Four teams converge on Atlanta Dec. 3 to 4 for America’s Minor — the final Minor in the ELEAGUE Major Qualification process. The double-elimination bracket promises legendary rivalries, a struggling quintet, and muffins.
The action kicks off with the following best-of-ones:
- Cloud9 vs. Muffin Lightning
- Immortals vs. Team SoloMid
Elimination matches and upper-bracket finals will be played as best-of-threes on Dec. 4.
Ranked in the top-five by HLTV, Cloud9 is the team to beat in Atlanta. Despite disappointments in the group stage at IEM Oakland and DreamHack Open Winter, the team is still flying high after taking first in ESL Pro League Season Four. That event saw Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert’s team trounce SK Gaming 2-1 on Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo’s home turf.
Cloud9 has been the dominant American team since picking up Timothy “autimatic” Ta in August. The team’s online play has been remarkable, with a 25-1 record in this year’s ESL Pro League and a second-place finish in ECS Season 2 at 14-4.
On LAN, it’s easy to discount Cloud9’s struggles. As redditor heroicxpharaoh pointed out, Cloud9 lost to the eventual winner at nine out of the last ten events, and they won the tenth.
An Immortal Rivalry
There is one team that could rain on Cloud9’s parade. Much like their rivals, Immortals have had a spotted record this season, with low finishes in ELEAGUE and in the ESL Pro League Season 2 finals.
But the team’s last two titles were earned by defeating Cloud9 in the finals, first at Northern Arena Toronto and then again at iBUYPOWER Masters. The rivalry goes further than that. Core vs. core, Immortals have defeated Cloud9 on LAN at every encounter this year.
Since the addition of Lucas “steel” Lopes in November, Immortals have taken maps from the likes of Na’Vi, Team Liquid and G2 Esports, and sit one shy of HLTV’s top-ten.
Of Glass Slippers and Muffins
It wouldn’t be major season without a good Cinderella story. Much like Splyce’s run at MLG Columbus, we have another last-minute invite in the form of Samuel “SileNt3m” Portillo’s Premiere team: Muffin Lightning.
As the next highest-ranked team, the electrically charged upstarts were invited to replace Echo Fox, which recently released its roster and withdrew from America’s Minor.
To say that Muffin Lightning are underdogs is an understatement. The team has never played on stage, let alone on LAN, and their online performance has been middling at best. As a relatively new squad, they haven’t had the time to develop synergistic tactics. That comes with time.
But they do have experienced players in SileNt3m and have had some results, beating compLexity and trading best-of-threes with Echo Fox. Their ban-picks are unpredictable and Muffin Lightning may well surprise, but every match is going to be an uphill struggle.
The Long and Winding Road
Early this year, TSM was a team on the edge of a breakthrough. Despite finishing at the bottom of their group in ELEAGUE Season 1, TSM put up an impressive fight against the likes of the old Fnatic lineup and other top European teams. Then came an eyebrow-raising run to the semifinals during the first season of ECS.
But that was a long time ago. Six months to be exact. Since then, TSM has only qualified for two events: iBUYPOWER and Northern Arena Toronto, finishing dead last in both.
Slingshot Esports reported that TSM has been experiencing internal issues, prompting lineup changes with the rumored addition of Sean “sgares” Gares and former OpTic Gaming AWPer Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan. Changes are expected to be announced after the Major.
They open up against Immortals, who won both of the last two tournaments that TSM played in. TSM last faced the Brazilian bad-boys on Nov. 16 in ECS to disappointing results: 0-2.
The top two teams will proceed to the Major Qualifier in Atlanta. America’s Minor will be streamed live on ELEAGUE from Dec. 3 to 4.
Who do you think will qualify for the Major Qualifier? Tweet us @GAMURScom or comment below!
Patrick “Sabo” Flannigan is one of the first esports casters, starting with TsN in 2001.
He currently writes about esports, and co-hosts This Week in CS.
Follow @patflannigan and say hi!
Images via HLTV