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Starladder Berlin Major Preview

Will Liquid continue their hot-streak or will Astralis return to form?

Valentin Gustafsson
Freelance Esports Writer
16th Aug, 2019·☕️☕️ 9 min read
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Buckle up, it’s major time! Will Liquid continue their hot-streak or will Astralis return to form? Read on as we break down the format, fantasy and betting for the Starladder Berlin Major.

Competition Information

The moment that we have all been waiting for has arrived. Starladder is set to host its first-ever major in Berlin, Germany. Twenty-four of the world’s best teams will be competing for the coveted trophy and the $500,000 first-place prize. The defending champions, Astralis, will be hoping to make it two in a row with a win in Germany after taking down IEM Katowice earlier in the year. The Danes have been in a rough patch in recent months, however, a win in Germany would put them right back in the conversation for the world’s best team.

As with most of the major tournaments in recent times, the format will be Swiss system. The concept is simple, three losses and you are eliminated, three wins and you advance to the next stage of the tournament. All matches will be best-of-one except the elimination and advancement matches which will be best-of-threes, which means that no team will advance or be eliminated without playing at least one best-of-three.

The first stage of the tournament is called “The Challengers Stage”, which consists of teams that have either qualified through the minor or by placing 9th-14th at the previous major. These are the following:

  • 🇫🇷 Team Vitality (IEM Katowice)
  • 🇰🇿 AVANGAR (IEM Katowice)
  • 🇪🇺 HellRaisers (IEM Katowice)
  • 🇫🇷 G2 (IEM Katowice)
  • 🇺🇸 compLexity (IEM Katowice)
  • 🇪🇺 mousesports (EU Minor)
  • 🇷🇸 CR4ZY (EU Minor)
  • 🇺🇸 NRG (AM Minor)
  • 🇧🇷 FURIA (AM Minor)
  • 🇷🇺 forZe (CIS Minor)
  • 🇪🇺 SYMAN (CIS Minor)
  • 🇦🇺 Grayhound (Asia Minor)
  • 🇨🇳 TYLOO (Asia Minor)
  • 🇩🇰 North (Minor Play-in)
  • 🇧🇷 INTZ (Minor Play-in)
  • 🇷🇺 DreamEaters (Minor Play-in)

Eight of these teams will qualify for the “New Legends Stage”, which consists of the teams that placed in the Top 8 at the last major. These are the following:

  • 🇩🇰 Astralis (1st, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇫🇮 ENCE (2nd, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇷🇺 NaVi (3rd-4th, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇧🇷 MIBR (3rd-4th, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇪🇺 FaZe (5th-8th, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇺🇸 Team Liquid (5th-8th, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇦🇺 Renegades (5th-8th, IEM Katowice)
  • 🇸🇪 NiP (5th-8th, IEM Katowice)

After these two swiss stages have concluded, eight teams will advance to the single-elimination playoff bracket which is now known as the “The New Champions Stage”. All of these matches will be best-of-threes, including the final.

The whole shebang kicks off starting with The New Challengers Stage on August 23 and the winner will ultimately be crowned September 8. It is worth noting that there will be a break in between each stage of the tournament. The tournament schedule will be as follows:

  • The New Challengers Stage: August 23 — August 26
  • The New Legends Stage: August 28 — September 1
  • The New Champions Stage: September 5 — September 8

The Current Season

Fantasy Preview

Must Picks

These are the players that should be considered in just about any matchup due to their impact on the server. I’ll keep it short and sweet these guys.

ZywOo (1)

ZywOo has been a revelation since joining Vitality last winter, often single handedly carrying his team to victory. Much like s1mple, ZywOo can make for a great pick even in losing efforts due to how dominant he is in relation to most of his teammates.

s1mple stats2

There just isn’t much to be said about s1mple, he’s considered the world’s best for a reason and makes for an excellent pick at just about any price. Even when Natus Vincere are struggling, chances are that he will still be at the top of the scoreboard.

elige stats2

EliGE has been an absolute beast for Liquid so far in 2019, picking up three MVPs so far during Liquid’s recent spree of tournament wins. The changes that were made to the scoped rifles at the end of last year were tailor-made for EliGE as he was always someone who was effective with these weapons even before the changes. Despite the recent nerfs to the AUG, EliGE has shown no signs of slowing down as he continues to put up crazy numbers with the good old M4. EliGE faces tough internal competition from Twistzz and NAF, but this is as good as EliGE has ever looked which makes him a must pick at this moment in time.

Honorable Mentions:

  • 🇨🇦 Twistzz (Liquid): As always, Twistzz makes for an excellent pick due to his high K/D ratio and high headshot totals.
  • 🇨🇦 NAF (Liquid): NAF is in great form after excellent showings at both IEM Chicago and Blast Pro Series Los Angeles.

Great Value

These are the players that are standouts for their respective teams and make for excellent picks depending on the matchup.

brehze stats3

With tarik and stanislaw joining the roster, Brehze now faces more internal competition. However, it appears as if Brehze’s partner in crime, Ethan, has taken the bigger hit of the two as Brehze continues to put up great numbers for NRG. For some reason, Brehze often flies under the radar but the truth of the matter is that he is one of the best, well-rounded riflers in North America.

hunter stats

CR4ZY, formerly known as Valiance, has made great progress recently and huNter is at the forefront of most of what happens offensively for CR4ZY. His aggressive style of play has proven to be hugely impactful as he often finds a lot of success with flanks and aggressive pushes on CT-side. Similar to a player like EliGE of Team Liquid, huNter is someone who is going to give you points all across the board, as he puts up solid assist and headshot totals while maintaining a high K/D ratio.

jks stats2

jks has always been a great player, but the last year or so he has really elevated his game to a whole different level and if his form continues like this we could see an Australian make HLTV’s Top 20 list for the first time in the history of the game. Renegades have tapered off quite a bit after their success at the IEM Katowice major, which makes jks a riskier pick than some other players on this list. However, his numbers really shouldn’t be ignored as he is just about the complete package when it comes to fantasy scoring. He continiously puts up a high K/D differential and he has always been a strong aimer who will net you plenty of points for headshots.

Honorable Mentions:

  • 🇧🇷 kNg (INTZ) The controversial Brazilian has been dominant for INTZ and with a potential spot on MIBR up for grabs, I expect big plays from the AWPer.
  • 🇷🇺 Jame (AVANGAR) AVANGAR have looked shaky as of late, but they continue to base most of their play around Jame which makes him a great option.
  • 🇫🇷 shox & kennyS (G2) You never really know what you’re gonna get with G2, but both shox and kennyS have started to roll back the years in recent times, which makes them well worth considering.
  • 🇨🇿 oskar (HellRaisers) oskar remains one of the better AWPers in the game and he proved that at the ESL Pro League finals where he was close to leading his team to a huge upset against Team Liquid. HellRaisers have struggled in online matches, but oskar should be considered nonetheless.
  • 🇩🇰 Kjaerbye (North) With valde taking over the leadership for North, Kjaerbye has been the one to step up to the plate and deliver big performances for the Danes. This has gone largely unnoticed by both pundits and fans alike, so I expect Kjaerbye to be lowly owned which is only a good thing.
  • 🇷🇸 nexa (CR4ZY) For some reason, people are still sleeping on this guy. The truth is that nexa is at the forefront of CR4ZY’s offense alongside huNter and he often matches him in terms of fragging. If you want to stack CR4ZY, nexa should be on your team.
  • 🇫🇮 sergej (ENCE) If there is one player that I can recommend with confidence from ENCE, it is sergej. The young Finn has been a consistent force on ENCE for a while now and his fantasy production has been solid.
  • 🇸🇪 f0rest (NiP) With dennis leaving the team, I expect f0rest to pick up the AWP more frequently which may hurt his headshot totals somewhat but will benefit his survival. f0rest has been a shining light in the darkest of times for NiP, and I expect it to continue at this event.
  • 🇪🇪 ropz (mouz) Both woxic and frozen make for great options on mousesports, but so far it has been ropz that has been the standout player in terms of fantasy scoring due to his high K/D ratio and headshot accuracy.
  • 🇧🇷 yuurih & KSCERATO (FURIA) Both solid options. KSCERATO is the more defensive of the two, but yuurih arguably has more upside.

Sleepers

somebody stats

The overall knowledge about the Asian scene is very limited in the west, so I would not blame you if you have missed the sudden rise in form from somebody. TYLOO have assembled an asian super team of sorts with the addition of Summer, Freeman and AttackeR to a roster that already included one of Asia’s finest players; BnTeT. However, despite the fierce internal competition, somebody has been at the forefront of TYLOO’s offense so far, leading his team in total kills and K/D ratio within the last month.

chelo stats

chelo is likely third in the pecking order on INTZ after players such as kNg and xand. Over the course of an entire event, I expect kNg and xand to outscore chelo a lot of the time, but in individual matches chelo’s upside is fantastic due to his skillset. chelo has one of the highest headshot accuracies in the scene, rivaling the likes of Twistzz and ScreaM. He played a big part in earning INTZ their spot at the major with a high scoring performance against MVP.PK, proving that he can win you a slate if you’re willing to take the gamble.

Jackz stats

JaCkz was in fantastic form at the start of July, but he followed that up with a disappointing performance at IEM Chicago later in the month. However, he did end the tournament on a good note after top-scoring against MIBR in their final match of the tournament. JaCkz will likely always be behind kennyS and shox in the pecking order on G2. However, much like chelo of INTZ, JaCkz is the type of player that can win you a slate if you get him right, as he often nets you plenty of points when he does pop off.

Honorable Mentions:

  • 🇪🇸 loWel (HellRaisers) IoWel was rarely an exciting player during his time on mousesports back in the days so I can understand that no one is talking about him. However, he has looked solid over the last year which ultimately earned him his spot on HellRaisers. His aim has looked crisp and his defensive style of play may prove beneficial when HellRaisers goes up against stronger competition. Most will likely opt to go for oskar or ISSAA, which makes loWel an interesting option for contrarian reasons.

Betting Preview

CSGO starladder tip

Astralis (3.75) and Liquid (2.75) will be big favorites and deservedly so. Personally, my money is still on Liquid. Both NaVi (5.70) and ENCE (10.50) are somewhat interesting since they are already through to the New Legends Stage and won’t have to battle through a very competitive Challengers Stage. With this in mind, I would personally fade Vitality at the current number.

The swiss system usually allows for some upsets due to the initial BO1 matchups. However, the best teams tend to advance since the elimination and advancement matches are BO3, as we saw last major where TYLOO went on a 2–0 run in BO1s, only to lose three consecutive BO3s to get eliminated from the tournament. As such, there is little value on underdogs as a straight outright bet in this competition, but there will be some opportunity to cash in big on an underdog in the first matches of the tournament.