PGL Major Main Qualifier: 5 players to watch
The PGL Major Krakow 2017 Main Qualifier is set to kick off with 16 teams fighting for eight spots at the next Major. With some smaller teams contending to snatch a spot from the top tier teams, here are some of the players to keep an eye on this week.
Set to start on Thursday at the PGL Studios, in Bucharest, Romania, the main qualifier for PGL Major Krakow will be one of the most anticipated tournaments for many players dreaming of setting foot on the biggest stage CS has to offer.
With four action-packed days to be played out using a best-of-one Swiss system, we have put together a list of five players to look out for as they try to secure passage to the second Major of 2017.
*All ratings are from 2017 and on LAN
Murmurs of an Indonesian star began to be heard around mid-late 2016. BnTeT’s rise started, for many, in the Asian Minor circuit, when his then-team, nxl, who had at the time three players from the Indonesian TWC 2016 lineup, made it to the Asia Minor ahead of the the ELEAGUE Major.
During the SEA Qualifier, BnTeT posted a breathtaking 2.08 rating 2.0 across six maps. The good run of form wouldn’t end there for the Indonesian youngster, though, as even losing three maps in a row at the Asia Minor, one to TYLOO in a best-of-one and two to Athletico in a best-of-three, BnTeT still managed an impressive 1.36 rating and was a one-man army in the match against Athletico.
BnTeT then joined TYLOO and went on to win the China Cup 2017, taking out fnatic Academy in the final. He then followed it up winning the Spring Season Finals of the Chinese Super League. TYLOO then took second place at the Asia Minor for the PGL Major in Krakow, losing 2-1 to Renegades in the finals. Last but not least BnTeT played in the ZEN Esports Network League with Recca, which his team won over the likes of MVP PK, Immunity, and Dark Sided. What is impressive about the run BnTeT has had in 2017, though, is that he has been the highest rated player at every LAN event he has played at.
This will be the first time BnTeT will travel to Europe to play against some more serious opposition as he was unable to make it to the SL i-League Season 3 Finals in Kiev—where TyLoo played and lost three maps with WeiJie "zhokiNg" Zhong standing in for the team—due to visa issues. One of the main criticism against the BnTeT hype has been the very fact that he has never had to face the big names yet, which could possibly be one of the reasons he has an absurdly high 97.1% of maps with an above-average rating. Now will be his time to show if he really can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best, but for TYLOO to become the first Asian team to play at a Major the rest of the team will also have to be on point.
tabseN’s story goes back to mousesports, where he played with the likes of Chris "chrisJ" de Jong, Aleksi "allu" Jalli, Finn "karrigan" Andersen, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and other players who have been at the top of CS. When Denis "denis" Howell, Timo "Spiidi" Richter and Johannes "nex" Maget joined MOUZ, tabseN went the other way, landing in PENTA.
tabseN’s time in Europe came to an end when, after standing in for NRG at the Counter Pit Season 2 Finals, in Croatia, he left PENTA and moved to North America to play for the North America-based team. While his time in the United States wasn’t particularly glorious, tabseN did start to gain some recognition for his play, and players like Christian "loWel" Garcia Antoran have always sworn by his abilities and knowledge about how the game should be played.
It wasn’t until tabseN got a fresh start in 2017, when he moved back to Germany and created BIG with Fatih "gob b" Dayik and Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninić, that he started to show real promise. With a current streak of 18 maps with 1+ rating, tabseN has been showing he can consistently put in work against second and third tier teams, and dominate events like the ESEA Season 24 Global Challenge LAN and the Europe Minor for the PGL Major in Krakow. It should also be noted that tabseN is one of the main reasons BIG have a spot in the ESL Pro League as he played a big role in his team’s victory over PENTA in the relegation match.
The Main Qualifier will now be tabseN's time to show whether he can also be the carrying force for his team when the competition gets harder, especially taking into consideration that BIG is a team lacking in firepower when compared to much of the opposition that will be present in Bucharest this week.
suNny’s trajectory has been similar to tabseN’s, with the difference that, while the German player shared team with a lot of international players in both Europe and North America, suNny was mostly moored to the old guard of Finnish CS, playing under the ENCE banner alongside the likes of Joona "natu" Leppänen, allu, and Taneli "disturbed" Veikkola.
After the last iteration of ENCE disbanded, suNny finally left the comfort of his homeland and signed for the second line German team PENTA, briefly crossing paths with tabseN when they played the eSports Arcade TV Cup, which they won together. Soon after that, PENTA got a facelift and signed an international roster, on which suNny started to shine. Before playing any offline tournaments with PENTA, he and Jesse "zehN" Linjala—who would later go on to join PENTA with suNny—got a third place at LanTrek 2017 playing against local opposition. There, it was clear suNny was a big fish in a small pond, averaging a 1.36 Rating in the tournament.
The first big break for suNny came shortly afterwards, with PENTA, when they won the ESEA Global Challenge Season 24 finals. There, the Finn played well above average against teams like GODSENT and BIG. After that, suNny once again shone bright at the Europe Minor for the PGL Major in Krakow, where lost the final to BIG. Particularly impressive was suNny’s match against Dignitas, in which he dropped two 30 bombs to launch his team to victory over Ricardo "fox" Pacheco & co.
Like tabseN, suNny, who is the same age as the German and has had a similar trajectory, will now have a bigger platform to showcase his growth, and if everyone on team is on the same page as they were before the Minor final, they could pull off an upset.
mir is an outlier in this group as he is a player that has already shined at a Main Qualifier for a Major, and he was the best player in a match that went down in history, as his Vega Squadron took NIP out of the running for a Major for the first time.
The core of this Vega Squadron team, with mir, Dmitriy "jR" Chervak, Sergey "keshandr" Nikishin, and Pavel "hutji" Lashkov, has been together for a long time under Vega Squadron, Arcade, ALLIN, and again Vega Squadron, and mir has always been the tip of the spear, even after the inclusion of Leonid "chopper" Vishnyakov, one of Russia’s hottest prospects. After their match against NIP at the Main Qualifier for the ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta, Vega Squadron lost to Envy and were also out of contention for a spot at the Valve-sponsored event.
The question of whether that was a breakout performance for mir lingers, as after the Main Qualifier in Atlanta Vega Squadron have failed to make their mark, playing just two LANs, going out in groups at DreamHack Leipzig at the beginning of the year and qualifying for this week’s LAN in Bucharest via the CIS Minor. While Vega Squadron are still underdogs, mir will have a chance to give an encore performance and help solidify his status as one of Russia’s top talents.
Ramz1kBO$$ is by far the youngest player of the lot, and, as is to be expected, also the least proven with only four LANs under his belt, meaning he doesn’t have a big track record. This year’s 128 maps already more than double the 58 he played last year, making him the biggest question mark of the five players to watch. It is important to note that he excelled at the two LANs he has attended this year. The first, with K23, was the WESG 2016 World Finals in January. There, Ramz1kBO$$ had a 1.20 rating (+34) across 12 maps, only six of which won by his team which finished 9th-12th. The second event he attended was the CIS Minor, where he helped Tengri place second with a 1.21 rating (+52).
The young Kazakh is also the only player on the list to use the AWP as a primary weapon, with which he is known for his flashy yet effective style. A lot of his team’s efforts will be riding on his shoulders as Tengri are one of heaviest underdogs of the tournament, if not the biggest one, and a strong AWPer like Ramz1kBO$$ could be their only hope for some upsets, although Bektiyar "fitch" Bahytov and Aleksandr "SNk" Semkin have also shown they are capable of doing some damage.