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ESL Pro League Europe Season 11 Group A Preview

The likes of Astralis and Vitality are set to duke it out in Group A.

Valentin Gustafsson
Freelance Esports Writer
15th Mar, 2020·☕️ 5 min read
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The eleventh season of ESL Pro League Europe is only hours away. In this article, we will break down Group A.

Competition Information

Sporting events around the world are being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus situation. In esports, we thankfully have the possibility to have matches played online instead - and this is exactly the decision that ESL has made for the upcoming season of ESL Pro League.

There have been some changes made to the competition due to the situation at hand. The league has now been split up in two regions, one European and one North American, and each region will have a separate winner.

The first stage of the competition will feature two BO3 single-elimination round-robin groups with six teams in each group. The winner of each group will advance to the second stage of the competition, while the teams finishing in second and third place will play decider matches to determine who will advance to the second stage.

The second stage will feature a BO3 single-elimination round-robin group. The winner of this stage will advance to the BO5 grand final, while the teams finishing in second and third place will play a BO3 semi-final to determine who advances to the grand final.

The groups are as follows:

Group A (March 16 - March 24)

  • 🇩🇰 Astralis
  • 🇫🇮 ENCE
  • 🇪🇺 GODSENT
  • 🇸🇪 Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • 🇷🇺 Team Spirit
  • 🇫🇷 Vitality

Group B (March 17 - March 24)

  • 🇩🇪 BIG
  • 🇪🇺 Complexity
  • 🇸🇪 fnatic
  • 🇷🇺 forZe
  • 🇺🇦 Natus Vincere
  • 🇩🇰 North

Group C (March 26 - April 3)

  • 🇪🇺 mousesports
  • 🇰🇿 Virtus.pro
  • 🇪🇺 FaZe
  • 🇫🇷 G2
  • 🇪🇺 OG
  • 🇨🇳 TYLOO

The whole thing kicks off March 16 with Group A and the league will run through April 12.

The Current Season

Group A

Astralis  

Astralis
Record: 325 / 1 / 100
Most Played Map: Inferno (81.4%)
Best Map: Nuke (84.3%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (69.5%)

Astralis have had a shaky start to the year. The first tournament that they attended was BLAST Premier, where they went out in groups after losses to Complexity and NaVi. At IEM Katowice, they comfortably made playoffs but fell at the hands of NaVi once again, this time in the semi-finals. It is interesting to note that they have struggled with this new NaVi roster, but they won’t have to worry about them until the playoffs this time around. 

ENCE

ENCE
Record: 25 / 2 / 35
Most Played Map: Mirage (50.0%)
Best Map: Dust2 (55.6%)
Worst Map: Inferno (20.0%)

ENCE went from one of the most beloved teams in the game to one of the most hated with the removal of Aleksib. But the team’s reputation is not the only thing that has taken a big hit, their ranking has as well. ENCE have plummeted to #21 in HLTV’s world rankings after their recent results - a big fall for a team that was at one point ranked #2 in the world. The Finns have yet to win a game in 2020, and their only map win has come against MIBR, a team that has had their own share of disappointing performances.

GODSENT

GODSENT
Record: 83 / 0 / 56
Most Played Map: Nuke (63.3%)
Best Map: Vertigo (70.0%)
Worst Map: Mirage (0.0%)

GODSENT are coming off a 3rd-4th place finish at the ICE Challenge where they took down ENCE and Virtus.pro in group play only to get knocked out by NaVi in semi-finals. The roster formerly known as NoChance has made a lot of progress since joining the GODSENT organization and they already have a title under their belt after winning WePlay! Forge of Masters back in November of last year. As eluded to in previous articles, this is an interesting team that is worth watching for. STYKO is thriving in a star player role and Maden is yet another promising player to come out of the Balkan region.

Ninjas in Pyjamas

NiP
Record: 8 / 0 / 10
Most Played Map: Vertigo (66.7%)
Best Map: Inferno (100.0%)
Worst Map: Mirage (0.0%)

With f0rest having left the team, none of the players remain from the iconic roster that hoisted several major trophies throughout the years. This is a younger NiP, with players like Plopski who grew up watching the likes of f0rest and GeT_RiGhT compete. Their latest addition, nawwk, is a promising AWPer who has played on GamerLegion and x6tence Galaxy. Their first event with the new lineup was BLAST Premier, where they had to settle for third place in the group with their only win coming against MIBR. They later went to a very stacked IEM Katowice, where they went out in groups after losing to Vitality and Natus Vincere. This is a new look NiP that definitely has some promising pieces, including an excellent coach, but it will likely take some time for this team to adapt to life without f0rest.

Team Spirit

Spirit
Record: 94 / 0 / 47
Most Played Map: Mirage (75.8%)
Best Map: Dust2 (78.6%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (40.0%)
Team Spirit let go of in-game leader s0Tf1k and COLDYY1 back in September, opting to pick up the former Vega Squadron and Gambit player Mir and the rising talent magix in their place. This seemed like a risky move at first, but it appears like it has worked out quite well for the Russian side. They already have a few decent scalps under their belt, having defeated the likes of forZe, FURIA, and BIG on LAN. It is also worth noting that they are undefeated against GODSENT, having defeated them twice by a score of 2–1.

Vitality

Vitality
Record: 37 / 0 / 35
Most Played Map: Inferno (50.0%)
Best Map: Nuke (61.1%)
Worst Map: Train (0.0%)

In a shocking announcement, Vitality announced that ALEX has chosen to step down from the team. As the in-game leader, ALEX was one of the key pieces alongside ZywOo in establishing Vitality as one of the elite teams of 2019. Instead, they have chosen to give misutaaa a chance, a young player with excellent mechanical ability who has very little experience, especially at this level. 

Betting Tips:

I like GODSENT’s chances at potentially pulling off an upset or two in this group. They are comfortable on maps like Nuke and Vertigo, which gives them a lot of room to maneuver in the map veto even against the top dogs in the group (Vitality and Astralis) and there could be some value on the handicap in those matches.

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