The first stage of the CSGO Starladder Berlin Major 2019 came and went as we now look toward the New Legends Stage. From FURIA’s shocking 1-3 exit, to Mousesports dominating performance, this was a New Challenger Stage for the ages. If you have followed conventional wisdom, you might have chosen Team Vitality to go 3-0 and Syman gaming to go 0-3, but as per tradition, the 3-0 favourite faltered early. Favorites to go 3-1 like FURIA and AVANGAR either underperformed (AVANGAR) or flat out failed to show up (FURIA), but nothing was more dramatic than Jason Lake's "perspective" on his team's (Complexity) ability to compete.
North And Mouz Go 3-0
Vitality put on a disappointing display, but North and Mousesports flexed their muscles as the breezed through the first stage of the major. Both teams were favourites to proceed through the group stage and really impressed in their matches throughout. North displayed quite the resolve in a drawn-out, come from behind, best of 3 win against CR4ZY. They also achieved a best of 1 win against INTZ and Syman to round out North's quick New Challenger campaign.
Mousesports have shown top 10 form in prior tournaments, but have yet to truly put all of the pieces together. They confidently defeated all of their challengers, including G2 Esports, in a best of 3. Mouseports have made long strides to improve all areas of their game.
G2, NRG, And CR4ZY Flex Their Muscles at 3-1
All of the teams to finish 3-1 have had their fair share of ups and downs over the past year. Despite a best of 3 loss to Mousesports, G2 looked extremely sharp - star AWPer Kenny "kennyS" Schrub was a big reason for that. G2 have been outshining Team Vitality as of late and an extended stay in Berlin could be in the cards.
With the demise of C9, NRG have risen to the occasion as NA's second-best squad; outside of their failed attempt of a comeback in the first match, NRG had some dominating performances throughout the New Challenger Stage. Ethan "nahtE" Arnold has seen criticism in the past for failing to become the bonafide star of NRG, but his 1.47 HLTV rating in the New Challenger Stage is a marked improvement for NRG's hopes of making a title run.
CR4ZY have always been a "decent" team and they proved it in Berlin. Wins over FURIA and Grayhound were good, but the team has a lot to prove before they are seen as a real threat.
AVANGAR, DreamEaters, Vitality Surprise At 3-2
Vitality were supposed to breeze through this stage with no problem, but the world number two were last to qualify for the next stage of the major with a narrow 2-1 victory over Grayhound Gaming. Big teams often choke through this stage of the major (FaZe comes to mind), but Vitality were able to narrowly avoid being complete failures. Matthieu "ZywoO" Herbaut, once again, carried Vitality with a 1.38 HLTV rating (third highest at this stage) across eight maps and has continued to build his case as the best player in the world.
AVANGAR's star player Ali "Jame" Djami is quickly developing a reputation as a "baiter," but the CIS team have gone from: trendy upset pick to a team with potential; but they're still unable to accomplish much on LAN. A few months ago most analysts would have AVANGAR pegged for this position, many felt that other teams (FURIA, TyLoo, or HellRaisers) have elapsed AVANGAR and would be forced to make roster changes. That was not the case as AVANGAR played several good teams and eventually made it through on the last day with a big win over fellow CIS team Syman. AVANGAR made it through, but they are probably destined for a quick exit in the next round.
DreamEaters were one of several unknown entities to emerge from Russia and the team were able to overcome fellow Russian team forZe in the second to last match of the New Challenger Stage. DreamEaters shocked the world with tight best of 1 wins over NRG and Team Vitality.