MLG Columbus Group A preview
MLG Columbus 2016 will be the eighth CS:GO Major and the first to offer a gargantuan $1 million prize-pool: this is the official preview for Group A of the tournament.
Next week will undoubtedly see history made for Counter-Strike as the first $1 million Major will take place in Columbus, Ohio. MLG Columbus 2016 is the eighth official Major for the game and comes at a time of an extremely fecund competitive scene, one in which the skill ceiling for the game is being raised ever higher.
We felt that this momentous occasion easily warranted a return to a separate preview per group, rather than a split between 'Legends' and 'Challengers', and have thus been busy writing and researching all that you may wish to know about the 16 teams competing.
As a reminder, the format of the tournament begins with group stages that will have the same format as the Major qualifier which took place last month: best-of-one games with two wins to reach the playoffs and two losses to exit; the second place decider game will be the only best-of-three match.
Meanwhile, the playoffs will be a single elimination best-of-three bracket but they will also have the distinction of taking place inside of the Nationwide Arena (the group stages will be played behind closed doors in the MLG Arena, the same venue that hosted the Major Qualifier, the Americas Minor, and the CEVO-P Seasons 6, 7, and 8 finals).
The War is far from over
We have prepared a sexy event page which you can browse to your heart's content and there you will find the group spreads for each preview. For those in the non-clicker cabal however, you can find Group A below:
We will now talk about the four teams competing in Group A of MLG Columbus 2016 starting from the first team in the bracket shown above and moving downwards.
|Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund||25||7||66||1.12||Winner (Cologne 2014)|
|Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg||27||7||66||1.09||Winner (Cologne 2014)|
|Adam "friberg" Friberg||24||7||66||1.03||Winner (Cologne 2014)|
|Richard "Xizt" Landström||25||7||66||1.02||Winner (Cologne 2014)|
|Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi||22||-||-||-||-|
Perhaps not many competitive outfits in the world can feel as close to the biblical story of Samson as the Ninjas in Pyjamas do: having once been the juggernaut on the block, the Swedish team were blinded by their own confidence and inaction and cast down into the lower ranks of CS:GO.
However, the Ninjas are clearly not interested in going down Samson style with the foundation collapsing around them—that much was evident with the team's performance at IEM Katowice where they debuted with pyth.
Although NiP lost their opener to mousesports in Poland (a defeat which likely did the most damage to their playoff chances), the team nearly edged out fnatic with a 14-16 loss, as well as losing to Natus Vincere 13-16 and defeating Brazilian favourites Luminosity 16-13 (in a final game where they already knew they were out).
We will finally learn the true meaning of pith in NiP's newest addition
Statistically, the team were led by the f0rest show, as the veteran player yet again proved he could never be counted out with a 1.11 rating and +14kdd (whereas longtime comrade GeT_RiGhT trailed slightly behind with a 1.07 and +9kdd).
In Katowice, it was really pyth who underwhelmed by coming in as the least impactful player on the team, however it was not so much a woeful showing as perhaps "LAN jitters," something which a new team addition with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders could be particularly prone to experiencing.
As a further sign of recent strength, in the ESL Pro League, NiP are a commanding 12-2 and, barring a consecutive series of losses from now until the end of the season, they should be a shoe-in for the Season 3 finals in London.
Clearly, the tactical innovation and leadership that Björn "THREAT" Pers has provided are beginning to mould a notoriously stubborn team used to their legendary status and winning ways into something that can actually compete in 2016.
Aside from a complete meltdown of the team's current weak points, e.g. pyth, the mercurial friberg, and the team's two carries disappearing on the first day, the Ninjas should have the first game in the bag against FlipSid3.
|Yegor "markeloff" Markelov||28||7||25||0.92||1/4 final (3x)|
|Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk||22||4||9||0.84||Group stage (4x)|
|Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy||29||4||9||0.73||Group stage (4x)|
|Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin||24||4||9||0.72||Group stage (4x)|
|Oleksandr "Shara" Hordieyev||23||-||-||-||-|
FlipSid3 are like your drug dealing friend in high school: not ever enough to be a part of the popular clique but ever present, perhaps confoundingly so.
Yet, while the team's results have been erratic ever since they became one of those "Always in the Major but never a contender" teams, B1ad3 and his crew have undoubtedly begin to improve and especially in 2016.
While this fact is not reflected in the Ukrainian team's paltry 2-6 record in the ESL Pro League (second worst after the perennially bad Virtus.pro), it is reflected in the team's recent offline activity with some high points including taking a map off of Natus Vincere at the Counter Pit Season 2 finals, spanking Tempo Storm to qualify for the Major at the Main Qualifier, and finishing second place at the Acer Predator Masters Season 2 finals.
markeloff is currently the world's biggest stakeholder in NotLikeThis Equity
WorldEdit is dependably good on this team (although not in Majors as can be seen above), to the point where he makes his comrade-in-carry bondik look like a support at times, whereas Shara continues to vacillate harder in offline games than a plane carrying Peter "ptr" Gurney over the Atlantic.
And whereas fan favourite markeloff gave joking hints of picking up the AWP again and is also part of the elite club of players to attend every Major to date, he continues to doggedly play the support role and was paticularly underwhelming during the quarter-final game against Na`Vi last weekend.
As usual, the admittedly low chances of this team making playoffs will rest on the haunches of B1ad3 and his tactical insights. The Ukrainian veteran proved he could theory-craft a team into nothingness against the Brazilians of Tempo Storm, but he will now find himself matched against a well-honed team with an equally theoretical coach behind them in the opener against NiP.
In other words: skip or ICB on this underdog.
|Marcelo "coldzera" David||21||2||9||1.13||1/4 final (2x)|
|Fernando "fer" Alvarenga||24||3||15||1.03||1/4 final (3x)|
|Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo||24||3||15||0.96||1/4 final (3x)|
|Lincoln "fnx" Lau||26||-||-||-||-|
|Epitacio "TACO" de Melo||21||-||-||-||-|
Currently ranked fourth in the world, Luminosity have brought the malandro lifestyle to CS:GO and re-energised those who perhaps lean towards the side of underdog stories and are tired of a frigid world of Swedish domination.
IEM Katowice was the latest and greatest example of the Brazilian team's rise to the elite crop of outfits that sit atop the game as FalleN led his team into another grand final, this time against fnatic where the team ultimately faltered and lost 0-3.
As far as Katowice goes, fer was the strongest player with a 1.14 rating and +30kdd, however you know you've found a strong team when any of the other four players can have big games and moments in playoff matches (the much-maligned TACO included).
Welcome to my City of God. Here Knockout "coldzera" Ned will get you.
Since the team's dream run at the FACEIT Stage 3 finals, they have attended international tournaments and consistently faced both Natus Vincere and fnatic, with a better record on paper against the former team (despite a grand final loss at DH Open Leipzig to the Eastern Europeans). Yet an actual trophy has been ever elusive.
This Major could be the chance that the Brazilians have long awaited and it would be no risky wager to place them in at least the semifinals of this event. However, mousesports do have a scant yet strong record against this team, defeating its older lineup (with Lucas "steel" Lopes and Ricardo "boltz" Prass) in two maps at the CEVO-P Season 7 finals and with Luminosity only narrowly beating mouz in the group stages of Katowice, 16-14 on de_cbble.
As such, this opening game could be one of the most explosive matches that we will see on the first day.
|Nikola "NiKo" Kovač||19||1||5||1.16||Group stage (Cluj 2015)|
|Denis "denis" Howell||21||4||17||0.93||1/4 final (2x)|
|Johannes "nex" Maget||23||4||14||0.93||1/4 final (Katowice 2015)|
|Chris "chrisJ" de Jong||25||3||9||0.93||Group stage (3x)|
|Timo "Spiidi" Richter||20||3||12||0.89||1/4 final (2x)|
Repeat the following mantra for good luck, fans of German Counter-Strike: NiKosports, NiKosports, NiKosports.
It is truly astounding how strong of a player NiKo is in this current day and age and the fact that he can put up such strong numbers while also leading in-game makes Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer look like a chump in a two-bit suit when it comes to the leader/fragger playstyle.
The mainly German team had a tragic showing at IEM Katowice as they narrowly lost out from attending the playoffs in a fairly stacked group, however they also most recently breezed through the Major Main Qualifier with style and won the Acer Predator Masters Season 2 finals against less formidable opposition.
Calm on the outside, Linkin Park lyrics on the inside
With so much on the line in a strong Group A and a dramatic opener against Luminosity (whom mouz lost to 14-16 in Katowice), we can surely expect sparks to fly. However, one key component of the team was in absence in Poland, namely chrisJ who apparently forgot to take his anti-onliner medication that day.
Assuming all five players are firing on all cylinders (nex has been stable, Spiidi has his moments, and denis is a support with intangible uses), they can start their Major trajectory well. The fact that two coaches in the form of Navid "Kapio" Javadi and Niclas "enkay J" Krumhorn will be assisting the team can only be an additional boon.
All four groups will have their opening rounds play out on March 29th, the first day of the Major, and we will in turn release previews for Groups B, C, and D before the big day dawns.
As the magic dates of March 29-April 3 draw ever nearer, stay focused to HLTV.org for more exclusive coverage of the upcoming Major.
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter