It is that time again CS:GO fans! The Season 7 of the Star Series I League by Star Ladder is upon us. This tournament will be an 8-day event that will start on March 30th and finalize on April 7th. The offline competition will be held in Shanghai, China this time.
This is the first Star Series that will have the increased prize pool of $500,000 instead of the usual $300,000. I hope it stays this way as the higher prize pool actually adds more prestige to the tourney compared to the previous iterations of the event. Half of the half a million prize pool will go directly to the tournament winners and the remaining half, distributed to the other 15 placed teams.
Today we shall check what teams are in for the battle, what roaster changes they have and give our Star Series Season 7 predictions regarding who is going to pass to the final stage of this CS:GO tournament.
The Season 7 of the Star Series i League will have 16 teams competing in it. 13 of those squads will be coming from direct invites while the remaining 3 will come from specific regional and minor event qualifiers.
The CIS-based Team Spirit is the team that qualified from Europe. Panda Gaming from China were the winners of the Asian Qualifiers, while the all Brazil lineup of Pain Gaming qualified from the Game Con Open held in Brazil.
The rest of the teams I will mention will be direct invites to the event. These are BIG, Ence, Faze Clan, Fnatic, Natus Vincere, Ninjas in Pyjamas, North, Team Vitality, MIBR, NRG Esports, Renegades, Tyloo and Vici Gaming.
There have been significant roster changes that happened as recent as 2 days ago that affected the lineups of some of the teams. Hell Raisers and Rouge Gaming are originally in the list of teams that were invited to play in this event. However, the departure of Woxic from Hell Raisers left them without the main AWPer. They were replaced by Team Vitality on this event.
Rogue Gaming also had significant roster changes. They released Vice and Sick from their lineup, leaving them without 2 riflers to complete their lineup. Since Rogue have not found suitable replacement players for them, they withdrew their slot from the Star Series League. Vici Gaming from China will be replacing them.
This will be the first time since Season 5 that the Star Series tournament return to the well-loved best of 3 game format during the Swiss Rounds. The recent Star Ladder competitions featured a best of 1 in the initial group stage. It was only during the playoffs that they played in best of 3 games, while the Grand Finals being in a best of 5 series.
However, with that minor change, there is nothing else that has changed in the format of the tournament. It will still feature a Swiss round format during the Group Stages, with the top 8 finishers earning a spot in the playoffs while the bottom 8 gets knocked out.
The playoffs will be played the same way just like the past Star Series tourneys, single elimination best of 3 matches, while the Grand Finals being the longer best of 5.
Star Series Season 7 Predictions
Now for the part that I am most excited about. If you check the line up of the teams in this event, you will notice a glaring omission. There is no Astralis in the list! The last time I saw Astralis in any Star Series tournament editions was way back in Season 4. That means only one thing, there will be a major race and a big competition to claim that $250,000 first place reward.
You know how it goes, no Astralis equals more fun! Now that I have addressed the elephant in the room, I will be making some of my predictions. I will be choosing squads that will most likely secure their spots on the semi-finals and probably choose a dark horse entry that will probably throw a wrench in the plans of one of these squads. So let’s get it on!
First one that I am going to pick will be none other than Ence. Without the big teams here such as Astralis and Liquid, I see Ence as one of the strongest teams in this tournament. If you do not believe me, here’s a refresher course for you. They managed to reach the Grand Finals during the Katowice Majors. That is nothing to scoff at, and managed to actually give Astralis a good game during the event.
If you thought that was a fluke, here’s another. They came in 3rd during the recent Blast Pro Series event that was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Again they managed to give Astralis a run for their money during Round 2, managing to get 14 rounds in and even threatening a win. They also managed to draw against Liquid during the last round, ending with the same win-loss record but losing out on the rounds won.
The other matches that they had in there, they won with none of their opponents even reaching 10 rounds. If you compare it to the Ence of last year, I can safely say that they will be a strong team to contend with in this tournament and many more tourneys to come.
Second team that comes to mind for me would be S1mple and the boys. Sure they were trailing behind Astralis during most of the last year and somewhat got eliminated during Katowice in the Semis, but they are still a very strong team.
People do not call you the second best team in the world for no reason. And since they do not have their perennial nemesis in Astralis playing in this event, this might be the time that Na’Vi takes the spotlight and the center stage.
Recently the best finish that Na’Vi had was during the Katowice Major, and I am confident that they will be able to reach the semi-final stages again. I mean, it’s about time that Na’Vi shows the world that they are big boys in the competitive scene and can manage to win.
The third squad that I will be picking is none other than Renegades. The boys from down under have been impressing a lot of their competition and fans lately since the reshuffle a couple of months ago.
Gratisfaction has been playing well lately, as well as Liazz and even their long-standing captain, AZR. Sure they have a long way to go, but with their recent tourney results that they have been showing, I can safely say that they will be able to land the semi-final slot.
And last but not the least, to round out the top 4 squads that I think will get into the semis, we have none other than Ninjas in Pyjamas. With the current addition of Draken to the team, I think they have actually evolved into a hard hitting fast team. Compared to the old sluggish NiP back in the past, Draken provides that aura that picks up the morale of his team during matches.
You might think I am crazy, and maybe I am! But you cannot deny that ever since Draken returned to the roster, NiP has been playing like a completely different lineup. Just watch the first week of the ECS qualifiers and you will see, especially the first half of the Train match.
They managed to win the half 9 – 6 on the back of Draken’s performance. Sure they still need a lot of work, but in due time, they will be a top contender and without the big bad Danish team to contend with in this tourney, I might just see them dominate in here.
And now, without further ado, the squad that will most likely throw a wrench into the smooth sailing cogs of the top 4 I predicted. It is none other than North, the other Danish team. Sure they have been somewhat non-existent ever since they lost Magisk and MSL, but with the recent addition of Cadian and Gade, I think that they have a good chance of probably ousting one of the other squads in the top 4.
I bet that they have a lot to work with, but if you have already read some of my past predictions, I have faith that Gade will be able to pull the Danes. If you do not believe me, just watch the second week of the ECS Qualifiers where they went against Vitality in an exciting final.
They got owned during the first map, but they bounced back and gave it right back against Vitality by winning back to back matches to secure a spot on the ECS Finals. I mean if that performance does not convince you, I don’t know what will.
Without a doubt, we are going to see a fun and exciting competition this time. With no certain favorite on the list, a battle for a massive prize should be really merciless. Hope that my predictions for the Star Series Season 7 were right and if you have any other opinion feel free to shoot it in the comments below.