Asia Minor preview
This weekend sees the final two official CS:GO Minor tournaments take place and this article will take you through the eight teams competing at the Asia Minor for $50,000, one spot at IEM Katowice, and two spots to the MLG Columbus qualifier.
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 Asia Minor, hosted by ESL, is next up from January 29 - February 1 and it features eight teams split up into two groups of four, from which teams will play a double elimination group format (with all matches being best-of-one) and four teams will then move into a single elimination, best-of-three playoffs.
Taking place during the same time as the Europe Minor hosted by PGL, the Asia Minor nevertheless differs from all the other Minor tournaments because aside from the standard $50,000 prize-pool, the tournament is doling out two spots to the offline MLG Columbus Main qualifier in February and the winner of the Asia Minor also qualifies for the $250,000 IEM Katowice Championship in March.
Since many of the teams have been under the radar of global tournament viewers, we found it imperative to preview all the teams in-depth.
The Renegades experience another trans-Pacific flight, but this time it's no homecoming
As a reminder, the group draw for the event is:
|Group A||Group B|
|Risky Gaming||Eat You Alive|
The lineups of all eight teams, and a short examination into their histories, can be found below:
CyberZen have without a doubt become one of the strongest forces on the Asian CS:GO scene, which is reflected in the fact that they were one of the two teams which ESL chose to directly invite to the Asia Minor (alongside Renegades).
After coalescing in November with the underpinnings of a salary and gaming house, CyberZen set off on a tear in the Asia scene that saw them win online competitions such as SoStronk KOTH Asia #2 (over regional heavyweights Skyred) and offline competitions such as the StarSeries China Finals in Shanghai (3-1 over Chinese rivals TyLoo).
Savage is the aegis under which CyberZen strike out
The team then withdrew from the Fulcrum Gamers League Finals in order to focus on the StarSeries XIV Finals in Minsk, Belarus and it was there where, following a 0-2 disappointment against Na`Vi, CyberZen nearly managed to defeat G2 (now FaZe) and turned quite a few heads despite an early elimination.
The pow venture was a general letdown and not much was heard of the two until they formed the current CyberZen lineup in November and began dominating.
Alongside Savage and tb are three former members of QeeYou—advent, aumaN, and zhokiNg—a Chinese team which earlier in 2015 had been considered the dominant outfit in that country but which generally underwhelmed at offline events, including a group stage exit at ESWC 2015 and the ESL One Cologne Asian qualifier in Malaysia.
Interestingly, the three QeeYou members of CyberZen lost the Group B decider match at the Cologne Asian qualifier to Malaysian team MVP.Karnal, and the fact both teams are in the same Group in the Asia Minor provides ample opportunity for a revenge match.
MVP.Karnal are Malaysia's premier team and another team that began to turn heads in 2015 with several spread-out appearances. MVP.Karnal competed in the online Rising Stars Asia and there gained exposure after a grueling semifinal match against Chinse TyLoo (which the latter team narrowly won).
The team then came into the ESL One Cologne Asian qualifier in Kuala Lumpur (although Mohd "wanr0" Syazwan Hanafie was on the team instead of izzatR in those times) and nearly achieved glory by making it into the semifinals where the team lost the qualification match for the Major to the Australians of Immunity.
China continued to be a thorn in MVP.Karnal's side, as the Malaysian team lost the quarter-finals of the Cluj-Napoca Asia pre-qualifiers to TyLoo with a 1-2 score.
For much of the rest of 2015, MVP.Karnal utilised Idzni "Click-" Rosdi as their fifth (the other four players on this team had been generally stable as a core for the year) but results continued to be similar, such as a 3-4th place finish at MBPL Season 1. The team then added 19-year-old izzatR, who had previously played on Singaporean team Bovines.
Although most of MVP.Karnal's players only emerged on the scene in 2015, aimaNNN is the clear veteran as he competed with Malaysian-Singaporean Team LZ at MSI Beat It! in 2013 (where the team went 1-1-3 in groups).
The Australian Chiefs team, using New Zealander zewsy in lieu of Tyler "tucks" Reilly (who is currently banned from ESL events), defeated Immunity in the Oceania qualifier for the Asia Minor with a score of 2-1, upsetting a team with international experience and further proving that the top shelf of the Oceania scene had reached a new level of competition.
Chiefs (with two different players) at CGPL S4 Finals
The situation became even more muddled when it was announced that topguN, a longtime staple of the Australian scene who retired in early 2015 after stepping down from Vox Eminor (the current Renegades), would be standing in for Chris "CHRiSOAOW" Forman who could not attend due to visa issues.
The Chiefs have already long been angling for the number two Australian spot (with the number one spot purportedly held by Renegades although that team has transitioned to the North American scene in theory) that Immunity's international attendances previously bespoke of.
To that end, Chiefs won the CGPL Season 4 finals in November over Immunity despite the fact that the team had simultaneously finished at the bottom of the FACEIT Stage 3 Oceania Group with a 1-4 record during the same time.
The team's struggles continued during the group stage of Counter Pit League Season 2, where Chiefs finished 2-3 behind rivals such as Immunity, Legacy (who attended the FACEIT Stage 3 Finals), and Vox Eminor.
Therefore, like many Oceanic region teams, Chiefs are volatile and hard to predict; however topguN's experience in addition to MVP.Karnal's struggles against Chinese teams may make Chiefs a favourite to advance as second seed from the group.
The West Asia qualifiers for the Asia Minor saw two teams from the United Arab Emirates make it to the final: Risky Gaming and Just Passing By. The irony of this grand final was that two of Just Passing By's veterans in havoK and breAker were on the opposing team of Risky and helped take down JPB to qualify.
havoK had been part of IMPULSE, a West Asia team which made a bit of a mark back in CS 1.6, whereas breAker had an early apperance in CS:GO during MSI Beat It! in 2013 for a team known as Falood Jacksons.
havoK teams up with Risky to try and put West Asia on the map
Aside from that, Risky were in attendance at the now notorious Game Evo 2015, which is perhaps just as famous for its series of organisational snafus as its competition, and the team without the two abovementioned players finished in second place (JPB meanwhile finished third).
All things considered, Risky Gaming are certainly the underdogs of the group, and will have to mount a heroic effort to avoid early elimination.
The most famous team at the event who certainly need no introduction, Renegades will mark their return to visibile competitive play after a long hiatus following the players' return to Australia for some R&R following the RGN Pro Series Championship.
With a second place finish at RGN and a 5-6th place finish the iBUYPOWER Cup, Renegades showed us last fall that they were a team who could both outmaneuver their newfangled North American neighbours but also be stumped by teams such as Luminosity and Cloud9.
Anything short of qualification would be an upset for Renegades
Currently ranked 19th on our Global Rankings list (and the only team at the Asia Minor on this list), Renegades will have to make good on cosseted slots in the ELEAGUE and ESL ESEA Pro League in order to continue to command respect as Oceania's best team.
In addition, Renegades were one of two teams (alongside Oceanic neighbours Immunity) to fail to defend their spot as Major 'Challengers' at DreamHack Open Stockholm with Renegades falling to Liquid in the decider match. Going through the hoops of the Asia Minor in order to make the Main Qualifier in Columbus (to which the other 'Challengers' have already advanced) will be a painful reminder of the need for this Australian superteam to step up their game.
Widely considered the second best team in China, TyLoo have maintained the above lineup since March of 2015 when the team overhauled their roster following multiple disappointing finishes on the East Asian scene.
TyLoo destroyed Born of Fire (a Chinese team usually hovering around the 3-4th ledge of teams in the "Heavenly Dynasty") in the Chinese qualifier to make the Asia Minor and in recent offline appearances they have played second fiddle to CyberZen when that team attended (such as at the StarSeries China Finals) or won when their arch-rival was absent (such as the Fulcrum Gamers League Finals).
fancy1 fancies Asia's entry into the CS:GO scene
TyLoo have also marked up a few strong finishes in online competitions that have helped expand the Asian CS:GO scene in the past year: first in Rising Stars Asia #1, 3-4th in the MBPL Season 1, and first in the Game On Asian Invitational.
This team certainly have cohesion but remain largely untested against outside competition and will likely flounder against Renegades, but luck has it that they have scored an offline win against groupmates TheMongolz before (although narrow) and Taiwanese Eat You Alive are an extremely untested team. TyLoo could very well take second seed in this group.
TheMongolz are sometimes rather humorously known because one of their star players, Machinegun, holds one of the highest statistical ratings on HLTV (when a forty map filter is applied) alongside a certain famous Turk.
Although the Mongolian team had been floating around before this time, we first really got a glimpse of their potential at the offline ESL One Cologne Asian qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur, where they lost 10-16 to Immunity and then 14-16 to myRevenge (who are now Team MVP). TheMongolz got revenge against the South Korean team in the grand final of the East Asian qualifier for the Asia Minor, where they trumped Team MVP.
It's time for Machinegun to "un-XANTARES" himself on LAN
The latest offline event, the Fulcrum Gamers League Finals, were a disappointment for TheMongolz however as they finished in fourth place (last) behind three Chinese rivals although Machinegun still impressed with a 1.10 and +6kdd (fourth best at the event).
If the Mongolians want to live up to their statistical portents therefore, they will need to take down TyLoo in an expected fight for the second seed in Group B.
Eat You Alive
EygisK was part of the Taiwanese Penguin team that competed in the MBPL Season 1 (and recorded a 1-16 loss to TyLoo and a 14-16 loss to other Asian team TwisttoFate). By the time of the MBPL Season 2, dz had joined the team although Penguin still lost games to Hong Kong based team inchk1ng (4-16) and Malaysian MVP.Karnal (8-16) in the second season.
The two can also be seen playing in old CS 1.6 teams (as well as in the spin-off Counter-Strike Online that was meant for the Asian market) and no doubt are part of a substratum of Taiwanese players looking to make a breakthrough on the global scene.
However, Eat You Alive can rightly be counted as obvious underdogs in Group B and they will have to display a high amount of talent and unforseen prowess to defeat any of their three groupmates.
The Asia Minor hosted by ESL during IEM Taipei kicks off on in a few hours time at 03:30 when CyberZen will open against Risky Gaming.
The prize-pool distribution for the event is:
1. - $30,000 + Qualification for MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier + Qualification for IEM Katowice
2. - $15,000 + Qualification for MLG Columbus Major offline qualifier
3-4. - $2,500
3-4. - $2,500
You can also read our comprehensive viewer's guide with any extra need-to-know information 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