FACEIT Major Qualifier ends in heartbreak for North

Depending on how you feel about the changes Valve have made to the Major format, we’re either a third of the way through, or nearly at the beginning of the biggest CSGO event of the year. After the qualifiers in London, we’ve said goodbye to a few teams, and confirmed that a few others are going to be on the main stage, so let’s have a look at exactly who we can look forward to seeing, and who we’re waving goodbye after an incredible week at Twickenham.

The winners

Of the teams we thought would make it through to the next round, we have almost everyone, and the records are not that surprising either. Sure, Astralis were probably not supposed to lose to Ninjas in Pyjamas, but that game ended 28-26 in the Swedish team’s favour, which just goes to show what an anomaly it was. No, the real surprises in the 3-0/3-1 group came at 3-1, with two teams nobody expected would do well making it through with a day to spare.

First up is HellRaisers, a team stacked with talent that is finally able to perform as a five. Sneering comments about the nationality of some of their team greeted this five when it came together, but with w0xic finally in possession of a visa to travel, the team turned up in London, and then some.

Victories over North, Gambit and OpTic took them to Legends, and there is no reason to think they will drop out at the first sign of trouble. The aforementioned Turkish sniper is as good as anyone in the world right now, and their in-game leader is a much-coveted fragging leader, too. Combined with breakout star ISSAA, and the revival of Deadfox, the HellRaisers team has to be one of the stories of the event so far, and have the potential to cause some serious upsets next week.

The other big winners were compLexity, who made it through with a 3-1 record as well, and will be delighted to have done so. They'll be happy to have benefited from some misfortune that struck down their opponents, but one of the oldest orgs in esports is back on the biggest stage in CSGO, and that can't be a bad thing.

On the last day, BIG managed to overcome OpTic Gaming and book their place in Legends, once again defying the odds, with Tyloo also making history and their first Major main event. It’s slightly baffling to think of the sheer volume of talent on Tyloo and their record considering that, but with BnTeT, somebody and the rest playing well they are a team that can upset anyone.

Finally, Vega went through at North’s expense, as the win in Stockholm proved to be a red herring for the Danes. The Sharks are perennial over achievers, but North will be devastated not to have won three best-of 1 matches, let alone a best-of 3.

The losers

Some teams, such as Rogue and Space Soldiers, were always going to be under the pump at this event for different reasons. The former have so little top-level experience in modern CSGO that their 1-3, and near defeat of North, has to be considered a real achievement, while the latter were screwed over by visa issues as yet another Valve event fell victim to the passport plague.

However, there are other teams eliminated before the final day that have no excuse, and the fallout has already begun in some cases. The death of Virtus.pro’s ‘Golden five’ was finally confirmed as they crashed out 0-3, only breaking ten rounds once, while there are serious questions to be asked about the long-term plan for Renegades as well after they went 1-3, only narrowly beating a four-man Space Soldiers team along the way.

The other teams to drop out were more expected, with the likes of Gambit having fallen so far since their Major win in 2017 that nobody even expects them to win, despite Adren and Hobbit being insanely talented players who were hot property just months ago. The players may have waited too long after Krakow 2017 to move on from their then-home, but then anyone who has watched them in-game knows just how long Gambit tend to take to make any sort of decision, good or bad.

North’s capitulation rounded out the qualifier, and without being too big-headed, here is a piece we wrote a week ago explaining why their win in Stockholm might not mean much. The analysts seemed surprised by the result, but North have a habit of disappointing, especially compared to their financial reward.

Overall, most of the teams you’d expect have made it, but Vega and compLexity deserve massive credit for punching above their weight, with the latter not even needing to play on Sunday. Now, we go to the main event, and the action begins for real at the FACEIT London Major 2018.

Image: Twickenham