The StarLadder Major came to a conclusion this weekend, as the script was thrown out of the window from the norm. The Berlin Major was a display of innovative viewing experience (interactive map/scoreboard are godsends) and an exciting but not spectacular playoff stage. Astralis for once won a major they were not favored to win, and Team Liquid looked flatter than ever.
Let's look at some of the highlights of the StarLadder Berlin 2019 Major and get ready for ESL One: New York.
Astralis and Avangar proved their quality
Astralis came in as a favorite to place top four, but a loss to their rivals Team Liquid seemed a sure thing in the semi-finals. Unfortunately for NA fans, Team Liquid and NRG would ensure that Astralis made the grand final to match up against... AVANGAR?
AVANGAR had a big upset with a 2-1 victory over Team Vitality and followed it up with a close 2-0 win over the Renegades. AVANGAR proved they were more than the sum of their parts with great tactical adjustments against the Aussies on Mirage.
Match of the playoffs: NRG vs Natus Vincere
NRG was one of the underrated teams coming into the major, and their top four placing bodes well for their packed upcoming schedule. Na'Vi came into the tournament a little rusty, but this matchup was my favourite of the playoff stage because both maps were extremely exciting to watch.
Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev did not have his usual highlight of the tournament, but this was his best series (individually) by far. New arrival Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov showed why he is going to be the heir to Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko's empire, because he can both frag AND make decisive decisions.
The player of this match had to be Tarik "tarik" Celik, because the plays he made (including a gun round ace) simply cemented him as one of NA's all-time major greats. If NRG are going to be good in the future, tarik will be a centerpiece of that excellence.
Play of the Tournament: Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz 1v3 pistol clutch
It's not often that pistol clutch plays are the highlight of a tournament, but with three bullets and three HP, dev1ce showed why he's one of the great players of modern CS:GO. Astralis did not need the pistol to win the game, but that early play set the tone for the rest of the series.
Gfinity MVP: Dzhami "Jame" Ali
While Jame and AVANGAR did not perform during the grand final, honestly I don't think anyone expected them to. Jame really showed how much he's come from baiting his teammates to truly becoming a world-class playmaker.
Jame had the stats to back this up, granting him "Most Valuable Player" and considering AVANGAR were a popular bet to go 0-3 in the New Legends stage, his performance was truly one for the record books.
Intel Grand Slam approaching
Astralis may have won the major, but Team Liquid are currently one for one in Grand Slam eligible events. ESL One: New York 2019 is the next big event and all of the notable teams (Liquid, ENCE, Astralis, NRG, and G2) are in attendance.
The Grand Slam has really revitalized interest in the joint DreamHack-ESL circuit, and with a new look Astralis, ESL One New York looks to be an extremely exciting event.