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EU Challenger League: Who's in the Running in the Race to Qualify

Catchup on how the race to Stage 3's EUCL tournament is coming on in Europe.

EU Challenger League: Who's in the Running in the Race to Qualify

Banner image of the Season 1 Spain National Finals via Kirill Bashkirov - Ubisoft.

This weekend, two more national leagues will come to an end in Europe as two more teams lock in their spots in the CL tournament.

Following this, the next few months will see the end of nationals around the region, as well as the final CL Open Qualifier, as a further 10 teams will qualify.

Let's take a quick look at how each of these tournaments is going and who is currently in the position to make it one step closer to 2022's European League.

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Qualified Teams

Update: Since publication, the following teams have also qualified for the tournament:

  • ex-Wizards Esports Club -- HuliK, NaoResh, Nubaii, THUUNDER, Deivid, and al0kaka (coach)
  •  Acend -- ENEMY, RevaN, Meloo, EiZ, Jeya, and BiOs (coach)
  • DeathroW -- KuQuS, JaKs, Ra1kos, FuZiion, and Shoukri
  • Viperio 86 -- Neo, Monkey, Draw, and Curly
  • GAMMA GAMING -- Leonski, Deapek, Avaiche, ASTRO, Prano, Sternab (Coach), and Phenomene (Analyst)

Firstly, there are four teams that have already qualified for the Challenger League over the last few months:

MnM Gaming -- Fonkers, Yuzus, neLo, Tyrant, dats, Sparxo (coach), and Eden (analyst)

MnM finished second during last year's Challenger League season before falling to Rogue during the relegation battle. Since then, they have lost Nathan to Na'Vi and Jonka to G2, but have picked up the ex-Pro League champion of neLo and ex-Fierce player of Tyrant. 

They qualified for this season for being in the top two from last year, as the '11th-best' team in the whole of Europe after the 10 EUL rosters.

Chaos Esports Club -- VITO, REDGROOVE, Hxsti, JTc, Hyperino (coach), and Liinux (analyst)

Similarly, Chaos had been automatically relegated from the EU League in 2020 after finishing the season in 10th place. This makes them a top-two roster and won them an invite to this year's tournament.

Since then, Chaos has seen four members leave -- cryn and Secretly to EUL rosters, Renuilz to retirement, and Next1, who passed away after a lengthy COVID-19 battle -- with just VITO remaining from that roster.

Since then, three new players have joined, including the returning REDGROOVE. However, since the pacbull's departure for Team Secret, the team's coach of Hyperino has been standing in, with their full-time fifth olayer presumably coming when the August transfer window opens.

43rti -- SmashByAsh, flaers0, eXoduSS, rush, Amision, and ViKiNG (coach)

Next up is the ex-Winstrike Team roster, now known as 43rti, which qualified for its second CL season running thanks to a runners-up finish during the Russian Major League Season 6 Playoffs. There, they defeated Virtus.pro twice after a third-place finish during Season 5 last year.

A year on from their first CL season, the team only sees a single change, as Leri was replaced by the ex-Virtus.pro player of Amision.

Mkers -- Aqui, Gemini, Scatto, Sasha, and Lollo

Finally, we have Mkers.

After their top-10 finish at the Six Invitational just two months ago, Mkers are going to be the undeniable favourites to win the Challenger League.

While they technically haven't qualified yet, they have such a lead in Open Qualifier Points that no matter what happens, they will win one of the five qualifier spots.

Unlike many of the other rosters here, the roster's core -- Aqui, Gemini, and Sasha -- only came together in May of 2020 on the Goskilla organisation. Soon after in September, the trio joined Mkers and Scatto and signed Lollo on his 18th birthday in November. 

Calendar

While these four are already in, there are still 12 more to go. 

At least four of these will come from the open qualifiers, while the rest will come from the National League Playoffs, which will each come to an end according to the following schedule:

  • July 25th -- PG Nationals -- The lone victor qualifies
  • July 25th -- Spain Nationals -- The lone victor qualifies
  • July 29th -- 6 French League -- The top team (excluding BDS Esport, Team Vitality, unKnights) at the end of the group stage qualifies
  • July 29th -- UK Ireland Nationals -- The top team (excluding Na'Vi and Cowana Gaming) qualifies
  • August 8th -- Benelux League -- The lone victor qualifies
  • August 15th --  Open Qualifiers -- At least four teams will qualify
  • August 28th -- Nordic Championship -- The top team (excluding Chaos) qualifies
  • September 5th -- Polish Masters -- The lone victor qualifies
  • September 12th -- GSA League -- The top team (excluding G2 Esports, Rogue, Team Secret) qualifies

Nationals

PG Nationals

This Sunday will see the end of the PG Yearly Finals. This tournament invited the top teams from the PG Winter and Spring seasons to compete in a double-elimination, Best-of-Five map bracket, with the winner earning the Challenger League spot.

After three weeks of games, the grand final will be played between Mkers and Totem Esports:

  •  Mkers -- Aqui, Gemini, Scatto, Sasha, and Lollo
  •  Totem Esports -- DjuZ, Mowwwgli, Linkoo, Ayzenn, Neyox, Bolt (coach), and Shocks (analyst)

Should Mkers win this game, they will enter the Challenger League as the Italian representatives, while their Open Qualifier spot goes to the next best team.

Considering the 6 French League roster of Acend's current Qualifier point count in second, this will effectively guarantee them a Challenger League spot.

Spain Nationals

The same day as Italy also sees the end of the Spanish National Playoffs, which kicked off on Wednesday.

At the moment, four teams still remain in contention, with the two standout teams during the regular season currently in the winner's finals:

  • Mav3ricks eSports -- chOi, JoT4, Javixu, aLex, Welshyy, and JU4MP4 (analyst)
  • Wizards Esports Club -- HuliK, NaoResh, Nubaii, THUUNDER, Deivid, and al0kaka (coach)

Mav3ricks are the favourites to win the tournament, but it has been so tight that either of them could still win it. Movistar Riders and Cream Real Betis are also still in the race, but will both have to cause two massive upsets to take the spot for themselves.

GSA League

While the league includes three European League teams -- G2, Rogue, and Secret -- the clear stars have been on Sissi State Punks who currently leads the tournament by two points with just two playdays remaining ahead of another challenger of GoSkilla in second.

With G2, Rogue and Secret sitting in third to fifth, it seems almost certain that the playoffs will include only two non-EUL rosters, making it a fight between these two teams:

  • Sissi State Punks -- Zenoxo, Gisela, Daya, Tooobi, BZ, Zeus (coach), and nOose (analyst)
  • GoSkilla -- Shermi, Turqo, Exp0, M4DMAN, and Mekses

You can learn more about these two teams below:

Benelux League

Then, at the beginning of August, we have the Benelux League playoffs which will include six teams, all of which are competing for the Challenger League spot.

The league stage winners and four-time prior champions of GAMMA are certainly the favourites. They are followed by KVM Esports who, after coming from the open qualifiers, finished the league in second place and beat GAMMA in both meetings, 8-7, 8-7:

  • GAMMA GAMING -- Leonski, Deapek, Avaiche, ASTRO, Prano, Sternab (coach), and Phenomene (analyst)
  • KV Mechelen Esports -- Duco, Kwekko, NNN1CK, Flixow, KaneB, Lance (coach), and Okidokie98 (analyst)

There are four other teams -- 4Elements, Activit-E, Game Fist, and Clutch Rayn -- also in contention. However, they all finished at least 10 points shy of GAMMA and will need to play an initial quarter-final stage before even meeting GAMMA and KVM, making an upset even more unlikely.

Nordic Championships

An already qualified roster of Chaos Esports ended the Nordic groups in first place after overtaking Prime eSport on Play Day 12 of 14.

As the Nordic Playoffs are a single-elimination bracket, this means Chaos will face fourth-placed Ambush Esports for a spot in the grand final. The matchup is shaping to be a one-sided one, as Chaos secured almost double the points of Ambush during the league.

This is particularly good news for the second and third-placed teams of Prima and Riddle, as it's fairly likely that a single Bo3 win in the semi-final is all that would be needed to lock in the CL spot for them:

  • Prima eSport -- DogeFather, w1oza, Lurifax, Hedsut, Flexy, and Mighty (coach)
  • Riddle Esports -- Yuki, Mengo, Assassin, tARREN, Aiven, and Owen (coach)
  • Ambush Esport -- Diffele, Junnika, Kyliys, Roadrunner, Fxzhy, and Sikser (analyst)

With Prima finishing nine points ahead of Riddle in second place and winning both head-to-heads, they are now the favourites to become just the second-ever Hungarian roster to compete in the Challenger League, but there's still potential for upsets yet.

UK Ireland Nationals

The UKIN tournament includes the two EUL rosters of Na'Vi and Cowana, as well as the already-qualified CL roster of MnM Gaming. As such, just like in the GSA tournament, there's a big opportunity for teams to shine. 

As the league now has just one play day remaining, Viperio 86 has really stood out after coming through the qualifiers, only having lost one game (vs Natus Vincere) while they also beat MnM in a 7-3 scoreline. 

The closest team to them is the pre-season favourite of WYLDE, who also managed to beat MnM (7-4) but lost to 86, 7-2, just yesterday. This puts them down in fifth place with six points compared to Viperio's 15.

  • Viperio 86 -- Curly, Draw, Monkey, Mello, and Neo
  • WYLDE -- Nixon, StriKe, ShuaiMengS, Law, Milk, Omerta (coach), and Dulan (analyst)

While all five applicable teams are still in contention for the CL spot, these two are the clear favourites so far.

Polish Masters

Next up is the Polish national tournament where, after a shaky start, the reigning Polish champions and last year's CL representatives of NOX managed to regain the lead. This was after they had lost it due to a defeat against second-placed ESCA Gaming.

With four play days left to go and no one dominating team, the league is still anyone's game though NOX is currently the team to beat.

These, therefore, are the top four teams that are currently set to qualify for the Playoffs right now:

  • NOX Esports -- Ryba, Szagi, Foster, AueR, Optyk and Sways (analyst)
  • ESCA Gaming -- Hunt, A7s0n, Malczyn, Drxw, Groone and Elitez (coach)
  • Invicta Gaming -- JiN, Walus, Denio, Grzegorzu, and Mefisto
  • xXx -- TOUDix, Krzok, Mayshyyy, Fajder, Wolfyy, and Titoo (analyst)

6 French League

Finally, in October the 6 French League Finals will take place. Like the GSA League, this league also includes three EUL rosters -- BDS, Vitality, and unKnights -- who are currently in the top three, meaning that the real race is for fourth-place.

At the moment, Acend sits in this position after only losing to BDS and unKnights and securing three victories.

Just two points below Acend is DeathroW -- a roster Acend will face in the final game of the final group-stage play day -- followed by Helios, who has just a single win to its name across five games. 

  •  Acend -- ENEMY, RevaN, Meloo, EiZ, Jeya, and BiOs (coach)
  • DeathroW -- Shoukri, FuZiion, Ra1kos, JaKs, KuQuS

Open Qualifiers

Also taking place just before the Mexico Major will be the third and final Challenger League Open Qualifier, which will lock in a further five teams. 

At the moment here's how the qualifier points standings look after the first two qualifiers:

  1. 175 Points -- Mkers
  2. 110 Points -- Acend
  3. 75 Points -- Helios Gaming
  4. 75 Points -- Sissi State Punks
  5. 65 Points -- Totem Esports
  6. 65 Points -- Viperio 86
  7. 60 Points -- GC Esports
  8. 40 Points -- DeathroW
  9. 40 Points -- Movistar Riders

While only the top five teams progress to the Challenger League tournament, should a team qualify via both the national league and qualifiers -- as is somewhat likely for Mkers, Acend, Sissi, and Viperio -- the next best team in the qualifier standings receives the spot.

This means that just hitting the top 10 in the standings may be enough to receive the spot.

The final Open Qualifier taking place on August 13-15th will offer the same points as before:

  • 1st -- 100 Points
  • 2nd -- 75 Points
  • 3-4th -- 50 Points
  • 5-8th -- 25 Points
  • 9-16th -- 15 Points
  • 17-32nd -- 10 Points

SiegeGG will be sure to update this article as the national leagues end and more teams book their Challenger League spots in the coming months. Until then, keep an eye out on weekly updates on the 6FL, GSA, Masters, BNL, and PGN Leagues as they come.