ESEA Invite S14 Global Finals preview
ESEA Invite Season 14 finals will be held this coming weekend in Dallas, TX with teams such as NiP, Curse and compLexity competing for the $20,000 first place prize.
Although only one European team is able to make the trip due to sponsorship issues among the CS:GO scene and changes in teams like Virtus.pro and Na`Vi wrecking their odds, there will be good games to watch.
Curse and coL will be going head-to-head to find out who is the best in North America, and with Curse having taken the upper hand online and ex-Quantic joined coL, both have something to prove.
What will happen in Dallas this weekend?
There are also challengers in the form of Danny "fRoD" Montaner's cuLtivation, Stay Frosty and Frost Gaming. Finally, let's not forget the number one team in the world, Ninjas in Pyjamas.
To top it all off, North American viewers will have extra interest in the fact that one ESWC spot will also be given out in Dallas. NiP is already qualified, so one North American will gain a spot.
NiP (f0rest, Fifflaren, friberg, GeT_RiGhT, Xizt)
With other Europeans opting to stay home and not attend this season's ESEA Finals, NiP are all but a lock to repeat their title performance from season 13 and travel back to Sweden $20,000 richer on Monday. MonoManiac and FrostGaming are completely out of their league in the upper bracket, and neither Curse nor compLexity has put in the kind of preparation to have a realistic chance at beating NiP twice in a best-of-three.
I could see NiP drop a map or two throughout the tournament because they will not have played for a few days by the time ESEA finals kick off, but they are simply far too seasoned as a team to let any of the unexperienced Americans take them down in a series, let alone two. Pending one of the biggest upsets in CS:GO history, NiP will leave Dallas as two time ESEA champions.
Will GeT_RiGhT celebrate again in Dallas?
Curse (adreN, anger, AZK, mosbeck, Skadoodle)
Curse's last international trip was a massive disappointment as the American side traded maps with Epsilon, DreamHack Summer's runner-ups, and got demolished by Copenhagen Wolves. The poor showing led to Stan "stan^" Sukachov's departure, and the team recruited online star Justin "mosbeck" Mosbeck, who has put up impressive numbers online (.949 KPR in ESEA this season) but has virtually no experience at big LAN tournaments. Cody "ezpk" Shirley was also replaced earlier in the spring, following Curse's disappointing ESEA finals showing.
This season Curse was dominant online, finishing the regular season 16-0 and with five players in the top six of the regular season statistically. They also took down compLexity in the regular season, although it happened over fourty days ago with Sukachov still on the roster. It's safe to say Curse have looked much better, but then again Eric "adreN" Hoag also told ESEA News they felt just as prepared for DreamHack, but weren't able to produce results in Jönköping.
Curse have a very realistic chance at getting second at this LAN or possibly even taking a map from NiP. They lost a 14-16 battle last ESEA LAN and possess more firepower this time around. That being said, although coL has been slacking lately, I think they have a nice psychological edge over Curse that will allow them to make top two, even if it's through lower bracket. Expect Curse to finish third, just short of an ESWC birth.
Will adreN & co have reason to celebrate this weekend?
compLexity (hiko, n0thing, semphis, sgares, swag)
It's too bad compLexity haven't basically put in any work since the team completely revamped its roster after last season's ESEA LAN, because I think the core of Sean "sgares" Gares, Kory "semphis" Friesen and Spencer "hiko" Martin can, given solid preparation, surprise a lot of people. It doesn't seem like Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert is motivated enough to play CS:GO at a top level without having the kind of backing he enjoyed in EG, and it's a shame for the North American community.
The biggest wildcard for this team is actually Gilbert, who has been fairly average so far this season in coL's online matches. If he can step his game up and become the top rifler of this team on LAN, they would suddenly possess a lot more firepower which could cause teams, even NiP, some problems. The core can bring this team to the podium and if they're playing reasonably well they should be able to get second, but posing a threat to NiP might be out of question, depending how well the team's preparation has gone in the final week leading up to this event.
I don't see cuLtivation causing too many issues for coL and I think the first of what I expect will be two Curse matchups will not matter. What matters is if coL can beat Curse in the consolidation final, and whether or not they can take a map off of NiP. For this team the goal should be placing second; not only because of how good NiP is, but to qualify for ESWC. If they get second and play well versus NiP they will be even better next time, but without a top two placing I can't see the recent [POD]Cast guest sticking to coL.
Can sgares lead coL to another top finish?
cuL (applesauce, dizzaman, fRoD, Storm, Warden)
cuLtivation are a massive underdog heading into ESEA Finals and anything above a fourth place finish for the seasoned veterans would be a gigantic surprise. The ex-coL/EG trio definitely possess a lot of experience and I wouldn't be surprised to see them beat Frost Gaming if they were to face them in the lower bracket, but I assume the young guns of MonoManiac likely have too much firepower for the old guard. Danny "fRoD" Montaner has been the team's star with a .787 KPR in the regular season, but he will be outmatched alone unless the likes of Tyler "Storm" Wood put in numbers.
cuL actually defeated compLexity 16-12 on de_inferno_se in the regular season thanks to a monstrous 32-19 Montaner performance, but I wouldn't count on it happening again at the finals. They played other playoff teams only on custom maps, but lost all of them for a very average 9-7 record that only saw them qualify for the finals thanks to European teams dropping out. With that being said, if they've put in a lot of hours in the last few weeks they could pull off an upset versus one of the other two bottomfeeders in Dallas, but it'd be a shock to me if they put up a fight versus coL, Curse or NiP.
fRoD showing up should bring some old school fans out
MonoManiac (arya, juv3nile, kiko, RUSH, TM-)
Built around two former Curse members Preston "juv3nile" Dornon and Zach "TM-" Miller, MonoManiac secured a last minute sponsorship and will face off with Frost Gaming in the opening round of ESEA Finals. Considering their first round opponent Frost Gaming's last minute player change and their comfortable regular season win and much stronger overall play, you'd have to give Francis "kiko" Lao & co the advantage in the series.
Obviously Lao will be stomped by NiP, as he was at the previous season's finals when representing Denial eSports, in the second round, but they will then get a chance to play cuL in the lower bracket, pending their loss versus coL. Unfortunately mManiac will then have to take on either compLexity or Curse in the lower bracket finals, and I don't see them realistically being able to take either one out, although a map win could be conceivable under the right circumstances. Expect the up and comers to finish fourth.
kiko has another mountain to climb in Dallas
Frost (clowN, ezpk, fREAKAZOiD, mOE, ShahZaM)
Frost Gaming have a tough road ahead of them, made even tougher by the last minute departure of Jon "hauNt" Wilson. According to Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert on [POD]Cast #14, Wilson rage-quit the squad during a practice session versus compLexity. To fill the void left by his departure, Frost have brought in Mohamed "mOE" Assad's CGS teammate Yazan "clowN" Ammari, who hasn't been competing in CS:GO actively and will therefore likely not be in great shape to help the squad upset any of the stronger teams.
Frost Gaming's best chance at a top four placing is through a first round upset of mManiac as that would give them a matchup versus cuLtivation in the lower bracket after a beating at the hands of NiP. I don't see them pulling it off due to their handicap, but if it were to happen it'd require a strong performance by former Team Dynamic member Ryan "fREAKAZOiD" Abadir who was their best performer in the regular season with a .793 KPR. I wouldn't hold my breath, but don't rule it out - these guys can get really loud, and the youngsters of mManiac might struggle with that.
ezpk will be competing versus his former teammates in Dallas
ESEA Invite Season 14 Global Finals will begin on Friday, August 16th in Dallas, TX. HLTV.org will provide you with full coverage including Dreamteam, stats and galleries for the event.