With the Minor system in full force, we have put together a chronological account of the events leading up to the ELEAGUE Major. This is the first of a two part series, the second of which will be released when all is set and ready for the return to Counter Strike’s biggest stage.
The eight highest placing teams at ESL One Cologne 2016, the second and last Major of 2016, secured their presence at the ELEAGUE Major to take place on January 22 - 29 by making it out of groups in Germany. These are the eight Legends:
The bottom eight teams of the last Major don't have a secured spot at the next one, and with the amount of top teams without Legends status the Main Qualifier is expected to be the most competitive one to date. These eight teams will have a secured spot at the Main Qualifier and will thus not need to take part in the Minor circuit:
With no further ado here is the first part of the two part series of Road to the ELEAGUE Major, where we track the movements of Legends teams as well as the Minor system which will lead up to the ELEAGUE Major Main Qualifier where eight teams will earn their tickets to face the Legends in the next million dollar tournament.
No third Major in 2016, the first roster changes of the season, and new rules for coaches.
The first news regarding the next Major came on August 11, when Valve unexpectedly announced there would not be a third Major this year like there had been in 2014 and 2015. Instead, the tentative dates would be January 2017. This meant SK would remain the sole champions at Major events in 2016 with victories at MLG Columbus and ESL One Cologne.
The second big news of the off-season, after Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev’s transfer to Natus Vincere followed Jacob "Pimp" Winneche moving to Los Angeles to fill s1mple’s vacancy in Liquid, came in as a huge surprise when fnatic and GODSENT swapped three players, which caused fnatic’s Legend status to be transferred to GODSENT.
On August 18, Valve sent out another notice, this time limiting coach’s roles by restricting their ability to speak in-game. In a later blog post, Valve gave more details about the new coaching rules, including the controversial ruling which grants four thirty second timeouts per team.
Despite making it as Legends in Cologne, FlipSid3 decided to change one of their players after 5 – 8 and 7 – 8 finishes at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 and DreamHack ZOWIE Open Bucharest respectively. On September 21, Oleksandr "Shara" Hordieyev was taken out and in his stead Russia’s hottest prospect Denis "electronic" Sharipov was brought in on a trial basis.
Another Legend team from the CIS region also made moves that same week as Ivan "spaze" Obrezhan got removed from Gambit’s lineup and in his stead Emil "kUcheR" Akhundov was brought on as a stand-in. In early October, however, Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov would be pushed out of Gambit, leaving the active roster with just three players: Mihail "Dosia" Stolyarov and the Kazakh duo Dauren "AdreN" Kystaubayev and Rustem "mou" Telepov.
ELEAGUE gets the first Major of 2017 and the first Minors are announced
On September 27, the big news came out. Many different organizers had put in their bids for the next million dollar Major, but finally it was the newcomers to the scene that won the bid, and ELEAGUE was granted the rights to the next CS:GO Major. The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, GA., was announced as the event’s venue, the smallest since DreamHack Winter 2014.
On October 7 the first of the Minors was announced by PGL, who would be in charge of running the Asia Minor, featuring two invitations to the Major Main Qualifier and $50,000 in prizes on the line. Renegades and TyLoo were directly invited while six teams would play online qualifiers for a chance at playing the LAN in Malaysia.
Three days later PGL also announced the European Minor, which will be held at their Bucharest studios and will also feature two invitations to the Main Qualifier and another $50,000 prizepool.
Immediately invited to the Minor were fnatic and Heroic, followed by invitations to HellRaisers and Space Soldiers. With invited teams taking up half of the slots at the Minor, eleven Top 50 teams protested the decision for invites to be given and brought up the oft discussed idea of unifying the EU & CIS Minors in an open letter to organizers and Valve.
Astralis and karrigan part ways, Gambit revamps their lineup, and Astralis pick-up gla1ve to keep their Legends status for Atlanta
On October 11 Astralis, who had already gone through all sorts of issues to make it as Legends in Cologne—with Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander standing-in for Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye who was ineligible to play the Major with Astralis and coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen once again sitting in the spotlight due to Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen needing emergency surgery mid-tournament—benched their in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen after a slew of bad events for the Danes. Standing-in for the short term was youngster Anton "NoTaN1dgl" Pedersen as Astralis got their affairs in order.
Two weeks after the news of hooch leaving Gambit, the CIS team’s flag would change to a Kazakh one with the inclusion of Tengri’s Abay "HObbit" Khasenov to the team. Hours later, ex-Natus Vincere in-game leader Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko was announced as the fifth and final player, closing Gambit’s roster.
With karrigan out of the picture, our very own Milan "Striker" Švejda examined what could happen with Astralis’ Major spot, which as we already mentioned was a particularly special case, depending on their course of action. Ultimately, the Danish team brought back gla1ve, who stood-in for Astralis in their quarterfinal run in Cologne and cements the team's Major presence in Atlanta with his Legend status.
The teams for the Asian and European Minors are set after qualifiers
With TyLoo and Renegades qualified, the slots were divvied up into one for China, one for East Asia, one for India and the Middle East, one for Oceania, and two for South East Asia. These were the teams that rose to the top of their qualifiers for spots at the Asia Minor in Malaysia:
The first two teams to qualify in one of the two open qualifiers were ENCE and Epsilon, followed by ALTERNATE aTTaX and LDLC. The four teams will join the four invitees in Bucharest for the European Minor:
Liquid lose peacemaker and fnatic regain their spot in the Major as KRIMZ and Lekr0 swap back, GODSENT to Minor
Liquid, who has been struggling since s1mple’s exit announced on October 22 that Luis “peacemaker” Tadeu would no longer be the team’s coach. Both peacemaker and Liquid’s Victor “Nazugl” Goosens cited disagreements about business principles as the reason the Brazilian coach would no longer be affiliated to the North American team. Steve “Joka” Perino was then brought on to coach the team in the interim while Liquid look for a long term solution.
On October 24 big news came out from Sweden once again. Both fnatic and GODSENT were unhappy with the way their teams were performing, and the they agreed to swap one player back. Thus Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson headed back to GODSENT while Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson rejoined Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer and Dennis "dennis" Edman as well as old LGB teammate Simon "twist" Eliasson. This means fnatic regained their status as Legends ahead of the Major, while GODSENT will have to participate at the EU Minor in Romania.
Renegades and TyLoo make it out of the Asia Minor, Americas Minor qualifiers revealed, CIS Minor teams set, and EU Minor set to start
Friday, October 28 was the official kick-off to Minor season, with the Asia Minor in Malaysia getting under way at the same time ESWC was going on in Paris and the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals were being decided in Brazil. Beating VG.CyberZen in the upper bracket final on Saturday, Renegades were the first team to make it through to the Main Qualifier, followed by TyLoo who also beat VG.CyberZen in the consolidation final for the second and final spot at the Main Qualifier.
The same day the Asia Minor kicked-off, the North American Minor qualifier details were released, as the Major organizers announced they would also be hosting the Minor and its qualifiers. Two open qualifiers will lead to a closed qualifier, where Cloud9, Echo Fox, TSM, and Immortals will be waiting. The four winners of the closed qualifier will then play offline at the ELEAGUE Arena for two spots in December’s Main Qualifier.
On November 2 the CIS Minor closed qualifier—which used a different system than that of the EU Minor with eight teams advancing from an open qualifier to face eight teams invited to a closed qualifier—ended, giving eight teams an invitation to StarLadder’s event in St. Petersburg. The eight qualified teams to the Minor are:
|Quantum Bellator Fire||EYESports|
Mere hours before the EU Minor kicks off, fnatic announced a last minute transfer in which Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun is to join the black and orange, meaning Epsilon will have to play with Karl-William "kalle" Haraldsen in his stead at the PGL Studios in Bucharest.
The European Minor is set to start tomorrow at 09:00 with the opening match pitting Epsilon and Heroic. Two spots to the Main Qualifier in Atlanta, which will take place on December 15 – 18, are on the line on top of $50,000 in prizes. Check out our preview of the event, here.
As the ELEAGUE Major dates approach, we will release a second part of Road to the ELEAGUE Major to keep everyone informed on everything related to the first Major of 2017.
Teams qualified to the Main Qualifier:
|Europe Minor #1||Europe Minor #2|
|CIS Minor #1||CIS Minor #2|
|NA Minor #1||NA Minor #2|
November 4 - 6: EU Minor
November 6 - 7: Americas Minor (Open Qualifier #2)
November 8 - 9: Americas Minor (Closed Qualifier)
November 11 - 13: CIS Minor
December 3 - 4: Americas Minor
December 15 - 18: ELEAGUE Major Main Qualifier
January 22 - 29: ELEAGUE Major
Lucas Aznar Miles can be found on twitter @LucasHLTV