StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 – New Challengers Stage preview

StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 preview
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The StarLadder Berlin Major 2019 gets under way on Saturday with the New Challengers Stage being the first phase of the event.

With the likes of Team Liquid – 2.640 favourites for the title – and Astralis (3.480) waiting in the New Legends Stage, this is one of the more entertaining tournaments of the year.

Eight of the 16 teams in the New Challengers Stage will make it through using the Swiss system.

Format suits Team Vitality

The team with the biggest expectations in this stage are Team Vitality, one of the top teams in the world who have a brilliant opportunity here – they start as sixth favourites in the outright market at 11.340.

With non-elimination games being best-of-one, superstar ZywOo looks capable of single-handedly carrying Vitality through the opening few rounds.

Vitality have a map pool that will aid them in the best-of-three contests, but it is also worth remembering they are more than willing to play Dust 2, which even dominant teams can struggle on, and that could end up being the map Vitality play in a best-of-one.

This is a team filled with veteran experience – think apEX, NBK- and RpK – so they should be able to perform well despite potential Major jitters.

NRG with some pressure

Another team hoping to live up to high expectations are NRG Esports, who have struggled to show their true potential in some previous Majors.

Keep in mind this is the NRG Esports with stanislaw in place of daps as the in-game leader, with plenty of firepower on top of his own ability to be one of the most productive fragging in-game leaders in the game today.

NRG have been in or around the top 10 for some time now, although they do, at times, lack the confidence and ability to perform in high-pressure scenarios.

However, NRG do have a Major winner in Tarik on their squad and the hope is that this is finally their time to shine. They are 30.990 to win the title.

NRG’s first opponents are a fairly unknown squad, DreamEaters, who hail from the CIS, a region that has been able to produce some decent upset potential before. They can be backed at 4.560 to spring the surprise.

North enter with questions

Despite only narrowly entering the Major at all, North (30.220) have some decent optimism entering this opening stage.

While lacking the overall skill needed to make a play-off run towards the end of the Major, this opening round appears to be a solid opportunity for North to figure out just what they have moving forward.

North have struck gold with valde converting to the in-game leading role, given that is the most difficult position to fill, and he has continued to excel in the fragging department despite the swap.

Outside of valde things do get interesting with North, given they have other players who have shown star potential but lack the consistency to be considered on that level.

They also face an opponents in an INTZ squad who appear to know that their star player kNgV- will be playing elsewhere following the Major.

G2 have potential

G2 Esports (24.170) enter as a bit of a wildcard, although they have done fairly well of late and arrive on a higher note than they have for many previous tournaments.

They have kennyS and shox, two players who at their best are some of the best players in the world, but they always seem to end up peaking at different times, restraining the overall possible level of this team.

As with many French sides, G2 are willing to play the aforementioned Dust 2, although numerous teams have been boot-camping for this event and that brings the possibility of slightly altered map pools.

JaCkz is being hyped by many as a player with potential to show something at this event, while keep in mind AmaNEk has generally been a driving force for G2’s victories since he joined the team in March.