ESEA S22 Global Challenge preview
ESEA Season 22 Global Challenge, taking place in ESL studios in Katowice, Poland, starts in two days, which means it's time for us to preview all teams attending the $50,000 event.
Season 22's Global Challenge, the first iteration of international finals of the ESEA Premier leagues all across the world, will miss out on the South African and Asian teams, who were both unable to secure visas for Poland.
steel's g3x are set to travel to Katowice
Eight teams will take part in the $50,000 event running from August 27-28, which will start with a GSL, best-of-one group stage. Top two teams from each group will advance to the best-of-three playoffs.
As the groups will be revealed shortly before the tournament kicks off, we'll go through each team individually and take a look at their recent history and chances to make it far.
Player Age Sean "seang@res" Gares 28 Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir 23 Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan 22 Daniel "roca" Gustaferri 21 Ronnie "ryx" Bylicki 23 Carey "frozt" Kertenian (coach)
In that time seang@res' company attended their only truly international event thus far, ELEAGUE's group stage, where they faced an elite-level team Natus Vincere and two established sides in MOUZ and FlipSid3.
Echo Fox are heading into their first event outside of North America
Against significantly inferior competition they secured a place at the Global Challenge through the Premier league with a fairly confident win, aside from an Inferno loss in the final, and also qualified for ESL Pro League Season 4 by defeating Luminosity in the Wild Card match.
Despite no international events with the exception of ELEAGUE in their ledger, Echo Fox are heading into their first European event as arguably the biggest favourite, especially after VG.CyberZen dropped out from the race.
However, it's entirely possible seang@res' team won't be as ready as they'd like to be, as none of their players have experience with any of the other attending teams, barring Pnda. A team like MK could very well surprise them, and there are also big question marks in g3x's ability to play on an international level, which are to be answered this upcoming weekend.
Player Age Kamen "bubble" Kostadinov 25 Simeon "dream3r" Ganev 19 Emiliyan "spyleadeR" Dimitrov 26 Nikolay "nkl" Krastev 22 Viktor "v1c7oR" Dyankov 22
One of the most stable teams in Europe have been hovering below 20th place of our World Team Ranking for a while now, most recently dropping to 27th before the calendar turned to August.
Their drop is mostly caused by them not attending any LAN events for more than three months, the last being the DreamHack Tours Minor, where the Bulgarians —still under Orbit at the time — lost the Major-spot-deciding series to rivals Null element.
dream3r's squad have a lot going for them
They did however come out on top of the Season 22 Premier league, securing themselves a spot at the Global Challenge with wins over two teams also participating in the $50,000 event — ENCE and ALTERNATE aTTaX.
MK certainly have an upper hand in terms of international experience, which a majority of teams in the list are missing completely, and they should put it to good use in Katowice. bubble's side should be considered one of the favourites here, I'd be surprised to see them place outside of the top four at the very least.
Player Age Michael "Lightstep" Hall 27 Tyler "tucks" Reilly 20 Alistair "aliStair" Johnston 18 Joshua "INS" Potter 17 Liam "malta" Schembri 20
They've earned their place at ESEA Season 22 Global Challenge by winning the Oceanic division of ESEA Open, beating Athletico and the previous iteration of Chiefs in the last two series.
Chiefs have however been unable to replicate some of that success at the last two events, losing to eventual winners Parallax in the semi-finals of CyberGamer eSports Masters Finals, and dropping both maps to Skyfire in the group stage of ESL Australia & New Zealand Championship Season 2.
Needless to say, the Australians are going into a tough Saturday, no matter who they get matched up to in the group stage. They should be looking ahead to gain some much-needed experience from outside of the region, even if they aren't very likely to make it out of groups alive.
Player Age Jean-Michel "mch" D'Oliveira 27 Rafael "pava" Pavanelli 30 Vito "kNgV-" Giuseppe 21 Lucas "steel" Lopes 22 Caike "caike" Costa 21
Likely the biggest question mark going into Katowice is the Brazilian team surrounding steel, an ex-teammate of SK's core trio, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Marcelo "coldzera" David and Fernando "fer" Alvarenga.
After Luminosity (now SK) paved the way for other teams from the region by moving to North America, we saw Immortals and the new Luminosity squad following suit, moving to a richer region both financially and in terms of competition.
As the top sides moved out from Brazil, g3x ascended to the top, winning all of the last few domestic events, Liga XLG Stage 1 and ESL's Premier League Season 1 Finals over Raphael "cogu" Camargo's INTZ, as well as the ESEA Open division over BigGods.
kNg could be Brazil's next star
Is it possible we'll see another success story coming out of Brazil? It's hard to say considering g3x have never left the region, but if there was someone to surprise some of the bigger names, my money is on the heirs of Brazilian Counter-Strike.
Player Age Kyuhyun "blade" William Uhm - Noah "haptiiC" Choi - David "Toy" Han - Derrick "LILMAN" Boyne - Anthony "mummAy" DiPaolo -
As we're getting down to second-placed teams in the two main regions, Europe and North America, we reach a completely unknown force in Pnda, previously known as Rush.
This particular five emerged in Season 22 of Premier league, which also earned them a place at the $50,000 finals, rising to the top-two finish over other relatively unknown sides in North America, Blight and SteamAnalyst. They even surprised Echo Fox on one map in the grand final, though admittedly a map that hasn't been in the main rotation for months, Inferno.
Most of their players worked their way up in the Main division, while others have been part of notable teams before, such is the case with Toy, who used to play under Method and was among the considered players by Cloud9 following Spencer "Hiko" Martin's departure in early 2015.
Player Age Niko "naSu" Kovanen 26 Miikka "suNny" Kemppi 22 Mikko "xartE" Välimaa 24 Juho "juho" Lampinen 21 Joona "natu" Leppänen 31
The Finns have been struggling to push their game to another level ever since ENCE's creation, and on top of it they're now facing a huge loss in firepower, as their star player and main AWPer, Aleksi "allu" Jalli, left for FaZe.
natu will step in and come back to duty for a limited time until the squad find a replacement for the departed star.
natu will step away from the analyst desk to play one more tournament
ENCE were mere rounds away from making it to the grand final in their semi-final series against Epsilon at ASUS ROG Summer, shortly after topping their group over eventual champions Space Soldiers, exiting the competition with a 3rd-4th place.
The 31-year-old player-turned-coach-turned-analyst, who stopped playing competitively in April last year, is hardly a suitable stand-in for someone who has carried the team most of the time.
naSu's roster will have a hard time making it further than top four unless someone else rises to the occasion and makes up for the gap in individual form, as their most likely opponents in semi-finals will be either Echo Fox or MK.
Player Age Christian "crisby" Schmitt 24 Oliver "kzy" Heck 26 Tizian "tiziaN" Feldbusch 20 Kevin "keev" Bartholomäus 24 Florian "syrsoN" Rische 20
The German team have been fairly successful domestically, placing second in the ESL Meisterschaft Spring and most recently 3rd-4th in the Summer season following a loss to PENTA.
In between the local events, crisby's lineup only took part in online events and qualifiers, none of which came to fruition as they tried to make it to DreamHack Summer and SL i-League StarSeries Season 2.
Their Operation: Kinguin #3 attendance went up in flames after a narrow loss to Space Soldiers in the round of 12 despite topping their group in a dominating fashion.
Player Age Eddie "zape" Härdeman 22 Fredrik "Krewmer" Svensson 21 David "Jayzwalkingz" Kempner - Aron "xajdish" Fredriksson - Mattias "benny" Rosback 20
Last but not least we have the other European Premier semi-finalists, a previously unknown side playing under the name Kalashnikov 47 who got picked up by Crowns only several days ago.
The only experienced player in the roster is zape, who used to play for the Swedish division of FlipSid3 in 2014. Two other players, Jayzwalkingz and Krewmer played in Epiphany Bolt, while xajdish has only appeared on the radar earlier this year with TzatzikiKlubben.
Considering the overall inexperience of the team, it's hard to see this lineup doing any damage, but much like Pnda, the Swedes should be looking ahead to make a name for themselves, gain experience and possibly take some of the more established names to close scorelines.
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