Why G3 trumps ESL One Cologne
With G3 kicking off on Saturday, we take a look at some of the reasons why for now you should be more excited about the $45,000 tournament than ESL One.
ESL One Cologne is the event of mid-2014. It has the most prize money, most prestige, probably the best teams and it's the one everyone is going to want to win the most.
Despite the prize purse hardly being comparable, this weekend's Gfinity 3 in London offers plenty of other reasons, than how much money the players will win, to get you excited about.
This short article will quickly explain why you should be psyched to watch Gfinity 3 this weekend, and point out some of the ways it actually is more interesting than its bigger brother two weeks later.
An event doesn't have to have more prize money to be more exciting
It's more wide open
By the time ESL One rolls around G3 will have told us who is in good shape, who won't do well, and who are the clear favorites to end up on the podium in Cologne. On the other hand, G3 is wide open in comparison, and we could really see some huge surprises this weekend.
We get to see how good iBP's new roster is in Europe and how well the new rosters of mousesports, fnatic and ESG fare at a LAN tournament after promising online results. We also find out whether dignitas can still perform after a long break, and if Titan have figured out what to change so they can return to the top.
A bunch of top teams have been on vacation to charge their batteries before ESL One, which opens the window to the underdogs. We know NiP and Virtus.pro have taken breaks, and some other teams still lack routine and experience playing together at tournaments after going through roster changes earlier in the summer.
I'm not sure if any team will bootcamp before G3, since everyone's full attention will be on ESL One. If teams are playing at, for example, 80% of their maximum level, it goes without saying that increases the chances for upsets to happen -- similar to what took place at ESEA Finals, only this time with many more top teams around.
Gfinity 3 will also be an easier event to play in for some of the underdogs - namely London Conspiracy and mousesports - as they will have less pressure on themselves than they would at a major. It could also mean more upsets in the massive groups, which are again played in best-of-one.
Finally, it's been over three months since as many top teams attended an event - Copenhagen Games - and by the time ESL One kicks off two weeks later, it won't be as exciting - though still very interesting, without a doubt - to see all the top teams battle it out again. What we don't know is more intriguing than what we do.
Do FeTiSh's dignitas still have it after their lengthy break?
The format is more interesting
Although both tournaments possess best-of-one group stages, and ESL One's GSL style groups will arguably be less random than G3's round robin format, G3 should be more interesting to follow. We will see more teams face different opponents, giving us more intriguing match-ups. With four teams advancing from each group, results should matter until the very end -- which lessens one of the biggest disadvantages of the round robin format.
Each team will play against five teams, so whereas in the past some might have said certain teams were given unlucky draws or that another team scoring a flukey upset win helped a team advance, this time one or two upset wins should not be enough for most teams. Both groups have six teams, and four will advance -- you will need to score some wins to go through.
Sometimes it feels we're robbed of certain match-ups because of other results. Now at G3 we're going to truly see just how good iBUYPOWER are, because they're guaranteed to play against NiP, Epsilon and fnatic. Short of an eight team invitational tournament taking place in the future, you will never see that happening at another event.
G3 have still gone the traditional route with a single elimination best-of-three playoffs, which should guarantee us that the best team wins. This group format could result in some ugly three-way ties - which is why the GSL format is superior to it - but it's still a lot of fun for the spectators.
GSL format is superior, but G3's offers more good matches
G3 has a better schedule for viewers
While ESL One Cologne will run on Thursday through Sunday, all of G3's action has been packed to just two days. As long as you're lucky enough to be able to focus on Counter-Strike for those two days, you're going to be in for a treat. G3 features eight of the world's twelve best teams, and you're going to see a ton of matches between them.
Due to having such a packed schedule, it also means you'll get almost non-stop action for the weekend. Instead of only playing a few matches a day, one at a time, you get to pick between three matches going on at the same time during the two group stages -- though you may miss out on some, it means you will never, ever get bored.
Playoffs will be staggered with two quarter-finals colliding - which is a shame - but that's the case with most tournaments anyway. What G3 have done differently is made sure the most boring phase of the tournament - the group stage - is also very interesting, and that makes the event as a whole much more intriguing, knowing it's great from the get go. Plus, you will only miss two quarter-finals -- semi-finals are not scheduled to overlap.
Last but not least, due to G3 being able to run its event until the evening, even North Americans will be able to watch. ESL One will be held at Gamescom - which closes its doors at 20:00 on Thu-Sat, and 18:00 on Sunday - which means the grand final is guaranteed to take place at an hour that will make it harder for the North Americans to tune in.
G3's schedule works out for North American viewers
The map pool, and selection system, is better
G3 isn't community-funded, and therefore doesn't have to abide by Valve's rules. They removed the barely played de_train, and replaced it with de_cache, but never added de_cobblestone or de_overpass. Those maps aren't ready for serious competition, and pros seem to agree, which is why it's good they wont be played in London this weekend.
Look, fans want new maps, and Valve have done their best to enforce they'd be played in Cologne. The problem is the maps aren't ready for competitive play - we don't even know if anyone will play them - and the new map selection system they've forced ESL to implement simply makes the results far more random, as outlined in this article.
At G3 you know teams will not be playing maps they couldn't properly prepare for, for one reason or another, and a series won't come down to a random draw between the remaining maps. I don't know about you, but I'd rather let teams strategize their map selection process as well, instead of leaving it up to pure chance.
Map selection process won't involve randomness in London
New fnatic, Epsilon, LC, mouz and ESG debut at G3
G3 is going to be the first event the new fnatic roster with Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson will compete at. They've had promising results online, and all the signs point towards this change being an upgrade. Now we finally get to see this roster in action, and find out whether Markus "pronax" Wallsten has figured a way for all these players to co-exist on the same team.
Epsilon already proved they are a team to watch out for when Richard "shox" Papillon's great performance in Valencia netted them a spot in the grand final and a win over HellRaisers. Now the squad has added promising player Joey "fxy0" Schlosser who should help shox's burden. Though Epsilon also qualified for ESL One, G3 will be the new roster's debut event.
A team not many expected to be able to compete with the big names prior to last weekend is London Conspiracy. After adding veteran player Preben "prb" Gammelsæter, the Norwegians bested k1ck in the opening round of the European ESL One Finals, and then survived a tough battle versus Natus Vincere to grab a spot in Cologne. If they can upset Na`Vi in a best-of-three series, they can be a serious threat in a best-of-one group stage.
Another team debuting in London is mousesports, who recently added Aleksi "allu" Jalli and since have been tearing their opposition apart in SLTV StarSeries X, while allu has climbed to fourth place in our player rankings. mouz would have to upset one of Titan, dignitas, Virtus.pro or ESG to advance, and while it's a tall task, it's possible if they can play like they have online.
Finally, the new version of ESG - one with Faruk "pita" Pita gone, and Marcus "Delpan" Larsson in - will make its debut at the Olympic Park. Mikail "Maikelele" Bill has been great in 2014 and has especially been in carry-mode in online play after DreamHack. His team could be the biggest winners in August in terms of jumping up the world rankings, and it's going to be exciting seeing them play on LAN.
olofm will have his LAN debut with fnatic this weekend
iBUYPOWER is going to be at G3
This will make the North Americans happy. Obviously they are going to be at ESL One too - with compLexity also in attendance - but by then we'll already know whether they can now perform in Europe or not, which is going to remove half the fun of seeing them play. Plus, they will be fresh off a nearly two weeks long bootcamp in London.
If iBUYPOWER are as good as plenty of fans commenting on our July 2014 world ranking seem to believe, we should expect them to make top four in London without issues, seeing as three of the teams ranked above them won't even be present at Gfinity 3. Is Sam "DaZeD" Marine's team a lock for a semi-finals spot though? I doubt it.
There's a reasonable chance iBP shows up to play and makes the semi-finals, and in that case they've proven they're exactly as good as our ranking suggests. There's also a reasonable chance they get upset and falter in the quarter-finals, or surprise everyone by making the grand final. Either way, G3 will tell us how good they are.
By the time ESL One begins they will be in slightly better shape, but so will everyone else. In fact I would argue if iBUYPOWER were to make the top four at one of these two events, it's almost guaranteed to happen in London -- which makes Gfinity all the more exciting for those interested in following Braxton "swag" Pierce and company.
Can swag's iBP prevail in Europe, too?
This is not to say you shouldn't be psyched for ESL One Cologne, but merely to point out that you shouldn't count out G3 simply because it has less prize money.
The major on August 14-17 will surely be the one to look back on once the month is all said and done, but for now, you should be getting excited for Gfinity 3.
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