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A closer look at the teams attending the offline major qualifier

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The PGL Major's final qualifier will be kicking off this Thursday. After making their way through various regional qualifiers, and finally the minors, 16 teams will now be fighting for the eight available slots at the major, which will be taking place at the end of July.
After the conclusion of the last minor, BIG, PENTA, and dignitas secured the final slots available at the PGL Major 2017 qualifier. Along with Cloud9 and Immortals, who were the top placing teams at the North American minor, they will be challenging the teams that failed to advance out of the ELEAGUE Major's group stage earlier this year—as these teams receive a direct invite to the offline qualifier.

This guide consists of two categories: "Defenders" and "Challengers," in order for you to easily make a distinction between the two.

Which team from the qualifiers has the best shot at advancing to the major, and which teams will in that case be losing their slot at the major? Can Godsent secure a spot to help Fnatic represent Sweden? Give us your thoughts on the qualifier in the comment section below.

Defenders

Sverige Godsent
pronax, twist, Lekr0, disco doplan, znajder, messioso (coach)

pronax från GODSENT.
pronax missed his flight, but will be making it to the first match.

The Swedes in Godsent have been on a rollercoaster in terms of results since switching players with Fnatic earlier this year. It doesn't seem to matter if Markus "pronax" Wallsten and his squad are pitted against top rosters or less established squads—as both good and bad results seem to follow. It appears as if the team still hasn't been able to build a strong foundation, and it's simply a matter of how the squad feels on the day of a match that determines the outcome. A lot of faith has been awarded to Godsent's budding pistol star Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson, who despite the lofty expectations placed on his shoulders is able to consistently impress. If Wallsten and Godsent's new coach Graham "messioso" Pitt have successfully been able to fill the holes in the team's game, and Olofsson stays in the shame shape he's been exhibiting throughout spring, Godsent's chances of retaining their major slot. But the team desperately needs to be good consistently, and not on any specific day.

Frankrike G2 Esports
shox, kennyS, bodyy, NBK, apEX, SmithZz (coach)

bodyy från G2.
Will bodyy keep flexing after this weekend?

Despite the frenchmen's exit in the group stage of this past weekend's ECS finals, it'd be hard to not pick G2 Esports as one of the big favorites at the major qualifier. Losses to the eventual ECS finalists is hardly a shameful result, however, and given the roster's ESL Pro League victory, the team has consistently appeared to be on an upward trajectory in terms of results. The only thing that could be an issue for Nathan "NBK" Schmitt's dream team is that the they tend to perform better against established teams, while they often have issues with underdogs. G2 coach Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux has openly shared this sentiment in an interview with HLTV.org, saying: "It is going to be very tough at the Qualifier I guess because there is a lot of "supposed" lower teams there and we still struggle and haven't found a solution to perform really good against lower teams." It remains to be seen if this will plague G2 at the qualifier. Yours truly is, however, confident that even if the team is still plagued by these issues, that they will still be qualifying for the major.

Usa Optic Gaming
tarik, mixwell, RUSH, NAF, hazed

hazed.
Coach-turned-stand-in hazed.

Since their victory at ELEAGUE Season 2 last autumn, Optic have been unable to achieve any noteworthy results. Things looked even worse for the roster after the departure of former in-game leader Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz, who elected to join domestic rivals Team Liquid. The team subsequently played with a number of stand-ins, including Jason "jasonR" Ruchelski. Ruchelski did provide the squad with some impressive performances, but eventually elected to not continue competing with the roster—leaving Tarik "tarik" Celik and his crew back at square one. The North American roster has since then been competing with their coach James "hazed" Cobb. While Cobb enjoyed a rather distinguished career as a professional player, it would be too generous to say that he's returned to displaying the individual skill needed to compete. It is also unclear if Cobb will continue competing with the roster or not, as he has expressed his desire to return to competing regularly. There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Optic, and they must therefore be considered one of the weakest defenders at the event. If Optic wants to remain among the top of North America's CS:GO elite, the team must qualify for the major. It's time for them to rid themselves of their "one-hit-wonder" label, and make a statement in order to stay relevant.

Europa Mousesports
denis, loWel, chrisJ, ropz, oskar, lmbt (coach)

mousesports ropz.
All eyes will be on ropz as he attends his biggest event yet.

There were a lot of questions being asked as to how mousesports would be able to survive without its superstar Nikola "NiKo" Kovač. Adding Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný as a replacement for Kovač, and removing the heavily panned Timo "Spiidi" Richter for up-and-comer Robin "ropz" Kool, mousesports turned skepticism into curiosity. It didn't take long for Šťastný and Kool to find themselves in their comfort zones, making Kovač a distant memory. Mousesports have after a relatively short period of time been able to qualify for every large-scale event, and despite experiencing mixed results, they are performining at the level one would expect out of a squad looking to break into the absolute top. This does make them one of the hardest teams to predict at the offline qualifier, however, as the team still isn't likely to cause any upsets, but at the same time is unlikely to mess up in any significant fashion.

Usa Team Liquid
stanislaw, nitr0, Twistzz, ELiGE, JDM, zews (coach)

Team Liquid.
Are Liquid one of the safest bets at the offline qualifier?

Roughly two months ago, Team Liquid acquired Canadian rifler Russel "Twistzz" van Dulken as a replacement for Jacob "Pimp" Winneche. The team has since, much in part to Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz settling into the in-game leader role, begun to show some of the qualities the team exhibited in 2016. That there's talent among the team's core players has been obvious for a long time, but it isn't until the past few months that it's been illustrated in-game. Jonathan "ELiGE" Jablonowski looks to be consistently improving, and is now widely considered to be the player in North America. With the ECS Season 2 grand finals fresh in their minds, where Team Liquid were able to defeat Fnatic and push Astralis to a decisive third map, it isn't farfetched to view Team Liquid as the best team in the U.S. Similarly to other teams at the event, Team Liquid tends to perform better against stronger opposition. Whether this has to do with matching their playstyle, or if they find it easier to perform under pressure, ought to become obvious during the weekend, where the pressure will certainly be gigantic.

Europa Hellraisers
ANGE1, bondik, Zero, STYKO, DeadFox, Johnta (coach)

Hellraisers.
Will the European team be raising hell this weekend?

Hellraisers are similar to mousesports, in that they have come incredibly close to breaking into the upper echelons of competitive CS:G O, but never quite made it. The team, which will have retained the same roster for close to one year, has been competing at a level where they are showing good performances against top teams, but aren't yet consistent enough to secure impressive finishes at big events. They were barely able to secure their spot at the ELEAGUE Major, winning close games against mousesports, NiP, and Cloud9 in the qualifier. Once at the major, however, the team fell way off the mark—losing every single game they played in the group stage. It's hard to predict exactly how Hellraisers will perform at the upcoming qualifier, as a lot of things could come down to which matchups they receive. Their first opponents will, however, be Vega Squadron, which should present them with a good opportunity to start the qualifier off with a victory.
Ukraina Flipsid3 Tactics
B1ad3, markeloff, wayLander, electronic, WorldEdit

FlipSid3's B1ad3.
Veteran B1ad3 is looking to attend his ninth major in a row.

Flipsid3's in-game leader, Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodensky, has proven to be one of the most consistent players at the Valve Majors and their respective qualifiers. Almost all of his appearances at the nine Valve Majors he's attended have seen him donning the FlipSid3-jersey. Gorodensky's team always seems to step up at the majors in comparison to when they attend regular offline tournaments. Gorodensky is well-known for studying his opponents and finding gaps in their playstyle, which his team is more than capable of exploiting. This, in combination with the fact that the team has been under the radar for the past few months, should make FlipSid3 more than prepared for the major qualifier.

Challengers

Australien Renegades
jks, AZR, USTILO, nexa, Nifty, kassad (coach)

Renegade's AZR.
Hopefully Renegades fans won't be seeing any sad faces from AZR.

The Australians in Renegades, which now features a North American and Serbian player, have certainly experienced plenty of ups and downs in the past two years. Despite several roster changes, the team has never been able to deliver good performances consistently. It's hard to point the finger at one specific thing that's been the cause for these poor performances, as the team has experienced periods of relative success—only to fall completely apart shortly after. After the addition Nemanja "nexa" Isaković and Noah "Nifty" Francis, the team was given the hunger from a young player, and the structure of an in-game leader, which seems to bode well for the Renegades. Once at the major qualifier, the team will be pitted against FlipSid3 in the opening round, which will put them to the test
Kina TyLoo
Mo, DD, somebody, HZ, BnTeT, peacemaker (coach)

TyLoo's temporary coach peacemaker.
Is the fourth time the charm for peacemaker?

The Asian scene is constantly taking more and more steps towards competing with the international elite. While the teams from China still have a long way to go in terms of competing against established teams in the west, progress is still being made. TyLoo, who is considered one of the best teams out of Asia as a whole, has an incredible amount of both mechanical and individual skill. The team-based aspect of the game, however, is often where they fall short—something they are attempting to alleviate with the temporary addition of Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu. The Brazilian coach, who now is coaching his fifth team in less than a year, has had to face an inordinate amount of criticism from the community due to never being able to stay on one roster. After so many exits, it's become hard to point out whether all the teams Tadeu's appeared with are problematic, or whether it has something to do with him instead. Some argue that Tadeu has found exactly what he's always wanted, as TyLoo are in dire need of tactical guidance and establishing team dynamics. Counter to the claim that Tadeu can reinvent TyLoo, however, is the narrative that Tadeu's coaching experience in the past year has been centered solely around North American teams, which also lack the general discipline and team dynamics of European squads. What's certain is, however, that TyLoo can't blindly rely on the incredible performances from Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand, which has aided the team tremendously in their home region.
Usa Cloud9
n0thing, autimatic, shroud, Stewie2k, Skadoodle, Valens (coach)

Stewie2k.
Stewie2k will be pulling the strings in Cloud9.

Cloud9 is that team that can defeat any opposition in the world, and similarly loses to just about any opposition as well. The North Americans have for a long time had issues with their consistency, and despite updating their roster, none of the five players have developed into becoming a strong in-game leader. The role is currently occupied by Jake "Stewie2k" Yip, who has expressed that he's been put into this position out of necessity, rather than by his own volition. This is a major issue for Cloud9, and could potentially explain why Cloud9 have so many issues with being inconsistency. After the addition of Timothy "autimatic" Ta, the newly recruited player tested out the in-game leader role for a brief period of time, but neither Ta or Yip could be described as dedicated leaders. Rather, the duo has established itself as the teams' two overwhelming star players, who should be focusing on getting headshots rather than develop strategies. The lack of order in Cloud9 will be the make or break for the team in the major qualifier.
Brasilien Immortals
lucas, hen1, steel, boltz, kNg, zakk (coach)

Immortals.
Solidarity and passion are Immortals M.O.


Following the departure of Lincoln "fnx" Lau earlier this year and Immortals eventual signing of Vito "kNg" Giuseppe, fans were worried as to how the roster would actually function in terms of roles. But despite housing two world-class AWPers in Giuseppe and Henrique "hen1" Teles in the roster, Immortals quickly proved that they could make it work. Whether its with a double-AWP set-up, or simply the player that's in the best form using the big green gun, the Brazilian roster has quickly found a way to make the most out of the two snipers. The team is also eager at playing a wide variety of styles, which has made them an unpredictable opponent, but also an inconsistent one at times. Despite their inconsistencies, however, the team should still be regarded as one of the favorites to grab a spot from one of the defenders.
Ryssland Vega Squadron
jR, mir, Keshandr, chopper, hutji

Vega Squadron crushing NiP.
Vega Squadrons incredible upset from the previous major qualifier.

The Russians in Vega Squadron make up one of the most interesting rosters attending the qualifier. Their performance at the previous major qualifier was impressive, even though they weren't able to go the full distance, and should only be viewed as a victory for the squad. Since then, the team has been a bit swing and miss in various online tournaments. They are, however, clearly still improving, and are one of the teams that have been practicing the hardest ahead of the major qualifier. With an average age of just over 21 years, calling Vega Squadron a young and hungry squad is definitely an understatement. At the last major qualifier, Pavel "hutji" Lashkov and his men were eliminated by a map score of 2-3, which bodes well heading into the upcoming qualifier as only three map victories are needed in order to advance. While the field is certainly much more fearsome this time around, the question for Vega Squadron is if they have been able to develop at the same pace as their opponents?
Kazakstan Tengri
fitch, Ramz1k, sonic, SNk, pachanga, cau (coach)

Gambit's Hobbit.
How will Tengri perform without Hobbit?

Tengri is, without a doubt, the least established team at the major qualifier, and will more than likely end up being the tournament's punching bag. Aside from their respectable second-place-finish at the CIS minor, the team almost exclusively competes against rosters that are far below the average of the teams attending the major qualifier. Bektiyar "fitch" Bahytov and his squad will be in for a rough awakening at the tournament, as mousesports will be the first team they face in Bucharest. Picking up a victory against mousesports would be considered a gigantic upset, and may provide the Kazakhstani squad with the momentum they need in order to qualify.

Tyskland BIG
gob b, tabseN, keev, LEGIJA, nex, kakafu (coach)

tabseN.
BIG's star player tabseN is eager to win.

After an impressive win in the European minor, BIG is looking to be one of the strongest challengers in attendance. Constantly developing, and with increasingly impressive performances out of the team's star Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz, the team looks to be heading into the qualifier with something to prove. BIG stands out as one of the most structured teams in the qualifier, as in-game leader Faith "gob b" Dayik consistently implements new and creative solutions on how to use his players in the best possible way. The Germans still have issues against the very best teams in the world, but it only seems to be a matter of time before they truly begin vying for a spot among the world's elite. BIG could very well be facing some of these teams in the major qualifier, and a lot can be decided on which match-ups they draw on their way towards Kraków.
Europa Penta
zehN, innocent, kRYSTAL, HS, suNny, naSu (coach)

kRYSTAL.
Penta veteran kRYSTAL is aiming for his third major appearence.

Penta has undergone almost continuous roster changes in the past years, often due to mousesports acquiring their foremost talent. Only Kevin "kRYSTAL" Amend, has remained loyal to the organization, and even remained on the roster after the organization decided to branch out and look for players outside of their native Germany. The team now features one German player, one Pole, one Estonian, and finally two Finnish players. This new roster found success quickly after its formation, with several impressive results in various online competitions—most notably, the team took home the 24th season of ESEA Global Challenge this past May, where Penta defeated BIG in the grand finals. While the few results the team has been impressive, the low amount of tournament appearances makes it hard to pinpoint just how good the team actually is. Optic, who are undergoing a slump, should prove to be a suitable first opponent for Penta at the major qualifier.
Norge Dignitas
jkaem, RUBINO, fox, cromen, tenzki, zEVES (coach)

RUBINO.
RUBINO's experience and cool has been very helpful for dignitas.

The predominantly Norweigan Dignitas roster has since its start in April made great strides. Due to an impressive performance in the online portion of the ECS' second season, the team was almost immediately able to compete against top opposition on LAN, as the team looked surprisingly solid at its LAN debut. Their journey to the PGL Major's offline qualifier was long and grueling: battling through the open European minor qualifier, and then followed this performance up by taking third place at the European minor itself. With Joakim "jkaem" Myrbostad and Ricardo "fox" Pacheco's history in FaZe Clan, and Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel's time in North—there is no doubt that the roster consists primarily of experienced names. Villarroel is in charge of the in-game leading in the squad, and it appears as if he's leading his squad as an expert. The experience and strong leadership will be incredibly important for Dignitas if they wish to qualify for the major.

Conclusion and predictions

With all of the above mentioned, it's obvious that some teams are more likely to advance than others. If I were to predict the outcome of the offline qualifier, the teams listed below would be my picks, in no particular order. What do you think?

Frankrike G2 Esports
Usa Team Liquid
Usa Cloud9
Brasilien Immortals
Tyskland BIG
Sverige GODSENT
Norge Team Dignitas
Europa mousesports

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