StarLadder CIS Minor preview
With StarLadder's CIS Minor starting on April 28 here is the preview for the event which will hand out $50,000 and two spots at the ESL One Cologne 2016 Main Qualifier.
Due to Valve Anti-Cheat bans being found on previous Steam accounts of David "Dave" Tereshin and Mikhail "s3mig0d" Lakhvich, the two players were banned from all Valve-affiliated events and thus their teams, TEAMSWAGYOLO and eXplosive, were disqualified from the CIS Minor.
The two disqualified teams were replaced by two squads they defeated in the last stage of the closed qualifier, Binary Dragons Gold and Vesuvius, who joined two more qualifiers and four invited sides.
|Group A||Group B|
|Royal Dragons (ex-DW)||Binary Dragons Gold|
The Minor will start with a GSL group stage, which will be played with best-of-one's in the upper bracket and best-of-three's in the lower. Then two teams from each group will move on to a double elimination, best-of-three bracket.
We have prepared a preview for StarLadder's CIS Minor, which goes through all lineups taking part in the $50,000 event which will also hand out a couple of spots at the next major's offline qualifier:
|Denis "electronic" Sharipov||17||1.08|
|Sergey "spaz" Skrypchik||24||1.04|
|Roman "CyberFocus" Dergach||21||1.02|
|Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov||27||0.97|
|Alexander "spiker" Ivanov||21||0.87|
The former Arcade and Rebels side is one of the more stable teams in the region, as in the last five months they only made one change - long-time HellRaisers member and veteran kUcheR joined in Ilya "fix" Golovko's stead.
The closest they came was earlier in April, when they needed to defeat HellRaisers to advance to ESEA Premier Season 21 Finals, but bombed out of the best-of-three after two quick maps.
kUcheR's new team have a solid chance to make it to the Main Qualifier
The team also has a couple of top four placings at SL i-League Invitational qualifiers due to defeating k1ck and AGG, although Swedish teams Torpedo and Ancient put a stop to their chances once it came down to best-of-three matches.
Empire feature one of the most promising up-and-comers in CIS, 17-year-old electronic, who has lately gone quiet however after a good start to the year. kUcheR should be able to provide some more experience at the Minor despite only being in the roster for about two weeks, and solidify Empire's position as one of the best teams in the region.
|Nikolay "mir" Bityukov||20||1.12|
|Dmitriy "jR" Chervak||22||1.10|
|Pavel "COLDYY1" Veklenko||24||1.06|
|Dmitry "S0tF1k" Forostyanko||21||1.00|
|Pavel "hutji" Lashkov||20||0.95|
Formerly of Vega Squadron, Arcade remained largely the same since joining up with the new organization, with one exception in coach Ivan "Johnta" Shevtsov who left FlipSid3 and started coaching the aforementioned lineup in January.
At the previous CIS Minor for MLG Columbus, Arcade topped the group over Method (now ANOX), but fell after a narrow best-of-three encounter with Rebels (who are in their group as Empire) in the semi-finals. In the Last-Chance Qualifier, Arcade came reasonably close to defeating SK, whom they took to two double-digit maps.
jR's Arcade should go through to semis
Since then the team has attempted to qualify for numerous European tournaments, including DreamHack Masters Malmö and SL i-League Invitational. The former didn't quite turn out the way they had wanted to, but in the latter's case, Arcade came very close to qualifying.
After being another team disposed of by HellRaisers in the first SL i-League qualifier's quarter-finals, Arcade advanced to the final of the third one over PENTA and FLuffy Gangsters. Torpedo proved too much to handle in the final, but Arcade took them to two double-digit maps as well.
Arcade and Empire should make it to semi-finals without too much trouble and likely will fight to the death for first place, but their bigger test will lie ahead in the semi-finals, where they will almost undoubtedly meet ANOX and Worst Players.
|Anatoliy "liTTle" Yashin||27||1.08|
|Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov||19||0.98|
|Vladimir "ROBO" Neskey||23||0.92|
|Vladislav "El Patron" Kopitin||25||0.92|
|Roman "roman" Redihin||27||0.92|
FLuffy Gangsters are still very much a new team, only having less than two months of history with the same exact roster despite being formed at the beginning of the year.
The veteran liTTle has had a stellar record with Fluffy Gangsters
In their short tenure FLuffy Gangsters managed to find quite a bit of success, as they advanced to the closed stage of DreamHack Masters Malmö qualifier #2 and played a solid map one, Dust2, against G2.
They also finished in the top eight of the first SL i-League Invitational qualifier, where they took CSGL to 30 rounds on Train, and top four in the second as they narrowly defeated AGG in the quarter-finals. Afterwards they lost to regional competition Arcade, who will also be present at the Minor.
FLuffy Gangsters seems to struggle a bit with regional teams, as even in the final stage of the qualifier for the Minor, Tempest, who aren't by any means considered a top team in the region, took them to two overtime-worthy maps.
Royal Dragons (ex-Digital Wave)
|Igor "norison" Matyev||21||1.06|
|Kiril "PLAZ" Sidorov||22||1.01|
|Alexandr "Foga" Romanenko||21|
|Anton "Koshak" Platko||19|
|Ruslan "spyn" Kalakov||20||0.87|
* Players missing Rating only have two matches in our database
The roster now presiding under Royal Dragons is not only very much new, most of their players have next to no experience playing against top CIS competition, let alone European.
One of their most experienced, and rating-wise also the best, player seems to be norison, who has played with Vega Squadron last year alongside Arcade's jR and mir, as well as alongside Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov in ACES for a short period of time.
PLAZ has spent most of last year playing with USSR and Pries (who also fielded former Natus Vincere player Anton "tonyblack" Kolesnikov), and has experience going back to 2013, when he played alongside spyn in Rush3D.
Apart from Rush3D, spyn has played for ACES last year and while he wasn't anywhere near a star player in the team, he was under hooch's leadership and played with names such as Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov and electronic.
Overall Royal Dragons are mostly looking to gain some much-needed experience with top-tier competition in their region.
|Kirill "hitMouse" Tsarev||25||1.02|
|Dmitriy "facecrack" Alekseyev||22||0.99|
|Savelii "jmqa" Bragin||19||0.98|
|Igor "dERZKIY" Radosavlevich||19||0.95|
|Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov||24||0.91|
The team formerly of Method recently joined ANOX and found a replacement for the departed Ivan "spaze" Obrezhan, who understandably accepted Gambit's offer, in another Belarussian player - hitMouse.
The departure of their best player less than two weeks prior to the Minor will come as a blow to ANOX, who came close to defeating clear favourites Gambit at the last CIS Minor Championship in the semi-finals.
Two of their players, facecrack and veteran ub1que have solid experience playing on LAN even up against some of the best in the world, as last year they took Titan to multiple overtimes in the famous match on Cache and defeated G2 (now CSGL) in the ESL One Katowice Main Qualifier.
Some of ANOX's players have a bit of international experience behind them
This year the team also played in the Game Show Global eSports Cup Finals. There Method had to use two Estonian stand-ins and finished in last place, but they were able to take Cloud9 to their limit on two maps, with the Americans being in arguably their worst form, admittedly.
|Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev||19||1.04|
|Dmitriy "Dima" Bandurka||21||1.00|
|Anton "tonyblack" Kolesnikov||23||0.96|
|Vladyslav "arch" Svistov||19||0.93|
|Ilya "fix" Golovko||18||0.88|
Most of the lineup managed to qualify for MLG Columbus Main Qualifier through the CIS/EU Last-Chance Qualifier, where the squad (then still under Team YP) defeated CSGL and famously Ancient (with a 16-0 scoreline on map two) on their way to America.
DavCost has a lot of pressure on his shoulders
However, visa issues prevented them from attending with the full lineup, and had to bring in CSGL duo Paweł "innocent" Mocek and Grzegorz "SZPERO" Dziamałek in the last minute. Their results understandably looked the part, as they only mustered three rounds in total versus favourites mousesports and Liquid.
Before the change Worst Players would likely have been the second biggest favourite of the tournament, but with only a week of practice with a new player and fierce competition, every match against the other invited teams will be tough.
The team will heavily rely on DavCost (who stood in for FlipSid3 on multiple occasions when Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev couldn't attend events and has the most experience from the team), who could be a dealbreaker.
|Alexey "BAS" Kustov||23||1.10|
|Alexander "uNdo" Kiziukevich||21||0.96|
|Aleksey "1uke" Zimin||23||0.95|
|Yaroslav "It's my" Ushkov||20||0.89|
|Gregory "balblna" Oleinick||20||0.89|
One of the lucky sides, who got to attend thanks to the disqualification of teams whose player was found VAC-banned and thus disqualified, are Vesuvius.
A result of the CIS shuffle, which was done on a smaller scale than in other regions in the past, was another unnanounced change from Vasiliy "FANAT ROCKA" Trusov to former New Era player BAS prior to the closed qualifier.
The new addition hasn't appeared in matches featured on HLTV.org since July 2015 before joining up with Vesuvius. He and his team were only a few rounds away from defeating TEAMSWAGYOLO at the qualifier, the team Vesuvius eventually replaced as Dave was banned from Valve events.
1uke and company have a wide array of results versus regional competition, as they have losses versus teams such as Tempest and Quest in their record, but also two important wins versus the current Empire squad and most recently Method.
Statistically Vesuvius have lost their best player in the lineup change, so it's hard to say how much those results will matter, especially when the CIS Minor is the most important event in the players' careers.
|Ilya "medusa" Mertsalov||19|
|Mihail "lma" Lutovinin||26||0.77|
|Valerii "PALICH" Palkin||17|
|Semyon "kinqie" Lisitsyn||24||0.71|
|Alexsey "ace" Kazakov||22|
* Players missing Rating only have two matches in our database
As the other team who got to attend due to a disqualification, Binary Dragons Gold are inarguably the least experienced team of the entire event.
Three of their players have barely appeared in the semi-professional scene, and while the other two seem to have some pedigree to their name, their track record is hardly ideal.
According to medusa's post on VKontakte, a Russian social site, the team has been bootcamping in Moscow for the past five days and are looking to fix communication problems they have been facing online.
However, it also says the players have never even seen each other in person before, and so the bootcamp could be the difference between bombing out in last place and dealing damage to the other teams, all of which are clear favourites over the inexperienced Binary Dragons Gold.
You can follow Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter