1 in both ESL CSGO rankings and HLTV rankings, there lies a big question mark on their performance considering their recent results, post player break. Liquid lost to Astralis in Quarter-finals of the Major in a disappointing 0-2 fashion, also losing BO1’s against NRG and Avangar in the Legends Stage. The top-ranked team moreover failed to win the ECS Week 1 NA recently, dropping off to Sharks in the semi-finals. The players have also accepted in multiple interviews that their individual form has taken a dent post player break. The liquid will hence have the opportunity to cement their place at the top with the proviso that they come out on top winning the event.
With that being said, they have to surpass their toughest opponent Astralis.
The four-time major winners will be top favorites to take the trophy as they recently concluded the Starladder major as Champions without dropping a single map in play-offs. Astralis, who won the first season of Intel Grand Slam winner, will also be looking to raise their tally from the duck in its third season to level up with liquid sitting at the top with one point (as they won IEM Chicago).
The tournament will also feature World No.4 NRG, who had an unbeaten run in Major until the semi-finals where they fell short to Astralis. They continued their good form post Major as well as winning the ECS (NA) week 1 qualifying for the main event. Their first match-up will be against Faze, who are yet to announce their fifth player. Multiple reports have already confirmed that coldzera is set to join the squad in their first match tomorrow. A couple of photos have surfaced on the internet courtesy the social media of players showing Faze CSGO Coach Janko ‘YNK’ Paunović and coldzera supposedly eating at the same restaurant and coldzera clicking pictures of the Faze members. Coldzera also took part in a local Lan in Serbia with Ynk and Niko and was reportedly in Poland where Faze also boot camped for the event.
Faze is yet to win a big tournament in 2019, with their only wins coming from Blast Pro Miami and Eleague Invitational. This event will also mark the first big LAN tournament for the young Latvian, Helvijs ‘broky’ Saukants . The latest addition to Faze has been in the eyes of the TOs since he joined Epsilon Esports in 2019 and helped the team win ESEA Season 30 Premier Division followed by an impressive run in Charleroi Esports 2019, with an impressive victory over G2.
The addition of Coldzera, post-NEO’s trial also suggests Niko moving to the IGL role with secondary AWP role circulating between Niko and Coldzera. It’d be interesting to see how Faze performs in the upcoming events with this enhanced firepower.
Another team playing with a stand-in is G2. Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey will be stepping-in for G2 in this event. This will be his first LAN tournament since he left Cloud9 following the Katowice Major.G2 have already played IEM Beijing online qualifier with kioShima where they lost to forze in semis.
ENCE will also be joining Liquid and G2 in Group A. ENCE recently benched AlekshiB adding former mousesports player, Miikka ‘suNny’ Kemppi, who is also the only defending champion of ESL One NY. While their recent performances haven’t been great (5th place finish Blast Pro Moscow and 5-8th in Starladder Major), ENCE will be looking to at least make it to the playoffs under their IGL and AWPer allu.
The other local team eUnited, also in Group A, recently added Ryan ‘freakazoid’ Abadi after Kaleb ‘moose’ Jayne requested to benched himself. Although their chances of winning the event are very bleak, they will be hoping to get past the Groups Stage. Another team from Denmark which will be joining Astralis in Group B, is Optic. They are yet to post a LAN victory since the addition of René ’cajunb’ Borg. It will be a great opportunity for the Optic line-up to gain some experience against Tier-1 teams.