TECHLABS Cup preview

ESC Gaming, Natus Vincere, NiP and Virtus.pro, four of the world's best teams, are set to gather in Moscow, Russia on Saturday for TECHLABS Cup.

TECHLABS Cup is a four team invitational tournament to be held in the Russian capital with a cash only prize purse of $15,000 up for grabs with the winners going home with $8,000 of it and everyone guaranteed a slice.

Each match will take place in a best-of-one with each team removing two maps from the standard five map pool. Matches will start early in the morning with the grand final slightly later in the day:

07:00 Sweden NiP vs. Ukraine Na`Vi BO1
08:00 Poland ESC Gaming vs. Russia Virtus.pro BO1
09:30 Upper bracket final   BO1
10:30 Lower bracket final   BO1
11:30 Consolidation final   BO1
16:30 Grand final   BO1*

* team coming from lower bracket will have to win two maps to win the grand final

We haven't seen Virtus.pro on LAN since SLTV StarSeries IV finals and NiP has recently lost online against both ESC Gaming and Natus Vincere, setting up a highly interesting event.

Can Natus Vincere defeat NiP on LAN as well? How good is Virtus.pro after such a long break from LANs? What can we expect from ESC? Continue reading to find out!

Sweden NiP (f0rest, Fifflaren friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt)

Despite some shaky online results in the past week or so, Ninjas in Pyjamas are once again the clear favorites to end up on the highest part of the podium when it's all said and done on Saturday evening. They were given a wake up call courtesy of Natus Vincere on Wednesday in SLTV StarSeries V, but that's all it was - a wake up call. And it couldn't have come at a better time.

I don't know if it was just pure bad luck or maybe there's actually something going on, but NiP's in-game leader Richard "Xizt" Landström struggled in both the loss versus Na`Vi and their nail-biting 16-14 win over fnatic last night. Landström has received a lot of praise over the last six months for his play, and for NiP to stay dominant in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive he will also have to hold up his end of the bargain.

With teams seemingly getting closer and closer to NiP I actually think that they very well might be delivered a full loss on LAN at Copenhagen Games (or at least wouldn if it wasn't all BO3), and I honestly wouldn't be surprised if NiP lost a map at TECHLABS Cup. What's worse? TECHLABS Cup is actually best-of-one double elimination, so the Swedes losing a map could have some consequences.

I think the first match versus Na`Vi will, in the end, define NiP's tournament. If I were NiP I would make sure I'm well prepared for the Ukrainians, as underestimating them and relying purely on skill (as they did in the loss' terrorist side) is a bit risky, even though Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund tend to deliver.

In the end I do think NiP's win margins have been big enough that I think they will still grab the first place and the $8,000 check that comes with it. It's getting dangerously close for them and one of these events, whether it's TECHLABS Cup, Copenhagen Games or RaidCall EMS One, they will eventually lose, I just don't think it will be in Moscow.

Prediction: 1st


Will we see GeT_RiGhT celebrating once again this weekend? 

Poland ESC Gaming (kuben, Loord, NEO, pasha, TaZ)

ESC Gaming have shown heaps of promise at times, but just when you think they've finally figured it all out and are about to break through as an absolute top three team in the world, they will drop a map against a team you'd never expected to really be in competition with them. It's how it is, and it's how it has been since the team saw the light of the day years ago.

Unlike Na`Vi, ESC Gaming were able to make it to the semi-final of RaidCall EMS One Cup #4 and qualify for the main round. The Poles also made it to SLTV StarSeries V finals despite a three-way-tie and were invited to ESEA Invite Season 13 playoffs as a replacement team for Virtus.pro who ran into visa problems. It's safe to say things are looking up.

As I tweeted this week, Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas has been an absolute monster in CS:GO so far. A case could be made that he was playing better than the team's marque player Filip "NEO" Kubski already in late 2011 when he led his team to a win at SEC 2011, but now he has definitely become the most productive member of the squad in the fragging department.

IEM 6 World Championship MVP Jarosław "pasha" Jarząbkowski has also been, well, strong in CS:GO, with a 0.82 FPR so far in the game's limited history. If Kubski is able to get back to his CS 1.6 level in CS:GO, ESC Gaming could compete for titles even at the biggest CS:GO events, but right now it does seem as if the team is still missing something.

They have proven to be stronger than Virtus.pro, so I think ESC Gaming will win the first round match. However, I don't foresee them taking down NiP or Na`Vi in the upper bracket final, and just going by the odds it seems like a third place finish is their faith this weekend. Just don't be surprised if the Poles go to the grand final.

Prediction: 3rd


IEM 6 WC MVP pasha & co have their work cut out for them in Moscow 

Russia Virtus.pro (AdreN, ANGE1, Dosia, Fox, KucheR)

Virtus.pro are in a weird place as a team. Their results point towards them having improved from the form we saw at SLTV StarSeries IV, their last and only CS:GO LAN event where they lost against ESC Gaming in December, but with them having missed all the events since then it's hard to  gauge their level as a team.

Skipping Mad Catz CS:GO Invitational, regardless of the reasons, seems like an odd move from the Russian organization. Virtus.pro were also unable to secure visas needed for Russian citizens to visit the United States, so fans hoping to see Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov & co in Dallas will be disappointed with yet another CIS-based team's hopes of traveling to North America smashed.

On the plus side, Virtus.pro basically has a homecourt advantage this weekend and they will travel to Copenhagen next weekend, so they are finally getting their shot in the coming weeks to show what they are really about. Oddly enough they never took part in RaidCall EMS One qualifiers, but they have some CS:GO coming up in the next months regardless.

Virtus are 8-1-1 in their most recent ten SLTV StarSeries V games with a loss versus NiP and a tie against fnatic. They took down Natus Vincere last night and have proven to be a force to be reckoned with at least on de_nuke_se. However, I still think they are outmatched this weekend, although Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow has been playing extremely well at times.

I think their lack of playing tournaments together in recent months will come back and bite them this weekend. ESC Gaming are not only favorites over Virtus in the opening round but also have a history of beating them, and I think on LAN when there's more on the line you have to favor Na`Vi over them. Good news is they will be better in Copenhagen.

Prediction: 4th


ANGE1's Virtus.pro returns to LAN play after a three month hiatus 

Ukraine Natus Vincere (ceh9, Edward, markeloff, starix, Zeus)

Natus Vincere's trajectory as a team has been all upwards ever since they finally took the plunge and switched to CS:GO. Despite early struggles in last December's SLTV StarSeries IV when they clearly weren't ready to compete, they never gave up and their recent bootcamps in Kiev have clearly worked out for the team who are now in the conversation of being a top five team in the world.

In Vienna they topped their group over ESC Gaming and n!faculty, and were figuratively within a hair from knocking VeryGames, who went on to place third, out in the quarter-finals. The multiple overtime loss on de_mirage_go combined with a 14-16 loss on de_inferno_se, where they lost a save round, must have been hard to swallow, but neither stopped the team. And we saw Yegor "markeloff" Markelov's AWP arrive.

Although they missed RaidCall EMS One finals due to a loss versus LDLC.com, they have also shown promise in SLTV StarSeries V, where they have clinched a spot at the finals with wins over the likes of ESC, ALTERNATE, Imaginary, Anexis, mousesports and most recently, and importantly, NiP, who they overcame with a 16-12 score despite a mistake-filled 5-10 terrorist side on de_dust2_se.

While we obviously shouldn't overvalue a simple online win, Na`Vi has over the years proven to be very consistent with the way they play, and obviously outperform themselves on LAN, so a win against a team like NiP who were (aside from Landström) also playing from LAN (as were Na`Vi) definitely holds some value. Seeing Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev with a great performance against the best in CS:GO is also promising to say the least.

Na`Vi's odds are stacked against them in the opening round as they have to face off against NiP right off the bat, but I do think regardless of the SLTV loss versus Virtus.pro (after already having qualified for finals) they are favorites to overcome both ESC and Virtus.pro for a second place in Moscow. It will require all of their players to play well, but with how well in-game leader Danilo "Zeus" Teslenko is playing, sky is the limit for Na`Vi if the rest of his team follow suit.

Prediction: 2nd


Can starix & co ride the momentum from NiP win to a TECHLABS victory? 

HLTV.org will provide you with hot matches, GOTVs and statistics this weekend with TECHLABS Cup set to kick off tomorrow at 07:00 in Moscow, Russia.

2easy for NiP, once again :)
2013-03-22 18:39
A candy4You
2013-03-22 23:00
ESC take's this one!
2013-03-22 18:39
#4
Kazakhstan dr0!d 
Go Virtus.Pro
2013-03-22 18:40
#5
United Kingdom vL- 
Grand final BO1 LOL
2013-03-22 18:40
+1
2013-03-22 18:48
#6
Sweden d9lk 
BO1 say whaat
2013-03-22 18:40
#7
 | 
World breezy0 
with 4 teams a bo3 double-elimination would've made sense but w/e ..
2013-03-22 18:42
B01 final? stupid tournament and random
2013-03-22 18:42
It's double-elimination. That's why it is best of 1
2013-03-22 18:44
#52
suNny | 
Argentina Sunnie 
Maybe being bo1, NiP could be beaten once for all! I like double-elimination tournaments system :P.
2013-03-22 20:04
#9
f0rest | 
Europe LoGoN666 
BO1 o.O
2013-03-22 18:44
8 k $$ for NIP
2013-03-22 18:44
XYU !!!!!
2013-03-22 18:52
+1
2013-03-22 19:16
haters gonna hate: best-of-one is great for the spectator. it's all or nothing every map tomorrow!
2013-03-22 18:45
I totally agree on that point!
2013-03-22 18:58
Best of three is at least as much better for the spectators, I don't see your point unless you talk about how long a game can last which can be boring after many overtimes or three maps
2013-03-22 19:05
no, what i mean is the first map isn't very interesting, and the second map is only interesting if it's very close... however, the third map is ALWAYS interesting. so why not only have the third map? nfl playoff games are much, much more interesting than nba/nhl playoff games, unless they are game 7s - same concept.
2013-03-22 19:40
#53
suNny | 
Argentina Sunnie 
I agree with you .. Any team has to play 100% max effort to reach finals and win the tournament, there's no place to make any mistake at all .. That could cost very expensive ..
2013-03-22 20:07
but 1 stupid mistake can outweigh on match
2013-03-22 20:42
that's how it should be, whoever makes the least mistakes wins. more pressure = better product.
2013-03-22 20:46
For entertaining yes, as i remember this tournament is in shopping center ?? But tell me why champions league playoffs have 2 matches ?
2013-03-22 20:54
i don't follow soccer so i don't know if that's even the case, but real life sports have more matches in general because more matches -> more revenue -> more profits. however, there are no ticket sales in esports, so that's irrelevant here.
2013-03-22 21:05
#46
 | 
Venezuela Riikards 
A BO1 final is fucking retarded
2013-03-22 19:42
Fully agreed...My alarm clock is set, lets hope for some great matches
2013-03-22 21:17
No.
2013-03-22 18:45
No Bro? :(
2013-03-22 18:59
IMO neo can't reach the level as he reached in 1.6 such as gtr and f0rest, just because the recoil of the game its still too much random, and the aim that they showed in 1.6 comparing to the other players can't be reached in CS:GO.
2013-03-22 18:45
and i might add that NEo's mentality probably aint the best in cs:go,seeing his place of being the game changer occupied by pasha and TaZ probably frustrated him a bit(even though he probably dont admit it himself) which makes him pretty unstable sometimes
2013-03-22 19:00
yeah thats true, i still think vavle has a lot to improve, thats why this game dont motivate me
2013-03-23 00:37
Grand final BO1 YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WHAT DA FUQ ahahh
2013-03-22 18:47
At least Grand Final should be played BO3 format and with advantage 1-0 for the team coming from Upper Bracket
2013-03-22 18:49
that's how it is played, standard double elimination bo1 format. nothing to do with best-of-one. winner of the upper bracket needs to win a map, winner of the lower bracket must win two straight maps.
2013-03-22 19:03
ahh okay so it's not bad
2013-03-22 19:17
*that bad
2013-03-22 23:15
waat
2013-03-23 09:23
I actually like Bo1, It's more unpredictable. I feel like any team can win this cup now.
2013-03-22 18:51
whole tournament BO1 WTF??!?!?!
2013-03-22 18:51
#21
gob b | 
Iceland shine4t 
Weird, they could have had time for a bo3 double-elim.
2013-03-22 18:53
most interesting GO tournament so far. I wish fnatic would be there too.
2013-03-22 18:55
Delays, so we can tune in like 9 am. First map loss for NiP?
2013-03-22 18:56
Sorry bro, Final standing will be like 1. NiP 2. Virtus Pro 3/4 Na`Vi/ESC
2013-03-22 19:01
Na'Vi VS ESC @ Finals :D ...
2013-03-22 19:11
+1 but Na`Vi takes this
2013-03-22 19:15
:D i support both teams if they reach finals
2013-03-22 19:17
Natus Vincere will win! Davaye`Navi !!
2013-03-22 19:14
markeloff statistics are sick or in general navis. Markeloff has 26 (106 ak) m4a1 kills overall, over 250 with awp. Shows that they have a very strong CT side and T side also since he barely has to use other weapons and they always have the money for it.
2013-03-22 19:16
staying up till 2 am to watch this
2013-03-22 19:21
Coolest american detected
2013-03-22 19:36
1ºNIP 2ºESC 3ºNA'VI 4ºVIRTUS.PRO
2013-03-22 19:25
this is a lol tourney....BO1 everywhere
2013-03-22 19:29
Grand Final BEST OF 1...WTF?
2013-03-22 19:30
#43
Sweden aKk9 
Grand Finals shouldn't be BO1 imo..
2013-03-22 19:33
#47
 | 
Georgia Fatal Fighter 
dafuq :DDDDDDDDDDDD BO1
2013-03-22 19:43
Na`Vi
2013-03-22 19:45
THIS IS FUCKING JOKE EEE??? BO1 - FINAL
2013-03-22 19:45
I think it's better for spectators. You will see more matches with different vs.
2013-03-22 19:59
BO1 and that will decide who's the best? lol
2013-03-22 19:58
DOUBLE ELIMINATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
2013-03-22 20:13
I don't get what double elimination means.
2013-03-22 20:41
1st Nip 2nd Nip 3rd Nip boring :(
2013-03-22 20:12
noononon vp go go :)
2013-03-22 20:13
Ugh. Why do all the good online results have to happen in StarSeries? Anyways, I see NiP taking this, but I wouldn't be surprised to see ESC finish second over Na'Vi.
2013-03-22 20:19
Your words are not acceptable. Reason: schneider fan.
2013-03-22 20:50
nip x navi final nip win
2013-03-22 20:49
Anyone can win this one. Best tourney since CSGO, This is the level of competition
2013-03-22 20:51
There was alot of tournaments without BO3 in the past. I guess you didnt follow CS then
2013-03-22 21:10
ESC 3rd? AHAHAHAHHA
2013-03-22 21:11
#69
SpawN | 
Iceland vasyl86 
ESC to win this. TaZ is a beast!
2013-03-22 21:45
BO1 - shit!
2013-03-22 22:21
1 Na Vi 2 Vp 3 NIP 4 ESC
2013-03-22 22:24
7:00 wtf? :D
2013-03-22 22:58
haha
2013-03-22 23:47
#76
Serbia rKj 
who will make interview?lurppis are u going there ?and whats happening with Nix0n didn't see him in a long time.
2013-03-23 00:33
NaVi!!!
2013-03-23 00:48
Na'Vi 2nd and Virtus.Pro 4th? Die OP!
2013-03-23 01:24
BO1 ?????? wtf ....
2013-03-23 01:49
Meh, please update the preview with an explanation for people who can't fathom what bo1 double elimination means... As for the eent, NiP will take it, who comes 2nd is up for grabs, the three teams are quite close.
2013-03-23 02:37
my finger's will be crossed by Na'Vi! Those guys are awesome!
2013-03-23 02:47
??? FINGER'S ? HAHA NIP SUCK NAVI ONLY THE BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD
2013-03-23 10:02
Still too dumb to find the reply-button?
2013-03-25 17:35
vp 4 xaxa .. go home lurppis u drunk
2013-03-23 17:29
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