ECS Season 8 is set to get underway in Arlington, Texas.
ECS Season 8 is set to get underway in Arlington, Texas.
The regular season of the Esports Championship Series has come to a close. Eight of the world’s best teams have qualified for the finals in Arlington, Texas, where they will be competing for part of the $500,000 prize pool. The format is the ever-popular GSL format, with a best-of-one for the opening matches — whilst the remainder of the tournament will be all best-of-threes.
There are two groups of four, and they are as follows:
Vitality won this event last season, but they were not able to qualify for the finals this time around. However, Astralis, NiP, MIBR and EG will all be returning hoping to improve on last season’s failures. With the exception of EG, all of these teams failed to make it out of groups last season.
One thing that is worth noting is that this will be the first tournament with the new patch, which has introduced changes to the prices of the Krieg, FAMAS and Galil. We should see a lot less of the Krieg now and more of the FAMAS and Galil. The new patch also introduced new player models, but these have been banned by the tournament organizer.
The ECS Season 8 Finals will get underway November 28 and will finish December 1.
AVANGAR are coming off a disappointing 5–6th finish at the CS:GO: Asia Championships. However, it is worth noting that they were without SANJI in the group stage. They looked far better during the playoffs against MIBR, and they weren’t far from clinching a spot in the semis. AVANGAR find themselves in the tougher group of the two in my opinion, with two North American rosters that they have struggled against historically, as well as a NiP side that have shown signs of promise recently.
Evil Geniuses have been in a bit of a slump recently, with poor results at both IEM Beijing and Asia Championships. It is worth noting that their tournament schedule has been perhaps the most exhausting out of all teams. While teams like Astralis and NaVi have chosen to take events off, EG have been on the grind, attending all sorts of events across the globe. In total, they have played well over 20 events so far this year. EG are the favorites of making it out of this one alongside Liquid, but they are definitely vulnerable right now and it is noteworthy that they have struggled a bit with NiP historically.
While the likes of EG and MIBR have been in China, Liquid have had some time to recharge after BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen at the start of November. The North American side hasn’t made a final since IEM Chicago back in July, but prior to that, they were in a stunning run of form with wins at IEM Chicago, BLAST LA, ESL One Cologne, EPL Finals and DreamHack Masters Dallas. We haven’t seen the best of Liquid lately, but there is no doubt that they still have enough quality to challenge for the title. They will have had some time to mess around with the new patch and changes to Vertigo which will give them a bit of an edge going into this one.
With the addition of twist to the roster, NiP are finally starting to look a bit better. Skillwise, this is the best roster we have seen out of NiP and it definitely gives them some upset potential. They are particularly strong in BO1s historically, and they were able to capitalize on this at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen where they made finals after wins against the likes of Astralis and Liquid. With that said, they will have to win at least one BO3 to make it out of groups here, and their strength in BO3s is still somewhat questionable.
Astralis are coming in as clear favorites at odds of 2.10. The format is quite solid at this event, and the better the format, the better Astralis tend to be. They were unable to get things done in front of their home fans at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, but the format certainly didn’t favor them there. They followed that up with a win at IEM Beijing in stunning fashion, however, it needs to be said that they beat ViCi, 100T and FaZe to win that event — which is far from an impressive list of teams for a tier 1 event. With that said, I think the oddsmakers got things right on this one, and they deserve to come in as overwhelming favorites due to having the easier of the two groups, in addition to going up against Sharks in the first round.
MIBR will be making the trip over from Shanghai to Texas after attending the Asia Championships where they ended in 3rd-4th place after losses to TYLOO and ENCE. It is worth noting that FalleN is now back as the main AWPer for the team, with kNgV rifling more frequently. kNgV didn’t look great in his new role at Asia Championships last week, but I am cautiously optimistic about this change. MIBR look particularly strong on Train, a map that they were once dominant on during their days on SK, but the rest of their map pool is somewhat questionable.
fnatic have looked great after flusha and Golden returned to the roster. They won DreamHack Masters Malmö, beating the likes of NiP, Astralis and Vitality before heading to Turkey for StarSeries & i-League Season 8, where they made yet another final. The Swedes had to settle for second-place that time around, after losing to EG in the final. Their CT-sides were far from optimal in Turkey, but their T-sides looked great — with Brollan being a clear standout on the entry. KRIMZ has been out with an illness for the last few weeks, but it has been confirmed that he is back and feeling well again.
The huge underdog of this event is the South American team, Sharks. The most exciting names on this roster are meyern and Luken, and the former is someone who I have been raving about since his days on Isurus. I actually think that this roster has some decent upset potential in BO1s at least, but sadly they are going up against the most difficult of opponents in the shape of Astralis in the first round. With that said, Sharks may be an interesting play in the handicap market against teams like MIBR and fnatic in particular.
This event has a pretty solid format, with all matches being BO3s with the exception of the opening matches. As such, you would have to favor Astralis with the easiest group of the two and a fairly safe BO1 opening match against Sharks. With that said, the odds on offer are not that appealing. I think that Liquid are a bit sneaky in Group A, and I could definitely see them come well prepared and motivated to do well here — they aren’t a bad play at odds of 6.50. But the play that stands out to me is fnatic at 4.00 to make finals. There are some potential landmines for Liquid and EG in Group A, whereas fnatic has an easier potential road to the finals with the easier group of the two in addition to not having to face Astralis in the semis.