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PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Challengers

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PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Challengers

This feature is part one of a two-piece series, where we assess the eight “Challenger” teams due to participate at the second Major event of the year, commencing in just five days.

Challengers

Europemousesports

For a long time, mousesports were known for the strange disparity in ability on their roster, containing as it did the Serbian god NiKo, and a couple of the lowest rated players at the professional level. As everyone knows, they eventually lost their talisman to FaZe Clan, and reinvested some of that money bringing in Estonian wunderkind ropz. Since then they’ve enjoyed something of a resurgence, with even the much-maligned denis coming into some form, and none of the big sides will want to face them in the early stages given the threat ropz and AWP god Oskar present.

Roster:
Netherlands Chris “chrisJ” de Jong
Germany Denis “denis” Howell
Spain Christian “loWel” Antoran
Czech Republic Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný
Estonia Robin “ropz” Kool

Coach – Ukraine Sergey “lmbt” Bezhanov

Stats:
Chances of winning: 5/10
Average player age: 23
Average player rating: 1.05 (Oskar highest at 1.20)
Ranking: 12th

Recent results:
9th-11th @ ESL One Cologne 2017
1st-2nd @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
5th-6th @ DreamHack Summer 2017
5th-6th @ ESL Pro League Season 5 LAN finals
3rd-4th @ DreamHack Tours 2017
5th-8th @ DreamHack Masters – Las Vegas 2017
12th-14th @ ELEAGUE Major 2017

FranceG2 Esports

In January, three of the five members of G2 Esports were in China, where they won the WESG 2016 event and the largest prize pool in CS:GO history, but time waits for no man and things have moved on. While Happy and SIXER struggle, NBK, KennyS and apEX moved on to the Spanish owned superteam, led by shox, and although they are yet to win another $800,000 prize it seems to have worked out so far. They also currently have a 5-1 winning record over SK Gaming, viewed by many as the best team in the world, and are without a doubt the best team listed in the Challengers section of the event.

Roster:
France Richard “shox” Papillon
France Alexandre “bodyy” Pianaro
France Nathan “NBK” Schmitt
France Kenny “kennyS” Schrub
France Dan “apEX” Madesclaire

Coach – France Edouard “SmithZz” Dubourdeaux

Stats:
Chances of winning: 8/10
Average player age: 23
Average player rating: 1.10 (KennyS highest at 1.19)
Ranking: 4th

Recent results:
5th-8th @ ESL One Cologne 2017
1st-2nd @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
5th-6th @ Esports Championship Series Season 3 LAN finals
1st @ ESL Pro League Season 5 LAN finals
1st @ DreamHack Tours 2017
3rd-4th @ DreamHack Austin 2017
5th-8th @ StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 LAN finals
12th-14th @ ELEAGUE Major 2017

EuropePENTA Sports

Much like Vega Squadron, PENTA Sports are coming into the PGL Major Krakow 2017 with one goal only – exiting the group stage. The team has minimal experience when it comes to large events; however it has indeed been quite proactive in participating at smaller LAN and online tourneys. With an international mix of players, the team managed to demonstrate a convincing performance against their equals at the offline qualifier, but there is a distinction to be made when it comes to the actual LAN finals. Butting heads with the “Crème de la Crème” of CS:GO teams will be no mean feat, and PENTA Sports will have to apply themselves thoroughly if they are to come within reach of exiting the group stage..

Roster:
Germany Kevin “kRYSTAL” Amend
Finland Miikka “suNny” Kemppi
Poland Pawel “innocent” Mocek
Estonia Kevin “HS” Tarn
Finland Jesse “zehN” Linjala

Coach – Finland Niko “naSu” Kovanen

Stats:
Chances of winning: 3/10
Average player age: 23
Average player rating: 1.10 (suNny highest at 1.2)
Ranking: 20th

Recent results:
3rd-5th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
2nd @ Europe Minor Championship – Kraków
1st @ Farmskins Championship #1
3rd @ HellCase Cup #4
1st @ ESEA Season 24: Global Challenge
2nd @ Headshot Cup #1

United StatesCloud9

Thoorin has written off this Cloud9 line-up more than once, so their recent run to the ESL One Cologne finals was an opportunity for much schadenfreude online, which in fairness he took on his fuzzy chin. The fact is though, that Stewie2k might be one of the most exciting NA players we’ve seen in quite a while, and his performance as in-game leader at ESL One Cologne 2017 suggests there is much more to come from him. The likes of n0thing and Skadoodle might struggle to always produce their best, but like mousesports, this is a team nobody will want to be drawn against in the early knockout stages.

Roster:
United States Jake “Stewie2k” Yip 
United States Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert
Canada Mike “shroud” Grzesiek
United States Timothy “autimatic” Ta
United States Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham

Coach – United States Soham “valens” Chowdhury

Stats:
Chances of winning: 6/10
Average age: 22.2
Average rating: 1.07 (Stewie2k highest rated at 1.16)
Ranking: 5th

Recent results:
2nd @ ESL One Cologne 2017
3rd-5th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
7th-8th @ DreamHack Summer 2017
1st @ Americas Minor Championship – Kraków
11th-12th @ ESL Pro League Season 5 LAN finals
1st @ Subaru Invitational 2017
5th-6th @ DreamHack Austin 2017
4th @ cs_summit
1st @ iBUYPOWER Spring Invitational 2017
9th-10th @ Intel Extreme Masters XI – World Championship
9th-12th @ DreamHack Masters – Las Vegas 2017

GermanyBIG

BIG, composed of four Germans and a Serbian, are no strangers to LAN settings, as all members barring Kevin “keev” Bartholomäus have participated at at least one Major event. The roster has existed since January  2017, where three former NRG Esports members added two to  produce BIG. Since conception the team hasn’t accrued many accolades. The distinct weakness of the team lies in their dependence on Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz, who has consistently delivered for his team, saving their bacon. In the event that all members of the roster step up, there is no reason why the team can’t exit the group stage and proceed to face some of the world’s finest. Ultimately, BIG’s biggest battle will be with themselves, as the rest is covered by the extensive in-game leading experience of Fatih “gob b” Dayik, who has been playing Counter-Strike since the 1.6 days.

Roster:
Germany Fatih “gob  b” Dayik
Germany Johannes “tabseN” Wodarz
Germany Johannes “nex” Maget
Germany Kevin “keev” Bartholomäus
Serbia Nikola “LEGIJA” Ninić

Coach – Austria Alexander “kakafu” Szymanczyk

Stats:
Chances of winning: 4/10
Average player age: 25
Average player rating: 1.1 (tabseN highest at 1.26)
Ranking: 17th

Recent results:
3rd-5th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
1st @ Europe Minor Championship – Kraków
2nd @ Farmskins Championship #1
2nd @ ESEA Season 24: Global Challenge
1st @ ESL Meisterschaft: Spring 2017
3rd-4th @ Copenhagen Games 2017
1st @ iGame Winter Invitational
2nd @ DreamHack Leipzig 2017

RussiaVega Squadron

Led by Dmitry “JR” Chervak, Vega Squadron are one of the underdogs for the tournament. Neither member of the roster has ever performed at such a large event, making this the team’s first ever Major event. From one perspective we can look at the team and assess that they will struggle immensely due to the pressure-charged setting and expectations of an up-and-coming team, from the other, expectations cannot be exceedingly high due to the opponents the team will be facing throughout. For the past seven months the team simply hasn’t clashed with any of the top teams in CS:GO, hence the PGL Major Krakow 2017 being their first opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities against the best in the world, as well as getting their team on the map.

Roster:
Ukraine Dmitriy “jR” Chervak
Russia Nikolay “Mir” Bityukov
Russia Sergey “Keshandr” Nikishin
Russia Pavel “hutji” Lashkov
Russia Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov 

Stats:
Chance of winning: 3/10
Average player age: 22
Average player rating: 1.15 (mir highest at 1.29)
Ranking: 24th

Recent results:
6th-8th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
1st @ CIS Minor Championship – Kraków
10th-12th @ Binary Dragons csgopolygon – Season 1
5th-6th @ DreamHack Leipzig 2017

CISFlipSid3 Tactics

FlipSid3 Tactics is a veteran roster, composed of some of the most experienced Counter-Strike players in CIS. PGL Major Krakow 2017 will be one of many Major tournament performances for the seasoned roster, with Andrey “Blad3” Gorodenskiy spearheading operations. Despite the distinct lack of top placements at many of the Major events the team has participated at, resilience and determination is something the team doesn’t lack. Whether through a qualifier or a top eight placement, the team has managed to secure a placement at Major events without failure. As to whether the team will finally shine remains to be determined, however it seems unlikely that the roster will outshine the likes of top contenders that they will potentially meet in the group stage.

Roster:
Ukraine Andrey “Blad3” Gorodensky
Ukraine Yegor “markeloff” Markelov
Russia Georgy “WorldEdit” Yaskin
Finland Jan “wayLander” Rahkonen
Russia Denis “electronic” Sharipov

Stats:
Chance of winning: 4/10
Average player age: 25
Average player rating: 1.10 (electronic highest at 1.33)
Ranking: 23rd

Recent results:
6th-8th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
3rd-5th @ Adrenaline Cyber League 2017
3rd-4th @ Binary Dragons csgopolygon – Season 1
5th-6th @ HellCase Cup #2
15th-16th @ ELEAGUE Major 2017
1st @ DreamHack Leipzig 2017 

BrazilImmortals

Immortals are a fairly new organisation, and their team is basically made up of the old academy side put together by FalleN prior to his team’s controversial move to SK Gaming. Noah Whinston rarely misses a trick, and in signing ex-Tempo Storm he may have made a masterstroke. HEN1, LUCAS1, Boltz, Steel and kNgV- are all players capable of competing with the best, and in the aforementioned HEN1 they also have arguably the fastest AWP in CS:GO right now. Like so many teams in this section, they are unlikely to be in the Grand Finals, but nobody will want to face them as they are razor sharp and hungry with it

Roster:
Brazil Ricardo “boltz” Prass
Brazil Henrique “HEN1” Teles
Brazil Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles
Brazil Lucas “steel” Lopes
Brazil Vito “kNg” Giuseppe

Coach – Brazil Rafael “zakk” Fernandes

Stats:
Chance of winning: 5/10
Average player age: 21
Average player rating: 1.11 (HEN1 highest at 1.16)
Ranking: 10th

Recent results:
12th-14th @ ESL One Cologne 2017
6th-8th @ PGL Major Kraków 2017 – Offline Qualifier
3rd-4th @ DreamHack Summer 2017
2nd @ Americas Minor Championship – Kraków
9th-10th @ ESL Pro League Season 5 LAN finals
3rd-4th @ Subaru Invitational 2017
1st @ EsportsArena Santa Ana Showdown Championship
2nd @ DreamHack Austin 2017
9th-11th @ StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 LAN finals
3rd-4th @ Intel Extreme Masters XI – World Championship 

Images courtesy of mousesports, G2 Esports, PENTA Sports, Cloud9, BIG, Vega Squadron, FlipSid3 Tactics and Immortals.
Rankings, statistics and results courtesy of HLTV.org and Counter-Strike Liquidpedia

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