The European qualifier for a spot in the prestigious ESL One spectacle at the Theater at Madison Square Garden continues and takes it first casualties. Powerhouses like Alliance and Na’Vi stride ahead and more or less promise to visit the Theater next month, but for Crypsis it seems that Broadway is still too big of a stage.
Starting the campaign
Last week the story was the dominance of Russian teams right off the bat. WIth Team Empire, Virtus.pro and Moscow Five, a total of three teams from the CIS went straight to the second round. This week, the bigger story was the resurgence of old European dynasties who made their presences felt and strong claims for an ESL One ticket.
Starting off their campaign was Ukrainian fan favorite Na’Vi. After the team underwent massive changes in the aftermath of The International 4, the headlines shifted from speculations about the new team lineup to their actual performance. With Denial eSports, Na’Vi had one of the tougher opponents, while also being part of a small reunion. Back in the days when Dota 2 was young and fresh, four of these opponents met in the DreamArena for the Dota 2 DreamHack Championship. XBOCT and Dendi already wore the trademark yellow of Na’Vi, while 7ckingMad and Sockshka were representing mTw. In the end, their enemies’ teamwork proved to be too much for Na’Vi, and the first ever TI champion was beaten out by the then-promising mTw. Afterwards, the hype train the German organization and their ‘golden’ Dota 2 team derailed in Seattle, while Na’Vi went on to cement their legacy in the community with a second TI grand final appearance.
However, all that feels like ancient history now, and the faces have changed on both sides. Denial eSports fields an all-French team with 7ckingMad at the helm, while Na’Vi replaced their captain Puppey and support player Kuroky with VANSKOR and fng respectively. These replacements seem to have brought Na’Vi back on track at least on the road to New York City, with them having laid out the French team in a decisive manner. In the end, the scoreboard read 2-0 and led to the Ukrainian team advancing straight to the second round, with Denial now facing elimination in every single match going forward.
This pairing was a blast from the past already, but the really interesting bout could be in this bracket branch come the semifinals. WIth Na’Vi and Secret Team in the same part of the bracket, this battle of former comrades could happen, with the stakes as high as could possibly be imagined. The winner of that semifinals would have their ticket to Madison Square Garden booked, while the loser would have to go through the lower bracket. However, Virtus.pro and Fnatic are standing in the way of that epic clash and shatter those stories, although a meeting between Fnatic and Secret Team would be in a similar vein with BigDaddy and Fly squaring off against their old organization.
In the upper branch of the brackets, a Russian team struggled for the first time in this qualifier. Moscow Five, who caused the biggest upset in the tournament so far by pushing Team Tinker to the lower bracket, found themselves in a fight with Alliance. The Swedish team coasted to the second round with a win over Crypsis and was now facing one of the invited teams. Luckily for Loda and his crew, the Russians couldn’t turn their initial upset into a streak, falling hard to the TI3 champions.
This resurgence of Alliance still comes with the uncertainty of the lineup, with the team officially playing all their tournament matches with two stand-ins. Veteran Misery and Heroes of Newerth star Chessie are playing the majority of [A]’s matches with the three remaining players from the glory days, but ink on the dotted lines of Alliance contracts are still not reported.
Despite that, the new Alliance roster looks formidable and more than ready to take their talent to the East Coast of the United States this October. By then, the stand-in situation will most likely be a thing of the past, with all five members able to proudly wear the Alliance team uniform. Blocking the way straight to the Big Apple are either Team Empire or Cloud 9, who will soon battle for a berth in the semifinals.
The history of these two teams is tremendous, especially in ESL One qualifier events seeing as Cloud 9 snatched the Frankfurt ticket away from Team Empire in the second chance qualifier. In that event, it was EternalEnvy and his team heading to the Commerzbank-Arena and not Resolution and his squad. Now tickets to New York City and the mystical Madison Square Garden are on the line in this epic rematch. Both teams have replaced one member each, Cloud 9 having swapped FATA for SingSing while Team Empire saw VANSKOR move on to Na’Vi, thus opening up a roster spot for Solo to join.
A lot left to Tinker with
From the glory of the upper bracket to the terror of the lower bracket. Down here, every match could end up being your last, bursting the bubble of ESL One New York participation. For teams with stars on their roster and aspirations to become a standout team in the scene especially, this is a bad place to be.
The fate of Team Tinker, with former Cloud 9 player SingSing, former Alliance unsung hero EGM and the two former Liquid players qojqva and BuLba, has been discussed above, with them falling at the hands of Moscow Five. The loss was unexpected, right on the heels of their first tournament victory in the Megafon Battle Arena against Na’Vi. No one expected the five from Moscow to crush all of Tinker’s inventions and send them to the lower bracket. The pressure was on and the stars had to perform, which they did against the outmatched Crypsis. The qualifier team couldn’t really get into the tournament at all, facing off against a surging Alliance squad and an angry Team Tinker looking for redemption. With that, Crypsis have the questionable honor of being the first team to be eliminated from ESL One contention, a fate they will come to share with several other teams over the next few days.
Especially frightening is the situation for the three other invited teams Denial, Meet Your Makers and Power Rangers – none of them want to be the first one to go, but someone has to. While one of them is going out for sure, NVMI and 4BT have the battle of the qualifier teams to advance and feed their ESL One dream some more.
Meet Your Makers versus Power Rangers is the match to watch in the lower bracket, while Denial needs to pull out a win against the Kazakhstan team xGame.kz. The victor of MYM and PR will have a date with Moscow Five, while Denial eSports or xGame.kz will have the honor of meeting either Team Empire or Cloud 9. No matter how you slice it, the next few weeks will see the greatest teams in Europe clash in order to get to Madison Square Garden.
To keep yourself in the mix and up to date, make sure to check out the official ESL One New York site for all the latest news and results as the fight for the Big Apple continues.
As well as following our ESL One New York coverage here on ESLGaming.com, you can also check out our previous qualifier summaries below: