StarLadder Major: Vitality, AVANGAR and DreamEaters advance
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The very last day of the New Challenger stage has come to an end at the CSGO StarLadder Major. The three last matchups pitted teams in the 2-2 pool. AVANGAR took on Syman Gaming, DreamEaters faced forZe, and Vitality fought Grayhound Gaming in Berlin.

AVANGAR fend off their CIS rivals, knock out Syman Gaming

AVANGAR have successfully survived one of the biggest surprises of the Major, Syman Gaming. Things kicked off on Inferno, as AVANGAR took the pistol before losing to a force buy by the underdogs. This led to a respectable drive to a 7-2 scoreline before AVANGAR woke up and strung six in a row to make the score 8-7 at halftime in their favor. Towards the end we saw Alexey “qikert” Golubev start catching fire as he carried over his momentum into the second half. While the t-side was initially a struggle, the counter-terrorist side ended up being a breeze for qikert and co. Apart from three unsuccessful rounds, the red CIS side tore apart its rivals with excellent site holds to deny entries. The end score was 16-10 for AVANGAR.

The second map, Mirage, ended up being a tight match until halftime, where a blowout occurred. The first half saw AVANGAR take a 9-6 lead with stellar site holds as they were looking to close things out on Mirage. Unfortunately for them, Syman Gaming had an even better ct-side. Excellent retakes led to a 14-9 score in their favor before their rivals responded with just one round. Syman then grabbed the remaining two rounds to end the map at 16-10.

The decider map ended up being Dust2. Here we perhaps witnessed the experience seep through as Syman Gaming were started to give into the pressure. The young CIS squad picked up the first two rounds on their ct-side, but AVANGAR quickly responded to dominate the half on their t-side with great site executions. At halftime it was already 10-5 as Syman Gaming were in trouble. Five was all that the young CIS squad would get as AVANGAR, led again by qikert, dismantled their opponents with swift site retakes and strung six in a row. AVANGAR advance to the New Legends stage while the surprising Syman Gaming squad go home. AVANGAR takes the series 2-1.

DreamEaters upset forZe at the Russian derby

The first map, Overpass, opened with an incredible pistol. Bogdan “xsepower” Chernikov clutched a 1v3 to defuse the bomb and secure the first round for his forZe side. DreamEaters retaliated quickly, however, and went on to win the half 9-6. The second half saw forZe take the first three rounds on their t-side. That would nearly be it for them as the explosive duo of Igor “Forester” Bezotecheskiy and Semyon “kinqie” Lisitsyn denied forZe much freedom, leading to an easy half for DreamEaters. The end score culminated at 16-10 for them on Overpass.

While Forester and kinqie took Overpass by storm, Mirage, the second map, belonged to Vladislav “Krad” Kravchenko. A phenomenal ninja defuse fired up the DreamEaters squad to get that 2-0 final score as they dominated on ct-side after the half with a 11-4 score. However, it was forZe’s turn to retaliate. A team effort led by Jenya “FL1t” Lebedev took forZe very close to their rivals, 10-12. It was then that DreamEaters gradually started to pull away until they’d finally managed to get that 16th round at a 16-12 scoreline.

DreamEaters, much like Syman Gaming, ended up on many 0-3 pick’em slots. This team’s journey to the New Legends stage has got to be the hottest story of the Major up until now. ForZe pack their bags as they return to Russia with a 2-3 score.

Vitality survive Grayhound scare at StarLadder

This match kicked off on Dust2. Here, we already witnessed Vitality’s strength as Grayhound struggled to make any sort of impact throughout the rounds. Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut started fragging as fast as he could as he got a clean ace on the first pistol. Joined by Alex “ALEX” McMeekin alongside Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt, the trio carried the team to a smooth victory as the French were already 13-2 up at the half. Grayhound struggled to breakthrough the French defense on their t-side. After side switch, the Australian side tried to scrape a comeback. They managed to get in three rounds before Vitality finished things off with three of their own to snatch Dust2 16-5.

The second map was supposed to be an easy match-up for the French as it was Overpass, their favored map. Grayhound had other plans as they brought quite the challenge to the table. Vitality came off to a solid 3-0 start on their t-side. That was a short-lived victory as Grayhound then strung nine in a row. Additionally, they extended their lead at the half all the way to 11-4 after a stunning ct-side performance from Christopher “dexter” Nong. Vitality then turned things around, bringing the score extremely close. At 12-12 the match became a jab-after-jab battle. In the end, however, Erdenetsogt “erkaSt” Gantaluga got a 3K around A-site to close out the map 16-14, an extremely surprising performance from the Australian side.

The last map ended up being Inferno. Known for being an exciting and hectic map, this time it was no different. The French kicked off in fifth gear on their ct-side, denying bombsite entries effectively and dismantling the Australian side swiftly. Led by NBK-, the French got a hefty 11-4 lead at halftime. On t-side, Vitality got to a 15-5 score after six rounds. The Australians responded with five rounds of their own. Vitality eventually managed to shut down the Australian t-side to snatch the decider 16-10.

Vitality has survived a much closer game than anyone could expect. Grayhound Gaming goes back home while Vitality enters the New Legends stage — where they belonged from the start of the StarLadder Major.

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