V4 Future Sports Festival preview
V4 Future Sports Festival begins on Friday, March 23, with eight teams set to battle for their share of the ~$614,000 prizepool. Here is our preview of the Hungarian tournament, in which we take a look at each team and analyze their status among the competition.
V4 Future Sports Festival will begin with a round-robin, best-of-two group stage, which will be played out on the first day of the tournament, with the top two teams from each group making it to the single-elimination playoffs.
Here are the groups:
|Group A||Group B|
All teams have a connection to at least one members state of the Visegrád Group (otherwise known as V4) — Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
|Ratings are from the last three months on LAN
* indicates online rating over the last three months
|Nikola "NiKo" Kovač||21||1.24|
|Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács||26||1.15|
|Håvard "rain" Nygaard||23||1.12|
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||26||1.07|
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen||27||0.99|
|Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström (coach)|
As the No. 1 team in the world, FaZe are automatically the biggest favorite of any tournament, but that hasn't translated into titles throughout the three events NiKo & co. have attended so far in 2018. At the ELEAGUE Major and IEM Katowice, FaZe reached the final but were unable to take the last step despite boasting significant leads on the deciding maps of each series, against Cloud9 and fnatic.
Looking at 2017's last months, when karrigan's team lost the IEM Oakland final to Ninjas in Pyjamas and just narrowly beat MOUZ to the title at ECS Season 4 Finals, it seems the European squad have developed grand final jitters — and they agree, judging from some of the players' posts on social media.
Reaching the grand final in Budapest is an absolute must for FaZe, who are miles ahead of everyone else excluding MOUZ, but the pressure will be on once they get to the best-of-five series with the title up for grabs. There's no denying that FaZe are the best team in the world right now, they've got the best results, but to prove that this is their era they need to start winning trophies.
|Özgür "woxic" Eker||19||1.15|
|Issa "ISSAA" Murad||21||1.15|
|Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk||24||1.13|
|Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow||28||0.94|
|Bence "DeadFox" Böröcz||23||0.80|
|Ivan "Johnta" Shevtsov (coach)|
HellRaisers are coming into the V4 Future Sports Festival on the back of an underwhelming showing at StarSeries. Their journey in Kiev came to an early end following a 2-3 record in the Swiss system as they lost 0-2 to Na`Vi, Heroic, and Renegades, with their two wins being against MVP PK and Gambit.
While ISSAA, woxic, and bondik have continued to put up good numbers, it seems the new lineup has taken a toll on DeadFox, whose performances in the last two tournaments were far from ideal. For HR to take the next step, the Hungarian player will need to rediscover his form.
Given that the team will first meet the two big underdogs of Group A at V4, Dark Tigers and GameAgents, the pressure will be off, which could help DeadFox gain some much-needed confidence to become a better contributor as the tournament progresses. The issue is that HellRaisers will square off against FaZe at the end of the group stage, which should put them in second place of the group, and that will most likely mean a MOUZ rendez-vous in the semi-finals.
HellRaisers are simply a middle-ground team among the competition in Budapest; much better than the four underdogs but a long way from the aforementioned two teams, so a top-four finish should be their ceiling unless Group B pans out unexpectedly.
|Patrik "Zero" Žúdel||19||1.29*|
|Ádám "kolor" Domoszlay||18||1.11*|
|Gábor "gabesson" Málovics||27||1.07*|
|Fodor "fleav" Levente||17||1.05*|
|Erik "The eLiVe" Sith||19||0.87*|
GameAgents qualified for the V4 via the Hungarian qualifier, in which they easily disposed of the competition shortly after welcoming ex-HR player Zero and Anders "pbD" Aidemark to their ranks. The Swede has since been released following a trial period and, to replace him, GameAgents brought in former Universe member and current stand-in for eXtatus in the MDL, The eLiVe.
Although the team now features two different players, the core of GameAgents took part in the WESG EU & CIS Regional Finals, where they were able to take Belgium and Russia to close results and tied with Virtus.pro in their group. However promising that may be, Zero is still GA's only player with enough experience in the upper echelons of Counter-Strike, while the remainder has mostly played in the lower tiers throughout their careers.
|Dark Tigers (#148)||Age||Rating|
|Sebastian "beastik" Daňo||20||1.54*|
|Ondřej "EYO" Šťastný||26||1.21*|
|Lukáš "capseN" Koláčný||18||1.05*|
|Tomáš "Tomkeejs" Tomka||19||0.97*|
|Luboš "Tusi" Tusjak||15||0.80*|
Dark Tigers were put together purely for the Czech-Slovakian qualifier as a mix-team featuring Tomkeejs and EYO, two members of the previous roster, which disbanded late last year, and a trio of players who were on the market following a shuffle in the local scene.
Surprisingly, the squad made their way to the V4 Future Sports Festival after beating Universe and David "KAPARZO" Lacina's Gravity on the back of beastik, who (funnily enough) had left Gravity just beforehand and carried Dark Tigers throughout the qualifier.
Experience-wise, the Czech lineup will be even more out of their depth than GameAgents, as none of the players have ever faced teams of FaZe's or even HellRaisers' stature. The best they can realistically aim for is a win against GameAgents — who will still be favored for the matchup, though.
|Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný||26||1.18|
|Miikka "suNny" Kemppi||23||1.17|
|Robin "ropz" Kool||18||1.17|
|Chris "chrisJ" de Jong||27||1.04|
|Martin "STYKO" Styk||22||0.96|
| Sergey "lmbt" Bezhanov (coach)
MOUZ are going into the event with plenty of confidence, stemming from their triumph at StarSeries a little over a month ago, when they beat SK, Liquid, Cloud9, G2 and Natus Vincere, as well as one of their opponents in Group B at V4, Virtus.pro.
Much like FaZe, MOUZ are sitting pretty as a huge favorite of their group, given that the Polish squad continue to struggle despite changes, and the remaining two teams, eXtatus and x-kom, lack the necessary experience to compete against the top tier.
Anything but a final appearance would be considered a disappointment, as MOUZ look destined to lock horns with FaZe come Sunday evening. Although it's fair to assume karrigan's team are favored, it is worth remembering that the two sides faced off before, at the ECS Season 4 Finals, and it was too close for comfort. Since then, chrisJ's men have only improved, while FaZe are somewhat stagnant, so all bets are off.
|Michał "MICHU" Müller||21||0.96|
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||24||0.94|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||23||0.93|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||30||0.82|
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||30||0.82|
|Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski (coach)|
Not much has changed since MICHU arrived in Virtus.pro at the expense of Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, as the Poles have so far continued to disappoint with the new lineup, adding two group stage exits at StarSeries and IEM Katowice to their measly resumé.
The new addition was in great form at the beginning of StarSeries, but he then dropped off. NEO and pashaBiceps have been looking particularly out of shape this year, as highlighted in last month's Player stock shift, although not even Snax and byali were there to step up when it was necessary. Nothing seems to be working in the Polish camp and it's only a matter of time before more changes come, unless VP get it together.
The Hungarian tournament come at the right time for Virtus.pro to start proving themselves a solid team, as the competition is significantly easier compared to the one from the two big events they attended with MICHU last month. However, despite the level of opposition, it wouldn't even be a massive surprise if Snax & co. didn't make it out of groups, should they lose a map or two to the underdogs. As always, we'll simply have to wait and see, but it's simply hard to put money on Virtus.pro, considering what we've lately.
|David "frozen" Čerňanský||15||1.17|
|Martin "MonttY" Melišek||18||1.15|
|Jindřich "ZEDKO" Chyba||19||1.09|
|Richard "queztone" Strnátko||22||0.95|
|Patrik "DEV7L" Stuchlík||21||0.93|
|Michal "KETUBOR" Csontoš (coach)|
Back in September, eXtatus made the top-30 for a short amount of time after winning Cross Border Esport, but since then they've been hovering around the 35th position, unable to take the next step. AGO and Space Soldiers have stood in their way a number of times recently and crushed their hopes of making it to ESL Pro League.
The V4 Future Sports Festival comes as the chance for eXtatus to work their way up the ranking and gain more international recognition. Although they don't have much of a chance against MOUZ, DEV7L's squad are favored against x-kom, so their fate will most likely come down to the Virtus.pro series, which may not be such a lost cause, given the Poles' form. On paper, eXtatus should come in third place of the group, but there is a sliver of a chance they'll make it through to the playoffs if Virtus.pro give them enough space.
|Krzysiek "Goofy" Gorski||17||1.10|
|Krzysztof "stark" Lewandrowski||19||0.94*|
|Karol "tecek" Kapczyński||25||0.89|
|Michał "SOON" Wójcicki||22||0.88|
|Patryk "ponczek" Wites||22||0.88|
|Adrian "imd" Pieper (coach)|
x-kom, formerly known as VenatoreS, had to deal with a lineup change at the start of the year, exchanging Patryk "Patitek" Fabrowski, whose VAC ban had caused the team to be disqualified from the Polish WESG qualifier, for Pompa's ponczek.
However, the Poles have been struggling in online competitions internationally and lack the experience from notable offline tournaments. The V4 Future Sports Festival will be their first in that regard, which puts them on the same boat as Dark Tigers.