MLG Columbus Group B 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 B 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 fertile 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).
Put your cans in the air for the Group B preview
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 not fond of clicking on hyperlinks however, you can find Group B below:
We will now talk about the four teams competing in Group B of MLG Columbus 2016 starting from the first team in the bracket shown above and moving downwards.
|Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad||22||2||13||1.11||1/2 final (Cluj 2015)|
|Philip "aizy" Aistrup||19||4||14||1.03||1/2 final (Cologne 2014)|
|Mikail "Maikelele" Bill||24||4||32||1.00||Final (DH Winter 2014)|
|Ricardo "fox" Pacheco||29||2||15||0.97||1/2 final (Cluj 2015)|
|Håvard "rain" Nygaard||21||4||20||0.95||1/2 final (Cluj 2015)|
There is ample reasoning for this slide in ranking, since in early November we had Maikelele and his team as high up as seventh, and that fact is due to the team noticeably falling off in form since their semifinal run at the last Major in Cluj.
2016 has been a markedly less impressive year for the European super-team, beginning with a 5-6th place finish at the SLTV StarSeries XIV finals as G2 which was narrowly eked out after defeating Chinese team CyberZen.
lelelelelele fans sold separately
The team were then acquired by FaZe and attended DreamHack ZOWIE Open in Leipzig shortly afterwards where they again finished 5-6th place, surprisingly defeating Luminosity in the best-of-one opener but then losing to Natus Vincere and the Brazilians in a best-of-three to bow out of the tournament.
Perhaps sensing they were ailing, the team picked up 1.6 legend Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström as their coach in February and their next and last event before the Major was IEM Katowice. There, they had early successes against E-frag.net and Tempo Storm (defeating the latter team in overtime) before losing all their final games and thus finishing in 7-8th place.
Finally, and even more worryingly, FaZe have been on a prodigious losing spree in the ESL Pro League since Katowice and are seemingly unable to make their current five-man composition work.
For all of the warning signs about a listing vessel, FaZe still pack some of the strongest talent heat on the CS:GO block. In your humble author's opinion, their game against Liquid could be a real seesaw of a match as two relatively volatile teams go toe-to-toe.
|Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev||18||1||4||1.12||1/4 final (DH Winter 2014)|
|Spencer "Hiko" Martin||26||5||23||1.03||1/2 final (DH Winter 2013)|
|Nick "nitr0" Cannella||20||2||5||0.93||Group stage (2x)|
|Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski||18||1||2||0.92||Group stage (Cluj 2015)|
|Eric "adreN" Hoag||25||3||6||0.83||Group stage (3x)|
As far as offline attendances and results go, Liquid have had an extremely quiet 2016. And yet the team have dominated headlines in ways that would make some other outfits ranked #11-20 simply jealous. Couldst'-a there be a reason?
However, due to the diluted rules put in place by Valve to govern how teams coming up from the Minors could compete in the Major qualifier, Liquid had to attend the event with their old in-game leader adreN, where the often criticised player was a crucial part of the team's qualification campaign.
s1mple & co. will need a wild placing to balance the books
s1mple, on the other hand, tanked in the series against HellRaisers (and overall had one of his only events in the red ever rating-wise) and for once had to experience the feeling of getting carried by his teammates in an offline setting.
Setting aside what very likely was the unimaginable pressure of moving to a new continent and a new culture, playing for a high octane brand team, and getting frequently picked in a do-or-die match, we can only assume that s1mple has regained some of his lost confidence and will head into the Major with more poise.
Not being able to play with koosta will hurt the team's firepower, however as we've seen in Liquid's recent online results, the addition of koosta has not necessarily made them the indomitable North American force that some had expected. adreN may also possibly (though let's not get crazy) play lights out Counter-Strike, knowing full well that with his current TSM lineup it could be quite some time before another Major rolls around.
Whether they win or lose their opener against FaZe, the likeliest outcome in this group is that Liquid will either be disciplined by fnatic in the winners' match or discipline Splyce in turn in the losers' match and head into a best-of-three game against FaZe to decide their fate.
|Robin "flusha" Rönnquist||22||7||56||1.23||Winner (3x)|
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||24||7||54||1.15||Winner (2x)|
|Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson||21||7||54||1.08||Winner (2x)|
|Dennis "dennis" Edman||25||4||29||1.07||1/2 final (2x)|
|Jesper "JW" Wecksell||21||7||56||1.05||Winner (3x)|
The undisputed kings of Counter-Strike, fnatic have been an undoubtedly polarising team in recent weeks as they have made winning look almost too easy and have claimed the top trophy at every single event they've attended since adding dennis to the roster in late 2015.
The lineup truly does read like a Gold Nova's wet dream: a leader in flusha who also has the best rating at the Majors of all players, the world's best player in olofmeister, his unflappable Snus-chewing sidekick in KRIMZ who almost telepathically plays in tandem with olofmeister, a well-meshed support and factotum in dennis, and finally the inglorious bastard of YOLO plays, AWPer JW.
The catalogue is longer than Homer's ships: winning FACEIT Stage 3 Finals at DreamHack Winter, ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals, StarSeries XIV Finals, ESL Barcelona Invitational, IEM Katowice, and many more Green W's.
Aside from being the world's best Major player, flusha also enjoys m_rawinput 0, pressing TAB, and long strolls on the beach
There is nary a chink nor a scratch in the team's armour as even JW, who has found himself most out of sync with the dennis era lineup, has not fallen far behind enough to warrant any sort of sustained criticism.
Combining aggressive confidence with calm poise, fnatic have created the current era of CS:GO and there is a high amount of people out there who continue to see them as guaranteed to claim another Major title this time around. If they win: let us now praise famous men.
|Abraham "abE" Fazli||23||-||-||-||-|
|Arya "arya" Hekmat||23||-||-||-||-|
|David "DAVEY" Stafford||19||-||-||-||-|
|Jason "jasonR" Ruchelski||21||-||-||-||-|
|Andrew "Professor_Chaos" Heintz||25||-||-||-||-|
Poor, poor Splyce. Even before the Canadian-American team have stepped foot in the MLG Arena to play their group stage matches, they have already received a shellacking from many commentators on social media.
Determined not to be the North American version of Wolf at ESL One Cologne 2014 or Bravado at DreamHack Winter 2014, Splyce will need ungodly amounts of preparation to be a challenger in this group, and that's after they already assume they should focus their energies on the second game after very likely losing to fnatic.
The sound and the fury of Splyce stickers on your M4A1-S Golden Coil
There is a glimmer of hope and that is how evenly North American teams can play against each other (which Splyce already showcased against CLG at the Major qualifier) and which could happen if arya and his men meet Liquid in the losers' game.
However, Splyce have also fallen victim to this phenomenon themselves, recently being stomped by Kyle "OCEAN" O'Brien's ex-AGG/KKona in a best-of-three qualifier for the CEVO Season 9 finals.
Those looking to learn more about this team, who are likely the biggest underdogs of the Major and also the biggest question mark, can find out about roles and relationships in our interview with DAVEY from the Major qualifier.
Until then, the fate of the weird world rests in these five training their butts off at the eSports Arena in Santa Ana and somehow defeating fnatic in their Group B opener. If that were to happen, it might also be a good time to invest in the Russian Ruble.
All four groups will have their opening rounds play out on March 29th, the first day of the Major, and we will still release previews for Groups 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