The new calendar year for competitive CS:GO will be headlined by the ELEAGUE Major.

The Valve sponsored tournament will run from the 12th of January through to the 28th of January. The New Challengers Stage and the New Legends Stage will be played in Atlanta at the GFUEL ELEAGUE Arena, whilst the New Champions Stage will be hosted at the Agganis Arena in Boston.

A total of twenty four teams are set to compete for Counter Strike’s most prestigious prize.

The teams set to go toe to toe in the New Challengers Stage are:

  • Space Soldiers
  • Team Liquid
  • Renegades
  • Team EnVyUs
  • Misfits
  • Quantum Bellator Fire
  • Flash Gaming
  • Cloud9
  • FlipSide Tactics
  • G2 Esports
  • Na’Vi
  • mousesports
  • Sprout
  • FaZe Clan
  • Vega Squadron

The New Challengers Stage will be played in the Swiss format, and each team will need to fight for three wins in an attempt to qualify for the next round. If a team loses three times, they are eliminated. The top eight from the New Challengers Stage will advance to the New Legends Stage.

The first round of the New Challengers Stage is as follows:

  • Vega Squadron vs. Renegades
  • mousesports vs. AVANGAR
  • FaZe vs. Liquid
  • FlipSide vs. Misfits
  • Sprout vs. Space Soldiers
  • Natus Vincere vs. Quantum Bellator Fire
  • G2 vs. Flash
  • Cloud9 vs. EnVyUs


Round One Match Breakdown:

Vega Squadron vs. Renegades

The predominantly Russian side will go head to head with the Australian and North American mix in the opening fixture of the ELEAGUE Major.

Vega Squadron have been absent from the highest level of Counter Strike since the PGL Major in Krakow last year. Since then, Vega Squadron have played in the China Top 2017 – Kunshan, the China Top 2017 – Shenzhen and ROG Masters 2017 tournaments. The CIS side won both of the Chinese tournaments and placed fourth at the ROG Masters tournament, which was hosted in Malaysia. Vega Squadron’s absence from the top flight of Counter Strike may hinder them as they go toe to toe with the Renegades, who are a side that have been playing high tier Counter Strike throughout the year.

The Renegades have had some highs and lows throughout the year, but have looked like a strong side ever since the addition of NAF-FLY. The Canadian player provides the Renegades with a solid boost in firepower, something that the predominantly Australian side was lacking with nexa and Jayzwalkingz. The firepower of jks, Azr, NAF and Nifty should be more than enough to deal with the potential threat that Vega Squadron possesses in the best of one environment.

Overall, the Renegades should have the ability to outclass the CIS side in their first match up.

mousesports vs. AVANGAR

AVANGAR are a team based in Kazakhstan and achieved qualification by being the winners of the CIS Minor. Not much is known about the Kazakh side, aside from the fact that they compete in lower tiered tournaments.

mousesports, on the other hand, are a team that have seen improvement throughout 2017. Their youngest player, Ropz, has showed signs of developing into a top player. He has been able to quickly adjust to the intense competition of top tier Counter Strike, and has delivered a string of solid performances. The European mix have gone from one of the most frustrating teams to watch in Counter Strike, to one of the more entertaining sides to watch. In terms of results, 2017 was a mixed bag for mousesports, with the side recording finishes all over the place. They were able to beat Liquid in the finals of ESG Mykonos, and were able to take FaZe to the brink in the ECS Finals.

FaZe vs. Liquid

The FaZe vs. Liquid match up has the potential to be an interesting match up.

FaZe Clan are with their starting five, whilst Liquid are not. Unable to use either stanislaw or their new addition steel, the North Americans have been left with no choice and must use their coach, zews, to fill the gap. Whilst many might write of Liquid automatically due to their use of a coach as a stand in, the match could actually turn out to be quite the contest. Firstly, the match is a best of one, and Counter Strike fans have a general idea of the upsets that can occur in a best of one format. Secondly, leadership such as zews’ may prove useful in the utilisation of Team Liquid’s firepower. The Brazilian coach possesses an incredible amount of tactical knowledge. This factor, paired with his knowledge of the game in general could prove to be a fundamental factor in Liquid’s campaign at the major. It may be a difficult feat versus FaZe, but Liquid have the potential to qualify from this stage of the tournament with zews.

FaZe Clan have had a strong 2017, beating a healthy portion of the teams that stood in their way. They were able to claim major accolades throughout the year, such as the StarLadder Season 3 Finals, ESL One: New York, ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2017 and the ECS Season 4 Finals. FaZe are deadly in every possible way. Their in game leader, karrigan, is also an incredibly intelligent player, as well as a strong leader. Karrigan is also backed by the firepower of NiKo, rain, olofmeister and Guardian.

FlipSide vs. Misfits

Blad3 vs. seang@res. As these two sides clash, a large part of it is has the potential to be the battle of the in game leaders. Both Blad3 and seang@res are incredibly intelligent, and have done incredible things with their teams over the years. Overall, this match has the potential to be an incredibly entertaining affair, or a drawn out tactical affair between the two sides.

FlipSide have been absent from LAN play for quite a while, whereas Misfits recently competed at the ESL Pro League Finals, where they were able to finish in the top four. FlipSide’s absence from the offline tournament setting leaves many questions that need to be answered, but also shrouds them in ambiguity headed into the major. They have had a lot of time to study their opponents and prepare adequately, however, their form is a big question mark headed into the tournament. On the other hand, Misfits have looked good over the past couple of months, and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their form headed into the major.

Sprout vs. Space Soldiers

Sprout is the former PENTA side. In a similar sense to FlipSide, they are a team that, at the moment, is rather ambiguous in terms of form.

Space Soldiers have been a dominant force in Turkey, and have been a strong team in Europe as a whole. Unfortunately for the Turkish side, they have not been able to qualify for any major international tournaments, and thus their international appearances have been incredibly limited.

Natus Vincere vs. Quantum Bellator Fire

Na’Vi have endured a difficult year in terms of results. The CIS side were unable to accomplish much, but were able to close out their 2017 with a first place victory over mousesports at Dreamhack Winter. The CIS side are poised to take on another side from the same region, but in the form of Quantum Bellator Fire. QBF placed second at the CIS Minor, however, aside from that, they have accomplished little in the higher levels of Counter Strike.

G2 Esports vs. Flash Gaming

The French super team open their major campaign with a match against TyLoo’s replacement, Flash.

G2 will look to use their superior aim and precision to assert themselves over the Chinese side. However, Chinese sides are not to be underestimated, as they have caused some upsets, or have proven to be difficult to deal with on multiple occasions. The Chinese teams also possess incredible aim, and coupled with their fast sensitivity, makes them a rather lethal side if they are able to hit the ground running, especially in the best of one format.

Cloud9 vs. Team EnVyUs

The final match of the first round of the ELEAGUE Major sees Cloud9 go head to head with EnVyUs.

Cloud9, ever since the addition of RUSH and tarik, have been on a nice run of form, constantly placing in the top four of the tournaments they were in, and picking up a few accolades on the way. Team EnVyUs on the other hand has had an up and down 2017. The French side, at times, looked rather unimpressive, but then at times looked like they had their house in order.

The two sides have met three times in recent history, with Team EnVyUs winning twice, with both wins coming on Cobblestone. Cloud9 have recorded one win, with that win coming from Train.

This match up has the potential to be a closely contested affair, or a one sided affair, depending on the map.

The New Legends Stage

After the New Challenger phase concludes, eight teams will be eliminated, and the other eight teams will move onto the next round, which is now known as the New Legends Stage. This stage was formerly referred to as the group stage. The eight teams from the Challenger Stage will join the Krakow Legends, which are:

  • Gambit Esports
  • 100 Thieves
  • Astralis
  • Fnatic
  • SK Gaming
  • BIG
  • North

This stage will also be played using the Swiss format. From here, the top eight from the sixteen remaining teams will proceed on to the New Champions Stage, which was formerly known as the playoffs, where all of the matches will be played in a best of three format.

The total prize pool for the major remains at $1,000,000, despite the increase to twenty four teams. As a result, the top sixteen will receive prize money. This means that the teams that have been eliminated early will not receive prize money.

The prize distribution is as follows:

  • 1st – $500,000 + Legend Status
  • 2nd – $150,000 + Legend Status
  • 3rd/4th – $70,000 + Legend Status
  • 5th to 8th – $35,000 + Legend Status
  • 9th to 11th – $8,750
  • 12th to 14th – $8,750
  • 15th to 16th -$8,750

The ELEAGUE Major will be live on Twitch, YouTube and TBS.

The major commences on the 12th and will conclude on the 28th of January.

About The Author

Esports Manager

My first video game was Tonka Construction for the PC. I played that in 2000, at 3 years of age, and have been hooked by video games ever since. I like to dabble in as many games as I possibly can, but nothing can come close to a captivating story, an intense multiplayer experience or a well made RTS game. In 2015, I found what can only be described as passion and love for esports. Now I convey that passion, love and knowledge through articles about esports titles, most notably Counter Strike.