NRG Esports’ time in Poland may be running out.
In the first day of the New Legends Stage of the 2019 Katowice Major, the North American squad dropped games to both Ninjas in Pyjamas and Avangar. Those stumbles have put NRG on the brink of elimination for the remainder of the stage.
The first game opposite Ninjas in Pyjamas on Nuke was a standard affair for the map. Often defined by the brutal CT advantage, NiP racked up an early 11-4 lead on the side only to have NRG fire back after halftime and tie the score at 13-13. While NRG was economically positioned to win, a series of clutches by Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and Fredrik "REZ" Sterner saw the victory slip away in the final round of regulation, as NiP won 16-14.
The second game opposite Avangar was an even more difficult pill to swallow.
Facing off on Overpass, NRG struggled to deal with Avangar’s tight teamwork and positioning. Though big plays from Vincent "Brehze" Cayonte helped NRG stay alive, Avangar was still confident enough to experiment with five-man boosts deep into the game. NRG managed to tie the game 13-13, but Avangar flipped the switch from there and closed out the map 16-13.
This is a disappointing turn for NRG.
Despite starting in the Challengers Stage, NRG was widely regarded as one of the best teams involved in the Katowice Major. Strong performances at SuperNova Malta 2018 and CS_Summit 3 established the team as an international force to be reckoned with, and NRG seemed ready to live up to that potential when it coasted through the Challengers Stage with a 3-0 record. This rough start to the Legends Stage threatens to send the side home early and undermine the team’s international standing.
In order to make it through to the Champions Stage playoffs, NRG will need to win three consecutive best-of-three series. Its first comes in round three opposite CompLexity Gaming.