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StarLadder Berlin Major semis: Expect the unexpected

Alex “Waldo” Waldherr, a Luckbox community member and CS:GO connoisseur looks ahead to the StarLadder Berlin Major semifinals - Renegades vs Avangar and NRG vs Astralis

A diamond Berlin Major coin is going to be a badge of honor for sure. After the quarterfinals you're lucky if a quarter of your picks are still intact. I'm personally only going to have one pick correct in the entire playoff round. Liquid let me down. Again.

So we have two pretty unexpected semi inals. I'll break down each and give you my thoughts. But if the earlier matches and even the preceding rounds are any indication, this major is one of "pre-match analysis be damned".

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AVANGAR (15) vs Renegades (16)

Saturday, September 7th, 2pm BST / 3pm CEST - live stream

Thoughts: Welcome to the semi that wasn't even supposed to be semi possible. ENCE were swept down under while the Aussies Finnished a dominant 2-0 sweep on the back of a signature Aaron "AZR" Ward window boost. A dominant RNG win on Mirage came as a surprise to no one, but then they came through on Nuke as well to deny leaving things to the ever unpredictable Dust II.

AVANGAR began their story by fulfilling part one of three prophized by their former Major MVP saying that Berlin was giving him deja vu of PGL Krakow. The only quarterfinal to go the distance saw the surging CIS roster assert their legitimacy as a torchbearer in the region by being their sole top four finisher.

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These teams are both scrappy. However for me AVANGAR were just a little too reliant on the play of Dzhami "Jame" Ali to overcome Team Vitality. I think that Renegades is just playing much better as a cohesive unit right now, allowing them to outperform teams that are much better than them on paper, like ENCE were in Katowice. I don't think AVANGAR can be lenient with their permaban after Renegades owned Nuke today and I think this could easily be a 2-0 if Jame doesn't show up for AVANGAR, but I think that this will go the distance.

Map Ban Prediction: Renegades remove Overpass, AVANGAR remove Nuke, Renegades pick Mirage, AVANGAR pick Inferno, AVANGAR ban Vertigo, Renegades remove Train, Dust II is left over.

Result prediction: Renegades 2-1

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Astralis (4) vs NRG (5)

Saturday, September 7th, 5.30pm BST / 6.30pm CEST - live stream

Thoughts: NRG were the only correct pick I had from the last round. Their five man squad has Liquid-like potential if they could all perform on the same level as consistently as their NA neighbors (still in denial that Liquid and my diamond coin are gone). Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov is playing like a man possessed and he was playing second fiddle to Tarik "tarik" Celik's monster performance against NaVi. My big question is what version of Ethan "Ethan" Arnold we will get tomorrow. He's my tipping point in this series.

Astralis are still a threat. This should surprise no one, especially people who doubted them in Katowice. Clearly I didn't learn my lesson. I expect that the Danes learned a lot of lessons from the NA team that swept them 2-0 earlier in the tournament, bouncing back is very much their style and their discipline makes the idea of this team seeking revenge very scary indeed. Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz is looking really really refined right now. He's my key for Astralis to have success tomorrow.

I don't expect NRG to sweep this series again but I do favor them. I think Astralis are likely at least a little rattled that NRG were able to dismantle them 16-4 on Nuke, which used to just be a free win for the Danish side. I'm having a really hard time with guessing the map ban, because I feel like both teams may have an ace in the hole ready for Saturday.

I do know there's no way in hell that NRG will loosen today's ban on Overpass after seeing the prep Astralis had ready on that map for Team Liquid. Ditto for Astralis on Mirage after watching NRG negate one Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev in one of his FPL playgrounds, but this could be the surprise. The winner of this series will be heavily favored on Sunday, so many are already considering this to be the real major final. We're in for a treat!

Map Ban Prediction: NRG ban Overpass, Astralis ban Mirage, NRG pick Dust II, Astralis pick Vertigo, Astralis ban Train, NRG ban Inferno, Nuke is left over.

Outcome Prediction: NRG 2-1

The Berlin Major - it's wide open

No matter what, history has been made in Berlin as one of the most open fields in Counter-Strike history.

But the StarLadder Berlin Major semifinals is the first of two more series for one team to immortalise themselves forever in esports history. The stage is set. Apparently to some it looks like PGL Krakow, will we get an insane result like PGL Krakow as well? Only time will tell.

Picture: StarLadder