CIS Minor preview
The second official CS:GO Minor will run this weekend, this time hosted by StarLadder and featuring CIS region teams competing for $50,000 and a spot at the MLG Columbus Main Qualifier; we have prepared a preview to get you up to date on the lineups.
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 for the varying regions, and with the winner of each receiving an invitation to the MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier taking place February 26-28.
The CIS Minor, hosted by StarLadder, is next up from January 22-24 and it features eight teams split up into two groups of four, from which teams will play a double elimination group format (with winners and elimination matches being best-of-three) and four teams will then move into a single elimination, best-of-three playoffs.
The Minor itself will take place at the Victoria Olimp Hotel in Minsk, Belarus.
Although a minor issue prevented Team YP from attending (due to Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev having played in the previous Major), the teams list is overall more stable than the problems which beset the Americas Minor, with three invited and five qualified teams.
StarLadder to host the CIS Minor
As a reminder, the group draw for the event is once again:
|Group A||Group B|
The lineups of all eight teams, and a short examination into their histories, can be found below:
Method signed the PiTER team only days ago in order to support their travel expenses to the CIS Minor. The move sees the organisation transition from supporting a North American team in the past year to supporting PiTER, widely seen as a team always vacillating somewhere in the top five of CIS region squads.
In terms of recent experience, Method won the CIS LAN Championship #2 in November, triumphing over teams such as Vega Squadron, Enso, and Team YP to take home $3,000.
PiTER are now Method and can be considered likely to make the playoffs
The team also finished second place at the Uprise Champions Cup Season 3 finals, losing only to the Bulgarians of E-frag.net in the grand finals, although the PiTER lineup back then included Russian veteran Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov.
The fifth man slot on Method has always been somewhat up in the air, as the Russian team played the Cologne European qualifiers with Belarussian Igor "dERZKIY" Radosavlevich and many still remember PiTER's strong run at the ESL Katowice Main qualifier with Finn Jan "wayLander" Rahkonen back in February of last year.
Method's fifth is now ub1que, who has played with the team for long stretches of time, including back during the ESL One Katowice 2015 Main Qualifier.
Arcade eSports are the old Vega Squadron lineup and, much like the current Method, were part of a round of consolidation of CIS region teams by hungry organisations looking to acquire the most promising lineups.
Mir's Arcade could also go the long mile at the Minor
Arcade are another team who are considered a step above the rest in the CIS region: they finished in second place behind Method at the CIS LAN Championship #2 as well as taking fourth place at the Uprise Champions Cup Season 3 finals.
While perhaps less experienced than Method in Group A, Arcade could very likely snatch the second spot and move on to the playoffs to do damage.
The cutely named Fluffy Gangsters have as their most renowned player Fox, the brother of Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov who was both part of legendary ventures in Moscow Five during the CS 1.6 days with his brother and then continued his fraternal exploits with Dosia by being on the first lineup to defeat the 2013 NiP in an offline game, doing so in two best-of-threes at the StarSeries V Finals.
Fox is still seeking a breakthrough in a new CS:GO venture
Fox was featured in a recent documentary in his struggles and attempts to get back into the game after taking a long soujourn and his latest venture in Fluffy Gangsters sees him team up with both veterans and newcomers alike.
23-year-old Belarussian ROBO has a long history in Counter-Strike, as he appears in both national lineups for Belarus in the Nations Cup in CS 1.6 and played for A-Gaming in 2014 alongside the likes of Roman "CyberFocus" Dergach. Russian player El Patron meanwhile shows up on a plethora of lineups from the past two years, having played for teams such as TEAMSWAGYOLO in 2014 and Enso in 2015.
Quest can probably be considered to be the largest cipher of the four teams in Group A, with their most noteworthy player being 1uke, who played for Team YP during the CIS LAN Championship #2 (where the team finished a dismal 5-6th place) and for Enervate at the UCC Season 3 finals (where they finished third over the likes of Nostalgie, RCTIC, and Vega Squadron).
Teammate chopper has been plying his trade for a long time in the CIS region, playing on various Russian lineups since 2013 such as ELTZ, TEAMSWAGYOLO, and dope (the final team alongside hooch and ub1que).
On the other hand, rommi, fenvicious, and vvalter have literally no history at any trackable tournaments in CS:GO and thus either have nothing to lose and will play phenomenal Counter-Strike or will crumble under the pressure of an offline environment (history has shown the latter option to be more common).
The current Rebels team is the old Arcade lineup (with Vladyslav "arch" Svistov being replaced by electronic) who were dropped by the organisation due to a series of middling performances in November of 2015. Afterwards they attended the CIS LAN Championship #2 (with Ukrainian arch) where they finished a paltry 5-6th place.
Before they were picked up by Arcade, the core of this lineup went by the name 'Worst Players' and they briefly hosted Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev as their fifth before that player characteristically left in a whimsical manner.
CyberFocus' Rebels are a true CIS region lineup
Belarussian spaz was part of the 97club lineup that achieved a second place finish at the Voronezh Cup in 2014 before he joined Worst Players and he is joined by countryman CyberFocus, who played for the likes of ACES, A-Gaming, and even briefly FlipSid3 during the middle of the summer.
Russian player spiker is a player who spent a large part of the year playing for PiTER, although he himself was unable to make much of a mark and joined up with Worst Players by the autumn.
Ukrainian fix is another player who has briefly stood in for FlipSid3 (although only for six maps) and the 18-year-old is joined by the youngster electronic (who is seventeen years of age), a player who has shown promise on the CIS scene.
Gambit Gaming come into the CIS Minor as clear favourites to win due to the sheer experience and talent packed on the roster.
The Gambit organisation invested in the team (then known as HS.GG) at the beginning of this year after Dosia had managed to bring on board Kazakh duo and old teammates formerly of HellRaisers in AdreN and mou as well as snagging Finnish-Russian talent wayLander, who turned heads at the Katowice Main Qualifier in 2015 with a 1.23 rating and +15 kdd.
Dosia's team are clear favourites in Belarus
Finalising the five is 28-year-old hooch, a player who likely needs no introduction as he has been involved in the CIS scene as a star, support, and coach since 2006 and earlier.
The combination of experience and raw talent is what makes Gambit a considered favourite, and anything short of a finals placing will be considered a disappointment for this team.
eXplosive were previously known as ACG and signed to the eXplosive organisation (a subsidiary of HellRaisers) back in November of 2015.
The Ukrainian team features a mix of young and old players and some of their recent achievements include winning the ESWC Ukrainian qualifier and finishing 7-8th place at the CIS LAN Championship #2.
Pair them against some other teams in this Minor and eXplosive may be seen as having a fighting chance due to the core's experience of playing together as five, however against the likes of Gambit and Rebels the team will surely need a little bit more than just synergy.
Binary Dragons had been playing together under the name Revival before being becoming the name that they are now and most of the players in this roster have experience playing for a wide range of varying teams this year.
FANAT ROCKA and balblna were already playing on a core known as New Era in the first half of 2015 before they teamed up with fellow Russian It's my. They also briefly played with El Patron, who is currently on Fluffy Gangers, before retooling as Revival and picking up Belarussians dERZKIY and uNdo and then playing in the SLTV ProSeries XIV.
The team can rightly be considered to be the underdogs of Group B when all things are taken into account.
The StarLadder Regional CIS Minor kicks off on in a few hours time at 12:00 when Method will take on Fluffy Gangsters.
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
You can also find the full schedule for the event in this article and HLTV.org will continue to update the match pages as the games progress.
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter