Victory at the Asia Minor in Beijing last month marked the first CS:GO offline crown for the Detroit Renegades as an organisation in the esport.
A monumental win against long-time foe TyLoo now sees the Renegades take a top seed into the PGL Major Qualifier in Bucharest, Romania.
The date was December 17, 2016, the event - ELEAGUE’s offline qualifier for the Atlanta major. The Renegades had a 0-1 record heading into their second map against North American team Counter-Logic Gaming, who themselves struggled in their first map. On Dust 2, the Aussies found themselves up 10-5, then 15-5, ensuring ten match points and likely survival beyond day three.
CLG had other ideas, and a rivalry was born as the Americans strung together ten straight rounds in regulation, then four in overtime, to consign the Renegades to a 0-2 record in the most heartbreaking way possible. RNG lost their next match to Cloud 9 16-9, thus eliminating them from the qualifier.
Times have changed though; champions have since fallen, and others have risen to take their place. With more opportunity in the second tier of competition, teams that previously were denied a chance at a big title now find themselves in a position where a coveted major qualification spot rests just an arm’s reach away.
The Renegades are one of them, but this time against teams from all over the globe, the three wins required to qualify for the major will not come easily to them or any team at the event.
The Renegades’ Rollercoaster
Since February 2017 the Renegades have had a very black-and-white record across most events they attended. The ESL Pro League began poorly for the squad, starting the online league 0-6. The team managed to overcome tier one North American teams in qualifying for Dreamhack Masters Las Vegas, but went down in their group to juggernauts Natus Vincere and FaZe Clan.
Things were looking dire for the Australian squad; dire enough, in fact, to force a change in roster. Their most recent pickup Ricardo “Rickeh” Mulholland and long-time in-game leader Yaman “Yam” Ergenekon departed, and until their next two members were finalised, the team used several stand-ins ranging from team coach Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunović to various free agents in the NA and EU scenes.
The end of March was surprisingly bright for the squad; the team swept through the ECS Development League to qualify for season three of ECS. The squad also recovered from their start in the ESL Pro League, taking the next nine matches to finish the month with 28 wins from 35 maps, including a win over Brazilian powerhouse SK Gaming.
Hype built around the now-complete squad with the official inclusion of Noah “Nifty” Francis and Nemanja “nexa” Isakovic in time for a return home for the Aussie core at IEM Sydney, where a now-unfamiliar scene and the inexperience of a new line-up caught the squad off-guard, managing just one win over Chinese qualifier Vici Gaming.
The team looked far more comfortable online back in North America, but they could never manage to clean sweep opposition, instead sharing vital points with opponents ranging from the top of the scene to the barely-developing minnows, including a season-deciding draw with bottom-placed Ghost Gaming ending the Renegades’ chances of LAN finals in the ECS, while CLG once again locked RNG out of qualification for two different premier-level LANs.
The pressure was on for the Asia Minor, the true test for this squad; not only was the boys’ offline record mediocre, they would be called upon in a scene known for the unknown. Early on it looked shaky for the Renegades but thanks to outstanding performances from Karlo “USTILO” Pivac and Justin “jks” Savage, as well as new Renegade Nifty, RNG saw off the Asia-Pacific to make it here.
Europe: The Lords of Counter-Strike
One does not have to analyse the game to much depth to get a sense of Europe’s dominance in the CS:GO scene. According to statistics site HLTV, 8 of the top 10 teams worldwide are from European or the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region, and while the current number one team hails from South America, you can be sure it’s an almost guarantee that a European team will be in the final of a major event in almost every circumstance.
Opportunities to face European opposition at any point are a blessing; to be able to study and practice against the world’s best can only yield better results both on an individual scale and as a team. So far this year, opportunities have been far and few between for the squad; RNG have only faced EU squads on four occasions, hence the reason for the boot-camp in the region leading up to the major qualifier. The Renegades previously met in Belgrade, Serbia with nexa for a small boot-camp in the lead up to his debut in the NA scene. With scrim prospects available both then and now, the Renegades will need every ounce of research and practice as they look to prepare against a number of top European squads they’ll meet at the major qualifier.
Teams like G2 Esports and Mousesports, despite their rocky starts since adjusting rosters, almost deserve invitations to the major and will test the Renegades to their limits following their own successes online in ECS and EPL.
North & South America: Summer is Here
There’s nothing like hitting a good stroke of form going into one of the biggest events of the year, and across the board North American squads are seeing success on all levels. Two of the American teams in attendance at the major qualifier in particular have seen incredible results over the past week leading up to the Kraków qualifier.
Cloud 9 took top seed in their group at the ECS finals and while they couldn’t overcome top 2 squad FaZe Clan, their progression in London cannot go unchecked. Team Liquid’s run at ESL Pro League finals in Dallas last fortnight; victories over major attendees North and French squad Team EnVyUs saw Liquid finish 3rd with solid performances against all teams in attendance. Also in attendance at Bucharest will be OpTic Gaming, who have challenged and defeated the Renegades across both major online leagues over the previous three months, and are ever a threat to all teams in their road to major qualification.
One must not forget South American team Immortals. Ever in the shadow of SK Gaming, Immortals too have maintained form across the North American scene. Their hard-fought performance at Dreamhack Summer unfortunately ended in a loss to Swedish squad Fnatic, but with wins at the event over both Mousesports and SK Gaming, and a very good record against the Renegades, expect IMT to be competing for that coveted top eight position in Bucharest.
The Renegades begin their qualification challenge against CIS team Flipside Tactics this week. Flipside have been quiet in their lead-up to the event, participating in only five events since March in the lead up to the major qualifier, and while confidence and momentum is high heading into Thursday, there won’t be a single easy match to come for RNG in Bucharest.
The PGL Kraków Offline Qualifier – June 29-July 2 – all matches live on twitch.tv/PGL with coverage available on HLTV and Liquipedia.
Written by Nicholas “Taffy” Taifalos