The likes of Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses will fight it out in ESL Pro League North America.
The likes of Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses will fight it out in ESL Pro League North America. Haven’t kept up with the recent changes? We’ve got you covered. Read on for all you need to know about this season of ESL Pro League North America.
This season of ESL Pro League will be played entirely online due to the coronavirus situation. The league has been split up into two regions, one European and one North American, and each region will have a separate winner.
The format for the North American competition differs somewhat from the European. There will be one round-robin group with six teams and all matches are best-of-three. The four teams with the most points at the end of the group stage will advance to the playoffs. The teams finishing in first and second will advance to the upper bracket, while the teams finishing in third and fourth will advance to the lower bracket. The bottom two teams will be eliminated from the competition.
Team Liquid, Evil Geniuses, and 100 Thieves are now permanent partners of the ESL Pro League. FURIA qualified through their placing in ESL’s own world rankings, while MIBR and Swole Patrol received replacement invites.
The group looks as follows:
The group stage kicks off March 26 and will run through April 3.
Team Liquid had a monstrous start to 2019, taking down several big titles that ultimately won them the coveted Intel Grand Slam. Since then, they have fizzled out somewhat, and their last big tournament win was IEM Chicago which was back in June of last year. They were comfortably beaten twice by FaZe at BLAST Premier this year, and they were unable to make a mark at IEM Katowice where they lost to G2 and Natus Vincere. However, in the Americas, they are still the top dogs. They’ve recently beaten domestic rivals Evil Geniuses and MIBR, and they have never lost against FURIA and 100 Thieves with the current lineup.
100 Thieves are coming off a 5th-6th finish at IEM Katowice which is a decent result considering how incredibly stacked that tournament was. They had a rough start to the tournament, getting absolutely annihilated by G2 in the opener. However, they quickly bounced back with impressive wins against TYLOO, Evil Geniuses and, mousesports. It is a promising sign that liazz appears to have grown more comfortable with his role on the team, and he was great for 100 Thieves at IEM Beijing at the end of last year. With MIBR and Evil Geniuses not looking the sharpest, 100 Thieves are in a prime position to challenge for a top placing in the group.
Evil Geniuses were on a great run of form in Autumn of last year, winning ESL One New York and StarSeries i-League Season 8. Since then, they have struggled quite a bit. They were beaten twice by OG at BLAST Premier to start the year, and they were knocked out in groups at IEM Katowice after losses to Liquid and 100 Thieves. Evil Geniuses tend to have difficulties against Liquid, but they should still be the favorite to grab that second spot in the group. They have a flawless record against FURIA, and they tend to get the better of 100 Thieves more often than not.
MIBR finally strung a few wins together at FLASHPOINT, winning against EnVy, Gen.G, and Chaos. However, the competition will be far stronger at ESL Pro League. This MIBR team just hasn’t lived up to expectations, and if they can’t even make the finals at a tournament like cs_summit against teams with stand-ins, it is hard to see how they would get it done against this level of competition.
FURIA are coming off a second-place finish at DreamHack Open Anaheim, where they defeated the likes of North and Complexity before falling to Gen.G in the finals. This FURIA side has a bit of a tendency to punch above their weight at times, as we saw at StarSeries i-League Season 8 where they beat teams like Vitality, G2, and 100 Thieves in BO3s. This is an aggressive team and they are quite volatile as a result, which makes them a good upset pick.
The last team in the group is Swole Patrol, who received a replacement invite. The team is made up of the core that last represented eUnited. The eUnited team has had a few decent upsets, but it would be unrealistic to expect them to make it through the group stage here. It is quite interesting to note that the eUnited core beat FURIA 2–0 last season, so perhaps that is a matchup where they could do some damage.
I like Liquid’s chances of topping this group in general. In terms of upsets, I could see FURIA doing some damage. They are currently quite a big underdog (2.75) against 100 Thieves, a team that they have a 4–2 record against. I could also see them steal a map against Liquid in the opener, considering the online factor.