Photo Credit: HLTV
In an era where CS:GO has a big tournament every other two weeks, the ESL Pro League Finals is one of the biggest of the year aside from the three $1 million majors. The prize pool for this season’s tournament is set at $512,000 and the playoff stage will take place in London from May 14-15. At the moment, the group stages are going on where the eight qualified teams are fighting to make it to the playoff stages. Four of the eight will be eliminated and sent home.
From the European Pro League, Fnatic, Astralis, G2 Esports, and Ninjas in Pyjamas made it through and from the North American League, Luminosity Gaming, Optic Gaming, Cloud 9, and Team Liquid are the top four. The group stages include splitting the teams into two groups with two teams from one region in each group. Group A contains Optic, Luminosity, Astralis, and G2 while Group B contains Fnatic, C9, NiP, and Liquid.
Group A: Luminosity Gaming, Astralis, G2 Esports, Optic Gaming
Photo Credit: HLTV
Brazil had a relatively unknown CS:GO scene until Luminosity Gaming, then known as Kabum, roared onto the scene back in the beginning of 2015. Since then, LG has solidified their spot as one of the best teams in the world and are currently ranked as number 1 on the HLTV rankings. The team also has the fact that they are the defending major championship winners and are looking to augment their trophy case with another title in London.
The Danes have always been a presence as one of the top teams in the world for the past year or so. They have not been able to break into the very top, but they sit as the gatekeepers to the elite. Astralis almost always makes it to the playoff stages in any tournament despite not being able to win many in the last few months. However, they remain a threat to any top team and if they are underestimated, Astralis could make life very painful.
After the fall and slump of EnVyUs, G2 can be arguably called the best French team in CS:GO. The French have a huge talent pool and G2 exhibits some of the best from their country. Some of their players such as shox and ScreaM were once considered to be some of the best players in the world. With their new addition of boddy, G2 are hungry for a win to prove that they still have what it takes to compete with the best teams in the world.
The Optic organization are better known for their huge success in the Call of Duty world, but they made their venture into CS:GO a few months ago. The team they have picked up is one of the best North American teams and although they remain the underdog of this group, they are looking to put themselves in the semifinals.
Group B: Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, Cloud 9, Team Liquid
Photo Credit: ESL
Ninjas in Pyjamas
NiP took first place during the ten week span of the regular season. This team is perhaps one of the most decorated and famous in CS:GO especially with their 87-0 run at the beginning of the game. They fell off in 2015, but has since seen a resurgence when they brought in their coach, THREAT. The last appearance by this team saw them winning DreamHack Masters Malmö. The team has seen tremendous improvement with THREAT as their coach and in-game leader, and are one of the favorites to win this tournament.
Another decorated and famous Swedish team, Fnatic are the biggest rivals to NiP. The past few years have seen both teams fighting back and forth to claim the title of the best Swedish team and best team in the world, but neither seem to be able to break away from the other. Fnatic’s star player, olofmeister is out for this tournament due to a wrist injury and is replaced by Swedish veteran, wenton. However, if anyone gives Fnatic an inch, they will take a mile.
Cloud 9 is possibly the best North American team if one were to discount the Brazilian teams. C9 has seen many roster changes over the last few months, finally settling on Stewie2k and Slemmy to replace fREAKAZOiD and sgares. The team fell off a bit during their shaky period of roster changes, but has since risen up as one of the top teams in North America once again.
Liquid recently did what only one North American team had done before, make it to the semifinals of a major. Perhaps they should have been able to get to the grand finals because they had so many match points to close out their game against LG, but still, it was a huge result for the North American team. Since that time, star player s1mple has left the team, and many people thought that this would result in the collapse of Liquid. However, the team has kept up their level of performance and looks to put North America on the board in London.
It’s always hard to predict who will win tournaments such as these due to the fact that all of these teams are very good and could beat one another. As of now, both Luminosity and Astralis, two huge favorites have lost their first games to G2 and Optic, respectively, and one of them will be facing elimination. The teams most likely to get out of Group A are G2 and Luminosity because of this fact, while Group B should see the two Swedish teams, Fnatic and NiP moving on. Who will win the tournament is completely up in the air as upsets are already happening in the tournament.
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