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NA Transfer Preview: Where could we see moves before Stage 3?

With Stage 2 complete, here’s some speculation about where changes could be coming.

Banner image: Ubisoft

Stage 2 of the NAL is now done. While the top four teams will now travel to Berlin for August’s Six Major, the remaining six have over two months to prepare for Stage 3, which is bound to include numerous transfer changes. 

Here’s a speculation-heavy look into where these changes could come. 

Mirage

Mirage added two new players to the team ahead of Stage 2 and were slowly improving throughout the competition, as both of their wins, including a shock result against the Soniqs, came in the second half of the games.

Nevertheless, the team ended with half the points of ninth-placed SSG, which puts them seven points shy of TSM in the year-long standings in last place. There is only one transfer window remaining before any potential relegations (if they happen), and several very promising tier-two rosters ready to take their NA League spot.

Considering Mirage’s previous affinity for transfer changes, it seems likely that they’ll be looking to make more this August -- though Zachary "Nyx" Thomas said on Reddit he was "confident no one on our roster is going to get dropped".

After Stage 1, the team’s two best-rated players were shown the door to many people’s surprise, which shows how hard it is to tell what's going on inside the roster itself. 

Nevertheless, Nyx, who rejoined the team in Stage 2 following an earlier stint on Mirage in 2021, had the worst fragging statistics with the lowest number of kills and the worst entry record on the team. This meant he finished Stage 2 with the worst SiegeGG Rating in the entire league at 0.76. However, given that he only just joined, Mirage could well opt against moving him on.

Spacestation Gaming

There were suggestions earlier during the stage that SSG was planning to make changes, but their very disappointing ninth-place finish (followed up by what seems like confirmation from Alexander "Skys" Magor) means that we’re almost certainly going to see SSG's first roster change in one year this August.

While they were (on paper) the best-performing North American team in 2021, Spacestation were then the worst-performing NA team at SI 2022 and have now missed two Six Majors in a row. 

Admittedly, things aren’t dreadful for SSG. They were a handful of rounds away from qualifying for Charlotte and were just three points away from Berlin in this stage as they lost three out of three overtime games. Nevertheless, it’s undeniably below where they want to be and -- even if they win the November Major -- it is almost guaranteed that they will need to go through open qualifiers to make it to the Six Invitational. It could be better to make changes now and give it a stage to settle than bring in new players a few weeks before the qualifiers. 

SSG is well aware, and Skys tweeting out the post below and changing his Twitter details just a day after the NAL stage ends seem to make it obvious who’s leaving the team.

When thinking about possible replacements, a bad performance from any of the Berlin-qualified teams may leave some high-quality players looking for a home that SSG could be eager to provide. 

Challenger League prospects

While Stage 2 of the Challenger League has not yet finished, there are a number of players that have caught the attention of many. 

When it comes to fragging potential, RentFree’s “Dexter” has been a head above everyone else. The Brazilian player currently has 27 opening kills to 13 deaths, totalling a +14 differential. The next best differential in the league is +8 and the second highest number of opening kills is 14. 

When you take away these opening engagements, his overall kill differential is an even zero, but being the top-rated player on the first-placed team is a notable achievement. 

Looking at the soft breach role, Aqualix’s “Gasher” has stood out in NACL, as he’s been leading his team to a top-five position in this role while also putting down almost half of his team’s defuser plants.

As for support players, “Valorr” and “Kilo” have been notable on Maverick. While Valorr secured a 1.20 Rating and the second-best entry record so far, Kilo got the second-most plants in the league while being 1shotLFO’s second-best performing player with a 1.13 Rating. 

Obviously, no signings are ever entirely decided by Challenger League performance, and we’ll have to wait and see who impresses during team try-outs.

beastcoast

This stage, beastcoast dropped down from sixth to seventh place, but this is truly a negligible difference considering how close the league was and that they scored 13 points in both Stages 1 and 2.

From our outsider perspective, the main concern for the team will likely be Anthony "AnthonyMGS" Gomez. While he tied with Adam "Drip" Kolodkin as the third worst-rated player in the NAL this stage, Drip was the team’s main hard breach player and planter, while AnthonyMGS played Zofia and Aruni and only managed two more kills.

AnthonyMGS has been on beastcoast since 2020 and was the only player to survive the team’s reconfiguration into 2022. Nevertheless, he was also the second-lowest rated player on the team in Stage 1 (behind Drip).

Rest of the field

Obviously, changes depend heavily on both Berlin Major performances and internal team issues that we are not privy to. 

TSM are undoubtedly upset about missing their third event in the last four but are also the reigning World Champions. Not only would it be fairly harsh to remove someone after such a drastic improvement between stages, but TSM Strategic Coach Jacob "Daeda" Hale was also “90% certain” that they will not make changes.

Similarly, DZ lifted their first trophy just two months ago, and after nine LANs in a row, they were bound to slip up eventually. They will likely be back at the November Major so won't be rushing to do anything too drastic.

Parabellum, meanwhile, is on the rise. While they were closer to last place than a top-four finish in Stage 1, Stage 2 saw them in very real contention for a Berlin Major spot all the way until the final play day -- and they only missed out on it by two rounds. 

Considering this is also Gunnar and BlaZ’s very first stages in the NAL, the team should be looking forward to more success in Stage 3.