Luke Cotton previews the PGL Europe Minor Championship 2017 for CSGO Betting
On Thursday morning, what could become one of the most important tournaments of the year begins as we will discover which of eight European teams will earn their chance to join the elite at the PGL Major Qualifier. Placing in the top half of the teams at that event will mean progression to the Major itself – the first official Valve major since ELEAGUE’s back in January. The pre-event favourites for this tournament, EnVyUs, had four of their roster competing at the last Major, with the failure of both that organisation and G2 Esports to advance out of the group stage enabling the French shuffle to happen as it did. Of the other teams present, only Team Dignitas had players who competed at the major, with Ricardo “fox” Pacheco reaching the semi-finals with SK Gaming, and Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel getting out of the group stage with North.
For this event, the teams will be split into two GSL style groups. The first match and the winners’ match in each group will be best-of-one, with the loser and elimination matches being best-of-three. This will then be followed by a double elimination best-of-three between the top four teams, one of whom will go home. Performance in the latter stages is crucial, not only for the prizemoney, but also for determining seeding at the Major Qualifier.
Group A is comprised of favourites Team EnVyUs, the Unikrn sponsored BiG, Team Kinguin, and outsiders Ballistix. Ballistix is the Fnatic Academy roster, who cannot play under their usual name due to the rules of the tournament around academy teams.
In the first round, favourites face outsiders and EnVyUs come into this tournament in a good position due to their versatility across five of the main maps. However, they will face an unfavourable veto here. They will obviously not have to play Overpass or Mirage at this stage, though will have to use a ban on Overpass despite it being Ballistix’s least favoured map. This will mean that it comes down to EnVyUs’ choice of Cobble or Cache, with Ballistix almost certain to take out Train, Nuke and Inferno. These are the two best maps for Ballistix and EnVyUs could choose either, as they have shown little preference between the two. EnVyUs are yet to show much on Cache, though they did beat Team Dignitas online, who do play the map and are at an overall better level than Ballistix. Ballistix rarely play the map either, with many of their online opponents choosing to ban it. They took 14 rounds from BiG, but clearly both teams prefer Cobblestone. Victories over LDLC and Team Kinguin on Cobble are as good form as Ballistix have. On the other hand, EnVyUs smashed Immortals and beat Cloud9 and Liquid on it at ESL Pro Leauge Season 5 Finals. They should come out on top here, but odds of around 1/5 (1.20) are skinny enough so this is a game best watched.
The other opening match in group A will be between BiG and Team Kinguin. We’ll bring you our verdict on that, and on Group B, shortly.