The big FACEIT Finals storylines

As the summer's best tournament, in terms of level of competition, kicks off tomorrow, we take a look at the most important storylines heading into the event.

In early June we saw TSM score so far their last international success by taking out fnatic in the grand final of fragbite Masters Finals, only to go inactive for rest of the month due to school.

Shortly after the Black and Orange rebounded by winning DreamHack Summer over Na`Vi, who placed second, and defeated EnVyUs in the SLTV StarSeries XIII grand final next week.

To round up June, EnVy thrashed NiP in the Gfinity Summer Masters I grand final, only to get knocked out by the surprise of July so far, Cloud9, in the group stage of ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals.

Another team knocked out early in Cologne was TSM - who lost to Keyd Stars and fnatic, whose kryptonite they had been all spring - who are now looking to bounce back in Valencia.

Biggest surprise of EEPL was Cloud9, who took fnatic to their limit in a best-of-five grand final, and then came within rounds of winning ESWC a week later in Montreal, versus Na`Vi.

In Montreal, NiP fell short against FlipSid3, who had to use Spencer "Hiko" Martin as a stand-in. EnVyUs imploded - with their roster change plans ruining their semi-final against Cloud9.

Now the Frenchmen have had to skip Valencia due to contractual issues, and were replaced by Kinguin. Six of the world's ten best teams remain competing for $150,000 in Valencia.


Hiko's FlipSid3 put NiP under some extra pressure to perform here 

 

Where did Virtus.pro go?

Fair question towards the team who are the last one to take down fnatic in a best-of-three or best-of-five series not called TSM. It's been a long time - a few days short of three full months - but the Virtus plow mode probably still exists within the Polish team, though it seems harder and harder to engage these days. Though Filip "NEO" Kubski has sparked up in 2015, it hasn't been enough to offset the relatively weaker play of Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski, or Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski's struggles to stay above a 1.00 rating.

The low point for this roster in 2015 came in late June, when they were knocked out of Gfinity Summer Masters I by mousesports in a best-of-three series. They had to miss ESWC due to Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas's wedding - which likely affected their preparation as well - and are now looking to get back on top in Valencia. Unfortunately, the field this week is likely tougher than at any non-major event in 2015, and it is going to take some work for Virtus to even get out of the group stage. Luckily, they can still easily do so.

The opener versus Na`Vi will be tough - but they have always matched up well against the ex-CIS powerhouse, and you can't rule them out ina best-of-one - or best-of-three, for that matter - setting. Virtus have a loss versus Kinguin in their record, but overall you probably still should favor Snax's team. Finally, there's Cloud9. Virtus have a good record versus them, but it's likely this is the match that will decide their fate. Lately the North Americans have been better, but it's definitely within reach. 


Snax hasn't been his dominant self in 2015 


Can NiP outperform our expectations?

Frankly this shouldn't be too hard these days because even the most vocal NiP fans have become oddly quiet in recent weeks and there simply isn't a case to be made that favors NiP going through to the semi-finals from group B. While there's no doubt they are huge favorites over Liquid - who aren't pushovers, by the way - they haven't beaten fnatic in a meaningful series in forever, and their record versus TSM isn't much better, if any.

NiP will take on Team SoloMid in their opener tomorrow. Now, hear me out. This is a winnable game for the Ninjas. We're talking about a best-of-one against a team that lost to Keyd Stars two weeks ago. Granted, NiP also went out versus FlipSid3 a few days ago in a best-of-three, but that doesn't mean they can't pull one good map out of themselves. Or two. Especially given the inactivity of TSM and their poor showing at ESL ESEA, you could talk me into NiP taking them down in a best-of-one.

The Ninjas are one of the teams who are still, I think, able to take down any team at any given point if their game gets going. The problem is their play style is outdated, Richard "Xizt" Landström seemingly offers no strategic input - and neither does Joona "natu" Leppänen, as far as a spectator can tell - and this team has been playing in a similar way since the Robin "Fifflaren" Johansson days. NiP has to perform, or change. We'll see which comes first.


f0rest's NiP are facing an uphill battle 

 

Are international teams the future?

Among the shameful losses to teams the some of our readers have never even heard of, Kinguin have also scored some impressive wins -- over Na`Vi and Virtus.pro in best-of-three series, and taken a map from TSM. This team has some potential. In addition to that, with Nikola "NiKo" Kovač as a stand-in the team also won the Gaming Paradise qualifier over FlipSid3. Since then they've removed Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson - who seemed like a bad fit to begin with - and added Dennis "dennis" Edman as a replacement.

International teams are going to become more and more popular, but the popularity will ultimately be decided by teams like Kinguin. If they succeed, more funding will come. If not, not many will be willing to fly players like Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg overseas simply to be an overqualified role player on an average team. FlipSid3 succeeded with Hiko at ESWC, even if that showing will never be replicated.

As Xizt tweeted, an international team could be really dangerous, if done right. If Kinguin were to figure out a way to add Richard "shox" Papillon to its already talented roster, we could be talking about a real dark horse team. For now, we'll see if Kinguin can be one of the teams to really reap the benefits of early best-of-one games in the group stage and score some upsets. If not, given how late they got a spot, that's fine too. They are underdogs without expectations this time around.


Could Kinguin become the trailblazers for other international teams? 

 

Can anyone take advantage of the format?

All matches on day one are going to be played in best-of-one mode. That means the first match for every team, and the winner's match for each group, will see the winner decided in one map. As a result, a team could win two best-of-one matches and go through as the winner of the group, facing likely an easier opponent in the semi-finals from the other group. Unless upsets take place.

With the two elimination games from each group played in best-of-three, it's actually likely that if major upsets were to take place, they would take place on day one. As a result, I would wager that if one of the underdogs were to go through, it'd be likely they would advance as the winners of the group, as opposed to the second seed, the usual way an underdog can manage to find their way into the playoffs in a tournament like this.

For underdog teams it provides a great chance if they start the tournament hot. Realistically a team like Kinguin, or NiP could probably play good enough Counter-Strike for two hours - with one of those hours being the first time the players touch the game for a day - and escape unscathed in a group they were supposed to get knocked out of. We'll see if any underdogs can gain from the unusual format -- which, it has to be noted, is still better than simply using best-of-one all the way.


fnatic may be the only team who shouldn't like the best-of-one group stage 

 

Which TSM will we see in Valencia?

Again, fnatic has only lost to TSM since April 19. Unfortunately for the Danish team's fans, that SoloMid team may not currently exist, depending on how well they have used the time to prepare since ESL ESEA Pro League Season 1 Finals. They went into the event saying they were unprepared, and it showed -- as they got knocked out in dead last place by Keyd Stars, and fnatic.

TSM had to miss ESWC due to a player having other plans on the weekend. Since ESL ESEA, they've had maybe five or six days one might expect them to be able to find good practice, especially with ESWC hogging up the weekend. Unless their problems were more of the kind that simply required them to go over tactics together in an empty server, it's possible they haven't yet had enough time to fix whatever issues they had in Cologne.

With the Danes led by Finn "karrigan" Andersen seemingly the only team capable of taking down fnatic, the Black and Orange must hope the Danes falter before an expected grand final showdown. TSM matches up far worse versus other teams than fnatic, and frankly, it'd be hard to expect them to be in the shape that saw them run through the Counter-Strike scene in the spring, but we'll be much smarter about this on Friday evening.


Will TSM regain their spring form in time for FACEIT Finals? 

 

Can Cloud9 make it to another grand final?

Following two straight grand final appearances at big international tournaments, it's clear Cloud9 are now a legitimate top team, even if the big win is still missing from their resumes. Still, with a tournament this stacked, it's not even clear if they are actually favored to advance from the group stage and make it to the playoffs, let alone appear in a third consectuvie grand final, in three weeks' time.

This time Cloud9 won't be able to fly under the radar as the perennial underdogs and underachievers they had become known in the past ten to eleven months, following the solid showing at ESL One Cologne 2014. Teams should absolutely take them seriously, and will likely consider the fact their success so far has largely been attributed to Sean "seang@res" Gares's leadership and ability to read other teams and prepare anti-tactics against them.

Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert played great in Montreal, but Mike "shroud" Grzesiek was mostly missing. Regardless of issues with his resolution of choice, he should have done better - and that's likely what would have pushed Cloud9 over Na`Vi in the grand final. This time it will be harder, and it will only get harder from here. They say the easy thing is getting to the top, and the hard part is staying there. I find that to be true. Getting into the semi-finals here would prove Cloud9 are here to stay. 


Cloud9 need shroud to make the grand final again 

 

Will Na`Vi bag another title?

After completing the Cinderella story at ESWC - winning the event despite thinking a day before it began that they'd have to play with two stand-ins - Na`Vi have now won two straight titles. In Kiev they upset EnVyUs in the grand final, and in ESWC they mostly rolled over teams they were favored to beat -- though it shouldn't undermine the fact they still went there and got the job done, something many teams fail to accomplish.

This time around Na`Vi are not considered favorites - that title belongs to fnatic, possibly the greatest CS:GO team ever - but they must nonetheless be expected to be battling for a grand final spot. Na`Vi haven't had much success over fnatic - with two online wins in April to their name - but also haven't played them often. On the other hand, they are considered to be a good match-up versus TSM, the second favorite - if any team can be called one in Valencia - to reach the grand final.

If Na`Vi outplace TSM here and make it to the grand final, you probably have to consider them a top two team in the world. If they lose to TSM, that probably means they still belong on the podium in third place. However, if no major upsets happen in terms of who wins the event and Na`Vi reaches playoffs, they must be considered the third best team in the world. This event will be one of the tests to determine whether Na`Vi are a true elite team, or simply a very good team on a hot streak.


Are Na`Vi a true elite team? 

 

FACEIT League 2015 Stage 2 Finals will kick off tomorrow on Thursday in Valencia, Spain, where HLTV.org is already on-site to provide you with full coverage of the $150,000 event.

Follow HLTV.org's @lurppis_ on Twitter.

Poland Wiktor 'TaZ' Wojtas
Wiktor 'TaZ' Wojtas
Age:
33
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.98
Maps played:
1789
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Poland Filip 'NEO' Kubski
Filip 'NEO' Kubski
Age:
32
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
1681
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.17
France Richard 'shox' Papillon
Richard 'shox' Papillon
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1580
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.12
Finland Joona 'natu' Leppänen
Joona 'natu' Leppänen
Age:
34
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.88
Maps played:
188
KPR:
0.61
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
United States Jordan 'n0thing' Gilbert
Jordan 'n0thing' Gilbert
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
813
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.15
Sweden Robin 'Fifflaren' Johansson
Robin 'Fifflaren' Johansson
Age:
31
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
537
KPR:
0.60
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.15
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
1538
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
Sweden Jonatan 'Devilwalk' Lundberg
Jonatan 'Devilwalk' Lundberg
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.86
Maps played:
400
KPR:
0.58
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.16
Sweden Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
1549
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.17
United States Spencer 'Hiko' Martin
Spencer 'Hiko' Martin
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
917
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.14
Poland Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski
Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1604
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.13
Sweden Dennis 'dennis' Edman
Dennis 'dennis' Edman
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
1087
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
United States Sean 'seang@res' Gares
Sean 'seang@res' Gares
Age:
31
Rating 1.0:
0.88
Maps played:
713
KPR:
0.59
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
Canada Mike 'shroud' Grzesiek
Mike 'shroud' Grzesiek
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
676
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.14
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1141
KPR:
0.81
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Poland Jarosław 'pashaBiceps' Jarząbkowski
Jarosław 'pashaBiceps' Jarząbkowski
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
1592
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.13
Sweden Alexander 'SKYTTEN' Carlsson
Alexander 'SKYTTEN' Carlsson
Age:
26
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
382
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.16
great read
2015-07-15 22:47
#36
H1ber | 
Finland Dagyhy 
+1 fast reader
2015-07-15 22:59
n1
2015-07-15 22:47
n1
2015-07-16 00:34
n1
2015-07-16 08:56
#3
Andorra _TMP 
cool
2015-07-15 22:47
expected
2015-07-15 22:47
NiP are dead AF brah
2015-07-15 22:48
-1
2015-07-16 09:14
+1
2015-07-16 09:42
no.
2015-07-16 11:44
Nip is overrated af atm tbh
2015-07-16 12:13
dude everyone knows NiP is in a fucking slump right now. but that doesn't mean they can't come back from it.
2015-07-16 12:16
"slump", lol, nice way to put it.
2015-07-16 15:04
nice lurppis
2015-07-15 22:48
zzz =)
2015-07-15 22:48
#9
Netherlands EmreA 
n1
2015-07-15 22:48
This is a lot of fun to read. Thanks for great content.
2015-07-15 22:48
#14
 | 
Norway 2014_user 
N1
2015-07-15 22:48
#15
f0rest | 
Serbia dankooo 
Nice
2015-07-15 22:48
N1
2015-07-15 22:49
very nice article as always lurppis. love reading these storylines before tournaments =D
2015-07-15 22:49
Good read:D
2015-07-15 22:51
#23
 | 
Russia Reph 
Ez Na'Vi
2015-07-15 22:51
#25
Twistzz | 
Latvia `DinGo 
So many good teams, wooo let's get HYYYYPEEEED!!!
2015-07-15 22:52
lol edward xd
2015-07-15 22:53
Where did Virtus.pro go? If you would see fnatic in every semi-final or final you would be gone too. Can NiP outperform our expectations? No, they can't. Are international teams the future? No. Can anyone take advantage of the format? Only lesser teams. Which TSM will we see in Valencia? Old good chokenitas. Can Cloud9 make it to another grand final? No. Will Na`Vi bag another title? No. EZ ARTICLE
2015-07-15 22:54
mad polak ez navi! ;D
2015-07-15 23:00
Well, Na`Vi won events where there was no TSM or fnatic. Or they didn't meet them at all (TSM at ESL Pro Leage). ESWC - Renegades, FlipSid3, Cloud9 in the final (ez) SLTV - FlipSid3, EnVyUS in the final (ez) ESL Pro League - EnVyUS, Titan in the final (ez)
2015-07-15 23:08
#82
 | 
Portugal krypz0n 
true
2015-07-16 01:15
VP won 1 tournament with Fnatic, and only 1 relevant tournament to consider.
2015-07-16 08:28
But when they won they actually beat good team in the final. ESEA fnatic and cph games TSM.
2015-07-16 13:37
Back then TSM weren't good enough to consider, back then TSM were 5th and VP should've beaten them. Just like it's not impressive to beat NiP now when back then VG beating NiP was the shit. Besides in April Titan was about as good as TSM, maybe slightly worse because of the major but they just beat TSM, NaVi being the worst Tier1 team beating #2 and #5 in the world. You claim beating EnVy is easy because of recent results but EnVy was probably 2-3 ranks above VP until July, NaVi beat a much stronger EnVy. Put things into perspective.
2015-07-16 18:36
Are you a wizard?
2015-07-16 03:45
He stole your article didn't he :(
2015-07-16 03:53
Good read!
2015-07-15 22:55
Im hoping for TSM tbh
2015-07-15 22:55
Grand final vp - tsm? hah GL penguin
2015-07-15 22:56
first really good pre lan article!
2015-07-15 22:57
TSM ❤️
2015-07-15 23:02
n1 lurppis, great new =D
2015-07-15 23:03
NaVi top1, fnatic top2
2015-07-15 23:03
Cloud9 please win! its your turn to win!
2015-07-15 23:08
tsm fam all the way, but karrigan said last night on his stream that the last time they practiced was last week because of vacations
2015-07-15 23:19
-fox +shox
2015-07-15 23:11
+1
2015-07-15 23:21
#59
dktenso | 
Brazil lgzn 
+1 rip portugas
2015-07-15 23:30
Too many awpers :D
2015-07-15 23:37
or Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski's struggles to stay above a 1.00 rating. kek
2015-07-15 23:20
ąęóćńżł
2015-07-16 06:36
polish accent marks are retarded, what can i say?
2015-07-16 07:20
I really apperciate the job lurpiss, even though its annoying that you comment every round at a LAN-event on twitter, i still follow you, and i changed to 16:9 because of you, and allu ofc.
2015-07-15 23:22
hoping for fnatic - na'vi finals
2015-07-15 23:23
I know navi are still not strong enuff for fnatic, but navi beating tsm and vp is what i want to see, especially as a navi fan :D
2015-07-15 23:33
Tsm navi finals
2015-07-15 23:28
#60
Brazil 1-19 
VP-TSM and FNC-na'vi in semi. VP-FNC in final. fnc wins the lan.
2015-07-15 23:31
#61
Finland Brjw 
Some could argue that ASM Winter was VP's low point, not Gfinity.
2015-07-15 23:31
No one gives a fuck about that tournament.
2015-07-16 10:17
#63
czech | 
Slovakia harek 
not bad
2015-07-15 23:35
good read like always
2015-07-15 23:46
As Landström tweeted, an international team could be really dangerous, if done right. If Kinguin were to figure out a way to add Richard "shox" Papillon to its already talented roster, we could be talking about a real dark horse team. Kinguin. shox? and pls stop with -fox +shox , its more like -dennis +shox
2015-07-15 23:50
Lol. Good joke.
2015-07-16 03:19
It's a possibility, i dont see Shox back in Titan, and if he does go back to Titan it will implode after 3 months.
2015-07-16 03:47
"consectuvie" How fast were you typing to do that. Good lord.
2015-07-16 00:00
#70
 | 
United States admiralsid 
good read +1
2015-07-16 00:06
I'd love to see Navi take on tsm or fnatic in the final and win, but that will be no easy task.
2015-07-16 00:14
#74
 | 
Russia white34 
go go Na'Vi
2015-07-16 00:30
Cloud 9 ez win
2015-07-16 00:42
why is this on top again ?
2015-07-16 00:45
go tsm
2015-07-16 01:09
"even the most vocal NiP fans have become oddly quiet" lurppis.. I'm never quiet about nip <3
2015-07-16 01:11
You will soon >:D
2015-07-16 14:28
Why?
2015-07-16 15:24
lurpp u are onfire
2015-07-16 01:46
Great article m8
2015-07-16 01:52
#85
 | 
Denmark fyhn 
Here it says that it's a "$150,000 event" but in "FACEIT S2 finals viewer's guide" it clearly says that the prizepool is $100,000. What do they use the last $50k for? Traveling expenses?
2015-07-16 01:56
yes
2015-07-16 02:38
#88
 | 
Denmark fyhn 
Aight, cheers.
2015-07-16 02:50
Easy win for Cloud9, R.I.P EU
2015-07-16 02:10
the lurpp is real
2015-07-16 03:30
#91
 | 
Turkey powergs 
TSM NaVi grand final
2015-07-16 03:42
Great read. Thanks lurppis.
2015-07-16 05:18
#97
 | 
United Kingdom tomtmh 
the only storyline everyone cares about - kinguin
2015-07-16 05:18
" losses to teams the some of our readers have never even heard of," I found a mistake! (The word "the") What up now Lurrpis? wooo!
2015-07-16 05:45
"Again, fnatic has only lost to TSM since April 19."
2015-07-16 07:04
#99
motm | 
United States teeKAYBE 
So sad when these 2 teams are in the same tournament, you can pretty much predict the Grand Finals already. Kinguin vs Liquid
2015-07-16 05:54
Ez NiP Kappa
2015-07-16 06:13
fnatic and c9 out in groups... the salt would be real. sad at least fnatic will make it. and both navi and vp are so unstable, i wouldnt be surprised to see c9 to make semis. and even finals if they face nip/liquid
2015-07-16 06:39
Good article, think Fnatic got this. Most of these teams need to play the best performance of their lives to beat Fnatic and even then Fnatic can still win playing mediocre like in the C9 finals recently. If Fnatic come in prepared they will roll on everybody drive by still with CZ hanging out the window, if they aren't on point they will still make final for sure.
2015-07-16 07:19
NiP will get dominated again.
2015-07-16 07:39
I agree with almost everything especially nip " outdated strategies" Navi almost won against tsm last lan match but ..( overtimes in both maps of bo3) ,gonna be close this time for sure ..
2015-07-16 09:28
Get_Dupreeh show inc?
2015-07-16 09:40
NiP can just rip again
2015-07-16 09:59
C9 on adderall dream.
2015-07-16 10:00
#GONINJAS
2015-07-16 10:16
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