Leonard Schilcher – ESL Gaming
While EPL was on break, the entire Counter-Strike scene has been in turmoil last week when rumors surfaced that SK Gaming is on the verge of signing S1mple and flamie to their roster.
While the rumors turned out to be true, the deal never materialized. However, it set in motion an avalanche of player swapping amongst the absolute top teams that hasn’t yet reached the valley.
What we know, is that Skadoodle and Stewie2k left Cloud9. The former into inactivity and the latter to join SK Gaming. TACO leaves the Brazilian squad, and is likely in talks with Team Liquid, though it hasn’t been confirmed yet. Who C9 will bring in to replace Stewie and Ska is unknown.
Finally, olofmeister is taking a leave of absence due to unspecified personal reasons. NiP’s Xizt will take his spot amongst the international powerhouse until olof returns.
Each of these team’s season is on the line. There’s no time to waste getting used to the new teammates, as pressure is already vast.
Let’s have a closer look at both regions.
Na’Vi dodged a bullet, almost losing two of their best players at once. They managed to hold on to S1mple and flamie however, and as Zeus pointed out, this should only make the team stronger, in an already highly successful EPL campaign. The Ukrainians are first in the league with 10W-1OTW-3L for 32 points and if Zeus prediction turns out to be true, we’re in for a ride, especially since electronic is beginning to find his stride within Na’Vi.
Continuing to impress are the Space Soldiers, trailing Na’Vi by one point only, with 10W-3L-1OTL. Magisk’s addition to Astralis is paying off big time. The Danes are third with 8W-1OTW-4L-1OTL and seem on the verge of regaining their long lost consistency and dominance.
The seventh and final spot to claim a playoff ticket is tightly contested by a quartet of teams, consisting of G2 (6W-9L-1OTL), Heroic (5W-2OTW-9L), North (6W-8L) and Hellraisers (4W-2OTW-3L-1OTL).
In Europe’s cellar, it’s LDLC, AGO and EnVy with seemingly no hope of fighting their way out of relegation taking their performances to date into consideration.
Match Of The Week – Astralis vs. Fnatic
After two very successful months, in which Fnatic returned to glory after a two year absence by winning two titles at IEM Katowice and WESG China, their situation in EPL isn’t quite as promising. They have only played ten matches so far, but lost six of them, ranking them 11th in the league. It’s definitely not too late for the Swedes to make up for the missing points, but it’s not going to be easy, with Space Soldiers, Astralis, FaZe and Na’Vi still on the schedule.
Astralis are ranked third quite comfortably. NiP and mouz only trail by one and two points respectively, but the sixth placed FaZe is already seven points behind. Magisk has been a great addition to the team. He’s finding his form again that made him such an astounding player in North, and maybe even more importantly, his presence seems to have revitalized the entire squad. dupreeh has found huge success as entry again, device’s AWP plays seem even less predictable and Xyp9x’s clutch abilities are back.
The two teams are meeting on de_inferno first, a map that should be closely contested with slight advantages for the Swedes. Especially flusha, JW and KRiMZ have been inferno veterans for ages and when it mattered most, they usually found a way to win.
Thereafter, the teams switch to de_overpass, a map on which Astralis should be heavily favored, as one of the world’s best on it. The Swedes will have to dig deep if they want to beat the Danes here. Especially on the CT side, gla1ve and his boys are unpredictable and aggressive, yet consistent. Golden will have to lead his boys with confidence to meet Astralis on eye level. My prediction is a 1-1 in this two map series.
Twelve matches into the season, Liquid and NRG impressively lead the league with an identical record of 10W-1OTW-1L. Both teams have dominated the opposition so far and clash this week to determine the true number one.
Luminosity (8W-5l-1OTL), OpTic (7W-1OTW-4L), Rogue (7W-9L) and Renegades (5W-1OTW-3L-1OTL) fill out the remaining four playoff spots.
Still in the bottom half of the board are C9 (5W-5L-2OTL) and SK (3W-7L). The Brazilians especially are going to be exciting to watch going forward, with Stewie2k in the line-up. They can still turn things around, considering they’ve already faced the toughest opponents. As for C9, it is questionable what the future holds. We’ll have to wait and see who they bring in to replace Stewie and Skadoodle.
Match Of The Week – Team Liquid vs NRG Esports
Number One versus Number One, Liquid versus NRG. Do not miss the clash of NA’s finest on Wednesday.
NRG is the surprise team of EPL this season, across both regions. Their young guns are performing miles above expectations, and especially CeRq is a tyrant with his AWP. In the K/D department, NRG has three players in the top four, only trailing S1mple. Average team K/D rate, they lead both regions by a mile.
Yes, their results have come from online play only, which means we have to take them with a grain of salt. However, NRG managed to qualify for IEM Sydney 2018, which means we’ll soon be seeing them in action offline. One of the most exciting teams to watch right now, and I can’t wait to see if they can confirm their form on LAN.
Even before Cloud9’s roster moves, Liquid had arguably acquired number one status in NA, but now it’s undeniable. They now carry the hope of an entire region to get those international titles, and with one of the most deadly trios in Counter-Strike, ELiGE, NAF and Twistzz, they are more than capable of carrying that hope.
Both teams are seven points ahead of the trailing Luminosity Gaming. Still, a preliminary decision over who might claim the number one seed at the end of the season is on the line, which makes this clash quite spicy. Depending on the maps, Liquid should have the upper hand, but daps has shown that he knows how to command his young comrades, and they will certainly be hungry for the victory!
Welcome to Week 5!
As always we will be returning with more EPL action from both regions on Tuesday.