Some of Europe's most skilled lineups are set to duke it out in Group C of ESL Pro League.
Some of Europe’s most skilled lineups are set to duke it out in Group C of ESL Pro League. In this article, we will break down the format, the teams, as well as give you some betting advice.
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: (Finished)
Group B: (Finished)
Group C: (March 26 - April 3)
Group A and B have already kicked off. Natus Vincere and Astralis have made it through to the second stage, while fnatic, forZe, NiP and Vitality will play decider matches for the final two spots. Group C will get underway March 25.
FaZe have made a name for themselves throughout the years by recruiting some of the biggest stars in CS:GO. They added yet another superstar to their roster at the tail end of last year, namely coldzera from MIBR. FaZe had a great start to the year, topping their group at BLAST Premier Spring Series with BO3 wins against NiP and Liquid (twice). IEM Katowice was not as great for FaZe, as they lost out to the eventual winners Natus Vincere twice in group play. However, they were one of the few teams to really compete with NaVi in that tournament. This is quite a skill-heavy group and FaZe definitely possesses the individual skill to take on the likes of G2 and mousesports.
G2 ended 2019 on a good note by winning the Champions Cup Finals. This was not a very competitive tournament, but it gave them some much-needed confidence after they were unable to overcome a mousesports side with two stand-ins at the finals of cs_summit 5 just days before that. They were able to carry that confidence over to 2020, topping their group at BLAST Premier Spring Series with wins against 100 Thieves and OG (twice). Their performance at IEM Katowice was even more impressive, as they defeated 100 Thieves, mousesports, Liquid and fnatic on their way to the finals before running into the unstoppable force that was NaVi.
mousesports were unbelievable at the end of 2019 with several top placings, including wins at tournaments such as CS:GO Asia Championships and ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals. They picked up right where they left off with a win at ICE Challenge at the start of this year. However, their performance at IEM Katowice was less than satisfactory as they lost to G2 and 100 Thieves, which resulted in a group stage exit for the European side. Regardless, mousesports are clearly one of the best teams in this group and they are clear favorites alongside FaZe and G2.
OG created some hype at BLAST Premier at the start of the year, as they were able to defeat Evil Geniuses twice to make it through to the Spring Finals. However, they were bested twice by G2 in that event and still begs to question if they have enough individual skill on this roster to consistently compete with the big names. They also struggled quite a bit at ICE Challenge at the start of the year, losing out to MAD Lions and NaVi. While they might not have the individual skill of the likes of G2, mouz, and FaZe, they do have some of the sharpest minds in CS. As long as the likes of mantuu and ISSAA show up to play, they should have a chance at challenging for that third and final spot.
Due to the bizarre circumstances surrounding the coronavirus situation, the Chinese side TYLOO will have to play the European division of ESL Pro League. They are currently trying to cope with life without BnTeT, who chose to leave the team in favor of Gen.G at the start of this year. This was a big hit to the team, as BnTeT was clearly the best player on the roster. They chose to pick up the Korean player xeta as his replacement, who is most known for his time on MVP.PK. This is a great player, but it feels bizarre that TYLOO insists on picking up non-Chinese players as their communication has been an ever-present issue. xeta has some experience playing with Chinese players on the Chinese platform 5Ewin, but it will still likely take him quite a while to adapt.
Virtus.pro, formerly known as AVANGAR, made a big rise in 2019. The CIS side was at one point ranked #3 in the world, but they have fallen all the way down #18 after a stretch of poor results. 2020 has been a disaster for them so far, as they bombed out of groups without a single win at IEM Katowice and DreamHack Open Leipzig. This team was always quite one-dimensional as they are hugely reliant on their star AWPer, Jame. They always look to set-up Jame to get early picks, which gives players like qikert and Buster the space required to make plays in late round scenarios. It does appear from the outside that other top teams may have figured them out at this point, and they may need to make adjustments if they wish to make it back to the top.
G2, mouz, and FaZe are heavy favorites against all of the other teams in this group. However, we have seen plenty of crazy results so far in ESL Pro League Season, so you simply cannot rule out any upsets due to the online factor. I would expect these three teams to grab the top placings but they can certainly drop maps to some of these underdogs, OG in particular. Also, as of the writing of this article FaZe are underdogs against mousesports and G2 and you can actually get decent odds on the +1.5 handicap there as well which is quite appealing considering their recent results.