ESL Pro League S13 - Playoffs Preview
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ESL Pro League S13 - Playoffs Preview

We recap the regular season and give some of our thoughts heading into the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season 13

Valle
Freelance Esports Writer
2nd Apr, 21·☕️☕️ 8 min read
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We recap the regular season and give some of our thoughts heading into the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season 13

Competition Information

After a month packed with matches, we are getting closer to crowning a winner at the ESL Pro League. Big names such as Astralis, Natus Vincere and Heroic have all made it through to the playoffs, and so did CIS teams like Virtus.pro and Gambit who have been in excellent form recently. We have also seen a few underdogs make it through, with ENCE and NiP being the clear standouts. 

The Format

The twelve teams in the playoffs will battle through a single-elimination bracket with best-of-threes for all matches except for the final which will be a best-of-five. The highest ranked teams from the regular season will play each-other in a play-in stage, with the winner going straight to the semi-finals. The losers of those games will still get a bit of an advantage over the rest of the teams in the competition, as they will start in the quarter-finals. 

The ESL Pro League playoffs start April 8th and will run through April 11th.

The Current Season

Virtus.pro

Virtus.pro
Record: 34 / 0 / 15
Most Played Map: Dust2 (63.6%)
Best Map: Inferno (90.0%)
Worst Map: Train (50.0%)

Virtus.pro made it through in 3rd place of their group after dropping games to Astralis and Team Liquid. The CIS squad has been looking pretty good overall, with YEKINDAR being perhaps the MVP of the tournament so far, leading all players with a rating of 1.33 ahead of players like s1mple, device and ZywOo. They have received a favourable draw with ENCE in the first round, and they will play the winner of Complexity and Natus Vincere after that. They may have lost to Natus Vincere at IEM Katowice, but they have proven that they can beat them before, sweeping them twice at IEM New York. 

Astralis

Astralis
Record: 23 / 0 / 15
Most Played Map: Inferno (53.8%)
Best Map: Vertigo (80.0%)
Worst Map: Overpass (40.0%)

Astralis slipped up once in the group stage, losing out to Evil Geniuses, a team that they have bizarrely had some problems with in the past. However, they recovered nicely, winning the rest of the matches to qualify in first place. Much of their success has come off the back of device, who delivered an outstanding 40 frag performance on Train in the last match against fnatic. Astralis are just so solid that you always expect them to fight for the trophy, and after winning the group, they have put themselves in a brilliant spot to do that once more. 

Natus Vincere

Natus Vincere
Record: 22 / 0 / 10
Most Played Map: Nuke (72.7%)
Best Map: Dust2 (87.5%)
Worst Map: Overpass (0.0%)

Natus Vincere had a bit of a bumpy road to the playoffs, which certainly isn’t unusual for them. They lost to both FURIA and Gambit, but won against the weaker teams in the group (Cloud9, TeamOne and MIBR). They will face off against Complexity in the opener, an opponent that they have been even against historically. If you exclude the matches that Complexity played with stand-ins, Complexity have actually had the upper hand in the matchup. With that said, these guys like to turn it up a notch in the playoffs and if s1mple gets going, they have tournament winning potential. 

Gambit

Gambit
Record: 45 / 0 / 17
Most Played Map: Inferno (61.5%)
Best Map: Mirage (100.0%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (60.0%)

Gambit have been godlike recently. They went undefeated in their group, beating both Natus Vincere and FURIA. This means that they will get to face off against Astralis in the play-in stage with a spot in the semi-finals up for grabs. A very difficult opponent, but it is more or less a win-win type of situation for them, as a loss means that they aren’t out completely. These guys are playing some fantastic CS right now. Very slow and calculated, trying to get the most out of every round. The trio of sh1ro, Ax1Le and Hobbit is good enough to go up against any team right now, and it seems like nafany is doing an outstanding job from the in-game leader position.

FURIA

FURIA
Record: 11 / 0 / 9
Most Played Map: Mirage (50.0%)
Best Map: Train (100.0%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (0.0%)

FURIA squeezed through in 2nd place in their group after wins against Brazilian rivals MIBR and TeamOne, as well as a crucial one against Natus Vincere. I can’t say that FURIA are at the same level without HEN1, but they are still as explosive and unpredictable as before. The likes of yuurih and arT have the type of impact that can completely change the outcome of a match and if these guys get going, they are definitely dangerous. FURIA go up against FunPlus Phoenix in the opener, an opponent that they are favoured against. With that said, the European side is definitely dangerous.

G2

G2
Record: 8 / 0 / 4
Most Played Map: Mirage (75.0%)
Best Map: Inferno (100.0%)
Worst Map: Train (0.0%)

G2 battled through a very competitive group to make it to the playoffs. They swept Vitality, FaZe and NiP which is an impressive feat, but losses against ENCE and last-place team mousesports made them lose out on that top spot. They take on Liquid in the opener, a team that they haven’t played in officials this year. It is very hard to predict this G2 side at the moment, they clearly have great upside and they appear to play better now when JaCkz is back, but they can just as easily crumble.

NiP

NiP
Record: 17 / 0 / 14
Most Played Map: Overpass (50.0%)
Best Map: Train (100.0%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (0.0%)

I had NiP as a potential dark horse before the tournament started, and they really delivered, winning all four games after losing to G2 in the opener. This means that they will get to face off against Heroic in the play-in stage for the semi-finals. A very tough opponent, especially when you consider that ztr has been less than stellar for NiP so far. With that said, they match up well against Heroic map pool wise. Usually, NiP are at a pretty big disadvantage against strong Nuke and Dust2 teams, but Heroic never plays Dust2 so they can ban Nuke and get a set of maps where they are more than comfortable. 

ENCE

ENCE
Record: 19 / 0 / 13
Most Played Map: Train (70.0%)
Best Map: Dust2 (66.7%)
Worst Map: Vertigo (0.0%)

ENCE was the big surprise for me. They were drawn in a very competitive group which included Vitality, G2, mousesports, FaZe and NiP, but they still made it through. Spinx has been a beast for ENCE, and he is really proving his worth as one of the big upcoming talents out of Israel. With that said, I still can’t imagine that their fairytale run will continue for much longer, as they will have to beat out Virtus.pro and NaVi/Complexity to make it to the semi-finals.

Liquid

Team Liquid
Record: 28 / 0 / 17
Most Played Map: Nuke (50.0%)
Best Map: Mirage (80.0%)
Worst Map: Dust2 (28.6%)

Liquid only lost a single game on their road to the playoffs, and that was against Astralis. All of their other games were 2–0 sweeps. That is pretty impressive for a team that was in a rough place not that long ago, especially when you consider they lost to paiN out of all teams in the recent DreamHack Open North America. It is very hard to predict these guys right now. Personally, I think they are underdogs to G2 in the opener, but they do have some upset potential.

Complexity

Complexity
Record: 20 / 0 / 9
Most Played Map: Mirage (72.7%)
Best Map: Inferno (100.0%)
Worst Map: Overpass (50.0%)

The hype has kind of died out for this team despite making a big-name signing in the form of jks. The Aussie hasn’t had the type of impact that Complexity fans would have hoped for so far, barely squeaking out a positive rating of 1.03 in all matches. With that said, it is kind of hard to outperform the already well established trio of blameF, k0nfig and poizon. They qualified for the playoffs with a 3–2 record, and they will take on Natus Vincere in the opening match. As alluded to earlier, this is an opponent that they have matched up evenly against in the past, so I actually do give them a chance at the upset.

FunPlus Phoenix

FunPlus Phoenix
Record: 7 / 0 / 8
Most Played Map: Nuke (50.0%)
Best Map: Nuke (50.0%)
Worst Map: Mirage (0.0%)

FunPlus Phoenix, formerly known as GODSENT, have been in a weird place since letting go of kRYSTAL. In a recent interview, they mentioned that the plan is to bring chrisJ into the team, but they will have to play this tournament out with suNny as a stand-in. This is the type of team that has some upset potential, but the stars kind of need to align for them for that to happen.

Heroic

Heroic
Record: 14 / 0 / 3
Most Played Map: Train (50.0%)
Best Map: Inferno (100.0%)
Worst Map: Train (50.0%)

Heroic blitzed through the competition, without losing a single game. The Danes are looking very strong since adding refrezh and sjuush, making them one of the favourites for the title. They should have a great shot at making the semi-finals here straight away with a win against NiP in the opener, but I would say that NiP have a decent chance at the upset due to how they stack up map pool wise (see my notes about NiP.)

Betting Tips

It is hard to go against the Danes from Astralis and Heroic, who both have an excellent shot at winning this tournament. I also really like the chances of Virtus.pro, who have a good chance at making the semis after receiving a favourable draw. Of course, Gambit should not be ignored either, as they are playing some excellent CS at the moment.