GS Global eSports Cup preview
The Game Show Global eSports Cup kicks off on Thursday, February 4th, which means it's time to present you with the eight teams who will be present at the $200,000 tournament in Vilnius, Lithuania, and give you an idea on their chances.
Game Show Global eSports Cup taking place in Game Show TV studios in Vilnius, Lithuania, will run from February 4-7, with eight teams battling for a total of $200,000 in prizemoney.
The tournament will start with group stage played in the GSL bracket format, with all matches played in a best-of-three. The first-placed team will advance directly to semi-finals, while second and third-placed teams will go to quarter-finals to battle against teams from the other group.
The groups look followingly:
|Group A||Group B|
All teams except for Method are featured in our Top 20 team ranking of January. EnVyUs and Astralis are naturally the highest-placed teams, as well as the two big favourites, sitting at third and fourth place, respectively.
Without further ado, let's get into all eight teams present in Vilnius over the prolonged weekend to see what their recent history looks like, as well what their chances are at the tournament overall:
EnVyUs (#3 in our team ranking)
|Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer|
|Kenny "kennyS" Schrub|
|Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt|
|Dan "apEX" Madesclaire|
|Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey|
EnVyUs are heading into the Global eSports Cup as one of the two big favourites, seeing as the Frenchmen and Astralis are the only elite-level teams in attendance.
It's still quite clear that the team is going through internal issues however, which seemingly appeared shortly after coming out victorious at the last major. The change of leadership from Happy to NBK- is likely the result of that, but it remains to be seen whether that will fix the inconsistency.
The addition of Mathieu "Maniac" Quiquerez as coach should be able to help them a great deal with those issues, and having a masters degree in psychology certainly doesn't hurt being in that position. The newest addition should give them a boost in morale and strategy as well, as he proved to be a capable analyst at numerous events.
EnVyUs seem to rely on apEX showing up
Being able to apply such analysis in-game can prove to be a hard task however, as the job includes more than just being able to identify problems—which Maniac seems to be very good at—, but also solving them and figuring out a way for them not to happen again.
At Minsk EnVyUs advanced from first place in their group after a narrow Questionmark encounter, and a dismantling of fnatic, but suddenly dropped in time for playoffs in the semi-finals with Natus Vincere.
It seems the team heavily relies on apEX showing up in good form, which also showed in Minsk—he played great in groups, especially against fnatic, but couldn't make an impact at all in the aforementioned semi-finals.
Player to watch: Dan "apEX" Madesclaire
|Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen|
|Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye|
|Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke|
|Jesper "TENZKI" Plougmann|
|Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel|
dignitas made a leap in the rankings and in terms of general recognition after DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig. They hopped from 14th place to 9th thanks to a great performance in Germany, which saw them advance from groups over Virtus.pro and mousesports.
Against Virtus.pro they showed issues in clutch situations and afterplants in general, as the Poles came out on top of several disadvantageous situations, especially on de_cbble.
What bodes well for them is that they still managed to win the elimination match despite those issues. For one it proves that they can keep morale up even after tough losses, which RUBINO confirmed in an interview with us.
dignitas can go far if Kjaerbye shows up in similar form as in Leipzig
The event as a whole was a breakout performance from Kjaerbye, who always showed potential but never actually carried his team to solid placing. That time he did, especially on the deciding map against Virtus.pro (45-26 score in a double-overtime battle). He also showed a great deal of consistency in Leipzig, only recording a sub-1.00 rating on one out of eight maps (in the initial match against Astralis).
If he keeps the same form, I can see dignitas giving EnVyUs a run for their money and advancing to playoffs from second place. I would even give them a small edge over G2 and Cloud9, depending on who they would meet in the quarter-finals from the other group, which would give them another top four placing.
Player to watch: Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye
|Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy|
|Yegor "markeloff" Markelov|
|Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk|
|Oleksandr "Shara" Hordieyev|
|Georgi "WorldEdit" Yaskin|
A big question mark is hanging over FlipSid3's heads. They haven't attended a LAN event since DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, over three months, and since then they also went through a lineup change.
Their LAN debut with Shara, who stepped in for the departed Vadim "DavCost" Vasilyev (who was never FlipSid3's permanent player, merely a stand-in officially), will a big tell on where the team is heading, as they are facing a couple of teams that aren't considered elite, and have a chance of going through to quarter-finals.
The team hasn't been very successful ever since Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev left the team shortly after ESWC, although lately they were quite close to qualifying to a couple of events, DreamHack Open Leipzig (fell short to SK in semi-finals, the deciding stage) and IEM Katowice.
After their LAN-less hiatus it's tough to call whether the team has what it takes to defeat CLG or dignitas. Their first test will be the against the tougher of the two, a fired-up Danish squad in the initial round, which I don't see them passing.
Player to watch: Vladyslav "bondik" Nechyporchuk
|James "hazed" Cobb|
|Josh "jdm64" Marzano|
|Stephen "reltuC" Cutler|
|Tarik "tarik" Celik|
|Jacob "FugLy" Medina|
Last but not least in group A we have CLG, another team who have undergone a lineup change recently. Pujan "FNS" Mehta was left out in the cold following the restructuring of the team, while Liquid's former player FugLy arrived.
Considering reltuC has been calling for the team for quite a while now, it's definitely a step up, as in terms of individual performance he is a level above an underwhelming FNS, whose role was unclear after the change in leadership.
They will also have the help of their new coach, Faruk "pita" Pita, who should be able to pitch in to restructure the roles a bit for FugLy to adapt more quickly. He is not a star by any measure, so they probably won't shuffle roles too much, but he was quite consistent in Liquid at the recent LANs, even against top-tier competition.
I don't see this team even coming close to beating EnVyUs in a best-of-three at the moment, but they are favoured over FlipSid3 in my eyes, and should have a fair chance against dignitas, too.
Player to watch: Jacob "FugLy" Medina
|Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert|
|Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham|
|Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir|
|Jake "Stewie2K" Yip|
|Mike "shroud" Grzesiek|
Towards the end of 2015 Cloud9, whom many didn't consider the best team in the region at the time, managed to find their way to success, at least within North America.
A win at the iBUYPOWER Cup and RGN Pro Series surely boosted their confidence, they couldn't replicate that same success online however, or against international competition for that matter.
What I see as an issue for the team is the loss of Sean "seang@res" Gares, as the biggest strength of that team was always his prep before events and ability to adapt depending on which team he faces, which the players praised many times.
All eyes will be on Stewie2k
Cloud9 were unable to get another in-game leader in his stead, or a coach that could be able to lead from behind the team, which means n0thing will be the in-game leader for now. There is seemingly no one else who can lead except for him, but it's still not ideal for someone with a reputation of missing important calls from time to time.
Overall I expect Cloud9 to go back to a looser style, with freakazoid and newcomer Stewie2K being the first two to enter a site, or trying to find picks all over the map. That might help shroud gain a bit more confidence within his own role, while Skadoodle should be solid as a rock as usual.
Player to watch: Jake "Stewie2K" Yip
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen|
|René "cajunb" Borg|
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth|
Astralis, the second big favourite at the tournament, once again have much to prove. With only one other elite-level team in attendance, they are looking to solidify their stance in rankings as the fourth-best team in the world.
Previously the Danes have only had issues against top-tier teams, which they faced again in Minsk at the start of the year, losing to both fnatic and EnVyUs in the group stage before playing a close series with Natus Vincere in quarter-finals.
DreamHack Leipzig forced us to re-think that statement however, as they went into an overtime battle with a very individualistic mousesports in groups. Then they weren't all too competitive in the semi-finals against Luminosity, although that was quite expected at the time due to the Brazilians' improvement.
Astralis are highly favoured over anyone but EnVyUs
What came as a surprise to me was device's return to the bottom of the table in an important match, after he seemed to have resolved his early 2015 issues throughout the latter half of the year.
Everything should go back to normal at this event though, Astralis are facing Method in the initial round, a match that is pretty much impossible to lose seeing as the Russians even had to swap two players. Cloud9 or G2 in the following round will probably not be without a few issues here and there, but Astralis are naturally highly favoured over both, as well as over any team outside of EnVyUs from the other group.
Player to watch: Nicolai "device" Reedtz
|Nikita "waterfaLLZ" Matveyev|
|Savelii "jmqa" Bragin|
|Alexey "ub1que" Polivanov|
|Kristjan "fejtZ" Allsaar|
|Hendrik "cheti" Vallimägi|
If there is one clear underdog at the tournament, it's surely Method. Not only are they a team that hasn't been at an international LAN since July 2015, when they attended the ESL One Cologne Main Qualifier, falling short to Property and OverGaming there to finish in last place.
They are also a team that had to swap out two players due to Dmitriy "facecrack" Alekseyev and Ivan "spaze" Obrezhan being unable to get visas for the event. The two replacing players are two Estonians, youngster fejtZ and cheti, who previously played under OnlineBots
The duo they lost were arguably their two best players, who helped the team win the CIS LAN Championship #2, and with whom they finished in 3rd-4th place at the CIS Minor following a narrow three-map loss to eventual winners Gambit.
ub1que's Method are looking to gain experience, at least individually
Method then bombed out of the EU/CIS Last Chance Qualifier, as they couldn't get past three rounds in total in their best-of-three series against Aleksi "allu" Jalli's ENCE in the initial round.
It would have been a tough event for Method even without losing a couple of players, and then they could at least take it as valuable experience going forward. Now they need to go as a mixteam, more or less, with inexperienced players, which means we will see them exit the competition after four one-sided maps, most likely.
Player to watch: Kristjan "fejtZ" Allsaar
|Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans|
|Richard "shox" Papillon|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux|
|Cédric "RpK" Guipouy|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom|
Last in group B is ex-Titan, now known as G2 eSports after being picked up by the Spanish organization earlier this week. The 11th team in the world, according to our ranking, is definitely not the team that they once were.
DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca was another disappointment from Titan, who couldn't make it out of groups yet again. There they couldn't finish off NiP on de_cache, and crumbled completely on the second map afterwards.
Ex6TenZ's G2 can make a top four finish in Vilnius
They should be quite satisfied with their performance at CEVO Season 8 Finals, defeating Na`Vi and Luminosity in groups there (the worse versions of them, to be fair) and getting to semi-finals wasn't bad for a team that seemingly can't find a way out of underperformance.
Ex6TenZ's team kick off with a match-up with Cloud9, a match-up they should be favoured going into, not by much though. If they win, they have a shot at surprising an issue-filled Astralis team, but I don't think it's very likely.
Depending on where they end up, they will meet either CLG or dignitas in the quarter-finals most likely, the first of which they should be able to come out on top of, but I wouldn't be so sure of that about the Danes.
Player to watch: Richard "shox" Papillon
Who will you root for at the upcoming Game Show Global eSports Cup? Let us know who you think will make it far in the comments below.
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