Last weekend, history was made for UKCS. Viperio and Into The Breach, the only two UK teams to have made it through the open qualifiers for the BLAST Paris Major RMR stage, have made it through the next step in the form of the closed qualifiers, ultimately earning both teams a spot at the next stage in the Major process – the RMRs in Copenhagen in April.
This is the first time in history that more than one UK-majority team has been in attendance at this stage in the process of qualifying for the Major, and surprisingly this time round, Endpoint are sitting on the side-lines – a result nobody could’ve predicted. Furthermore, Tom “arTisT” Clarke is now the first Irish player to compete at this level in history, and Ciaran “biscu” King is the second coach to come from the land of Eire, beaten to the honours of being first by Neil “NeiL_M” Murphy.
Both teams fought their way through the first open qualifier, with Viperio besting the likes of Tricked, Forward, and even boomer demons, a mix of Swedish legends such as Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund and Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer. This was achieved all while using Rory “cryths” Ursell as a substitute for James “bevve” Slinn, who was unable to play in the first stage of qualifiers. ITB on the other hand, were matched up against PGE Turow, B8 and MASONIC for the honours of the closed qualifiers, even earning themselves one of the top two seeds along the way.
In the closed qualifiers, both teams were not expected to make it through according to their respective HLTV rankings. However, despite the odds and after some nail-biting match-ups, UKCS silenced the doubters and qualified for the RMR in Copenhagen. Viperio ultimately placed 7th in the qualifier with a 3-2 record, posting losses to Danish powerhouse Astralis, and their British counterpart of ITB in Bo1s. They scored their three wins through a Bo1 versus a newly-upgraded 1WIN, and two Bo3s against PGE Turow, as well as handing a devastating blow to SAW in the form of a 2-0 upset.
ITB placed 6th overall with the same record, with best-of-one wins versus the aforementioned squad of Viperio and IKLA. The knights then had their work cut out for them, going down in their next two Bo3s against 9INE and Eternal Fire, both of whom have also qualified for the RMR, before trumping HAVU 2-1 for the honours of attending the event in Copenhagen.
Both teams had stand-out players during the closed qualifier, with impressive performances across the board on their T sides. Sebastian “volt” Malos and Karol “rallen” Rodowicz led the way for the knights, posting 1.17 and 1.16 HLTV ratings respectively on the offense. On the side of Viperio, this was mirrored by Callum “Girafffe” Jones, who averaged a 1.12 HLTV rating, and Jack “Gizmy” von Spreckelsen, who stood out as a crucial component for the British-Irish team’s success with an incredible 1.41 T side rating, second only to Astralis’ Benjamin “blameF” Bremer in the entire event.
UKCSGO caught up with Gizmy and Thomas “Thomas” Utting, who each shared some of the team’s goals and feelings as they headed into these qualifiers:
Making the HLTV stage of the Open Qualifier was the goal, but we weren’t expecting much more because we couldn’t field our full roster. Everything after that was just all the boys coming together and taking it one game at a time. It’s an unreal feeling, from both the accomplishment and all the support we’ve received from everyone, and we are all excited to play the RMR. – Gizmy
We are just happy we made it, it’s been hard to actually practice due to the stacked schedule, but we are still making everything work with the limited time we have had. It is now time to prepare for the RMR and have it as our number 1 priority for the coming weeks. – Thomas
The BLAST Paris Major RMR for Group A in Europe will take place in Copenhagen, Denmark. In April, Viperio and ITB shall hold the British and Irish flags high as the only UK representation at the event. Both teams will face off against fierce opposition, including (but not limited to), FaZe, NAVI, and even the IEM Rio Major winners, Outsiders.
SEE YOU IN COPENHAGEN! 🇩🇰
After a swift reverse sweep, #ITBCS have secured their spot in the Europe RMR 🏆#UpTheKnights #UKCS pic.twitter.com/MhJgRlHMdP
— ITB SHUFFLE 🇺🇦 (@ITBesports) February 18, 2023
WE'RE GOING TO COPENHAGEN!!! 🇩🇰#VIPWIN #TheAngels pic.twitter.com/iNMLnScFhV
— Viperio (@viperioesports) February 18, 2023