Good isn’t good enough.
Earlier this month, OpTic’s main CS:GO squad fought in their first Major since 2016 with more on the line this go-around considering recent formatting and invitation changes leading to the next Major in 2019.
Since the 2017 ELEAGUE Major in Boston, Valve has not only extended the number of teams competing to 24, but drastically changed the qualification system. The offline qualifiers are now attached to the main event which extends the stages to three: The Challengers Stage, Legends Stage, and Champions Stage. Top 16 in the Major have always been automatically invited to the next, while the bottom eight had to go through Minor qualifiers.
But as teams prepared for the FACEIT Major in London, Valve announced further changes coming to the invitation and qualification system for the next Major in Katowice. The two teams with a 0-3 record in the Legends Stage will now no longer receive automatic invitations to the next Major. Those teams will have to qualify through the Minors like everyone else. From the regional Minors, the third place team will play in a last-chance qualifier with the top two advancing to fill out the Challengers Stage. Achieving top 16 is no longer “good enough.”
OpTic’s coach Casper “ruggah” Due thinks the change is good for the stability of competitive Counter-Strike. “Obviously the teams that go 0-3 will be disappointed,” he said. “But in the end it’s also too big of a safety net to reward all teams with a direct invite for next year’s Major. I think it’s a good change to make every match count all through the tournament.”
OpTic’s Danish squad struggled during a tough competitive schedule this month, losing to Ghost Gaming in the Zotac Cup Masters quarterfinals and failing to advance out of the group stage at DreamHack Masters. After a 16-4 loss to Team Liquid in the opening round of the Challengers Stage at the Major, the team had a rather convincing win against Virtus.Pro and a massive quadruple overtime win against TyLoo to advance to the fourth round. With the invitation system changes and all teams hungry for Major success, and qualification for the next, OpTic’s time at the London Major came to an end after a best-of-three series loss to the the German powerhouse, BIG.
The team will now regroup and look ahead to the next competitive season with the London Major at their backs. The fight to the next Major in Katowice certainly won’t be easy as OpTic will start, yet again, from square one beginning with the European Minor taking place before the end of the year. Ruggah is confident they will not be forced to compete in the last-chance qualifier in order to secure a spot in the next Major.
“I think we made it clear at the Minor that we should be a good enough team to avoid any last-chance qualifiers [next season]. For the lesser favored teams, like ENCE or Sprout, it’s a golden opportunity to get to the Major.”
“The biggest pressure will be from the team internally,” he said. “We were disappointed with our performance against FaZe and Heroic [at DreamHack] and it was clear that we were missing 2-5% of the bigger picture. We’re trying to get those percentages back into our game by focusing on correcting tactics and creating more synergy between the players.”
With a laundry list of CS:GO competitions coming up, OpTic will now look ahead to ESL, as the team has transferred regions to participate in the European ESEA Premier Division alongside 22 other European teams. Even as the participation in the London Major was short, the team will have plenty of opportunities to get back to a strong competitive state and set their sights on Katowice next year.