The big CEVO-P S7 Finals storylines
In this brief article we take a look at some of the key storylines heading into this weekend's CEVO Professional Season 7 Finals in Columbus, OH, USA.
Despite the event now lacking multiple top teams that previously signed on, it still features three of the world's best eight or so teams, and a couple of interesting challengers.
Na`Vi, Cloud9 and Virtus.pro should light some fireworks in Columbus, while the likes of CLG, Liquid and mousesports will be attempting to prove what they hope to be capable of.
All in all, CEVO Professional Season 7 Finals could still be a solid event. Below are the major storylines to keep in mind and look for as the tournament kicks off tomorrow.
Who will prevail at the second MLG-related event of 2015?
Can any new Americans step up to the plate?
Cloud9 has proven to be one of the world's best teams in its current form, there is little question about it. Liquid already scored best-of-one wins over Natus Vincere and fnatic in the spring, and CLG's scorecard includes names such as Titan, HellRaisers, fnatic and Keyd Stars. Those three can be expected to challenge the Europeans, but the best-of-three group stages make it a whole lot more interesting, as a win there would be significantly more important, and more impressive. CEVO Finals offer the North Americans another chance to show what they are made of.
The team now famously led by Sean "seang@res" Gares are now clearly favored to top group A, which means we will finally see Cloud9 play from the position of a favorite, as oppposed to the perennial underdogs they're used to being. They should be able to clear the waters of CLG, Liquid and mousesports without issues, but at the same time, all of those teams can be dangerous on the right day. For CLG and Liquid, group A will be a chance to prove they can compete with Cloud9, or mousesports. One of them must be going home, and I would expect two.
In addition to the top three teams of North America, we have Luminosity. Ever since adding Jonatan "Devilwalk" Lundberg in a move that made little sense to an outsider, the team has been practicing in order to try to get the team in shape. They still have not had much time - and their ESWC campaign was disappointing. But it has been roughly ten days, and the clock is ticking. They need results. Tempo Storm will be competing with Luminosity for that one win in group B, and it would not shock me if Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan's team prevailed -- and took home $5,000, the difference between the last finishes.
flowsicK's Liquid are among the North American hopefuls
Will Virtus.pro break out of their slump?
Following the anemic, at best, grand final loss to fnatic at Gfinity Spring Masters II, Virtus.pro have had some issues with their performance. They went out in 5-6th place at Gfinity Summer Masters I, getting knocked out by the upcoming mousesports team, and crashed out in 7-8th place at the most recent FACEIT Stage 2 Finals in Valencia. In between they also put up a valiant 2-0 effort in ESL ESEA group stage, before ultimately falling short against the world's very best team in the semi-finals -- not a bad showing at all.
Virtus.pro have always been a team - dating back to the Counter-Strike 1.6 days of Filip "NEO" Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas - who has an incredibly high ceiling, yet a deep basement, in their level of play. They have almost always been inconsistent enough to record their share of group stage exits, yet capable of bouncing back the next week with a major tournament win, or vice versa. It is possible CEVO Finals may be another low-point in their history, with the major looming a month from now a clear priority. But like last year at Gfinity 3, they would probably prefer feeling good going into it.
Despite getting knocked out in super disappointing matches versus mousesports and Kinguin - with a 0-16 score on the decider, de_cache - at two of their most recent three tournaments, this team is still dangerous. They once again beat TSM online this week, prompting TSM's René "cajunb" Borg to state they always underperform versus Virtus -- as if match-ups simply did not exist. The ability is still there, the Poles simply need to find a way to summon it more frequently. It has been a while since the legitimate last Virtus.plow-like performance.
For the Poles, this tournament breaks out perfectly. They have two clearly inferior opponents in the group stage, both of whom they will take on in best-of-three series. In addition, by virtue of sharing a group with Na`Vi, it guarantees them they cannot face them in the semi-finals. Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski's team could beat two weak North Americans, and then defeat mousesports - a team they are favored against - and make the grand final. And that might be exactly what the doctor ordered. Fans know this team could use a pick-me-up before ESL One Cologne.
Snax's team are hoping to end their run of disappointing finishes
Is mousesports actually a top team?
mousesports's results online were couraging in the spring, as Fatih "gob b" Dayik's team scored wins over the likes of EnVyUs, Titan, and even TSM. In June they added Na`Vi's scalps to their collection. Then, at the end of June, they had their breaking out party. At Gfinity Summer Masters I, Johannes "nex" Maget's fragging led mouz to two wins over Virtus.pro, a three-map series versus EnVyUs, and a damn near opening map win in their playoff game against NiP. Not a bad track record at all.
Since then the Germans have... Well, not so much. They have beaten the likes of HellRaisers, PENTA and Titan online, but also lost against EnVyUs, 1337, a Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev-less FlipSid3, and a Jacob "Pimp" Winneche-less dignitas. All of a sudden one could easily think that it was Gfinity that was the fluke, and the online results are closer to mousesports's real level -- and that may actually be the case, too. The key here is this; we do not yet know how good mousesports is. Are they a top team? This weekend will give us a chance to find out.
If they are, then they should, especially given gob b's preparation, have no issues at least taking down Liquid and CLG en route to a semi-finals spot. From there on out, everything would be a bonus. Defeating Cloud9 in the groups, or playing well in the playoffs, could push them towards the next level. On the other hand, a group stage exit would be devastating. The performance of Chris "chrisJ" de Jong's squad will set the tone for what we should and can expect from Germany's lone hope in Counter-Strike next month at ESL One Cologne.
Is gob b's mousesports a real top team?
Can Cloud9 win a title on their homesoil?
After three of the unlikeliest runners-up finishes for Cloud9, we will see if they can finally - from nearly being a favorite to win it all, though not quite - clinch an actual championship to end their busy July. Their run this month has been nothing short of miraculous. They were not favored to make the playoffs at ESL ESEA Finals, not many expected that form to continue at ESWC, and when paired up with fnatic at FACEIT Stage 2 Finals last week, they definitely should have been knocked out. Yet they were not.
This team has clearly found something that works for them. Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham is playing out of his mind, Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert has remained the best offline pistol player in 2015 and Mike "shroud" Grzesiek has shown signs of breaking through. Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir has turned life around after the disastrous - and now almost entirely forgotten - best-of-three series versus EnVyUs at Gfinity, and seang@res has turned into a fan-favorite with his calling ability, thanks mostly to ESL ESEA's POV streams.
Cloud9 has thrived from the position of being an underdog. This time, it won't really be the case. They are favored to take down CLG, and either Liquid or mousesports, to top group A. Semi-finals are where it gets interesting. Despite their form, it's not exactly impossible to lose to either Na`Vi or Virtus.pro. Yet, a victory over either, and another spot in the grand final, would show the kind of consistency no North American CS:GO team has ever shown to be capable of.
Whether CEVO Finals wind up being the one Cloud9 finally wins or not, this squad is a top team, and should be considered one of the favorites to make the semi-finals at ESL One Cologne -- though the poor seeding system makes it much harder for them. They are home, and it is the last stretch of a long month with four trips across the pond, and it might be just a little too easy to not take this one as seriously. We will see if Cloud9 can finally get over the hump, and lift the $30,000 check on Sunday.
Will Skadoodle's team finally get that elusive championship?
CEVO Professional Season 7 Finals will kick off tomorrow with a pre-game show going live at 22:45. We will be releasing our official viewer's guide for the event today.
HLTV.org are on-site in Columbus, OH, USA, to once again provide you with full coverage of the $75,000 tournament including galleries, statistics, hot matches, and more.
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