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EU Challenger League qualifiers: Teams to watch

The 2022 FACEIT EU Challenger League will kick off tonight.

The 2022 EU Challenger League tournament will start tonight as the open qualifiers will determine six of the competing teams.


Three open qualifiers will take place over the next few weeks, with the top 32 in each winning qualifier points. The top six teams by points after the three qualifiers earn a Challenger League spot each.

The first of these open qualifiers takes place this weekend from Jul 8 to 10 and will be broadcast by community streamers. Each qualifier is a single-elimination tournament with best-of-one matches up until the round of 16, which means there’s a very high likelihood of early upsets and heavy-hitter teams meeting early on.

If a team qualifies via both the open qualifiers and a national league, then the next-best open qualifier team gets the second spot. This means that finishing within the top-10 by points may still be enough to make it depending on other results while finishing runners-up in your national league is likely not enough.

Teams to Watch

We haven’t seen many cross-league games at the tier-two or three-level since last year’s Challenger League, making this hard to predict. Nevertheless, these are the teams that will likely have the most attention on them this weekend:

1. ex-Empire

After finishing as runners-up during both the Mexico Major and the Six Invitational within just the last year, four players from the old Team Empire roster now find themselves without a spot in the EU League, without a professional organization, and without a local national league to compete in.

This means that Danil "JoyStiCK" Gabov, Artur "ShepparD" Ipatov, Danila "dan" Dontsov, and Dmitry "Always" Mitrahovich from this Empire roster have reunited with Eugene "karzheka" Petrishin, who was on the team during their SI 2019 runners-up finish, to fight their way back up to the EUL.

If this team fails to make it into the Challenger League, it would be one of the biggest upsets to date, as they have been without a doubt Europe’s best roster in the past year and the region’s only global grand-finalists since 2019. 


Three out of four finalists in the last two Challenger League seasons have come from the British scene, showing how strong the sub-region is at this level. This year, it currently looks like TENSTAR will be the UKIN’s main challengers. 

This notably mixed-European roster includes the ex-G2 player, Jonas "Jonka" Kaczmarzyk, and currently sits behind just Heroic in the Northern Premier League. Out of the six points Heroic dropped all season, four were against TENSTAR, with a close 8-7 win being followed up by a 3-7 defeat.

The only team with a positive round record against TENSTAR in the whole league is fourth-placed Viperio 86, who also has a fairly good shot at an EUCL spot. This roster includes Jonka’s ex-G2 teammate, Lucas "Hungry" Reich, as well as the ex-Chaos player, Aleks "VITO" Lyapun, and the long-time GAMMA GAMING player, Reece "ASTRO" Lambert.


Over in Germany, WYLDE, an organization which recently welcomed Usain Bolt as a co-owner, has unsurprisingly been topping the GSA League. The team includes both Maurice "AceeZ" Erkelenz and Lukas "korey" Zwingmann, who played together in the EU League and Pro League where they finished as runners-up at two Six Minor events and quarter-finalists at the Raleigh Major.

Now, along with three promising German up-and-comers, they look likely to challenge for a spot back in the EU League, with step one being winning the open qualifiers.

4. Mkers

While Mkers are likely favourites due to recent results, it’s been pretty close all season in Italy between MACKO and Mkers. After 14 games in the regular season, only one point separated the top teams, while their head-to-head results ended 7-2, 2-7. The difference, however, came on July 5th as Mkers beat MACKO 3-0 in the playoff’s upper bracket. 

Mkers, the team best known for their 9-12th place finish at SI 2021, will now likely face MACKO once again in the grand final. While Mkers seemingly have the advantage, MACKO has upset Mkers in two of the last three Italian national season finals, meaning both teams will probably be working hard for a backup route this weekend in the open qualifiers.

5. 321 Sked Esport

Best known by their ex-Vitality and PENTA member, Medhi "Kaktus" Marty, 321 Sked are narrowly leading Helios in the 6 French League at the moment. Considering the French scene’s success in prior years, this gives them a high chance of also succeeding regionally.  However, with how close the league is and with how many rookie players there are in the tournament, a number of these teams could cause upsets this weekend. 

6. Rebels Gaming

Finally, while Spain has a pretty bad track record in European tournaments, you can’t fail to be impressed by Rebels’ performance in the Spain Nationals this year. Daniel "Goga" Mazorra’s newest team won the Six Masters Iberia tournament earlier this year flawlessly, currently has a 14-0-0-0 record in the league, and is almost certainly going to win the national qualification spot into the EUCL when the LAN finals take place in two weeks time in Málaga.

Because of this, it is unclear if this roster will be competing at all in the open qualifiers; while it probably won’t be needed, it would be a good backup route into the EUCL in case illness or bad luck strikes them in the finals.

Rebels Gaming is also owned by Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and, aside from Goga, includes two prior Spanish champions and Jordi "FOSKITo" Bodro, who has been runners-up in the Spain Nationals in all three prior seasons.

Other paths to the EUCL

As well as the six open qualifier teams, the EU Challenger League will include the top teams across seven national tournaments. These will come to a close on the following dates:

  • July 17th -- PG National victors
  • July 24th -- Spain National victors
  • August 3rd -- 6 French League group stage leaders
  • August 7th -- Benelux League victors
  • August 30th -- V4 Masters victors
  • August TBD - top-2 from the Northern Premier League
  • September 4th -- GSA League victors

At the moment, the PGN spot seems to be very closely contested between MACKO and Mkers, while the Spain Nationals spot will almost certainly be won by Rebels Gaming. The remaining spots all seem to still be up for grabs with plenty of play days remaining.

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