MLG Americas Minor preview
Seven teams will converge on Columbus, Ohio tomorrow in the United States to fight over $50,000 and a spot at the MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier in February and we have prepared a preview of all the teams for your reading pleasure.
The CS:GO Minors system was announced in early December and debuted the concept of four regional Minor tournaments (CIS, Europe, Americas, and Asia) with $50,000 apiece, in-game client streaming, and with the winner of each receiving an invitation to the MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier taking place February 26-28.
The Americas Minor, hosted by MLG, is first up from January 15-17 and it was to feature six teams from South America and North America who made their way through online qualification brackets and two invites: OpTic and compLexity.
However, a number of extenuating circumstances transpired which have changed the teams list since then: the two Brazilian teams, Operation Kino and AlienTech, were unable to attend due to not securing visas whereas compLexity dropped out due to lineup uncertainty.
The MLG Minor is the first of four to take place in early 2016
As a result, American teams Leader-1 and EZG eSports (who finished 5-6th and 7-8th place in the online qualifier respectively) have been drawn up to attend although the event will still occur with an empty slot and only seven teams competing.
The teams are split into two double elimination groups, with OpTic receiving a bye into the winners match of the three-team Group A. Four teams still advance to the double elimination playoffs, which will be played in a best-of-three format.
All seven teams and their respective lineups will now be examined below:
OpTic Gaming can safely be considered to be the favourites of the MLG Minor, as the team are both the highest ranked of those attending (#14) and have been steadily attending events in the past few months, which includes winning the recent two-team ELEAGUE 'Road to Las Vegas.'
Before that, OpTic were previously known as Conquest and their most notable result included the team's debut at CEVO Season 8 where they finished in 3-4th place after defeating dignitas and Liquid.
The team also attended iBUYPOWER Cup and ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 finals with more middling results. With a budding portfolio of young talent, and an automatic bye to the best-of-one Group A winners match, expect to see OpTic in the playoffs as a minimum.
Three members of the Obey.Alliance lineup attended the RGN Pro Series as Nexus Storm, where the team lost to Method and Cloud9 and played Kory "SEMPHIS" Friesen's compLexity to a tie before going out in the groups.
The fourth member of Obey.Trifecta is Brehze, who previously played for Open team VeloX, while the fifth is Slemmy, a longtime North American veteran who was last seen playing with Jake "Stewie2K" Yip & co. in the old SPLYCE before that particular lineup imploded (the team attended Northern Arena and finished 3-4th place in December).
Facing off against Obey.Alliance in the Group A opener will be Winterfox, a lineup whose core is ex-Mythic and which spent much of the autumn of 2015 in a tailspin before signing desi and flowsicK and bringing the team together to live in a team house in Chicago.
anger's Winterfox remain a Pro League team going into 2016
Winterfox most recently survived ESL ESEA Pro League relegation and also managed to make the playoffs of the RGN Pro Series before losing to Renegades (the team also took part in the iBUYPOWER Cup but fared rather poorly there, picking up seven rounds total in two games).
One of the more recognisable and stable lineups in Group B is Enemy, a team perhaps most famous for featuring AWPer koosta but with other up-and-coming talents such as Relyks and Uber involved as well.
Enemy made the playoffs of the RGN Pro Series in November
The team made a quiet roster change after the RGN Pro Series (where Enemy finished in 5-6th place) by replacing Jared "Anomaly" Simmons for Lucky, who is most famous for playing with the current CLG lineup back in 2014. Earlier event placings in 2015 include a second place finish at Fragadelphia 6 and making the playoffs at the WinOut Championships.
Four-fifths of the current SPLYCE lineup are the old 3sUP team (also known as Dogmen in the interim between organisations). 3sUP were a team which showcased talent in the ESL ESEA Pro League as well as at certain offline events, such as finishing third at the WinOut CS:GO Championships.
DAVEY is SPLYCE's fifth
However, the team were flattened in the Northern Arena and did not win a single map, possibly leading to Owen "wabbit" Farrelly leaving the team. Since then, SPLYCE have brought ex-Method player DAVEY on board and look to be much strengthened going into 2016.
Leader-1, an ESEA Premier team, will open up against SPLYCE in Group B and thus face an uphill fight against a more experienced team. However, Leader-1's ranks are packed with known figures such as Char, who previously played for SKDC and Nexus (attending the WinOut Championships with the latter).
Much of this core lineup was previously known as Astral Authority at the beginning of the year and they have always lurked just below the surface of the Pro League teams while occasionally being able to play them to a defeat, such as beating CLG 16-14 in the RGN Freedom Cup.
EZG eSports are likely the least known of the teams in attendance and this team (currently in ESEA Intermediate) played the Minor qualifier under the name of UNiTeDMass Gaming before moving to a new organisation ahead of the Minor.
An offline opener against the possible Group B favourites Enemy will be a harsh lesson for EZG but North American LANs are famous for their upsets and for watching teams fall to underdogs.
The MLG Americas Minor kicks off on January 15th at 23:00 and continues until Sunday when a winner will be decided.
The prize-pool distribution for the event is:
1. - $30,000 + Qualification for MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier
2. - $15,000
3-4. - $2,500
3-4. - $2,500
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter