Gfinity 3 group B preview
Today we're ready to present you the official preview for Gfinity 3's group B, which is also taking place on Saturday, simulatenously with group A.
If you missed our preview for group A - which features the likes of NiP, iBUYPOWER, fnatic, and Epsilon - you can still read it here while waiting for the event to start.
As with group A, there are four teams from our July 2014 world ranking, and mouz, who are just outside of it. Group B actually features two of the four best teams.
Four teams will advance to playoffs from the round robin style group, where they will face teams from group A in a single elimination best-of-three bracket.
Thorin will be analyzing all of this for you on-air at G3
Virtus.pro (byali, Neo, pasha, Snax, TaZ)
The world's second best team, per our world ranking, are the clear favorites in this group. Recently their results have been upside down though, which opens a window for the other teams in this group. After top two finishes at EMS One and Copenhagen Games, the Poles faltered at SLTV StarSeries IX Finals and DreamHack Summer, though only against top teams -- but that's the caliber of teams they'll be facing here as well. At ESEA Finals their result is sketchy due to Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski's issues, but the win versus NiP was legitimate in any case.
Online in SLTV StarSeries X the Poles - who, just like NiP, are also fresh off a vacation - have a decent 7-1-3 record. They've tied fnatic, lost against Na`Vi, ESG and Epsilon, and beaten HellRaisers. In other news, they don't have a lot to show for their online play. Traditionally this team's core was known for poor online results, but that hasn't actually been the case in 2014, when they've gone 10-2-2 in the previous SLTV StarSeries season, qualified for ESEA Finals with a 10-6 record, and won FACEIT Spring League with wins over a bunch of top teams.
Virtus are not bootcamping before G3, choosing to instead focus all their efforts on trying to defend their championship from Katowice at ESL One Cologne in two weeks. That means they probably aren't going to be in tip top shape for this event. Also worth noting is that Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas is supposedly the new in-game leader of the team. Whether that's good or bad we have no way of knowing, but it may take some of the consistency we've grown to appreciate lately out of Virtus.pro's performance. It could also just be a way to mess with other teams for now, only to revert to Filip "NEO" Kubski calling in Cologne.
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||26||1.14|
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||21||1.10|
|Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas||28||1.08|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||27||1.07|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||20||1.06|
If this change is for real, then getting to play five games on Saturday will be a great opportunity for TaZ to get his calling on - like in the old Counter-Strike 1.6 days - and for his teammates to learn how to play under him in matches with real pressure. Since they have to go through three teams they've lost against in the past to clinch a first place in group B, it may seem too tall of a task for a team still not in top shape. However, Titan have struggled for a while, dignitas have had an even longer break, and both ESG and mouz are still largely unproven against teams like Virtus on LAN.
Snax's team starts Gfinity 3 with matches against ESG and mousesports -- the two games that are the most important for then. They are clearly favorites in each, and if they come out on top, they're all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. FM should prove to be no trouble for them, and though they're also favored over both dignitas and Titan, they certainly don't want to go into those matches in must-win situations. It's important that Virtus clinch a playoff spot early on and then use those later matches as practice to shake the rust off.
Virtus are sort of in a NiP-like situation in group B. They are expected to win, but they are still returning from a vacation. They may not be in tip top shape, and though they're favored to top the group, it wouldn't surprise anyone too much if they fell as low as third. Either way, the Poles are a lock to advance to the playoffs, where - in a best-of-three setting - they'll be twice as dangeours. Expect Virtus to make it to the playoffs, where the real games for them begin.
Prediction: 1st in group B
Virtus.pro need more from pasha to win again
dignitas (aizy, device, dupreeh, FeTiSh, Xyp9x)
The Danes led by Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen should be the most interesting team to watch in group B. They have not attended an international event since Copenhagen Games - which ended more than three months ago. They've played a little online since then, but with emphasis on the word little. They're not taking part in the ongoing SLTV StarSeries X season, have not played yet in ESEA Invite Season 17, and according to our database their newest recruit Philip "aizy" Aistrup has only logged twenty-some games with the team, the most recent of which took place well over a month ago.
To say dignitas' current form is a question mark is putting it lightly. They still have three very capable fraggers, as well as someone many consider a good in-game leader, and a young gun trying to fit into the team. Inactivity may hurt others more than dignitas too, as this is a team known for their rock solid defensive play, while they've never really exceled as a force on the terrorist side -- an argument against the leadership of FeTiSh.
Much like every contender-level team, dignitas are focused on ESL One. G3 will serve as a practice tournament for them, and a good chance for aizy to gain some more experience. That's not to say we shouldn't expect them to compete for a spot though, as they've proven with their last two semi-final deep runs that they can get there. However, those were both achieved with René "cajunb" Borg on the team, and with less preparation and less individual skill, it's likely that this team will suffer in the short term, at G3.
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz||18||1.15|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen||21||1.13|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth||18||1.07|
|Philip "aizy" Aistrup||18||1.02|
|Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen||27||0.88|
Though it's clear dignitas are favorites to qualify for the playoffs, and probably to even make the final four, it's hard to call them a lock for either. Group B has five competitive teams, and Xyp9x and company's current form isn't known. Maybe they'll come in as the team who beat NiP online in June - with Jacob "Pimp" Winneche as a stand-in - or maybe they'll have regressed, and finish this group 2-3 to face a much tougher team in the quarter-finals. There's no way to know, and barely any way to even make an educated guess.
dignitas are in for a rough wake up call if they don't show up in shape. First round will pit them against Titan, and with a hungry ESG team up next, they could easily start G3 with a 0-2 record. Third up is mousesports - which is going to be a key match, as it would likely secure a spot in the playoffs together with a win over FM - before Virtus.pro. device's team won't play FM until the very last match, which is probably a negative thing for a team who haven't played in tournaments for a few months. They'd likely prefer to play that match early on.
G3 will be a good test to see how well dignitas' level as a team has survived the test of time off the game. They will still have two weeks to put in crazy hours before ESL One to reach a higher level, but it wouldn't hurt to go to the major with some extra confidence in the bag. Remember this team still hasn't achieved anything with this exact roster -- though the previous one was successful, this one is still unproven. dignitas will hope to change that this weekend. aizy could also make a leap here, if he's used the summer on Counter-Strike, and not vacationing.
Prediction: 3rd in group B
aizy could make a leap as a player at G3
Titan (Ex6TenZ, kennyS, NBK, ScreaM, SmithZz)
Despite proclaiming he would never leave under these circumstances, it's not unthinkable that Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans might call it a day and let Titan do the rebuilding without him if the French-Belgians mess up at these August events, as they have for the most part in 2014 so far. To be fair though, Titan put up a reasonable fight against NiP at DreamHack Summer - even if their HellRaisers loss was brutal - and this combination of players finally bested the Swedes online the other night in a 16-14 battle that saw them overcome a 6-13 deficit, against all odds.
It doesn't seem like Titan will make the playoffs at SLTV StarSeries X after a poor start that saw them start the season 1-3 with losses against ESG, fnatic and HellRaisers. They could go on a tear and still make it to Kiev, but it seems unlikely, unless they raise their level of play significantly, starting with this weekend in London. In the ESL One European Finals Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt's team faced little competition, and they cruised past tomtebloss and encore to guarantee themselves another shot at redemption in Cologne.
Unlike most other teams, Titan have been bootcamping -- and for a while now. Though it's a little discouraging to see NBK- asking Twitter followers for new games to play this close to a major, there's a bunch of top players who are simply gamers and like devouring new games. I wouldn't like to see my team playing other games with their history of results, but it's just nit-picking before we see how they do. The pressure is on either way, and there's no way Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom and company aren't aware of it.
|Kenny "kennyS" Schrub||19||1.19|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||20||1.13|
|Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt||20||1.11|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||25||1.05|
|Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans||24||0.95|
I feel like a broken record already, but with us not knowing what kind of shape every team comes to G3 in, it's going to be super-fun watching all these teams play five games and actually give us some data to go through. It would be a catastrophe if Titan weren't able to get the two wins it will likely take to go through from group B, and seeing as they must be at least even money or better with four teams here, I fully expect them to not only advance, but to do in a surprisingly comfortable fashion.
First up for Ex6TenZ's troops is dignitas, probably the most important match for them in this group. If they beat the Danes, they're in the driver's seat to clinch a second seed going into the playoffs. They will then get warmed up versus FM, and take on the group's top seed, Virtus.pro, in the third round. Even the Poles are beatable for Titan - who beat them at SLTV StarSeries X, most recently - and it really isn't unthinkable that Titan may even escape this group with the first seed. Titan are favored versus mouz, and the ESG match will be a toss-up.
Titan will be feeling good about the NiP win still at G3 - no matter how meaningless the match may seem, even last year it had major implications of things to come - and I think it will show in much needed confidence. Titan haven't had any in ages, but if all of a sudden they get solid performances out of both NBK- and ScreaM while kennyS plays like he usually does, this is one of the world's best teams. SmithZz is a swing vote, but I expect Titan to surprise again at G3 -- this time in a positive fashion.
Prediction: 2nd in group B
If ScreaM shows up in great form, Titan could be deadly
ESG (Delpan, emilio, Maikelele, roque, SKYTTEN)
Prior to last weekend's ESL One European Finals many would have expected ESG to be the surprise team at G3. Now it's not so sure. Especially after how Mikail "Maikelele" Bill and Marcus "Delpan" Larsson commented about Egor "flamie" Vasilyev, ESG is quickly losing supporters -- though that shouldn't affect their level of play. It's not like ESG was going to have these fans from DreamHack outside of Sweden. Since recruiting Delpan to replace Faruk "pita" Pita, ESG have put up strong results online, and they also had a solid showing at DreamHack Summer last month with pita still leading the way.
In SLTV StarSeries X ESG are currently in third place with a 7-1-1 record, having tied LDLC, lost to HellRaisers and scored surprising wins over Titan and Virtus.pro, as well as Epsilon. Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson has been an in-game leader before in LGB, but he's hardly the meticulous type, which means ESG's play will always be more or less a result of how their players are performing on an individual level. That explains last Saturday's slip-up, and it's also the reason why they likely won't do too amazingly in a big group like G3's.
|Mikail "Maikelele" Bill||23||1.07|
|Marcus "Delpan" Larsson||24||1.05|
|Joel "emilio" Mako||21||1.03|
|Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson||21||0.98|
|Fredrik "roque" Honak||22||0.86|
ESG play the teams who are likely going to be their toughest opponents in the first two rounds. Virtus.pro is obviously the group's best team, and I think dignitas will be a tougher match-up for Maikelele and company than Titan, though the latter should be in better shape. The good thing for ESG is that mouz isn't very likely to upset anyone but them, so in a way it may be advantageous to get those two rough games out of the way first - if they can keep their cool - and then go into the deciding match knowing they've just dealt with worse.
The Swedes should be able to make the playoffs from this group, though the margins are hair thin. They will have better communication than mousesports, and so far they've proven they have a higher ceiling on LAN than their main competition for the fourth spot in the playoffs. FM should not be an issue for this team, and it's also entirely possibly they upset one of the top two teams in this group. Just don't bet your money on it happening, and then feel robbed once it doesn't.
SKYTTEN's leadership will be put to the test
mousesports (allu, chrisJ, LEGIJA, nooky, tabseN)
Since adding Aleksi "allu" Jalli roughly a month ago, mousesports's level of play has clearly risen. Though they already had promising results online earlier in the year with Chris "chrisJ" de Jong leading the charge, after a weak showing at EMS One Katowice the German powerhouse dipped and never seemed to find their groove again until Finland's best player joined their ranks. Now they're headed up, but with communication issues still a factor, it remains to be seen if G3 is too soon.
In SLTV StarSeries X mouz has beaten down a buch of weaker teams, as well as Na`Vi, and lost against fnatic. More importantly the team were unable to qualify for ESL One Cologne, as they were the first of many dAT victims on Saturday, and then went onto lose against Copenhagen Wolves in the loser bracket. It's unclear how good mousesports are, and where their ceiling is, but we do know they're not quite there just yet. They're still a fresh team.
|Aleksi "allu" Jalli||22||1.19|
|Chris "chrisJ" de Jong||24||1.16|
|Johannes "tabseN" Wodarz||19||1.01|
|Nikola "LEGIJA" Ninić||23||0.98|
|Andre "nooky" Utesch||28||0.96|
mousesports get to open G3 with a main stage match against FM. Assuming they get the win they're supposed to get, that should leave them with four matches to try to snatch two wins from. Even one win may be enough -- if it's against the right team, and that team doesn't win another game. It's possible for mouz to see the playoffs at G3 - definitely - but they simply aren't favored to do so. allu and chrisJ can be dominant individually, and that's what mouz will need on Saturday.
The reality is that without crazy individiaul efforts, mousesports are the fifth best team in this group. G3 will be a good indicator of things to come - they may qualify for SLTV StarSeries X Finals in late August - but it's still very early, considering the communication issues. allu has been crazy good since joining, and it's not impossible for him to get hot enough to get mouz a playoff spot. For now, they should be fine with some good matches, even without advancement.
Prediction: 5th in group B
allu is mouz's key player
FM eSports (jakem, REAZN, Sheekey, SPUDZ, ZED)
Much like their countrymen in group A, FM are heavy underdogs coming into this group. Their only merit as a team has been winning the British G3 qualifier, where they didn't have to overcome any big names. Only George "ZED" Bear has experience playing against big teams on LAN out of this group of players, and this event will surely sere more as a learning experience than anything else for this team.
FM consists of five ex-Source players, with ZED the biggest name in the team, while Craig "REAZN" Brackenridge is also expected to do well. They haven't been together for long, which is only going to serve as a disadvantage for the already handicapped team. They have a long road ahead of them, and it most likely will not be pretty, no matter how you look at it.
|George "ZED" Bear||20||0.95|
|Jake "jakem" McCausland||23||0.84|
|Craig "REAZN" Brackenridge||26||0.83|
|Thomas "SPUdZ" White||19||0.73|
|Jonathan "Sheekey" Sheekey||22||N/A|
FM will open G3 on the main stage against mousesports. It's the one shot this team truly has at getting an upset win -- first match of the day, local crowd, big stage, it's all there. It'd be a good story for the books, but odd are stacked against it. From there on out it gets tougher, as they face Titan, ESG, dignitas and finally Virtus.pro later on Saturday.
No one should expect FM to get out of group B at Gfinity 3, and that's fine. They come in as challengers, locals trying to gain some experience playing against the best, and they'll get that. Getting five maps is a godsend for the type of team who'd normally play two or three maps and head home, and maybe they'll be able to build on this in the future by sticking together and attending more events.
Prediction: 6th in group B
ZED already represented FM at ESWC 2012
Gfinity 3 kicks off at 10:00 on Saturday, and HLTV.org will be on-site to provide you with full coverage of the $45,000 tournament at the Olympic Park in London.