Leonard Schilcher – ESL Pro League
Team Liquid, NRG Esports, Space Soldiers, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Na’Vi and Astralis have claimed their playoff spots for the LAN Finals, starting on the 14th of May in Dallas.
In Europe, three more spots are available and in North America four, meaning we will get crucial and tense matches in the final week of Pro League.
The race to avoid relegation promises just as much tension. EnVy had a strong showing, as they managed to move up the ranks a bit. Dignitas remains the most likely team in NA to play relegation, but at least they have secured their first points of the season.
The leading quartet of the Ninjas in Pyjamas (46 points), Space Soldiers (46 points), Na’Vi (43 points) and Astralis (42 points) are through to the playoffs.
All four had a solid week, but the Turkish Soldiers had to concede two losses to Astralis, perhaps indicating a bad match-up for XANTARES & Co.
Na’Vi also faced Astralis and managed to take both maps on train and inferno. An interesting dynamic between the European elite could develop on LAN, seeing how the Ukrainians split maps with the Space Soldiers. Also nice to have Na’Vi back at the Pro League Finals after their unsuccessful campaign in Season 6.
FaZe (41 points), mousesports (40 points) and North (35 points) currently occupy ranks 5 through 7. FaZe aren’t yet through mathematically, but a single point in their remaining two matches against Space Soldiers would seal the deal, and even if they lose both maps, only extremely bad luck could prevent them from going to Texas.
The same goes for mouz. Their participation at the Finals is almost a guarantee, one map against EnVy or Space Soldiers will ensure their LAN spot.
And the final seventh spot is tightly contested by North (35 points), G2 (33 points), HellRaisers (29 points) and Heroic (28 points). North and G2 have two maps remaining, HellRaisers and Heroic four.
HellRaisers and North still face one another. G2 has to deal with Na’Vi and Heroic faces EnVy and AGO, the easiest route of the four teams. Who will go through is anyone’s guess, the only certainty is that it’s going to be tense.
Especially as EnVy and AGO are deeply involved in the relegation fight, meaning they won’t be giving up points for free.
Match Of The Week Recap – G2 Esports vs. HellRaisers
Being in the thick of the playoff race, both teams could have made a huge step towards qualification with a 2-0 here. In the end, the situation for both teams didn’t drastically change, as they split maps 1-1 on inferno and mirage.
First up was mirage, where I saw the HellRaisers having the upper hand. Especially with the way woxic has been playing recently, the map is perfect for a dominant sniper like him. But after a decent start on the terrorist side, winning 7 rounds in the half, kennyS & Co. completely shut down the HellRaisers in the second half, not allowing ANGE1s boys to get on the board a single time, for a final score of 16-7 for the Frenchies.
On inferno is was a different story entirely, as the HellRaisers turned it up a notch and took the map with a 16-10 victory. Again it was a close first half, which G2 lost 7-8 and on the terrorist side, HR dominated on the server, only allowing the French team three rounds. It was an extraordinary team performance by HellRaisers where each player was rated at an HLTV rating of 1.24 or higher.
Team Liquid (48 points) and NRG Esports (44 points) are so far the only two teams through to the finals in NA. Liquid was inactive past week, so we didn’t get a chance to see them play with TACO yet. But their first place is almost guaranteed.
NRG on the other hand showed some weaknesses for the first time this season. They lost both maps against the Renegades, split maps with OpTic and won against compLexity. One more match against Luminosity, should see them head to Dallas as the second seed.
OpTic (35 points) and Cloud9 (34 points) comfortably sit on ranks three and four. Both need only one victory on their remaining four matches to qualify for the LAN finals.
SK Gaming (30 points), Renegades (30 points), Luminosity (25 points) and Rogue (21 points) are engaged in the battle for the final two spots.
The problem for the Brazilians is, they have only two more maps left to play against Renegades, which they absolutely need to win. They beat Dignitas 2-0 and split maps with coL 1-1 past week. The loss to coL is something a team of SK’s calibre cannot afford in a situation like this. Now they don’t control their own fate. If Luminosity wins all of their remaining maps and Renegades win against Rogue and Dignitas, which is quite likely, SK would be out.
Even Rogue can still make it into the playoffs if they win all six remaining maps.
It took a while, but finally Team Dignitas collected their first points of the season with map wins against Splyce and Ghost Gaming. Unfortunately it’s a bit late, and most likely won’t be enough to avoid having to play in relegation.
Match Of The Week Recap – OpTic Gaming vs. Luminosity Gaming
Both teams were at the brink of the playoff ranks at the start of the week with a tremendous chance of pulling ahead with a strong performance in this series.
The NA-EU mix from OpTic did use the opportunity to cement their position in the playoff race, and with two map wins here are almost certainly going to Dallas. Luminosity on the other hand are in a difficult position now, but at least they still control their own fate. They have four matches in the final week and can guarantee qualification by winning all of them.
In this series the teams started out on de_train. The Brazilians started on the T-side and raked in a respectable 6 rounds, a good result on the tougher side. But Stanislaw pulled the strings like a true puppet master and dismantled Luminosity’s defence. A quick and easy 16-8 by OpTic, with cajunb leading the way.
We got to see more of the same on inferno. OpTic again pulled off a strong T-side, winning 10-5. gade then propelled his team to a 16-7 victory with 26 frags in 23 rounds.
Highlights Of The Week
Do not miss the final week!
After a one week break, we will be returning with more EPL action from both regions on Tuesday the 24th.
Tune in here to watch your favorite teams battle for a spot in the offline finals in Dallas. If you want to watch the season finals, you can purchase tickets here.
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