The CIS Minor Championship ahead of PGL Major Krakow will kick off tomorrow, in Moscow, Russia. Eight teams will be taking part in the tournament, and we have prepared a preview to look at their chances and their recent history.
The Gamer Stadium will stage from June 8-11 the CIS Minor Championship, where eight teams - all determined by an online qualifier - will duke it out for the bulk of a $50,000 prize pool in addition to two spots at the PGL Major Krakow offline qualifier.
Just like the Asia Minor, the event will kick off with a double-elimination group stage featuring best-of-three elimination and decider matches. The top two teams from both groups will then progress to the double-elimination playoffs, in which all matches will be played in a best-of-three format.
Below you can find the group draw in full:
|Group A||Group B|
|Tengri||Quantum Bellator Fire|
If you want to know more information about the tournament, including a detailed schedule and the English language broadcast team, check out our viewer's guide here.
Ratings used are from the past three months of online play as none of the teams attended a LAN event during this period
|Spirit Academy (#85)||Age||Rating|
|Roman "rommi" Golubev||24||1.12|
|Evgeny "fenvicious" Mitsik||22||1.11|
|Aleksey "1uke" Zimin||24||1.08|
|Alexey "BAS" Kustov||25||0.98|
|Alexey "NickelBack" Trofimov||19||0.97|
In Moscow, the team will be playing under the name "TS.Academy", due to the tournament limit of just one squad per organisation. However, this should do little to upset the players, who will be out to defy the odds once again.
But getting out of such a tough group might be too big a task for Spirit Academy. 1uke & co. are still getting used to this level of competition, and they may well struggle to impose their game against teams like Tengri and Vega Squadron, who are much more experienced.
|Ramazan "Ramz1k" Bashizov||17||1.17|
|Aleksandr "SNk" Semkin||21||1.10|
|Bektiyar "fitch" Bahytov||24||0.98|
|Bakir "pachanga" Kurbanaliev||19||0.97|
|Anuar "sonic" Abu||25||0.84|
Life has not been easy for Tengri since loaning Abay "Hobbit" Khasenov out to Gambit. They were able to pick up the pieces and rebuild the squad, that is for sure, but the potential is just not the same. One can expect them to find it very hard to advance from the group stage, and the opening match against Vega Squadron will be a big test to their strength.
|Igor "dERZKIY" Radosavlevich||21||1.02|
|Roman "roman" Redihin||28||1.02|
|Kirill "hitMouse" Tsarev||26||1.01|
|Roman "CyberFocus" Dergach||22||0.97|
|Vladimir "ROBO" Neskey||24||0.96|
The Belarusian team travel to Moscow boosted by their move to Nemiga, a new organisation that expects to become a staple in Eastern European esports by following a professional business model.
The former K29 team qualified for the Minor after finishing second of their group in the qualifier, in which they played out a thrilling three-map series against Spirit. In the last few months, they have also posted wins over fnatic Academy, GreyFace and Epsilon, which goes to show just how dangerous this team can be.
Having the support of a professional organisation will certainly help CyberFocus & co. to elevate their game to a new level. This tournament might just come too soon for the news to have a real impact, but they are still more than capable of finishing top two in the group.
|Vega Squadron (#56)||Age||Rating|
|Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov||20||1.09|
|Dmitriy "jR" Chervak||23||1.06|
|Nikolay "mir" Bityukov||21||1.04|
|Sergey "keshandr" Nikishin||23||0.98|
|Pavel "hutji" Lashkov||21||0.94|
Vega Squadron are the highest-ranked team in attendance at the event, which puts some additional weight on their shoulders. Besides that, no one forgets what they did at the qualifier for the ELEAGUE Major, where they beat both CLG and NiP, and also made EnVyUs work hard to scrape a win in the final round.
In recent months, Vega Squadron have reached the closed qualifiers for several international tournaments, beating teams like GODSENT, Kinguin and Outlaws. But they gave a disappointing account of themselves in the qualifier for the Minor, in which a surprising defeat against Spartak forced them to settle for second place in the group.
Vega Squadron's fans will be hoping that the whole team will turn up at the Minor. After making history in Atlanta, they will be under pressure to perform in Moscow. As such, anything less than a top-two finish in the tournament will come as a huge disappointment to the players.
|Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev||21||1.14|
|Pavel "COLDYY1" Veklenko||25||0.98|
|Dmitry "S0tF1k" Forostyanko||22||0.93|
|Dmitriy "Dima" Bandurka||22||0.90|
|Sergey "starix" Ischuk||29||0.87|
Spirit made headlines last month as they brought starix out of retirement. The 29-year-old, who had spent the last two years as head coach for Natus Vincere, will certainly improve the tactical flexibility of the former Arcade team, who have struggled for form since joining the ranks of Spirit, a year ago.
The team's first tournament with starix on board matched their expectations as they topped their Minor qualifier group with wins over teamasd and K29 - although the second match could have easily had a different outcome.
Spirit have enough experience and firepower to be considered favourites to secure one of the two spots at the Major qualifier. But with starix still far from his best after only recently returning to activity, the other players will have to step up to make up for the 29-year-old's lack of form.
|Anatoliy "liTTle" Yashin||28||1.12|
|Dmitriy "facecrack" Alekseyev||23||0.96|
|Anton "tonyblack" Kolesnikov||24||0.94|
|Andrey "Jerry" Mekhryakov||19||0.94|
|Dmitriy "propleh" Senigov||20||0.90|
Russian sports society Spartak ventured into esports in April amid fanfare and signed the team known as RuSh3D, featuring former Natus Vincere member tonyblack. However, questions about the seriousness of the project were raised not long afterwards as the team replaced Pavel "AERO" Surmach and Artem "Art" Shevchenko with propleh and Jerry.
The level displayed by Spartak in the qualifier makes one believe that they are serious contenders for a spot at the Major qualifier, in Krakow. They are certainly not a team to take for granted, and a victory in their first match, against pro100, could set the tone for a great campaign in the tournament.
|Quantum Bellator Fire (#92)||Age||Rating|
|Vasiliy "FANAT ROCKA" Trusov||25||1.04|
|Aurimas "Kvik" Kvakšys||21||0.99|
|Gregory "balblna" Oleinick||21||0.98|
|Alexander "uNdo" Kiziukevich||22||0.97|
|Yaroslav "It's my" Ushkov||21||0.90|
Quantum Bellator Fire are widely regarded as one of the underdogs heading into the Minor. Featuring players from three different countries, they were able to secure a spot at the event in Moscow after finishing second in their group following victories over Evolution and EPG.
It is hard to imagine Quantum Bellator Fire reaching the level of most other teams at the Minor, which will be substantially harder than the previous one, where FANAT ROCKA & co finished fourth with Nikita "waterfaLLZ" Matveyev on the roster. An opening match against Spirit should come as a reality check for them, and they should find it very hard to battle through the group's lower bracket.
|Vadim "Flarich" Karetin||20||1.17|
|Sergey "smike" Sklyarenko||19||1.15|
|Leonard "kenzor" Volodarchuk||20||1.10|
|Igor "crush" Shevchenko||21||0.99|
|Dima "def" Lemeshchuk||22||0.93|
pro100 provide one of the most interesting storylines ahead of the CIS Minor. The former AGG team joined Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko' organisation little less than a month ago, and all the signs coming from the organisation point to the project being a breath of fresh air in the CIS scene.
The team were a bit underwhelming in their first tournament under pro100, the Minor qualifier, finishing second in their group following a 2-0 defeat against Tengri in the winners' match. During the tournament, it was revealed that former Na`Vi member Arseny "ceh9" Trynozhenko was joining the team's backroom staff as an assistant to head coach Ivan "F_1N" Kochugov.
With two very experienced former players behind the team, pro100 could have a surprise factor at the Minor. Chances are that they will not make it out of the groups, but they will surely give opponents a hard time as they look to prove their ability among the best in the region.