FACEIT Major quarter-finals preview - part 1
With the playoffs of the FACEIT London Major ahead of us, we took a look at Thursday's matchups, analyzing each team's chances to advance in the bracket.
The quarter-finals are split into two days, with two BO3s taking place per day. Starting off the action will be BIG and Natus Vincere, setting up a rematch of the ESL One Cologne grand final, with Complexity and MIBR taking the stage after them.
The duel of two veteran in-game leaders, Zeus and gob b, and two rosters based in North America, Complexity and MIBR, provide a lot of talking points and interesting storylines, so we will, for now, focus on the first two quarter-finals. The preview for Friday's matches will be released separately, on Thursday.
|Ratings used are from the FACEIT Major New Legends Stage|
|LEGIJA (coach)|| Kane (coach)
|EGB odds: 6.68||EGB odds: 4.44|
BIG facing off against Natus Vincere is a tasty prospect for Counter-Strike fans, as the two teams have a vastly different set of strengths and weaknesses. The Ukrainian-Russian squad relies on s1mple and electroNic, a one-two punch combo that has this year looked as the deadliest duo out there. flamie has been able to contribute well, despite taking a step back to free up electroNic around DreamHack Masters Marseille. Spicing things up are Zeus' risky calls, such as relentless force buys as T and gamble stacking as CT, both helping them win some otherwise unwinnable rounds.
A stark contrast is BIG, who rely on doing the fundamentals as well as they can be done, playing the "gob b brand Counter-Strike". Utility is key; every flash, smoke, HE and molotov must be used with a specific purpose and in an optimal manner. That reflects in their Flash Assists, which BIG secure twice as often as Natus Vincere do: 0.34 to 0.16, looking at LAN stats in 2018. However, it is not like BIG don't have strong individual players: the form of smooya, who is the best rated of the tournament so far (excluding the New Challengers Stage) at 1.54, as well as of tabseN and nex, makes BIG a team who can hold their own against Natus Vincere.
Map pool wise, we certainly won't see Cache or Mirage, the two teams' permabans, being played, with BIG most certainly picking Dust2. The map has been a staple for gob b and historically a good one for German teams, while Natus Vincere have lost on it all six times they have played it with this roster. On paper, it seems like a free map win for BIG, but don't be quick to dismiss Natus Vincere—almost all of their losses have been fairly close and it feels like they could turn it around on the map soon. Going for Overpass seems like the obvious pick for Zeus, but BIG's 36% win rate on Inferno could make that the better option in the end. So even though they have a weak Dust2, Natus Vincere look good to take the win on any of the remaining maps that come up in the veto.
The last time these two teams met, in Cologne, BIG contested Natus Vincere throughout the BO5, until the action moved to Inferno, where nex fell off and finished the map with a 4-20 score. This time around, BIG have more confidence in their play and gob b has had a lot of time to prepare for this opponent, but Natus Vincere still have a style of play that will prove hard for them to counter. s1mple and co. were title contenders going into the event, and in their games so far (14-16 Astralis, 16-12 FaZe, 16-6 NiP, 16-9 fnatic), we haven't seen anything to disprove it. The quarter-final game against BIG surely won't be an easy one, but Na`Vi should have all of the ingredients to make it past them and go for a deep run in London.
|Ratings used are from the FACEIT Major New Legends Stage|
|EGB odds: 14.15||EGB odds: 10.70|
They had been counted out in the New Challengers Stage and they were counted out in the New Legends Stage. Still, Complexity made it to the playoffs, losing only one game along the way - to Astralis. They have also had their main players perform admirably—ShahZaM, ANDROID and yay all have ratings higher than 1.30 from the last three games they played. All of that seems great, but there are many asterisks to be taken into account and potential pitfalls this North American squad must avoid as they step on to the stage of the Major and face MIBR, a team full of Major winners.
So let's start with the run they had to get to this point. Complexity beat BIG twice, which is a respectable feat, but other than that the teams they took down since the New Challengers Stage didn't really look all that good. They beat: Space Soldiers, who were playing with a coach, Vega Squadron only after overtime, a fnatic side who ended up being pretty poor overall and G2, who weren't impressive either. It is true that you can only beat the team that is ahead of you and that no one can take Complexity's achievements away from them, but this simply isn't a run that can convince us that they will fare well in the playoffs.
Their New Legends Stage statistics are also unsustainable, with four players sitting on obscenely-high ratings, while team-wise, they secured 1.11 multikills per round and won 56.3% of rounds in which they had a 4v5 disadvantage. Even if the tournament continued to be played behind closed doors, these numbers wouldn't be kept up, but the fact that they are stepping into a 10,000 people arena, on a stage the likes of which yay, ANDROID and dephh have never played on, makes it even harder to believe Complexity will continue their streak.
With all of these question marks, the MIBR side of things almost doesn't matter in this matchup. The Brazilian-American team has its issues and is far from a polished unit, but they have so much more experience and are a team that tends to rise to the occasion, while Complexity have all the makings of one that will sink under pressure. Just looking at the squads, each of MIBR's members has won at least one Major, while stanislaw is the only player on the opposite side with some notable Big Event achievements.
With FalleN's AWPing on point again, coldzera putting up good numbers as always and fer's bloodlust activated by any sign of fear, this game looks seems like the one where Complexity's run ends, forcing them to settle for gaining experience, which will prove extremely valuable as the season goes on.