MLG Columbus Group D 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 D 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 rich 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).
Group D is considered one of the more unpredictable groups at the Major
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 doing their own research however, you can find Group D below:
We will now talk about the four teams competing in Group D of MLG Columbus 2016 starting from the first team in the bracket shown above and moving downwards.
|Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács||24||6||37||1.13||Final (Cluj 2015)|
|Denis "seized" Kostin||21||7||39||1.04||Final (Cluj 2015)|
|Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev||28||6||37||1.02||Final (Cluj 2015)|
|Egor "flamie" Vasilyev||18||4||20||0.97||Final (Cluj 2015)|
|Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko||28||7||39||0.96||Final (Cluj 2015)|
After winning the Counter Pit Season 2 finals, Natus Vincere are a legitimate contender for the trophy and are currently our second best ranked team in the world.
The event in Croatia was yet again the GuardiaN show, with the Slovakian star going a formidable 1.39 rating and +76 kdd. Many know that when GuardiaN can be activated on a map in conjunction with his teammates, particularly flamie, then it is almost worth it to call an early "gg" for other teams.
Other offline achievements in 2016 include a semifinals finish at IEM Katowice (losing 0-2 to archrivals Luminosity), winning DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig over the Brazilians, and losing the StarSeries XIV finals to fnatic.
"This has gotten so easy that we can spam coin-flip site advertisements in between games"
After their appearance in the finals of the last Major in Cluj-Napoca, and with the current streak of impressive finishes, Natus Vincere may finally take a stab at winning a Major this time around.
There are still a few long-lasting weaknesses in the team that could be their downfall: taking away calling responsibilities from Zeus and splitting them with coach Sergey "starix" Ischuk has been essential to keeping this temperamental team stable but there are still clear moments of frustration that can break through and lead to a losing mentality.
The two teams whom Natus Vincere must conquer to attain the summit of CS:GO are their rivals of semifinals and finals of this year: fnatic and Luminosity. While a lucky bracket draw may minimise the risk of taking on these titans, a deep playoff run and Major victory would be so much sweeter for Zeus & co. if it included beating these two.
|Mike "shroud" Grzesiek||21||5||18||0.95||1/4 final (Cologne 2014)|
|Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert||25||7||31||0.91||1/2 final (DH Winter 2013)|
|Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir||23||2||7||0.91||Group stage (2x)|
|Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham||22||6||17||0.87||Group stage (6x)|
|Jake "Stewie2K" Yip||18||-||-||-||-|
Easily the most obsessed over, critiqued, worshipped, and reviled team in CS:GO (the split in views among community members is perhaps as bitter as the Sunni/Shi'a divide by this point), Cloud9 will head into this Major as the current highest ranked North American team outside of their Brazilian brethren.
In terms of tactical preparation, the team indicated in our interview that they had brought in shroud's old Manajuma teammate Andrew "Irukandji" Timmerman as a trial coach and have been so far pleased with the results as well as making use of an analyst team (which many teams now do either overtly or covertly) to get more serious from a strategic aspect.
The reason this piece of news is important is that Cloud9's early offline showings this year, at the Game Show GEC Finals and at the MLG Main Qualifier, had revealed a star-packed team with a powerful CT-side yet who often crumbled on their T-sides due to n0thing taking on a new role as a team caller.
Abadir has improved as an entry and is a trigger to justice loving teenagers everywhere
Clearly something has changed within the Cloud9 camp as the team are consistently winning games in their region, including a 12-4 record in the ESL Pro League and winning the iBUYPOWER Spring Invitational over Liquid, and seem to be much more comfortable playing as a unit since picking up youngster Stewie2K.
If given the proper training regimen, explosive players such as Stewie2K, freakazoid, and shroud (with the former two improving in recent games and the latter returning to a carry status at times) could theoretically contend with Natus Vincere in a toe-to-toe game of firepower. Skadoodle, who fell off in form a few weeks back and seemed to neglect certain AWP angles, has also returned to a finer form in the past few matches.
Whether they win or lose the opener to Na`Vi, exit during the group stages, or move on to the playoffs, Cloud9 can be sure that the spotlight will continue to be on their players no matter the outcome. As some of the players have personally learned, its rays can be alternatively positive or painful.
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||22||7||42||1.21||Winner (Katowice 2014)|
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||27||7||42||1.13||Winner (Katowice 2014)|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||21||7||42||1.11||Winner (Katowice 2014)|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||28||7||42||1.07||Winner (Katowice 2014)|
|Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas||29||7||42||0.98||Winner (Katowice 2014)|
Although things look very very bad for Virtus.pro as of late, the Polish team did ease the pain of their fans slightly at the Counter Pit Season 2 finals where, after defeating Australian Immunity in an admittedly closer-than-comfortable series, they took Na`Vi to two close maps in the semifinals before dropping out.
However, the current weak link of the team in pashaBiceps continued to deliver underwhelming performances in Croatia for his team, and was the second worst player at the event with a .72 rating and -32 kdd.
It's not clear if pashaBiceps is going through a prolonged slump or on his way to the retirement home, however Virtus.pro need to have him activated if they want to stand any sort of chance leaving Group D.
pashaBiceps has not been very stronk, my friend
We have already mentioned the team's almost painful ESL Pro League record (2-14) and other results in 2016 such as a group stage exit in Leipzig and a quarter-finals demolition thanks to fnatic at IEM Katowice with a home crowd cheering them on.
Perhaps one piece of consoling news for the opener is that the Poles have always played well against the Titan/ex-Titan/G2 bunch (including winning their group stage winners match against the Frenchmen at the last Major) and even with pashaBiceps lagging behind, the powerplays of Snax (who is after all the second best rated player at Majors) and NEO may be enough to carry this team forward.
However, with byali also not having the best form of his life and TaZ somewhat limping along, the potential of this former elite outfit exiting in the groups is very much a reality (though they continue to have an intangible edge against the likes of Cloud9).
Don't say you weren't warned, Polish bettors: the red flags have been there ever since Cluj-Napoca and San Jose.
|Richard "shox" Papillon||23||7||38||1.11||Winner (DH Winter 2014)|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||27||7||37||0.97||Winner (DH Winter 2014)|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||21||5||24||0.94||1/2 final (DH Winter 2013)|
|Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||26||3||8||0.93||Group stage (3x)|
|Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans||25||6||23||0.84||1/2 final (DH Winter 2013)|
In a time of a few elite teams dominating the top perches of tournaments, and erstwhile giants having fallen down to earth, this is an ode to a team whose growth and improvement in the past few weeks have been determined, gradual, and on an upward track.
Earlier in the year, G2 played as ex-Titan and finished 7-8th place at the StarSeries XIV finals. The French-Belgian team were then signed by G2 and attended Game Show finals and ESL Barcelona Invitational, where they finished 5-6th and 3rd place respectively.
At the MLG Main Qualifier meanwhile, they edged out two #11-20 ranked teams in FlipSid3 and Tempo Storm to qualify for the Major in two best-of-ones. In that event it was surprisingly RpK who played best for the team, followed by the usually solid and talented shox.
Ex6TenZ has a flash of realisation that he's no longer playing CS:S, and his recent results have certainly shown it
G2 are winning most of their online matches as of late and are also an impressive 12-6 in the ESL Pro League. We have also seen a notable uptick in form from Ex6TenZ and RpK in recent games—the two players who had struggled the most with CS:GO.
If G2 continue on the upward slope that they have currently set, then a de rigueur victory against the Poles in the opener should be expected, particularly if shox can lead the charge for his team.
On the other hand, when it comes to Ex6TenZ' teams and attending Majors in CS:GO, it sometimes truly does feel like the Belgian leader has some sort of hex put on him that leads to his teams crumbling in the group stage games and not making playoffs (at least since EMS One Katowice 2014). Columbus could be a chance to placate the angry spirits and shake off the curse.
All four groups will have their opening rounds play out on March 29th, the first day of the Major and you can revisit any of the previews or other Major news via our news page for the event here.
In addition, we will be releasing a series of interviews with many of the attending teams, with four having already gone live: one with Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad of FaZe, one with Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski of Liquid, one with the Cloud9 team, and one with Robin "flusha" Rönnquist of fnatic.
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