PGL Minor Championship preview
We have prepared a preview of the eight teams that are heading into the official European Minor Championship organized by PGL, which will have $50,000 on offer as well as a spot at the MLG Columbus offline qualifier, taking place from January 29-31.
PGL's brand new studio in Bucharest will play host to the European Minor Championship from January 29-31, where eight teams will battle for $50,000 and a spot at the offline qualifier for the next major.
All eight teams came from online qualifiers which overlapped each other for the most part, making it harder for teams to redeem themselves in case they didn't make it on the first try.
Here is the group draw for the PGL Regional Minor Championship Europe:
|Group A||Group B|
The group stage will be played in a GSL-style double elimination format, with winners' matches and deciders played in best-of-threes. As usual, two advance to playoffs, which will be played in a best-of-three, single-elimination format.
Without further ado, let's get into the teams and a quick rundown on their chances and history, which is very short in some cases.
|William "draken" Sundin|
|Andreas "mOkEn" Karlsson|
|Fredrik "REZ" Sterner|
|Christian "rezex" Bjerregaard|
|Jesse "zehN" Linjala|
CG, or Cringe Gods, are one of the teams that have very little history behind them. After they qualified for the PGL Minor from the first qualifier, beating HellRaisers at the last stage, we got a chance to interview in-game leader rezex to see what the team is made of.
It turned out that the lineup never played very seriously together, only having FACEIT matchmaking experience behind them, which makes their ability to advance over fairly established teams like HellRaisers nearly miraculous.
After succeeding in the qualifiers the team was also invited for a D!ngIT Weekly Cup, where they reached a fair amount of success, as they defeated LDLC Blue twice and took ALTERNATE aTTaX to a resonably close three-map series.
The team still has zero LAN experience together, even individually, and seeing as they have three solid teams in their group, it seems more than unlikely that they would advance to playoffs.
|Emiliyan "spyleadeR" Dimitrov|
|Kamen "bubble" Kostadinov|
|Nikolay "nkl" Krastev|
|Viktor "v1c7oR" Dyankov|
| Nikolay "pNshr" Paunin
The Bulgarian side have played a reasonable amount of official matches with the stand-in and even managed to qualify for IEM Katowice a week ago, so the team should be used to the change by now, more or less.
pNshr will be standing in for dream3r this weekend
Even with the stand-in, E-frag.net are heading into the PGL Minor Championship as one of the favourites—if not the biggest favourite of all. Still, they have somewhat tough competition ahead of them in the group, PENTA and LDLC White.
Seeing as the initial round is a best-of-one, it's possible that the team runs into communication or teamplay problems with the stand-in, which they won't be able to fix until they will have played a map or two, and fall to the elimination match right away. It's not likely to happen however, as they should be the best team in the group and advance from first place.
|Matthieu "matHEND" Roquigny|
|Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro|
|Simon "Fuks" Florysiak|
|Antoine "to1nou" Pirard|
|Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon|
We haven't seen much of LDLC White in the past few months, at least not against top-tier competition, and they haven't been very successful even in the less-competitive environment.
The few solid results that they had were from Acer Predator Masters Season 2, where matHEND's squad tied best-of-two's against mousesports and SK. LDLC White also managed to pull out a whitewash performance on de_cache of their series versus Titan in the Red Dot Invitational. That is a good sign, because most of the teams are at least slightly below the level of the three mentioned, on paper.
On the other hand though, their no-show against unu.AiN (CPH Wolves) in the DreamHack Leipzig qualifier was worrying (nine rounds on two maps combined), and in December they also couldn't overcome one of the teams they will meet this weekend in Bucharest, PENTA. Provided, that was PENTA with a different lineup, still featuring mousesports' Timo "Spiidi" Richter, and Hendrik "strux1" Goetzendorff, and it's been nearly two months since then.
|Kevin "kRYSTAL" Amend|
|Tahsin "tahsiN" Broschk|
|Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz|
|David "Davidp" Prins|
|Mike "mikeS" Tuns|
tabseN carried PENTA to the Minor
Since then they only played a few matches in that lineup, which is a poor sample size at best, although they did use this exact lineup to qualify for the event itself.
Overall they will likely have a tough time in Bucharest, and it will take a bit of adapting on-the-fly for them to at least advance to playoffs.
|Jerry "xelos" Råberg|
|Gustav "KAB0M" Runemalm|
|Adam "maektig" Widell|
|Mattias "khobra" Heidnert|
|Daniel "t3h f4rm3r" Börzsönyi|
The team formerly known as AliGon was picked up by Lemondogs for the PGL Minor shortly after qualifying. khobra and xelos seem to be the main driving force behind the team whose name they represented together in the past.
AliGon qualified at the expense of ALTERNATE aTTaX, but apart from that triumph they haven't been too successful in the last two months. maektig's side has losses against Epiphany Bolt, BX3, and PiTER in their record, although they most recently took Vexed to two close maps in the Leipzig qualifier.
They haven't got past more than three rounds of the two IEM Katowice qualifiers either, the first of which they lost to an unknown "Team X", and the second to ex-Titan, understandably.
|André "berg" Kjellberg|
|Isak "cype" Rydman|
|Erik "zende" Sundeqvist|
|Miran "dumz" Matković|
|Benjamin "BENDJI" Söderena|
Another mostly-Swedish squad rebranded from Blojexpressen back to DenDD recently, and they boast a lineup of quite known players from Sweden. Up until the qualifier they played with Robin "robiin" Sjögren and Simon "twist" Eliasson, but they qualified with the same lineup that you can see above.
The past two months have been rocky for the team. The previous lineup got very close to qualifying to Fragbite Masters Season 5 Finals at the expense of TSM and played a close affair with mousesports in APM Season 2.
After changing the duo, Blojexpressen qualified at the expense of Danny "BERRY" Krüger's M1X and RCTIC quite comfortably, but the tournament ahead will feature stronger teams than that.
|Viktor "flash" Tamás Bea|
|Bence "DeadFox" Böröcz|
|Lasse "maeVe" Elgaard|
|Benjamin "tabu" Vangstrup|
|André "BARBARR" Möller|
Looking at recent results, it seems like PixelFire could have a big chance of making it out of groups, and even be in contention for the title. Late last year they defeated Rebels, FlipSid3 and PiTER in best-of-three series in the Uprise Champions Cup: Europe.
BARBARR returns to an international stage
In the PGL qualifier itself they were one of the few solid teams that got more than two chances at qualifying, as they participated in three qualifiers due to getting knocked out early in the first two. In the fourth, they advanced through teams such as gBots, Reason, and finally Casper "cadiaN" Møller's RUZKI.
In the first IEM Katowice qualifier they put on a very good showing that was worthy of an overtime against E-frag.net, the eventual winners. Judging by that, I would say they should advance to playoffs alongside HellRaisers and maybe even put up a fight with Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow's team.
|Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow|
|Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov|
|Martin "STYKO" Styk|
|Patrik "Zero" Žúdel|
|Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný|
And last but not least, HellRaisers. The end of 2015 was quite unsatisfying for oskar and company, who still played with Andreas "znajder" Lindberg at the time, as they lost every series in the latter half of December, including one with Revival and one with Nostalgie.
When Zero got his chance in the team alongside former Fraternitas teammates oskar and STYKO, things didn't look too much better. A loss with an unknown CG team in the first qualifier was a worrying sign for HellRaisers' fans, although the team seem to have redeemed themselves since then.
A lot of pressure on oskar's shoulders to perform
They were quite close to qualifying to Leipzig, they even defeated E-frag.net along the way, but in the end fell to dignitas in a narrow fashion. In another qualifier, this time for IEM Katowice, oskar's side fell to eventual winners mousesports on a 14-16 de_cache.
HellRaisers are heading into the PGL Minor as one of the biggest favourites, arguably even the biggest of all teams, but they still have a lot to prove. This will be the team's LAN debut since the big change, and it will also be a chance for oskar to show whether he has what it takes to carry HellRaisers offline as much as he usually does online.
Who do you root for at the upcoming PGL Regional Minor Championship? Who do you have as the favourites to grab the spot at the offline MLG Columbus qualifier? Let us know your opinion in the comment section below.
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