CS:GO Major: MLG Columbus 2016

 

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Overview

The largest major of CS:GO, just one week away, features 16 of the best teams from around the world competing for a piece of the never seen before prize pool of $1,000,000.  The tournament will start on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 and will conclude with the grand finals on Sunday, April 3, 2016.  For the first time in CS:GO history, the major will take place on United States soil in the lovely city of Columbus, Ohio.  Spectators are able to watch the tournament starting from the quarterfinals on Friday, April 1, 2016 or on the numerous streams on Twitch in whichever language they prefer.

 

Schedule

As mentioned previously, the tournament will start on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 and conclude on Sunday, April 3, 2016.  Group play will be from Tuesday, March 29, 2016 to Thursday, March 31, 2016 with 8 teams advancing to the quarterfinals which will be held on Friday, April 1, 2016 to Saturday, April 2, 2016.  The semifinals will begin after the quarterfinals finish on Saturday, April 2, 2016 and finish on the same day.  And finally, last, but definitely not least, the grand finals will begin on Sunday, April 3, 2016 and finish the same day.  For more information and schedule, visit the tournament website at: MLG Columbus 2016 Schedule

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Teams

MLG Columbus 2016 features some of the world’s best teams and some of the legendary teams of Counterstrike such as previous major winners, EnVyUs, the team with the most prize money won and currently the top team in CS:GO, Fnatic, the CIS superstar team, Na’Vi, and many more.  Here is the full list of teams attending and a brief overview of each team.

 

Group A

Ninjas in Pyjamas: NiP are no strangers to major events, having attended every single major of CS:GO from the start and having several major titles to their own name.  This team are easily the most celebrated team in CS:GO beginning with their dominating 87 game win streak in offline games from 2012-2013.  However, recent times have seen NiP drop off from the top echelon of CS:GO and while still a good team, NiP has been plagued with numerous problems.

Luminosity Gaming: MLG Aspen X-Games Aspen in 2015 was the breakout for the relatively unknown Brazilian team.  In a stunning performance of coordinated and strategic play, the team, then known as Kabum e-Sports, trounced the top North American team, Cloud9.  Since then, Luminosity has blossomed into a top 4 team in the world, defeating many of the other top teams and even the best team in the world Fnatic several times, a feat few could say they have done.

Mousesports: The top team in Germany for most or arguably even all of CS:GO has got to be mousesports.  After a few lineup changes back in 2015, the team has risen quickly, able to give the top teams a run for their money.  The team is plagued by inconsistency issues but has always managed to cling to a top 10 spot as of late.

Flipsid3 Tactics: With the best player on Flipsid3 leaving the team previously in 2015, many expected this lineup to quickly fall in the rankings.  Surprisingly, the team actually improved after the lineup switch.  In contrast to many of the other teams around their rank, Flipsid3 has shown themselves to be relatively consistent and usually defeats teams lower than them and even pulls off the occasional upset against better teams.

Predictions for Group A

Luminosity is clearly the best team in this group by far and should make it to at least the semifinals.  The second seed is a bit harder to predict as Mousesports is only a bit behind Ninjas in Pyjamas.  Still, NiP has shown themselves to always perform at a major even in poor form.  Expect the second seed to be NiP, but with the possibility of an upset from Mousesports.

 

Group B

Faze Clan: Faze recently picked up the mixed Scandinavian lineup from Gamers2 with their entry into CS:GO.  The team itself is composed of a fairly talented lineup and a team that has strong potential to upset some of the top teams in this tournament.  Recently, the team has been showing mediocre performances in online leagues, but this is a team that has the talent and the lineup to go far in this tournament.

Fnatic: The undisputed top team in the world at the moment is Fnatic.  Their closest competition has been beaten by this team numerous times in previous tournaments and this team is coming into the major off a streak of 7 big tournament wins.  Fnatic is undoubtedly the favorites coming into Columbus and should be expected to make it to at least the finals.  With 4 of their players in the top 10 individual player world rankings (Player World Rankings), the team has stacked massive firepower which can easily defeat any of their opponents.

Splyce: The Cinderella story of the qualifiers and surprise attendees of the major is Splyce.  They were not even supposed to attend the qualifiers except as a last-minute replacement for TheMongolz who were not able to attend due to visa issues.  No one expected them to make it far in the qualifiers, but the team stunned critics by winning both of their games and securing themselves a spot at this tournament.

Team Liquid: Liquid has the players, they have the talent, but somehow they never manage to make much of an impact in international tournaments.  In an effort to change this, they acquired superstar Simple, previously of Flipsid3 and has done relatively well in the North American region.  However, this tournament marks another chance for this team against international competition with many of their fans and critics watching to see if they are able to overcome this hurdle.

Predictions for Group B

Group B is a similar situations to Group A.  Fnatic should be able to get out of this group easily as they are the best team in the world and this group does not have another top 5 team here to challenge them.  Second place is much harder to predict as both Faze and Liquid are around the same level.  Faze edges out Liquid slightly due to the fact that they have the more experienced lineup and also because Liquid has a tendency to choke against international competition.

 

Group C

Team EnVyUs: The previous major winners, EnVyUs, have dropped off a cliff since the last major.  Previously considered as the only competition for Fnatic, this team has been beaten by teams that are not even considered in the top 10 and have been in terrible form.  Kioshima was removed in favor of Dev7l, but the team continues to perform poorly.  Still, the talent in this lineup matches Fnatic’s in terms of skill and has the potential to make waves at the major.

Astralis:  This Danish team is the greatest headache for their viewers and fans.  Easily one of the top 5 teams in the world, the team continuously chokes in the playoff stages in large tournaments.  Numerous times, star player Device and his teammates fail to play at their regular level in front of the crowd.  The team has the talent and if they are able to solve this problem, should be able to make it to at least the semifinals.

Gambit Gaming: Another CIS team, Gambit consists of 3/5 of the old Hellraisers roster.  They showed a strong performance at the qualifiers, defeating Cloud9 and Renegades to make it to the major.  The team has the experience and if they are playing their best game could shake up this group.

Counter Logic Gaming: CLG is not the best North American team at the moment and has never been the best team, but they have always done the best in international tournaments.  While Cloud9 and Liquid have repeatedly choked or collapsed during such tournaments, CLG has performed very well against other international teams and seen success.

Predictions for Group C

This group is a bit easier to predict as Astralis should come out on top due to EnVyUs’s poor form these past few months.  EnVyUs were lucky to be in this group and should get out in second with a chance of getting out in first if they manage to find it in themselves to return to their old form and beat Astralis.  Gambit and CLG have relatively low chances of making it out of this group, but EnVyUs’ slump might give them the chance they need.

 

Group D

Natus Vincere:  Considered the 2nd or 3rd best team in the world, Na’Vi is another favorite to make it to the finals.  The roster boasts the best awper in the world, Guardian, whose recent performances has hard carried many matches for his team.  Their in-game leader, interestingly enough, is their coach, starix, who was able to turn this team into one of the best strategic teams in the world.  What Fnatic has in brilliant, individualistic plays, Na’Vi has in tactics.

Virtus Pro:  Virtus Pro like Envyus has been slumping greatly over the last few months.  They were once considered one of the best teams in the world, but some people consider this spot to be long gone given their recent performance.  Again, this team is very similar to Envyus with the amount of skill in the lineup, but if they continue to perform worse than the sum of their parts, then they will not make it far in this tournament.

G2 E-sports:  G2 recently picked up the old Titan lineup after the collapse of that organization.  G2 was considered the second-best French lineup, but with the how Envyus has been performing, could arguably be the best French team at the moment.  The team’s players are all experienced and have attended many majors before this.

Cloud9:  Cloud9 had a great run of international tournaments last summer, beating many European teams and placing 2nd in 3 consecutive tournaments in 2015.  Since then, they have fizzled out and were forced to revitalize their lineup after long time in-game leader, seangares, left the team.  They picked up North American pug star, Stewie2k, and after a period of mediocre performances, they have begun to secure their spot as the best North American team (I consider Luminosity as South American).

Predictions on Group D

The first seed for Group D is pretty easy to predict and should be Na’Vi if they play even their average game.  The second seed is much harder to decide as the rest of the 3 teams in the group are extremely close in terms of ranking and skill.  G2 has the slightest edge over VP, VP over C9, and C9 over G2 considering previous results and how the teams look now.  Therefore, whoever shows up the day of the matches will most likely take the second seed in this group.

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Final Thoughts

The last major reached 1.3 million viewers according to ESL.  This tournament is expected to reach even higher numbers with the increased popularity of CS:GO and the prize pool being increased from $250,000 to $1,000,000.  In addition to the scheduled tournament game, there will be an all-star game featuring players chosen by the fans.  The tournament also has autographed stickers and team stickers that can be bought in-game to support the players and team.  For any information on the tournament, visit the tournament’s information page here.

Photos courtesy of MLG.

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