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One of the Counter-Strike teams that has won my heart, Vega Squadron, has officially jumped to 19th in the world. That’s 192 spots higher on the HLTV world rankings after qualifying for the new legends stage of the Faceit Major in London. While on their hiatus from relevance after CS_Summit, Vega Squadron has come back in full force.
Before the Major
There hasn’t been much prior to the Faceit Major to report on. For the most part, Vega Squadron has not been able to qualify for much of anything. The only tournament they did well at was M.Game League 2 against teams such as Sprout, Alternate Attax, and Winstrike. Upon making the grand finals, they forfeited their spot and allowed Winstrike to move on. Other than that they keep bouncing out of qualifiers to a variety of teams. Vega Squadron keeps losing to teams like Mortal Kombat, GoodJob, AVANGAR, and Team Spirit, usually getting to the quarterfinals before being eliminated.
The New Challenger Stage
Vega Squadron did not have it easy during the New Challenger stage. Their opening match was against a team they have been struggling to beat for a while: Team Spirit. They narrowly won 16-14 thanks to a solid performance by both Igor “crush” Shevchenko and Dmitriy “jR” Chervak. Next, they matched up against BIG, a team who has been steadily rising since their latest addition of Owen “smooya” Butterfield. Anton “tonyblack” Kolesnikov and jR stepped up with two 30 bombs to take BIG down in overtime 19-16.
Only needing one game to qualify for the next stage, Vega Squadron started to falter a bit in overtime against Team Liquid and Complexity Gaming, losing 19-17 and 19-15 respectively. Taking Team Liquid the distance was quite impressive but sadly their sheer firepower was not enough. Against Team Liquid, Leonid “chopper'” Vishnyakov was the only positive player on his team.
Due to the new set of rules implemented at the Faceit Major, all 2-2 matches are best of threes. The second Vega Squadron drew North, a team fresh off a win at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm. Vega Squadron needed a miracle, and one came in the form of Chopper dragging this team through the mud. He topfragged both maps in a 2-0 slugfest.
The Legends Stage
Despite going 1-3 and failing to reach the champions stage, Vega Squadron did perform reasonably well. After dismantling Cloud 9 16-4 in the opening round, they drew Astralis, who currently hold the mantle of the best team in the world. Understandably, Vega Squadron got smashed. They then drew Fnatic in the 1-1 bracket.
In by far one of the most even games at the stage, Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson carried Fnatic just enough to win the game 16-14. TonyBlack and Chopper couldn’t do enough later in the game due to the rest of the team just not being able to close things out after a very dominant first half. In their final match of the Legends stage, Vega Squadron got grossly unlucky and drew the other Swedish lineup: Ninjas in Pyjamas. Understandably they lost, but in a much closer fashion than anyone expected. Despite Tonyblack only being able to muster up 9 kills in 27 rounds, everyone else in the server was relatively close in kills. Once again, just like their game against fnatic, Vega Squadron failed to achieve anything on their CT side and dropped the map because of it.
The Darkest Horse
After not achieving anything noteworthy during the past six months, expectations were very low for Vega Squadron. Then came the Major. Vega Squadron stepped up their aggression and could run through anyone.
For entire halves, Vega Squadron had perfect flashbangs, perfect trades, some of the best calculated aggression at this event, and were able to punish anybody for any little mistake. The problem is that they can’t do it for a full 30 rounds and sometimes get lazy and uncoordinated some rounds. When they do get lazy, they will almost always lose the round in a pitiful fashion. When in the zone, Vega Squadron can challenge top teams because they have good enough aim to be able to get the kill given the proper advantage, but fall behind when they do not get an early advantage or a good read on the opposing team.
While their run came to an end, Vega Squadron has qualified for the next major in Katowice, Poland. We will see this team again, but they cannot pull the same disappearing act. They have the ability to beat respected European and CIS teams and it has been shown multiple times. Their invite to Starladder i-League Season 6 is a step in the right direction and Vega Squadron should be able to keep the momentum up. If not, the sharks will sink to the bottom of the sea until the next Major, where their fate will once again be in the balance.