Some of the most skilled teams in the world will duke it out in Group B.
ESL Pro League Season 11 is just hours away. In this article, we will preview Group B for the European division.
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)
Group B (March 17 - March 24)
Group C (March 26 - April 3)
The whole thing kicks off March 16 with Group A and the league will run through April 12.
BIG are coming off a win at DreamHack Open Leipzig, which was their first tournament with k1to and syrsoN whom they acquired from Sprout at the start of the year. The skill on this team is undeniable and when everything comes together they are deadly. However, they are still somewhat inconsistent as their online results show.
Complexity had a fantastic start with their new roster at BLAST Premier, beating Astralis and Vitality without dropping a map. They later went to California for DreamHack Open Anaheim, where they made playoffs after beating MIBR twice. However, they did fall to Gen.G in group play and were eliminated by FURIA in the semi-finals. Like many of the other teams in this group, this is a very individually skilled roster. Pretty much every player on this team has the potential to pop off at any time. The Complexity players have often alluded to the fact that they feel more comfortable playing on LAN, so the fact this season will be played entirely online isn’t optimal for them.
fnatic have been amazingly consistent ever since they reunited with Golden and flusha. They have made the playoffs at every event that they have played so far, including a win at DreamHack Masters Malmö and a runner-up finish at StarSeries & i-League Season 8. All of these events were incredibly stacked as well, so this level of consistency is impressive. They are currently ranked #6 in HLTV’s world rankings, but they probably deserve to be higher up on that list.
forZe are one of the longest-standing rosters in the top flight of professional CS:GO. The Russian side had a very disappointing DreamHack Anaheim, going out in groups after losing to the British team Endpoint in what was a huge upset. This team has had their ups and downs, but they do have a solid foundation and if the likes of xsepower and FL1T pop off, they can upset any team.
NaVi are coming off a win at a historically stacked IEM Katowice where they defeated the likes of Astralis, Liquid, and FaZe before absolutely annihilating G2 in the finals. The win moved NaVi up to #1 in HLTV’s world rankings, overtaking Astralis. Interestingly, their only loss at the event came at the hands of fnatic, a team that they will face off against once more this weekend. NaVi’s new roster looks very scary, and it appears as if their newest addition - Perfecto - really complements the rest of the team perfectly with his defensive style of play.
North reunited with MSL at the start of the year, who picked up both the AWP and IGL roles for the team. This felt like the right move, as they have really struggled with both of these roles ever since he left the roster. However, the results have not been great so far. They went out in groups at DreamHack Open Leipzig, with losses to their Danish rivals MAD Lions and Heroic. Their last tournament was DreamHack Open Anaheim, where they made playoffs after beating forZe and Endpoint. However, they were narrowingly beaten by Gen.G in the semi-finals. I trust in MSL’s ability to improve this team, but with current form in mind, you would have to favor the likes of Complexity and BIG over them for that third spot in the group.
fnatic and Natus Vincere are both heavily favored against the competition in this group and rightfully so. However, I think there might be an opportunity to take advantage of the handicap market on some of these lines. Natus Vincere haven’t played an online match since 2018. Both Complexity +1.5 (2.00) and BIG +1.5 (1.86) might be solid value. Another interesting factoid is just how good North have been against NaVi throughout history. They have a combined map record of 10 wins and 5 losses against NaVi throughout the years. However, a lot has changed since then. North have been on a big decline in recent years and NaVi have only improved an already superior roster.