The offline qualifier for MLG Columbus is about to start, and we introduce our second featured article about the event, following the interview with our CS:GO team. Sixteen squads from all the world will be taking part in this qualifier with hopes of securing one of the highly-coveted spots at the $1 million major – the biggest event in the history of Counter-Strike.
The 16 competing sides have been drawn into four groups of four teams, who will face each other in a double-elimination bracket. The decider matches will be best-of-three, but all the previous rounds will best-of-one, leaving no margin for error as the smallest mistake will be punished and teams will find themselves fighting for their lives.
Tempo Storm, previously known as Games Academy, will be our first opponent in the qualifier. This is a team that gained notoriety in the summer, when they got the chance to move to North America thanks to the Golden Chance project, spearheaded by Luminosity Gaming veteran Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo. This project offered the team the chance to live in the United States to practice and compete with the region’s best teams, and so far the results have been very impressive.
One would think that losing two of their players, Lincoln “fnx” Lau and Tacio “TACO” Filho, would take a dent on the team, but the fact is that they have never looked as strong. With Ricardo “boltz” Prass, who has attended several international events, including three majors, and João “felps” Vasconcellos, one of the top prospects in Brazil, on their books, Tempo Storm have recently defeated most of the top North American names, which has earned them the unofficial title of the second-best team in the region (Luminosity being ahead, of course).
This qualifier is the first of three international events that Tempo Storm will attend in the coming weeks. These are busy times for the Brazilian team, who are looking to attend their first-ever major tournament. Henrique “hen1” Teles is the man of the hour, thanks to his insane reactions and lightning speed AWP flick shots. In terms of sheer talent, Tempo Storm are among the best in the tournament, and if they are able to sustain the pressure and adapt to situations they are not comfortable with, then a top-two finish is definitely within their reach.
FlipSid3 Tactics are a true question mark. Despite being largely overlooked, they still managed to attend all three Counter-Strike majors in 2015, which is an accomplishment in itself. The Ukrainian team is never able to go the extra mile and cement its place among the elite, but somehow they manage to grind out results when it matters most, and over the last year they have always looked reinvigorated while competing at qualifiers for major events.
Georgi “WorldEdit” Yaskin is one of the best AWPers in Europe and he plays a central role on the team, even though he does not seem to be able to carry a game the same way Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, who is now playing for Team Liquid, did at times. FlipSid3 have looked somewhat shaky in recent months, and the recent addition of Aleksandr “Shara” Gordeev to their roster has not really done much to improve their fortunes.
At the end of the day, you can always count on WorldEdit and Vlаdyslаv “bondik” Nechyporchuk to perform for FlipSid3. But will that be enough, against two highly-motivated teams like G2.Kinguin and Tempo Storm? One would think not, but this team is prone to proving people wrong.
Selfless Gaming are widely regarded as the outsider of the group. They secured a spot at the qualifier by winning the Americas Minor Championship, but this was a somewhat poor event with no other really notable attending teams. Not many conclusions can be drawn from that tournament, but Selfless has been able to stand its ground in the ESL Pro League, taking maps off of teams like CLG and Renegades.
Prior to the event, the team was handed a heavy blow as star player Kenneth “koosta” Suen agreed to join Liquid. The 19-year-old is unable to attend the qualifier with his new team, however, due to eligibility issues, so he will still be playing this one with Selfless, which is bad news for all the other teams in the group. He is perhaps the best AWPer in the United States right now and he can single-handedly carry his team, which he did in the grand final of the Americas Minor, in which he posted a 61-24 score over two maps.
Many look at koosta as the player to shine on Selfless, and rightly so. The team’s chances of finishing in the top two stand on his shoulders, but if opponents are able to lock him out then Selfless will definitely find themselves between a rock and a hard place. Expect them to finish at the bottom of the group, especially since the synergy on the team may not be as good as it once was as koosta is no longer practicing with them on a regular basis.