The Major welcomes two more teams now that both NRG and the Renegades have officially qualified for the new challenger stage of IEM Katowice. Both CS:GO teams were the most likely pick to qualify as both the Americas and the Asian Minors had only a handful of competitive teams, with Bravado Gaming and the Sharks being the only two teams outside of NRG and the Renegades who are in the HLTV top 30.
NRG had by far the easiest route to the major. The #9 ranked HLTV team had nearly no business being at the minor in the first place, but due to their flop at the previous minor, NRG was basically smurfing.
NRG’s group consisted of Imperial, INTZ, and Bravado. Their first best-of-one match was against an Imperial team that was ranked #108 in the world prior to the Americas Minor. After a strong performance across the board, NRG won 16-8 with only minor issues. Imperial was not able to put together more than three rounds at a time but were able to steal a few rounds every so often. There was no real threat of a loss throughout the entire game.
The winners match had them face off against Bravado Gaming, the South African team that moved to North America this year. Bravado Gaming has much to learn, only managing to get a total of 15 rounds in two games against NRG. This meant NRG only needed to win two more best-of-three matches in order to qualify for the Major in Katowice.
NRG finally allowed another team to get double digits against them, giving EnVy Us 11 rounds on Overpass in their first match. It was mostly due to losing the second pistol round as well as the following first gun round. Mirage was much cleaner but once again lost the second pistol round and the first gun round. Nonetheless, NRG was much stronger and took the easy win 16-9. Against FUIRA Esports, NRG had a similar result, allowing 12 rounds on Cache but taking the series 2-0.
NRG looked very good. This event did not necessarily need much effort for them to go to the Major. Granted, there is much to learn, but their entire map pool was tested and it was strong enough to qualify for IEM Katowice. Now they just need to make their play much cleaner in order to find success at the major.
Welcome to the major, NRG!
The Renegades had a very easy route in theory. Their primary competition in Tyloo will meet them at the challenger stage, basically giving way for the Renegades to qualify for the Major. Outside of the other Australian team, Grayhound Gaming, there was nobody to stand in their way.
The Renegades were initially matched up against the Israeli Aequus Club, who were effectively snuffed out 16-7 in the opening match on Inferno. The winners match against Grayhound Gaming was a very competitive match, with both teams taking each other to the brink. On Cache, Greyhound was able to take the Renegades to 14 rounds, but they were unable to streak together enough rounds to win the match outright. Whereas on Mirage, Grayhound Gaming was able to rally back to take the Renegades to overtime. Sadly Grayhound struggled to get anything going and allowed the Renegades to move onward to the playoffs.
After not dropping a map for the entire group stage, the Renegades just needed to win two more best-of-three matches to qualify for IEM Katowice. The Renegades had a quick match against the #70 HLTV-ranked Vici Gaming. This was not a quick blowout and Vici was able to stun the Renegades, allowing the Australian team to only get four rounds on their T side. Despite the Renegade’s surge in the second half of the game, the deficit was too great and the match ended up being 16-11 in favor of Vici Gaming. The Renegades decided that they wanted more stickers, so Vici Gaming got decimated the next two games 16-5 and 16-7 without any remorse.
Their final match against Grayhound Gaming was going to be very close. The Renegades started horrifically slow and lost the first map 16-6 on Inferno. Then the Renegades were reminded that they got stickers if they won, so the second map was a respectably clean 16-11 win. The final map in the best-of-three was Cache, a map where the Renegades had a 73.3% win rate on according to HLTV. The Renegades were able to win the first half 12-3 but allowed Grayhound Gaming to amass 10 rounds in the second half. However, it was too little too late for Grayhound to come back. The game ended 16-13 in favor of the Renegades.
The Renegades played very well overall. There was nothing that indicated the Aussies will be a dark horse team. There would be a much larger story if they had fallen to Grayhound Gaming. The Asian minor was very weak this year compared to previous years. The Renegades are through, but this did not help to determine where the Renegades are in the world.
The Renegades are off to IEM Katowice!