FACEIT day two match-up previews
In this article we take a look at the remaining group stage matches of FACEIT Stage 2 Finals, set to take place tomorrow at DreamHack Valencia.
All the matches played on Friday will be played in best-of-three. The day will begin with Virtus.pro taking on Kinguin, followed up by NiP's encounter with Liquid to determine 7-8th place finishers.
The second games of the day will be the first game's winner versus Na`Vi, and then the latter game's winner against fnatic, to see who will join Cloud9 and TSM in the semi-finals.
In this article we have put together some information on each of the matches to get you ready for tomorrow. Bear in mind some teams have little to no history, meaning the information is limited.
In this article we take a look at tomorrow's match-ups
12:15 Virtus.pro vs. Kinguin (1)
These two teams have met only once in the past, and the lone match took place before Kinguin's then-in-game-leader Alexander "SKYTTEN" Carlsson was replaced by former LGB player Dennis "dennis" Edman. The online match in a one-day cup also took place in May, which means it's far removed from being of much relevance to tomorrow's encounter.
The Poles played fairly well today in their narrow loss to Na`Vi. They let the ex-CIS powerhouse sneak back into the game after a strong start on the defensive end on de_overpass, got the game to a draw in the second half, and then only after Sergey "starix" Ischuk's team took a timeout, ultimately fell short after losing some unfortunate clutches, including Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács's super close range AWP shot one-on-one.
Virtus pro haven't exactly been in tip top shape recently. Their results after the last major haven't been bad -- it's hard to criticize a team that has gone out versus NiP or fnatic - twice - but they also lost two series to mousesports at Gfinity Summer Masters I, and have generally struggled to showcase the famous Virtus plow form in recent months, instead playing some anemic matches, including the Gfinity Spring Masters II grand final versus fnatic.
After their initial struggles, Kinguin have posted some promising results, mostly online. They've recorded series wins over, well, Virtus.pro, as well as Na`Vi -- though the win hardly counts as GuardiaN barely played. Offline they've defeated FlipSid3 twice at the Gaming Paradise qualifier. They've also gotten blown away by PENTA and dignitas this month in best-of-three series, and only managed seven rounds versus Cloud9 today in their FACEIT Finals opener. If Virtus's resume isn't impressive, Kinguin's is even worse.
Still, Kinguin can compete, especially with a team as inconsistent as Virtus have seemed lately. It's obvious the Poles' A-game is significantly better than that of Kinguin's, but there's a scenario out there where Kinguin wins the right rounds, grabs an early map win and then gets lucky on one of the two remaining maps. It's more than likely not going to happen, especially as Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski and company should spend the night preparing for them, though.
Will the kuben-coached Virtus overcome Kinguin this time?
15:15 NiP vs. Liquid (2)
As I pointed out in my tweet regarding Jacob "FugLy" Medina's AK-47 - which has since been renamed - Liquid has a horrible history versus NiP. These rosters have faced on three maps in total, two at Gfinity Spring Masters II and one at ESWC, and the Americans have won a total of five rounds. Not a misprint. Their record versus NiP in three maps - those being de_dust2, de_inferno, and de_mirage - is 5-48.
Liquid put up a decent effort in their other games at ESWC, even making Cloud9 work for their semi-final spot, but here they are simply outmatched. While NiP lost their opener here as well, they actually played a decent game - at 12-12, it was still anyone's game before Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund and Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg missed a few key shots in the B bombsite on a round that wound up murdering NiP's economy and all hopes of what could have been a legendary comeback.
It would be an incredible upset if Liquid were to somehow win a best-of-three versus NiP, and frankly it's probably not going to happen. Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski's team should take this as a another learning experience and continue working at their craft, so that in the near future they may be able to contend in similar series. For the time being, however, even a wounded NiP is simply far too much to handle for Liquid.
While NiP are no longer the team they used to be, Liquid still face no small task
18:15 Na`Vi vs. Winner of 1
This game will most likely wind up being Na`Vi versus Virtus.pro, a classic Eastern European match-up that dates back to 2010 when the former broke through as one of the world's true elite teams in the previous version of Counter-Strike. Now, they are hoping to do the same here, but a loss would be catastrophic for their hopes. An elite team gets through group stages like this, and may only falter later on in the playoffs.
In the event of a Kinguin upset versus Virtus.pro this preview changes dramatically, but since it's not very likely - Kinguin's upset took place with Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow playing as a stand-in for Na`Vi best player, and the corner stone of their playing style, GuardiaN - we're simply not going to waste time talking about it, and will instead focus our efforts on putting together some numbers to measure the much more interesting option, a classic Na`Vi against Virtus.pro showdown.
|July 16||Na`Vi||16-12||Virtus.pro||de_overpass||FACEIT S2 Finals|
|June 17||Na`Vi||8-16||Virtus.pro||de_cache||ESL ESEA|
|June 9||Na`Vi||6-16||Virtus.pro||de_dust2||ESL ESEA|
|May 26||Na`Vi||17-19||Virtus.pro||de_train||Counter Pit|
|May 26||Na`Vi||16-8||Virtus.pro||de_cobblestone||Counter Pit|
|May 17||Na`Vi||22-25||Virtus.pro||de_inferno||Gfinity Spring 2|
|May 17||Na`Vi||17-19||Virtus.pro||de_train||Gfinity Spring 2|
|May 13||Na`Vi||16-14||Virtus.pro||de_cobblestone||Champ. League|
|May 13||Na`Vi||11-16||Virtus.pro||de_mirage||Champ. League|
These two long-standing Counter-Strike juggernauts have faced each other on twelve maps in the past three months - just barely disqualifying Na`Vi's 2-1 victory at ESL Pro League Winter 2014/2015 Finals - with Virtus.pro holding a devastating 9-3 lead in those encounters. Fortunately for Na`Vi fans, only two matches, or three maps, have taken place offline. Na`Vi won one - that was today, on de_overpass - and lost two in overtime - de_inferno, and de_train - at Gfinity Spring Masters II in May.
Online Virtus.pro have been devastatingly good versus Na`Vi. They've won six straight maps before today's match, and boast a formidable 7-2 map record. Most notably, Na`Vi have only ever beaten Virtus.pro on de_overpass and de_cobblestone. While they've come close a number of times - despite a sizeable 12.3 to 16.1 round disadvantage in our sample size - they have only lost on de_cache, which they never play, de_dust2, de_inferno, de_mirage and de_train.
Player statistics for twelve qualifying maps between Na`Vi and Virtus.pro
Looking at the player statistics in the twelve map sample, it's obvious Na`Vi's biggest issue has been GuardiaN's performance. He hasn't played much worse than anyone else in these matches, but the problem is he normally is by far the team's best performer, statistically, and if they cannot get his AWP going, it's generally very hard for the ESWC champions to win matches against top tier competition, unless someone else has an incredible game.
For the Poles, the strongest performer has been Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski, who has done clearly better against Na`Vi than he has as a whole in the past three months, when he has averaged a rating of 0.98 -- one of a sub-par player. Rest of the team have been within 0.06 of their rating for the past three months, so while there's some movement, it hasn't been earth shattering and likely hasn't mattered as much as the fact pashaBiceps has outperformed GuardiaN in this series.
Player statistics for Na`Vi's three qualifying map wins over Virtus.pro
In Na`Vi's wins, surprisingly GuardiaN has still been mostly a non-factor -- in fact boasting a worse rating in his side's wins than in their losses. The best player has been the star of today, Denis "seized" Kostin, who obviously greatly boosted his statistics in today's game. Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev has also shown up to play in these encounters, showcasing his Counter-Strike 1.6 level of play in the small sample size of three wins.
For their opponents, pashaBiceps has been negated to just under his now-standard level of play, while the trio of Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas, Filip "NEO" Kubski and Paweł "byali" Bieliński have seen their performances crater. Oddly enough, Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski has actually been better in Virtus.pro's losses than in their wins, suggesting he hasn't been much of a factor in this series at all. The largest outperformers in their wins, compared to losses - which suggests importance in the team's wins - have actually been the old pair of TaZ and NEO.
As you can see below, NEO has been his team's best player when they've come out on top versus Na`Vi, closely followed by pashaBiceps and his longest standing teammate TaZ. For their opponents, GuardiaN has been their best player in their losses -- but his rating has still been poor. That suggests GuardiaN has mostly been irrelevant in all of their games, while the variance in how his teammates have performed have made the difference in whether they've come out on top or not.
Player statistics for Virtus.pro's nine qualifying map wins over Na`Vi
While statistical analysis suggests Virtus.pro should be heavily favored in this potential match-up of tomorrow, this is a prime example of where one must remember that past is no indication of the future. While Virtus.pro have seemed sluggish recently, getting knocked out by mousesports at Gfinity Summer Masters I and missing out on ESWC, Na`Vi have won two straight titles, though only defeating teams such as EnVyUs, Titan, FlipSid3 and Cloud9 on the way.
In addition, Na`Vi did come out on top in the two teams's match today, and they will have all of tomorrow to prepare for this match -- while Virtus.pro will have to spend time on making sure they defeat Kinguin. Na`Vi can watch them play in peace, and add to the gameplan already created by the team's brain trust of Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and starix by now. That's a huge advantage, and it just might be enough to swing this series in Na`Vi's favor, though it should be a good one.
Na`Vi must defeat Virtus or Kinguin to make semi-finals in Valencia
21:15 fnatic vs. Winner of 2
This second part of the preview will shamelessly only focus on fnatic versus NiP, just like the one above was all about Na`Vi against Virtus.pro. The odds are even worse for Liquid to pull off an upset win over NiP than they are for Kinguin, and there simply isn't anything interesting to write about the few games fnatic have played against Liquid -- even though they lost a map to the Americans at Gfinity Spring Masters 2 in May.
While fnatic have remained the world's best team throughout 2015 so far, only dropping three events to TSM - their kryptonite, who bested them today as well - NiP have been seemingly getting weaker and weaker, with few bright spots on their recent resume. With that being said, the Ninjas are still not a team to be overlooked, and can at any point take down any team in the world. After all, they played a solid game against TSM earlier today, despite their huge slump.
|June 18||fnatic||16-4||NiP||de_inferno||ESL ESEA|
|June 15||fnatic||16-14||NiP||de_train||DH Summer|
|June 15||fnatic||16-6||NiP||de_dust2||DH Summer|
|June 1||fnatic||11-16||NiP||de_dust2||ESL ESEA|
|May 16||fnatic||20-22||NiP||de_overpass||Gfinity Spring 2|
|May 16||fnatic||16-14||NiP||de_dust2||Gfinity Spring 2|
|May 2||fnatic||16-12||NiP||de_dust2||FACEIT S1 Finals|
|May 2||fnatic||16-7||NiP||de_mirage||FACEIT S1 Finals|
|April 25||fnatic||16-4||NiP||de_cobblestone||CCS Kick-Off|
|April 25||fnatic||16-6||NiP||de_mirage||CCS Kick-Off|
fnatic have twelve qualifying maps - that's with these exact rosters, in the past three months - against NiP. In those twelve maps, they are up 10-2 -- a dominant record. In addition, one of Richard "Xizt" Landström's squads two wins came in overtime, while fnatic have six wins to their name where their opponents weren't even able to break into the double digits. Overall the average round differential between these two has been 15.9 to 10.4 in fnatic's favor - significantly closer than the 10-2 record would suggest.
The only map that outright favors NiP is de_overpass - where they're up 1-0 with that overtime win - and even that is a map that I'd easily put my money on fnatic, if it came down to it. On de_dust2 fnatic is up 3-1, on de_mirage 2-0 - with lopsided victories - and on de_train they lead 2-0, though both matches have come down to the wire. Had NiP found a way to stop Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer from walking out middle at DreamHack Summer, they would have definitely forced a third map in their semi-final series.
Player statistics in all twelve qualifying maps fnatic have faced NiP on
Considering how large the map advantage is in fnatic's favor, it's no surprise that all of their +/- differentials are green and all of those for NiP are bright red. Still, we're going to take a look at the overall statistics, followed up by statistics in each team's wins, and see if we can draw some conclusions from them. First of all, the largest outperformers in this series, compared to their average rating of the past three months, have been fnatic's in-game leader Markus "pronax" Wallsten and star Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson.
The biggest drop-offs, naturally, are all NiP's players. On top is Adam "friberg" Friberg, followed very shortly by Aleksi "allu" Jalli and GeT_RiGhT -- though it's worth noting their remaining two players have also had weak showings in the series overall. Then, we have combined statistics for the ten qualifying maps fnatic have won over NiP, in order to see which players have shined when the Black and Orange have dominated their long-time rivals.
Player statistics for the ten qualifying maps fnatic have won versus NiP
Naturally on top is arguably the world's best player olofmeister, followed by his star duo KRIMZ. fnatic's two fraggers are not far behind. For NiP, not much has changed. The five players even remain in the exact same order. When comparing fnatic's wins to their losses however, we see a notable difference. Their superstar olofmeister has cratered, down from a godly 1.32 rating to a subpar rating of 0.88 in their losses. Robin "flusha" Rönnquist has had a similar effect, dropping down by 0.43, while Jesper "JW" Wecksell's play has suffered by 0.36 in terms of rating.
For NiP, four of their players have played significantly better Counter-Strike in the arguably very small sample size of their two map wins. On the other hand, the play of friberg has hardly changed, suggesting he has been a non-factor in these two teams' matches in the past. That doesn't mean he will remain so - and him playing well could change the outcome of the series considerably - but it's clear he has seen no success whatsoever against fnatic in the past three months.
Player statistics for the two qualifying maps NiP have won versus fnatic
fnatic haven't been challenged too much by the Ninjas, who have dropped out of the world's top five teams, per Duncan "Thorin" Shields's world ranking, and obviously go into tomorrow's potential elimination game as considerable favorites. Today JW struggled badly against TSM, record his career-worst game in terms of K-D difference at -18. That's unlikely to continue tomorrow, and it's entirely possible him playing at around his normal level would have been enough to put fnatic through to the semi-finals.
NiP looked very good early on at ESWC, but then lost to FlipSid3. Here they had a solid showing versus TSM, staying neck and neck and even getting a small edge when the score hit 12-12 and they were counter-terrorists on de_mirage. It's a sign of improvement, and in a conversation tonight allu felt like their play has actually shown signs of improvement. He felt good about going into the fnatic series, which says something. NiP have an outsider's chance to surprise everyone with a W tomorrow, but it would require some luck, and much better-than-average play across the board.
fnatic remain huge favorites to make the semi-finals
After tomorrow's matches finish, the playoffs will be played out in their entirety on Saturday, with semi-finals in the afternoon, followed up by the grand final in the evening.
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