The FACEIT Major touched down in London a few days ago, but it hasn’t taken long for the highly-anticipated tournament to heat up.
Only eight of the sixteen teams competing in the Challengers Stage will go on to the next leg of the tournament to contest their piece of Valve’s $1,000,000 prize pool; with only a few days left in the first portion of this competition, we wanted to break down everything you need to know in this week’s ESI Gambling Report, powered by Thunderpick.
North or South
Sparks started to fly early at the FACEIT Major in the second round when results began to go against the grain of the current status quo.
Coming off a massive title finish at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm, North was a team with high hopes as they transitioned into the Major. In Stockholm, the group faced a treacherous cast of teams including Mousesports, Na’Vi and Astralis – each of whom they trumped on their way to the winner’s podium. With this, North showed an astonishing amount of endurance – drawn-out best of threes against top teams is mentally taxing, to say the least. In the Semi-Finals of the event, the new Danish troop on the block went as far to overcome a dispiriting 16-0 loss against Mousesports and claw their way back to advance into the Grand Finals against Astralis. However, it seems the North the flew over to London only a few days after their big win isn’t present – at least not thus far; in their first match against HellRaisers the brigade was slow to get the ball rolling, facing a large deficit before showing their resilience in forcing an overtime scenario – despite eventually falling to HellRaisers, it was still respectable given the circumstances.
The Northern Lights appeared even dimmer in Round 2 when they failed to win yet another nail-biting match against Secret, a team that wasn’t on anyone’s radar let alone thought to be of North’s calibre. Skies look bleak at the moment for the latest champions, if they can’t pull it together against their next opponents in the third round and carry that momentum their pipe dream of winning this Major will disintegrate.
A shark in the water and a horse on the inside track
Two squads at the top of the boards will have already clashed by the time you’re reading this – regardless of the outcome however, this pair shouldn’t be overlooked during the rest of this tournament.
Looking at Liquid, the team was under-fire for failing to place first at an event since February but have since started to piece things together little by little. Making room on the team for a superstar like Epitácio “TACO” de Melo should be easy, right? Wrong. It took time for Liquid to find comfort and success in this roster and over the course of the last few months, we’ve seen what they can do on a major stage. The ELEAGUE Premier was their best showing within this new configuration and although they fell to an Astralis firing on all pistons, prosperity seemed on the horizon for Liquid.
First against OpTic Gaming and then defeating a peppery HellRaisers squad on Inferno, Liquid appears to be in good form today. They’ve leaped into the Major on the right foot and barring they keep this up, they’ll easily advance to the Legends Stage.
Vega Squadron was another team that was likely overlooked by a bulk of the top contenders at the London Major – they’ve proven that doing so could end in a devastating loss. Their opening win against Secret showed a superior use of utility and strategy, although it wasn’t as convincing for their top-eight prospect until they clinched an overtime win against German giants, BIG.
It was a hard-fought victory and tensions rode out until the very end when Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov flew into the bombsite with a swift headshot to end the round and secure the win. The team is fighting an uphill battle as they progress through the tournament and things likely won’t get easier as the weaker teams are weeded out; the best-of-one format in the first four rounds may prove to be beneficial for this explosive looking team. In short, keep an eye on these sharks.
It’s raining Danes
It’d be impossible to cover a tournament Astralis is present for without mentioning them – whether they’re routinely barreling through their opposition or on the losing end of a substantial upset, you simply can’t overlook this group. Having won three out of the four events they’ve attended most recently, the superteam has essentially had a bounty on their heads in whichever competition they qualify for or are invited to. Speaking of their performance thus far the London Major – Astralis is doing, well, Astralis things.
Complexity was easy-pickings for the Danish band, this one went pretty much how you’d expect it given their unpenetrable form they easily sent off the NA squad winning 16-4. Their match against Rogue however, was a very different story; at the half, Astralis was experiencing a shortfall in round wins as they transitioned to the CT-side being down 11-5. Rogue opening up that next round with yet another considerable pistol-round win – having spectators hold their breath as Astralis looked down the barrel so early by a gunman they never expected. This isn’t the underdog story you were hoping for though, as Astralis displayed their professionalism and edged their way back into the game and eventually taking the victory. No surprises here as Astralis currently sits comfortably at the top of the table and should be a shoe-in for the Legends Stage.
Stories will continue to unfold in London over the next few days prior to the Legends Stage; minus a face technical difficulties, the Major is shaping up to be an interesting one to watch and we’re not anticipating that dust to settle anytime soon.
If you do plan to wager on any of the matches, ESI reminds you to bet responsibly!
Our ESI London conference (18-20th September) will precede the FACEIT Major, and as a part of a wider esports business focused agenda will include a dedicated esports betting track. Find out more here