The likes of Liquid and Astralis are about to duke it out in Group D of ESL Pro League. We take a look at how the teams stack up in the last group of the regular season!
The likes of Liquid and Astralis are about to duke it out in the ESL Pro League. We take a look at how the teams stack up in the last group of the regular season in our preview of Group D.
The last group at ESL Pro League is about to go down. A classic matchup awaits as Astralis take on Liquid, and we will get a look at Evil Geniuses with oBo for the first time.
The format should be familiar, but if you haven’t been able to catch any of the action so far, don’t worry! The format is quite simple.
The six teams will all play each other in a best-of-three, round-robin format. Three points are awarded for a win and zero for a loss. There are no ties. Once the group stage has concluded, the top three teams will advance to the playoff bracket.
Group D looks as follows:
Group D will run from March 25th to March 29th, with the playoffs set to start April 2nd.
Note: All stats are from 2021
Like their CIS counterparts, Gambit, Virtus.pro have played incredibly over the winter and fall period. I am going to sound like a broken record, but YEKINDAR has truly elevated this team to a completely different level. It is very impressive to see a rifler with such an aggressive playstyle post the type of numbers that he is doing. In my opinion, the Latvian is one of the most impactful players in the game right now. With the way Virtus.pro have been playing, you would expect them to get out of this group, but it is definitely not a certainty. Group D is far more competitive than Group C was, with fnatic and Evil Geniuses having some upset potential.
Teams like Gambit and Virtus.pro might have stolen some of Astralis’ spotlight recently, but the Danes are still the favourites here. So far this year, they have had no tournament wins, but they had a good run at the end of 2020, with wins at IEM Global Challenge and DreamHack Masters Winter. While this group is competitive, it would surprise to see them not make the playoffs.
When FalleN first joined Team Liquid, they looked quite underwhelming. But since then, they have improved somewhat. They did fail to impress at the recent DreamHack Open North America, but I wouldn’t put too much thought into that since they had plenty of ping issues with FalleN playing from Europe. Their performance at IEM Katowice wasn’t bad at all, and it was a product of great team play from the North American side. If they can show the same type of play at this event, they could easily play spoiler for some higher-ranked teams in the competition.
fnatic have fallen to 17th in HLTV’s world rankings, a position that they haven’t found themselves in since September 2019. I think flusha is sorely missed on this team. There aren’t many players like him in the world, let alone in Sweden, so it isn’t surprising for me to see them struggle after he left. Jackinho doesn’t have a lot of experience either, and it will probably take more time for him to gel with the team. With that said, this is still fnatic we are talking about. They have a ton of experience under their belt and on a good day, they can beat just about anyone.
Evil Geniuses will make their debut at this event with oBo, who comes in to replace Ethan who, like many North American players, made the move over to Valorant. This is a solid replacement, and he should be able to slot into the team just fine. Ethan was one of the more aggressive riflers on the team, a role that suits oBo well. Evil Geniuses were one of the longest standing rosters, and perhaps a change in personnel was required to spark some fire into this team. I am actually quite hopeful about Evil Geniuses at this event, and I think they can upset a team or two.
The big underdog of this group is Endpoint. It would truly be nothing but a miracle for them to get out of a group this difficult. Sure, it’s online CS, but Except for flameZ, they have very little firepower to work with. All eyes will be on the Israeli at this event. He is a very talented player who could potentially be the second Israeli after Spinx to establish himself at the top level this year.
I would expect Astralis and Virtus.pro to get out of this group, but the last spot in the playoffs is completely up for grabs. I actually think that Evil Geniuses have a solid shot as one of the big underdogs of the group. The addition of oBo is an interesting one, and they have had the upper hand against both Liquid and fnatic over the past year or so. This is worth keeping in mind, as they are currently underdogs in all matches but one with the bookies.
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