StarSeries XIV finals preview

The first high profile event of 2016 is a day away and we present an official preview for the SL i-League StarSeries XIV finals as preparations get under way in Minsk, Belarus.

Temperatures in Minsk, Belarus this weekend will pay due homage to continental Europe's sink into the frigid: the weekend could see lows of -23°C in the capital of the Eastern European country.

One aspect that will not be frigid however will be the team lineup for the SL i-League StarSeries XIV finals, which comprises four of the world's top five teams, six of the world's ten best, and an unknown challenger that has been making waves on the Chinese mainland.

The Minsk Arena will host action after the first two days

Eight teams in total will descend on Minsk for the StarSeries XIV finals, which will take place from January 13-17 and offer $200,000 and best-of-three action the whole way through.

There are numerous storylines to unpack for this event, which is given a heightened urgency due to its place as the first premier event of 2016 and also partially due to an incredibly weighted Group B.

Since much content has already been devoted to analysing some of these team's recent performances in the off-season, this preview will instead look at the opening matches and try to tease out some sense from the first two days of action at the StarSeries XIV finals.

Group A: CIS Na`Vi vs. China CyberZen

Oddly enough, one of the two opening matches on Wednesday, January 13th will also be the most novel of the bunch.

Bin "Savage" Liu's CyberZen have been much talked of as of late in the People's Republic, and proved themselves to be East Asia's most dominant outfit when they flattened TyLoo at the offline StarSeries China finals back in December.

Savage himself returned to CS:GO only this April and his work in pioneering the CyberZen team will be given an East-meets-West test in the opener against Na`Vi, who themselves are off the back of numerous strong finishes on the international circuit: 2nd at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, 1st in IEM San Jose, and 2nd at ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 finals.

A red letter day for CyberZen 

Na`Vi have clawed their way into the top three teams in the world as per our latest monthly ranking and they will likely be unfazed by all the momentum that CyberZen will bring from the Orient.

A loss in the opener here for the Ukrainian-Russian-Slovak team would throw them into an elimination match that Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko & co. will not want to play, although they do have recent experience dismantling Luminosity (doing so twice in two best-of-three's at the latest EEPL finals) and would be expected to get revenge against G2 as well (they last played the team's Kinguin core at Gaming Paradise and lost).

Regardless, barring an upset victory for the Chinese that would catapult Asia onto the CS:GO scene faster than Mongolian-thrown carcasses loaded with the bubonic plague, Na`Vi should take this first series and move on to the winners match.

Group A: Brazil Luminosity vs. Europe G2

For all intents and purposes, this opener could be considered to be a battle for Group A's second place unless as previously mentioned the Chinese debut above all expectations.

Since the format of StarSeries means that the second and third place group finishers move directly into the quarter-finals, these teams will have their best chance in winning this opener and then trying to surprise Na`Vi in the winners game in order to make semifinals early as a stacked Group B means that a choice of fnatic, Question Mark, or EnVyUs could await in the quarter-finals.

G2 are a team with quite a bit to prove at the moment, as it has been an aeon in CS:GO since we last saw them compete in San Jose (where Mikail "Maikelele" Bill and his team beat a lacklustre CLG and then took a map off Question Mark, but overall did not particularly impress).

aizy needs to start bringing in dividends for G2

G2's failed online bid to qualify for ELEAGUE's Road to Las Vegas raised eyebrows and it is certainly past the point of bond maturity for Philip "aizy" Aistrup to have meshed with the team; the European outfit will now have to deliver and a match against Luminosity will be a perfect opportunity in this regard.

As for Luminosity, a regional win at the MAX5 Invitational will hopefully get the blood flowing as the Brazilians will be seeking to redeem deflated expectations after a mediocre performance at EEPL Season 2 somewhat took away from their miracle run at FACEIT S3 finals.

Being in the same group as Na`Vi provides ample material for a showdown and a chance for the Brazilians to revisit the stratbook, but they will have to move through G2 first, whom Luminosity last played in ESL One Cologne and defeated 16-6 (although that was the Kinguin variant with Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom).

The Luminosity versus G2 game should therefore be the more explosive of the two Group A matches (which kick off simultaneously) as the #7 and #8 ranked lineups in the world will seek to gain a leg up over each other. It could be as simple as whichever team is better synergised on the server; either way, sparks should fly.

Group A synopsis

When talking about financial markets, the concept of a disruptive innovation is used to describe an innovation that replaces an existing market or value network because it is able to rewrite the rules and provide an innovative service more efficiently.

2016 will likely be a year where lesser ranked teams enforce disruptive innovation in CS:GO and this Group A is a microcosm of that innovation in force. Although Na`Vi are projected favourites to top the group given that team's recent excellent track record, numerous hazards lurk below the surface.

A beardless Edward may just fail to strike fear in the hearts of his opponents 

Although unlikely, CyberZen could pick up where Skyred left off back during DreamHack Open Stockholm and make a statement for East Asian CS:GO.

Luminosity will only get more dangerous as the lineup gets its famous well-drilled practice and Marcelo "coldzera" David should continue to play to a level of high-tier Counter-Strike that will guarantee his team an advance from the groups.

Perhaps the biggest question mark then (no Danish pun intended) is G2, who have taken a long hiatus from offline play and will no doubt enter into the group with a lot of weighty expectations as the eighth best team in the world.

Group B may be the heavyweight group, but Group A is very much an experiment in the "global" part of Global Offensive.

Group B: Sweden fnatic vs. France EnVyUs

There is a somewhat somber sense that this match-up would have been a little more exciting had it transpired two months ago. While both teams continue to play at the highest tier of Counter-Strike, they are both punching somewhat below their usual form.

That statement might seem odd in lieu of fnatic, who come into StarSeries XIV as event champions of the last three events the Swedes have attended: FACEIT Stage 3 finals, Fragbite Masters Season 5, and ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2.

However, it is undeniable that fnatic struggled in some way at all three events and only got it together enough to persevere and retain the semblance of being the world's best team. The Swedish superteam had close series in all three tournaments, and even lost best-of-three's at times to NiP and EnVyUs.

A question of calling "olof go A" or "olof go B"

The latter loss is all the more important because it will play out here as Group B's opener and because EnVyUs dismissed the Swedes in Burbank in two fairly uncontested maps. Since the groups were unseeded after Method's dropping out from the event, we are now gifted this showdown of leviathans: the world's best and second best teams duking it out early on in the event.

The ability of French teams to often outskill Swedish lineups, especially outside of grand finals, could play into EnVyUs' hands here and drive fnatic into the elimination match where they will likely face Titan.

The true unpredictability of this group means we may see this match-up take place again later in the day during the decider; certainly no-one is complaining about the potential for so much great Counter-Strike despite the slump in both teams' overall forms.

Group B: France Titan vs. Denmark Question Mark

If the online results of today's Red Dot Invitational semifinal are anything to go by, this pairing between the 11th best team in the world and the fourth best is nothing to scoff at.

Titan's biggest advantage will be the Franco-Belgian team's extremely long hiatus from offline play (the longest of all eight teams in attendance with a last appearance at CEVO Season 8 in early November 2015), giving tactical mastermind Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans plenty of time to have written treatises on how to counter-strat in a true "Group of Death."

Question Mark are still a strong team however, though losses such as the one incurred to SK at the Fragbite Masters Season 5 finals have continued to sow internal discord, but Finn "karrigan" Andersen and his boys have always prospered in the absence of too much community pressure and may just arrive to wipe the floor with their Gallic rivals.

Due to the group draw, shox & co. give the illusion of having no chance 

The pretence of having signed to a new spiffy organisation will further boost the Danes this time around, whereas Titan are still playing under the weary banners of "France's second best and ever-ailing team."

Question Mark are favourites to carry the day here, but expect the maps to go a little haywire if Richard "shox" Papillon is allowed to have a say, and if his teammates come to play as well.

Group B synopsis

While Group A has the story-line of a neoliberal economist's dream marketing pitch with its globalist overtones, Group B is very much an ode to elite European Counter-Strike.

fnatic remain favourites due to their string of event victories, however far stranger things have happened in Minsk than the world's best CS:GO team failing to exit groups, and Titan have been a perennial threat to the fnatic core should the Swedes lose the juggernaut clash against EnVyUs.

No longer a device with which to guarantee results 

In short, Titan are the team with nothing to lose here whereas the other three all have their reputations riding on Thursday's action. Regardless, a scenario is possible and likely where fnatic, Question Mark, and EnVyUs all advance to the playoffs, with the team that makes the semifinals and wins the group given an automatic advantage over its rivals.


The SL i-League StarSeries XIV finals kick-off at 11:00 on Wednesday, January 13th. The first two days will be played without a live audience but feature streams in English, Russian, and Chinese.

We will also prepare a viewer's guide for you as the event draws closer to kick-off.

stich writes for and can be found on Twitter

Brazil Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Ukraine Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko
Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko
No team
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Maps played:
China Bin 'Savage' Liu
Bin 'Savage' Liu
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Sweden Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
France Richard 'shox' Papillon
Richard 'shox' Papillon
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Belgium Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
No team
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Belgium Adil 'ScreaM' Benrlitom
Adil 'ScreaM' Benrlitom
No team
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Denmark Philip 'aizy' Aistrup
Philip 'aizy' Aistrup
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
dank meme
2016-01-11 23:59
Poland k4usz 
2016-01-11 23:59
Laos 23^ 
"A question of calling 'olof go A' or 'olof go B'" lmao stich is such a memelord
2016-01-12 00:02
Spain Alser 
+1 meme game is on point
2016-01-12 00:14
Twistzz | 
Latvia `DinGo 
He is our memeLord
2016-01-12 07:58
2016-01-12 00:02
Greece hekzy 
Kuuuuuzco! Love from kos. -oikonomou :D
2016-01-12 13:41
hltv user oikonomou confirmed ^^
2016-01-13 19:35
Greece hekzy 
Nai eimai kai sto HLTV o Sidhropoulos den eisai?
2016-01-15 18:37
nai re hahaha
2016-01-15 23:36
Group A = Free Semis Group B = Hardest group in csgo history?
2016-01-12 00:02
I cant wait to see the next major groups considering fnatic and TQM are the lower seeds. Could see nV and fnatic in the same group at the next major
2016-01-12 00:06
Group A: EnvyUs Na'Vi Fnatic TQM Let them fight xD
2016-01-12 01:50
omg xD
2016-01-12 01:50
it would be harder than it is if there was G2 or Na´vi instead of Titan.... Titan is pretty fucked up btw
2016-01-12 03:41
Netherlands P4X3 
As stated in the article, Titan had a relatively close loss against tqm last night, they looked on point
2016-01-12 08:18
internet doesnt mean any shit,you need to pretend like yesterday match was not played
2016-01-12 09:26
Except, TQM have always been the best online team since forever, proven time and time again.
2016-01-13 10:33
exactly thats why internet doesnt mean any shit cuz on LAN tqm is not that good
2016-01-13 10:40
Well show me a harder group than this in a 8+Teams Tournament. Also, Titan always was a great matchup against Fnatic, idk however if it still is in the absence of Pronax.
2016-01-12 14:29
group b is definitely the hardest group in csgo history
2016-01-12 11:28
Rigged for NaVi
2016-01-12 00:03
Ukraine KYRT1993 
NAVI take it!
2016-01-12 00:03
fnatic ez
2016-01-12 00:03
Good read!
2016-01-12 00:03
Australia BCP 
dis gon b gud
2016-01-12 00:04
Belarus Starvoid 
YAY See you guys there! If someone whats to chill and party with me just message me.
2016-01-12 00:04
chrisJ | 
Hong Kong Escher 
Can you pay me the tickets?
2016-01-12 00:08
Belarus Starvoid 
tickets have been sold out 3 days ago.
2016-01-12 00:09
ayyy lmao
2016-01-12 00:05
Stich <3
2016-01-12 00:05
> No longer a device with which to guarantee results I missed you stich
2016-01-12 00:08
"Regardless, barring an upset victory for the Chinese that would catapult Asia onto the CS:GO scene faster than Mongolian-thrown carcasses loaded with the bubonic plague" 10/10
2016-01-12 00:13
stich good but not best (stich best)
2016-01-12 16:05
why waste of spot for china omg
2016-01-12 00:14
2016-01-12 00:15
ez NaVi ez LG not ez fnatic ez questionmark
2016-01-12 00:17
LG vs G2 will be interesting. I like G2 way more but I feel like LG will take it.
2016-01-12 00:18
Brazil yxkz 
g2 will take it imo, LG just played a tournament and they were on vacation. all of their success is of a lot of practice and I dont think they prepared anything for this event
2016-01-12 00:25
well LG took 2nd place at faceit finals without training kek
2016-01-12 00:28
Brazil yxkz 
yea but they had a new team factor same happened when they got to na and at their first majors. G2 has a good amount of information about their formation now.
2016-01-12 00:30
either way it should be a fun game to watch
2016-01-12 00:31
lol LG is a one trick pony.. they had one good tournament and that's it.. they are going to get de_stroyed by G2
2016-01-12 00:30
kNgV- | 
Brazil vicTHOR 
mad cos NA bad EleGiggle
2016-01-12 01:18
mad cuz neymar lost to messi
2016-01-12 01:19
kNgV- | 
Brazil vicTHOR 
dont even like neymar, fck neymedia
2016-01-12 01:19
The funny fact is an american talking about soccer lol
2016-01-12 01:53
It's football you dumb canadian
2016-01-12 08:49
NA talking cs AND football, hahahha. What's next, how to be ripped? ROFLMAO
2016-01-12 13:04
Greece hekzy 
There is hope!
2016-01-12 13:44
you r dumber then i thought lol
2016-01-12 14:20
NA CS LOL NA Soccer LOL NA gilrs drunk LOL NA Retardos LOL NA MC'Donaldos LOL NA FAT population LOL NA whatever LOL NA neverlegends LOL NA Clown9 LOL
2016-01-12 06:56
like you loved c9 ? UHSAUHSUAHSUH N1 m8
2016-01-12 02:08
ez for cyberzen
2016-01-12 00:27
Tho cyberzen only 6.66666666/100 win against navi(1:2for navi is also nice), lets goooooo savage, its ur show time!!! beast
2016-01-12 02:00
ez 4 CZ advent will carry with p90
2016-01-12 00:30
Brazil rFM 
ez godzera
2016-01-12 00:58
Group 1 Na'vi very easily, will be surprised if the chinese kids get 4-5 rounds G2 Group 2 Fnatic ?
2016-01-12 01:42
World BrnO 
You really think the Kinguin will go through Lg?
2016-01-12 02:55
probably not since kinguin isn't a team
2016-01-12 03:06
Now that they have aizy, should be pretty easy for them.
2016-01-12 06:42
if theyre all on point, they can beat T1 teams too. easy for jkaem and rain tbh))))))
2016-01-12 09:01
2016-01-12 13:06
you think aizy > dennis?
2016-01-12 14:22
Yes he is, Aizy is one of the best players in the world when he's on his game.
2016-01-12 15:40
Aizy > dennis anyday anytime... But dennis is still god though
2016-01-12 15:47
"Regardless, barring an upset victory for the Chinese that would catapult Asia onto the CS:GO scene faster than Mongolian-thrown carcasses loaded with the bubonic plague, Na`Vi should take this first series and move on to the winners match." k den
2016-01-12 01:55
thats why i prefered lurppi's previews.Much easier to read without too many phrases,which are hard to understand and in every article you could see him trying to express his knowledge about the game and not the language :).
2016-01-12 02:14
And also much boring stich >>> lulpis by far
2016-01-12 14:58
ez coldzer4444444444
2016-01-12 02:14
EZ device !!!!
2016-01-12 02:14
It's on lan
2016-01-12 02:22
The funniest part about this is Device won more LAN tournaments in CS Go than all NA teams combined.
2016-01-12 06:44
The funniest part about this is that i dont see how nationality has anything to do with my point. probably just butthurt swed raped by refugees.
2016-01-12 06:48
Because you said "it's on lan" about a player who has won multiple titles in the last 2 years on LAN when no NA team has won 1 gl if you can't figure that out.
2016-01-12 06:55
rofl. your butthole is probably bleeding so hard right now that you couldnt think properly. how does someone who never turns up in lan has anything to do with na? try to stick an ice bag inside of your asshole to ease the pain.
2016-01-12 07:02
"someone who never turns up in lan" Literally has x10 the amount of international LAN title wins than all of NA teams combined.
2016-01-12 07:07
having lan wins doesnt mean he turns up in lan
2016-01-12 07:08
"someone who never turns up in lan" You just described the entire NA scene in CS Go, not Device. "having lan wins doesnt mean he turns up in lan" You're retarded, this wasn't a bait you will say it was a bait but you're actually retarded.
2016-01-12 07:11
you're not doing too well in this obama
2016-01-12 09:39
Beardless Edward? RIP NAVI
2016-01-12 02:19
faster than Mongolian-thrown carcasses loaded with the bubonic plague, OK who came up with this one? Also that ball washing if cold guarantees top 7
2016-01-12 02:53
kNgV- | 
Brazil vicTHOR 
Stich you are reported my friend
2016-01-12 03:01
felps | 
Brazil Fr4m3 
So ez to LG
2016-01-12 04:09
felps | 
Brazil Fr4m3 
Someone knows if groupstage will be played as bo3?
2016-01-12 04:10
best-of-three action the whole way through
2016-01-12 09:32
felps | 
Brazil Fr4m3 
2016-01-12 11:36
2016-01-12 06:49
envy fnatic will be good also looking forward to seeing cyberzen play
2016-01-12 06:55
Guess why events are held in third world countries, is cuz they can't afford stadiums in first world countries. Huehuehue
2016-01-12 07:20
lanxess arena in cologne?
2016-01-12 14:11
I said events, not all events.
2016-01-12 17:44
Will be a great event
2016-01-12 08:09
BnTeT | 
China RinL 
go savage
2016-01-12 08:39
China Paracios 
gl savage
2016-01-12 08:55
Belarus ALBiNh0 
-23°C? i aren't think that
2016-01-12 09:36
CyberZen ez.
2016-01-12 10:10
nice event gl all m8
2016-01-12 10:17
Ez for Vaco. Kappa
2016-01-12 10:43
Easy group for Na'Vi
2016-01-12 10:55
Georgia Fatal Fighter 
gj stich
2016-01-12 10:56
Belarus good country. gl guys.
2016-01-12 10:59
"Temperatures in Minsk, Belarus this weekend will pay due homage to continental Europe's sink into the frigid: the weekend could see lows of -23°C in the capital of the Eastern European country." In Minsk maximum -5°C:) But a lot of snow.
2016-01-12 11:13
Estonia 2026 
Stich you fucker rofl! Who's device?
2016-01-12 11:16
Amazing tournament, happy to see Asian power back to the main stage again.
2016-01-12 11:39
groups are so stupid lmao
2016-01-12 12:14
Slovakia LINF 
RIP Titan always hardest group xD
2016-01-12 13:50
ez g2
2016-01-12 14:12
gogogo Cyberzen ^_^
2016-01-12 14:23
Navi and LG in the same group again FAK
2016-01-12 14:24
Stich you monster pls keep it up <3
2016-01-12 15:00
2016-01-12 18:47
Titans or TQM will win this turnament :)
2016-01-12 15:46
2016-01-12 16:33
at least something
2016-01-12 17:54
NaVi DaVi
2016-01-12 17:56
HLTV in Minsk with new photos of the players?
2016-01-13 02:33
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