Previewing The New Challengers Stage, Part 2
Previewing The New Challengers Stage, Part 2

After taking a look at five team in the first it’s part of his preview series leading up to The New Challengers stage of the ELEAGUE Major: Boston, Brandon Martin is back to look at five more teams that will battle it out this Friday in Atlanta.

Young talent thrives for mousesports

Mousesports spent the majority of the year trying to sort out their roster after being plagued with a variety of nagging internal problems. The year started with Johannes “nex” Maget leaving for the newly created player-owned organization, BIG Gaming, just prior to the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta. After taking a group stage exit in Atlanta, the team decided to bench Chris “chrisJ” de Jong in favor of Tomas “oskar” Stastny. Results were still lackluster despite the change, as the team continued its early group stage exits. To make matters worse, FaZe Clan announced an agreement for the transfer of mouz super-star player, Nikola “NiKo” Kovac in February. Falling under the radar through the month of April, mousesports made a huge investment in the young FACEIT FPL sensation Robin “ropz” Kool. It took a few months and the addition of PENTA Esports Miikka “suNny” Kemppi and HellRaisers Martin “STYKO” Styk for the team to earn their first win of the year at ESG Tour Mykonos. Mousesports then finished the year on a high-note with back-to-back grand final appearances at DreamHack Winter and the ECS Season 4 Finals. Despite falling short of a title at those events, mouz now has the momentum to advance through Atlanta.

FaZe Clan with ice in their veins

It is hard to imagine that FaZe Clan actually started the year off on the short end of the stick. FaZe kicked off 2017 with a 5th-8th finish at the ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta before following that up with a 9th-12th finish at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas. With the immediate results looking a bit subpar, the team decided to stir that pot with some major roster moves. After Philip “aizy” Aistrup left to join North, FaZe locked down NiKo with a high-profile transfer to round out the team. During the summer, FaZe Clan picked up their first offline win of the year at Starladder i-League Season 3 Finals before adding on two more grand final appearances at IEM Katowice and Sydney. It wasn’t until the PGL Major that FaZe Clan hit rock bottom with a group stage exit, which prompted even more change. Rain almost always brings clear skies and once that sky materialized, the team had a complete new look. With the signing of Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, they had now formed what was perhaps the best roster (on paper) that we’ve seen in some time. The new super team went on to pick up five grand final appearances, winning three of those appearances including the ECS Season 4 Finals as the last offline tournament of the year. All eyes will be on one of the toughest roster to beat going into the new year, but rest assured that the other 15 teams in Atlanta won’t go quietly into the night this weekend.

Quantum Bellator Fire debut in the states

Quantum Bellator Fire from the CIS region has had a rather busy year competing in 24 online and offline qualifiers. Unfortunately, Quantum only placed first in six of those qualifiers throughout the year, and most of their domestic tournaments seeing vague results leading up the the CIS Minor Championship Boston. During the first half of the year, Quantum Bellator Fire underwent several roster changes that culminated with the signing of Saveliy “jmqa” Bragin and Nikita “waterfaLLZ” Matveyev. However, the results were the same as Quantum struggled to advance into the playoffs. That is, until early September when the organization replaced Vasiliy “FANAT ROCKA” Trusov with Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov and the new addition helped the team pick up five of those qualifier wins, including the runner-up finish of the CIS Minor Championship Boston to earn a ticket to Atlanta.

Space Soldiers march

Unlike most of the organizations making their way to Atlanta, Space Soldiers had the least amount of roster changes throughout the year and consistently topped in Major and Minor qualifiers as well as offline events. The team-captain Engin “MAJ3R” Kupeli ended his trial period with the organization by signing to the active roster to keep the team moving in 2017. During the same time-frame, the organization also added Bugra “Calyx” Arkın as their sixth player. Despite falling out of contention in a majority of their high-level offline appearances, Space Soldiers accumulated quite a few qualifiers and Minor Championships throughout the year. The most notable victory for the team was knocking out of the ESEA Premier Division with a third place finish. Space Soldiers have been increasingly growing throughout the recent months, proving they can bring some fierce competition to the ELEAGUE Arena.

Back to the drawing board for FlipSid3

Right out of the gates FlipSid3 Tactics missed their qualification for DreamHack Masters Las Vegas with a disappointing 5th-8th place finish. Just six days later, FlipSid3 took on BIG in the grand finals of DreamHack Leipzig, where the team blanked the Germans to take the title. Coming off the high of that win, the team fell on hard times with a string of poor results at domestic events to go along with falling short at more qualifiers throughout the year. Despite these poor results, the individual plays from some of these players such as Georgy “WorldEdit” Yaskin and Jan “wayLander” Rahkonen allowed FlipSid3 to bring some matches home. Still, the remainder of the year resulted in more group stage exits, and to make matter worse, Deni “electronic” Sharipov left the team to join Natus Vincere. The best deal out of the trade was acquiring Denis “seized” Kostin on a loan after the veteran decided to step down from the active roster in November. With the lackluster results behind them, FlipSid3 may have a chance to make some noise come Friday as the team returns to Atlanta once more.

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