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EL Major preview: The Mid-tier
Time: 2017-01-19 14:17
Game: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

We continue counting down the days before the ELEAGUE Major kicks off - three days are left until 16 teams lock horns in Atlanta in the Swiss group stage. In the second part of our series of previews, we take a look at the Mid-tier, ranked from #7 to #14: FaZe, EnVyUs, G2, Natus Vincere, mousesports, and Gambit.

The ELEAGUE Major will take place at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, from January 22-29, with a $1 million prize pool up for grabs once again, as has been the case since MLG Columbus 2016.

This Major will be the first to use the Swiss format in the group stage, which we saw in play at several Main Qualifiers as well as ESL One New York. Teams with the same win-loss record will be randomly matched in each round before they reach three wins (at which point they advance to playoffs) or three losses (and exit the tournament in groups).

The first round match-ups are the following:

Sunday, January 22nd
16:00 Gambit vs. North
17:15 fnatic vs. G2
18:30 SK vs. HellRaisers
19:45 Virtus.pro  vs. OpTic
21:00 Natus Vincere  vs. mousesports
22:15 Liquid vs. EnVyUs
23:30 Astralis vs. GODSENT
00:45 FlipSid3 vs. FaZe

As always, the upcoming Major will be one of the most stacked tournaments of the year, featuring 16 of the top 20 teams according to our ranking.

We've already released the first part of our Major preview, featuring the bottom five teams, the Underdogs: GODSENT, Liquid, FlipSid3, HellRaisers, and fnatic.

Today we take a look at the middle six, which features some of the heavy-hitters but also a couple of dark horses: FaZe, EnVyUs, G2, Natus Vincere, mousesports, and Gambit.

* Ratings used are from the past three months on LAN

FaZe (#7) Age Rating
Philip "aizy" Aistrup 20 1.06
Håvard "rain" Nygaard 22 1.05
Aleksi "allu" Jalli 24 1.04
Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey 22 1.00
Finn "karrigan" Andersen 26 0.88
Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström (coach)  

Following the stabilization of FaZe's roster with Finn "karrigan" Andersen and Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey, the European mixture have risen up the ranks by doing well at most of the events they attended.

Their first two were iBUYPOWER Masters and IEM Oakland in California. At the former, which served as a qualifier for the IEM stop, they started slowly but still managed to secure their spot for Oakland with a close win over Renegades. The main event saw karrigan's squad cruising through a tough group including the likes of NiP, SK, and Cloud9, but they were stopped by Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and company in semi-finals, barely missing out on the final.

Philip "aizy" Aistrup and company showed their best result in ELEAGUE Season 2 playoffs, defeating Virtus.pro in quarter-finals in a three-map nail-biter, but this time OpTic were the ones to stop them before the final stage. FaZe continued to struggle against the North American team at ECS Season 2 finals, as they missed out on playoffs for the first time following another loss to OpTic.

FaZe stand out from the Mid-tier crowd

FaZe were looking very good for the Main Qualifier and lived up to that promise, beating North American residents Cloud9, Immortals, and finally OpTic on their way to a 3-0 record and a Major spot.

Before karrigan's arrival, FaZe's fate lied in individual form; most of the players playing well. In the last two months of 2016, the Danish in-game leader turned chaos into order and made FaZe a stable roster which went on to do well at four out of five events they attended.

With how many events the team attended shortly after karrigan's addition and how quickly they rose to success, sufficient time to prepare should do them even more good. The competition is extremely stiff, but FaZe are definitely looking like a lock for playoffs, and perhaps even another semi-final. Whether they can take the next step and make their first final is another question, but it wouldn't be a massive surprise anymore.

EnVyUs (#8) Age Rating
Kenny "kennyS" Schrub 21 1.15
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire 23 1.08
Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt 22 1.04
Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer 25 0.98
Christophe "SIXER" Xia 25 0.97

Not too much has changed in the EnVyUs camp since the addition of Christophe "SIXER" Xia, although the beginnings were quite hopeful. After releasing Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon, the Frenchmen qualified for WESG with a quarter-final finish at the Regional Finals, taking Virtus.pro to a narrow series.

They added a playoffs finish at ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals and a 3rd-4th place at Northern Arena Montreal, losing to NiP in quarters and compatriots G2 in semis, respectively. nV's ELEAGUE journey ended quickly with losses to dignitas and OpTic in groups, but they made up for it at ECS Season 2 with a semi-finals finish, taking down the aforementioned Danes and Immortals.

Expect Happy to lurk about as usual

As a team who exited ESL One Cologne in groups, EnVyUs ended 2016 with a successful run at the Main Qualifier, although not easily by any means. Falling short to Immortals and G2 at the beginning, Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer's team had to come back with three wins in a row and did, taking down Spirit and TyLoo comfortably and surviving a surprisingly tough battle with Vega Squadron.

EnVy's victory at WESG comes with an asterisk, as they only met one other top-ten team during the entire event, but it'll still provide them with some confidence before the Major begins.

Their story changes significantly with the rumors of another episode of the French shuffle, of course. If they're true, the team is pretty much over and two of their players don't have much to play for (Happy and SIXER), even if the other three will surely play their best to secure a Major spot for their new team. That makes it tough to see EnVyUs qualifying for playoffs, let alone making a deeper playoffs run.

G2 (#10) Age Rating
Richard "shox" Papillon 24 1.12
Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom 22 1.08
Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro 20 0.94
Cédric "RpK" Guipouy 27 0.91
Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux 28 0.88

Since G2's second place right after the off-season at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals, Richard "shox" Papillon's team have never passed quarter-finals apart from a lower-tier tournament Northern Arena - Montreal, where OpTic defeated the French-Belgian squad in the final.

In two cases they finished outside of playoffs, at ESL One New York and in ELEAGUE Season 2, and also failed to make it to the finals of both leagues - ESL Pro League Season 4 and ECS Season 2.

G2 barely made it to the Major

However, despite the unsuccessful couple of months, they managed to squeeze through the offline qualifier, although just barely with an overtime win against Immortals in the very last round.

Similarly to EnVyUs, G2 are in a bit of a predicament, as the rumors suggest the team will break down after the Major and two of their players, shox and Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro, are to join up with nV's trio. A playoffs finish isn't entirely out of the question, but that is as true for several other teams, G2 will have to fight for it.

Natus Vincere (#11) Age Rating
Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev 19 1.22
Egor "flamie" Vasilyev 19 0.96
Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev 29 0.95
Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács 25 0.94
Denis "seized" Kostin 22 0.86
Sergey "starix" Ischuk (coach)  

Natus Vincere somewhat stand out from the crowd of the Mid-tier similarly to FaZe, although they're in this position by no-one's fault but their own; due to their disappointing results.

Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev's addition has not paid off in the big picture, as since their fantastic victory at ESL One New York, Natus Vincere only passed the group stage once, at EPICENTER: Moscow with only a 3-3 record which earned them the first place in their group due to a four-way tie.

When you look at the teams they've lost to at two of their last three events, the results don't seem as bad; strong versions of dignitas (at EPICENTER) and SK (ELEAGUE S2 groups).

Na`Vi seem to be hungrier than ever

However, IEM Oakland sticks out like a sore thumb. Natus Vincere only defeated TyLoo and G2 in the six-team group, while losing to Liquid and Astralis one-sidedly, as well as to Immortals in overtime.

Na`Vi's biggest issue was clearly their map pool, as they were only able to win consistently on a single map, Overpass, which they're yet to lose with this lineup. With a two-month break from offline events, Sergey "starix" Ischuk must have been able to fix that, so we should see the true form of Natus Vincere at the Major.

It's also clear they're extremely hungry to do well, they have all played insane amounts of Counter-Strike in the past two weeks, most importantly the three stars, and should be in great form. Expect big things from the Ukraine-based squad.

mousesports (#12) Age Rating
Chris "chrisJ" de Jong 26 1.12
Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran 20 1.07
Nikola "NiKo" Kovač 19 1.05
Timo "Spiidi" Richter 21 0.92
Denis "denis" Howell 22 0.75
Sergey "lmbt" Bezhanov (coach)

Speaking of great form, mousesports finally broke their streak of poor results dating back to ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals in October, where they finished 3rd-4th following a 0-2 loss to Cloud9.

Afterwards, they bombed out of IEM Oakland with five losses in the groups, including one against Heroic, and exited ELEAGUE Season 2 in quarter-finals with another big series loss, that time to OpTic.

At the Main Qualifier mousesports started out poorly as well, barely making a dent in their initial match against HellRaisers on Train. However, from the second round on, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's team decimated each opponent, Spirit, TyLoo, and Immortals to secure a Major spot with a 3-1 record.

NiKo was back on form at the qualifier

You'd be right to object that two of those three teams are no match to most of the Major's competition, but it was good to see NiKo back in form, which is something that was missing during mousesports' bad streak.

What that means for the Major isn't quite clear. As usual, mouz's showing will stand on the shoulders of NiKo, Chris "chrisJ" de Jong and Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran, but even if they all play well, it's not a given they will advance to playoffs given the competition. They'll need superstar performances from at least the Bosnian to go through the Swiss group.

Gambit (#14) Age Rating
Rustem "mou" Telepov 25 1.29
Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev 26 1.21
Abay "HObbit" Khasenov  22 1.16
Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko 29 0.99
Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov  28 0.99
Mikhaylo "Kane" Blagin (coach)  

The addition of Abay "HObbit" Khasenov and Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko has been a godsent for Gambit, who didn't start out too well right after the change, finishing 5th-8th at ESWC due to a loss to Space Soldiers, but they progressed quickly.

In November, Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov and co. attended Predator Masters Season 3, where the competition was admittedly quite low. Only losing one map throughout the playoffs, to Rogue, Gambit triumphed at the $50,000 event in Krefeld, most importantly beating Kinguin 2-0 and 3-0 in the last two stages.

At the end of the month, they added another title to their resumé at DreamHack ZOWIE Open Winter. That victory was a much more significant one, most of their wins were against other Major attendees (OpTic in groups, GODSENT in semi-finals) or a top-ten team in Cloud9.

HObbit will play at a Major very early on in his career, and for good reason

One of the biggest stories to come out of their success is, of course, Kazakhstan's HObbit, who quickly became one of Gambit's best players despite being completely new to the top-tier scene, and even grabbed his first MVP title in Jönköping.

Now HObbit will get his chance to prove his worth further at a Major, and there doesn't seem to be even a hint of the pressure getting under his skin. If he and the other two players of the hard-hitting Kazakhstani trio show up, we could see Gambit keeping their Legends status and upsetting some of the teams above them.

You can follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter


Post edited 2017-01-19 14:17:29
2017-01-19 14:17:14
ez faze!

Post edited 2017-01-19 14:17:25
2017-01-19 14:17:18
ez navi

Post edited 2017-01-19 14:17:36
2017-01-19 14:17:18
ez gambit

Post edited 2017-01-19 14:17:33
2017-01-19 14:17:20
2017-01-19 14:17:20
ez gambit
2017-01-19 14:17:35
2017-01-19 14:17:38
2017-01-19 14:17:39
2017-01-19 14:17:39
Navi mid tier 4Head
2017-01-19 14:17:46
2017-01-19 14:19:31
good read
2017-01-19 14:19:33
Did they seriously put NaVi in mid tier ? :DDD
2017-01-19 14:21:06
Natus Vincere (#11)
2017-01-19 14:31:08
The division by tiers is based on HLTV ranking
2017-01-19 14:32:33
Do you seriously have an ability to read?
2017-01-19 14:37:17
I stopped reading when I saw NaVi in the article so I didnt know
2017-01-19 14:49:55
agree, they should be in underdogs
2017-01-19 14:39:34
had the same reaction at first, but it's based on hltv ranking only.
2017-01-19 14:48:43
ur right underdogz m9
2017-01-19 18:04:06
Navi LOL. Kappa
2017-01-19 14:22:20
go FaZe
2017-01-19 14:22:42
Where is the #9 ? lmao
2017-01-19 14:23:16
it's hltv rankings overall, not major
2017-01-19 14:55:58
ok thx
2017-01-19 18:43:04
those navi ratings, how the f is denis still in mouz
2017-01-19 14:25:26
"Expect Happy to lurk about as usual"

You mean bait?
2017-01-19 14:25:54
for silvers and plebs it's baiting

for those who actually understand the game it's lurking
2017-01-19 14:35:43
2017-01-19 14:37:56
u think that was a bait?

oh, you're cute
2017-01-19 14:38:57
thank you c:
2017-01-19 14:39:55
nice bait
2017-01-19 15:47:05
it isn't
2017-01-19 16:24:40
lol nice bait, just accept the compliment
2017-01-19 17:40:40
uh no happy baits a lot and often he could save team mates if he played a bit more aggressive
2017-01-19 18:51:29
Envy kek
2017-01-19 14:26:00
How on earth does Fnatic becomes underdog and a random rush b team becomes Mid tier :O
2017-01-19 14:26:42
Cause its just based on ranking from last month, when the stronger teams (legends) didnt Play the qualifier and any other matches.
This whole idea making article basedd on ranking is dumb af
2017-01-19 14:35:34
Even if you look at last major gambit played all rush based CS and when it faced a real opponent like fnatic it got rekted so badly that flusha didn't even had to call lol.
2017-01-19 14:37:58
I don't think that qualifiers affected the ranking
2017-01-19 14:39:10
Ez for faze
2017-01-19 14:27:33
bit surprised with Navi being placed here...

P.S. have you heard about fnatic&godsent superteam after Major?
2017-01-19 14:27:53
Whats the superteam rumor?
2017-01-19 18:10:23
heard on ceh9 vlog, they plann to get back old fnatic lineup, plus he said nor godsent nor fnatic are prepering for Atlanta...
2017-01-19 19:44:38
Just call it Fnatic back to 2016 team, not superteam. Superteam was 2014-late 2015 when they had pronax
2017-01-19 19:20:25
navi #11 eleven in ranking XDd
2017-01-19 14:29:05
NaVi mid tier LUL
2017-01-19 14:31:02
They should be in underdogs
2017-01-19 15:56:12
nice joke man
2017-01-21 01:43:47
2017-01-19 14:33:57
ez faze
2017-01-19 14:34:05
before you wrote anything retards

this is based on hltv ranking
2017-01-19 14:34:15
too late, there are a lot of "wtf hltv how the f*uck navi is mid-tier" already
2017-01-19 14:36:37
go go gambit!!!
2017-01-19 14:35:55
Na'Vi deserve the mid-tier label, they haven't done anything since ESL One NY
2017-01-19 14:39:54
starix is an anchor of the team
2017-01-19 14:41:11
They are like high-tier underdogs atm, should be biggest surprise of tournament (either good or bad)
2017-01-19 14:58:00
denis .75 rating on lan in the past three months. how bad do you have to be to get kicked from mousesports?
2017-01-19 14:48:27
He bought some hacks, expect something better in near future xD
2017-01-19 14:55:16
I hope so
2017-01-19 16:23:20
I'm so excited for this, hope the Swedish teams does fine
2017-01-19 14:52:49
Swedish CS is total shit right now :(

NiP can't even qualify and then Fnatic and GODSENT are both underdogs.
2017-01-19 15:00:24
ez 4 pronax.ez underdog victory like in 1st major
2017-01-19 15:39:26
I know they're struggling, which is why I find it more interesting right now. A year or so ago I was certain at least one Swedish team would reach the finals, sometimes even two. Now I can't even be certain one of them can reach playoffs and this excites me to watch this tournament.
2017-01-19 16:10:40
Fucking envy and G2 are midtier? Literally pre-shuffle teams. And mouz aka trash can rofl. This rating sucks xD

Post edited 2017-01-19 14:55:55
2017-01-19 14:54:19
if you take it from hltv NiP is top-tier. lmao.
2017-01-19 15:03:02
rofl navis player ratings

s1 1.22
rest <1 xd
2017-01-19 14:57:17
NaVi is closer to a Low Tier than a High Tier at this Major's that for sure.
They won't get to top 4, that's for sure.

They either lose during the Swiss System or best case get top 8.
2017-01-19 16:22:04
"They won't get to top 4, that's for sure." Dont know about that one, regardless you missed my point. S1mple has ~.25 rating better than the next person in his team rofl

2017-01-19 16:28:13
Yeah, to reply precisely to the fact you noticed, he has to be doing massive work for them to get a chance to get to top 4.
I don't believe in Guardian anymore, and Edward/flamie/seized aren't Tier 1 players.

Overall, i would have NaVi getting through the swiss system and losing at the first BO3 (always depends of the draw obviously) so top 8 finisher.

I would be equally as surprized to have them in the top 4 as i would have them losing during the swiss system.
In fact i would be slightly less surprized not seeing them reach the playoffs, than i would be seeing them reach at least the semis.
2017-01-19 16:32:12
Probably top 8 yeah, well said anyway
2017-01-19 16:33:06
This Major will be the first to use the Swiss frormat in the group stage, - little typo striker :)
2017-01-19 15:04:08
Hoesntly with insane performance 4/6 of these teams can easily make it to top8.
I'm talking about Navi, EnVy, FaZe, Gambit
Also this major Mouz has shit loads of chance to get into top8. Can't wait for the next post.

Post edited 2017-01-19 15:16:37
2017-01-19 15:15:43
idd. all teams got a shot for the playoffs. the scene is more chaotic than ever.
2017-01-19 15:37:26
2017-01-19 15:37:39
envyus midtier lul
2017-01-19 15:38:13
I guess Gambit will surprise again!
good luck boys!

We smart, we loyal, we friendly, we are from BRAZIL!
2017-01-19 15:50:52
Gambit have the best ratings of all teams, ez win for them.
2017-01-19 15:53:58
2 ez 4 faze
2017-01-19 16:17:25
Navi will do poorly.
2017-01-19 16:32:58
s1mple's rating compared to his comrades... and then denis sporting a 0.75 rating.
2017-01-19 16:45:49
GL Gambit!
2017-01-19 16:53:48
Shox wants Smithz as coach and Bodyy to be his new partner is cuckold, even tho Sixer is a better player all around. Happy really needs to frag heavily as a lurker or not have a lurker in the team at all if he wishes to stop the shuffle.
2017-01-19 17:10:10
Happy just baits he isn't playing lurker.
No one likes Happy, no one wants to play with a shitty igl baiting cunt, they left him out of the shuffle cause he's shit, this isn't 2015 anymore happy is a useless cunt baiting shit cunt, they picked bodyy over happy that alone should say enough bodyy has 0.94 rating also a useless cunt almost as bad as NBK is.
2017-01-19 18:03:42
Natus Vincer
Astralis ( i want Godsent to win)
FaZe ( really want flip tp win tho...)

So i see 3 Upsets
2017-01-19 17:32:01
Expect Happy to lurk about as usual

2017-01-19 17:34:48
pick one
2017-01-19 17:58:32
Good luck loWel!!
2017-01-19 18:10:08
NaVi mid tier? Gambit mid tier? u must be f...... kiddin me y?
2017-01-19 18:27:33
right they are bottom tier
2017-01-19 18:40:26
Gambit maybe but not Navi even im not their fan
2017-01-19 18:52:54
smithzz is 28?!

that motherfucker older than rpk?

2017-01-19 18:41:43
>mid tier
pick one
2017-01-19 18:56:11
tier 2 in 2017 lul

FaZe - RobbaN is the only one who's not overrated in their lineup

nV - kennyS and apex 2v5, they won't get anywhere with Happy and Sixer

G2 - ScreaM and shox 2v5, the other 3 are tier 4 players

Na'Vi - they're lost without a decent igling, s1mple and another one will step up in their games but they won't get anywhere

mousesports - with NiKo's performance dropping so hard, they won't even get an upset win

Gambit - actually the only decent team out of these 6, they're performing surprisingly good, they'll be a tough underdog team to beat

Post edited 2017-01-19 19:25:24
2017-01-19 19:23:54
Navi needs Zeus again back lol they are bad without a good IGL
2017-01-19 20:25:11
I'm predicting FaZe and Astralis meeting up at some point at the major.

Top 4 predictions: FaZe, Astralis, OpTic, EnvyUs
2017-01-19 20:42:13
rip godsent lul
2017-01-19 21:28:53
FaZe to win major bookmark this
2017-01-19 22:08:10
na'vi mid tier = underrated na'vi will win major
2017-01-19 22:15:14
My prediction
1 FaZe
2 Astralis
3 VP
4 Optic
2017-01-19 22:37:33

pick one
2017-01-20 01:44:23
FaZe, NaVi and Gambit will make out of groups.

Legends: SK, Astralis, Optic, Faze, NaVi, Gambit, plus one swedish and one french team.
2017-01-20 05:38:40
nV could honestly lose to flipside at this point.
2017-01-20 07:40:21
Gl faze
2017-01-20 12:40:03
Lets do it Gambit!
2017-01-21 15:04:59

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