The ELEAGUE Boston Major - New Challenger Stage Recap
Heartbreaking just doesn’t quite cover it.
The Renegades CS:GO team have fallen agonizingly short of progressing through to the next stage of the ELEAGUE Boston Major. Unfortunately this marks the sixth straight time that the organisation has fallen short at the final hurdle in their quest to maintain a consistent spot by becoming a Challenger team at a major. While extremely disappointing from all perspectives there are always positive takeaways from such an event, particularly with a number of offline events coming up as the new 2018 season kicks off.
Many saw the RNG first round draw against Vega Squadron as a blessing given the possibility of drawing EU giants FaZe Clan or Natus Vincere, but in our opener on Mirage Vega offered little respect. Utilizing a very unpredictable style, Vega took it right to the boys on their CT side leaving plenty needed in the second half. Down 5-10 it wasn’t looking much better as the score deteriorated.
Vega up at 15-9, and with six match points, suddenly the boys came alive. Aaron “AZR” Ward showed no signs of rust in the opener, and Noah “Nifty” Francis’ one-vs-three on the A site saw a classic RNG comeback come alive. Alas, at 14-15, the boys couldn’t hold on to the comeback dream. Nikolay 'mir' Bityukov pulled a standout performance for the CIS squad, finishing RNG off and consigning them to a 0-1 start.
Drawing an equally rusty Team EnVyUs in the second round, the boys got right to work. One of RNG’s more fleshed out T sides for the event followed the pistol round loss, as Keith “NAF” Markovic again lifted. The French adjusted at 3-2, but immediately after Nifty’s AWP and Karlo “USTILO” Pivac’s mid aggression reset the economy and all but guaranteed two more rounds for the Renegades.
This repeated throughout the first half. RNG looked far more confident this map, and this time with the 10-5 advantage, they got on with it on the CT side. Losing the pistol, RNG broke back immediately losing very little in NV’s anti-eco round loss, and from there it spiralled out of control for the French. A team performance to rival their previous Cache destruction of Virtus Pro at Dreamhack Masters, the Renegades opened their winning account with a solid 16-6 win over EnVyUs.
Long-time NA rivals awaited them in Team Liquid, but with a twist; due to roster locks set by Valve, TL were forced into playing with Brazilian coach Wilton “zews” Prado. Cobblestone hasn’t been kind to RNG against Liquid in the past, and the map looked to repeat recent form as RNG’s first pistol round win of the qualifier was immediately broken.
In all, the Renegades were eco’d six times across the map, and while fantastic rounds from NAF and Nifty kept them in the game - the latter landing an incredible one-vs-four clutch in the first half - it was once again looking dire for the boys at 6-15.
Again a monumental comeback was required on the CT half, and for a fleeting moment it seemed they had done it again. The Renegades rallied, and for the second time in the qualifier, pulled back a mammoth lead by the opposition to take it to the final regulation round.
Round 30, bomb down, RNG in a 5v4 and with all men on the bomb. Very little needed to all but wrap up regulation and begin a run in overtime, the Renegades faltered and Liquid capitalized. Nick “nitr0” Canella’s 36-frag performance saw them survive our comeback, dropping RNG into the elimination round.
Needing a win to stay alive, it again was a slow start for the boys against Sprout. A 4-0 lead was quickly shot down by the majority German squad, turning the half on its head with a six-round run before RNG managed to reply. A short reply it was - another anti-eco loss followed, the seventh in two days - with Sprout also capitalizing to lead the map 10-5.
What happened next must be credited to Aleksandar "kassad" Trifunović, the Renegades coach. Never had anyone seen him as animated as he was today, backing the team as they, for the third time in four games, were forced to comeback from the death.
An absolutely magnificent CT side, led by kassad’s encouragement and NAF’s rifle, as well as AZR’s iron grip on drop room, saw a morale-boosting eleven-round straight shutout of Sprout’s T side. The final score 16-10 favouring the Renegades, eliminating Sprout, and guaranteeing a spot in the last chance qualifier.
The LCQ could have been avoided if it weren’t to EU squad Mousesports, who drew RNG in the final round of regulation Swiss. RNG opted for Mirage, a map Mousesports had played in each map so far in the event, and the choice proved costly.
A mismatch to begin with, all morale gained in the Sprout win looked lost as Miikka 'suNny' Kemppi almost single-handedly destroyed the Renegades. Not much could be said of Mirage; Mousesports ended it almost before it began, a 12-3 T half followed by just a single round conceded on CT to lock RNG in for the LCQ match.
There the boys would need to win two back-to-back best-of-one’s after already playing two maps on the day, and up first was AVANGAR. The CIS Minor champions, AVANGAR, were previously ranked 37th in the world and had very little experience outside of their region.
As such, they were as unpredictable as RNG’s first matchup Vega, and their playstyle had managed to see them past far more experienced sides in Misfits and Flipsid3 Tactics, as well as a decent performance against Mousesports. None though could quite expect what would come from AVANGAR on Mirage against the boys.
AVANGAR led 9-6 and looked like getting ahead after the second half pistol round win. NAF once again stepped up massively to again threaten a comeback, but AVANGAR switched to an equally aggressive team-based strategy on CT, and despite a NAF one-vs-four to keep them in the game at 10-15, the deficit was too much. AVANGAR, #37 worldwide, had bested the Australian/American outfit and the Renegades were out.
Six straight major qualifiers, six straight eliminations. Especially this time, following the best three month period of results in RNG’s history, the elimination in Boston was and still is painful. But as always, we will rise from the ashes, and with each loss there are things to learn. Improvement has taken time, and perfection will take even more.
Written by Nicholas “Taffy” Taifalos