ESL One New York preview
ESL One New York is drawing close, kicking off tomorrow with the first round of the group stage played in the Swiss format. Here is our preview for the $250,000 event.
ESL One New York will run from September 30 to October 2, with the first two days reserved for the best-of-one group stage played in the Swiss system, while the best-of-three playoffs will take place on day three.
The Swiss format will see teams with the same win-loss score meeting each other in a total of five rounds until they reach three wins and advance to semi-finals, or three losses and get eliminated.
The new fnatic will debut at ESL One New York
It will also serve as a premiere for Valve's new coaching rules, which state that coaches cannot speak during the match outside of the warmup, halftime breaks and up to four 30-second timeouts.
Without further ado, let's get into our preview where we delve deep into all teams' recent history and form, most important storylines and potential exciting match-ups.
|Marcelo "coldzera" David||21||1.35|
|Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo||25||1.12|
|Lincoln "fnx" Lau||26||1.09|
|Fernando "fer" Alvarenga||24||1.08|
|Epitacio "TACO" de Melo||21||1.06|
* Ratings used in this article are from the past three months
One of the biggest storylines going into the New York event has to be SK coming back to offline competition in full force, barring Wilton "zews" Prado who transferred to Immortals, after they skipped a few LAN events due to fer's health issues.
He is now back and in decent form, judging by the online matches the Brazilians have played in the last three weeks since the 24-year-old returned to active duty in early September.
It's very hard to assess SK's true form considering their last offline event was the last Major, ESL One Cologne, which was nearly three months ago — one of the longest breaks we've ever seen from an elite-level team.
During that time, they enjoyed a month-long off-season before ESL Pro League started. Upon the return of top-tier competition in mid-August, FalleN's team began the league with a 2-4 score, using Gustavo "SHOOWTiME" Gonçalves as a stand-in for fer.
SK return after a three months long hiatus from offline competition
After the sidelined player came back they slowly climbed to the top, only losing twice in 14 matches, both times to their Brazilian rivals Immortals. Much of their success there can be accounted to coldzera, who continues to be SK's best player by a large margin, sitting on a 1.26 rating (third-highest in the NA division) while the rest of the team are below 1.10.
Needless to say, SK seem to be ready to return to the offline setting. Their very long break came after a Major victory however, not at a point when they needed time off to figure out flaws in their play, so it's possible they'll be a little rusty at the beginning.
Their first match-up is a fairly comfortable one against OpTic, which they should pass without too much trouble. There are several possibilities in the second round due to the randomizer, but we should be in for a treat nevertheless. There's a very high possibility of an early encounter with one of Virtus.pro, G2 and Natus Vincere — three of the best match-ups we could ever wish for, and we could even see them all already in groups.
The question is: will SK still be considered the world's best team come Sunday?
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||23||1.10|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||22||1.06|
|Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas||30||1.04|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||29||1.01|
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||28||1.01|
|Jakub "kuben" Gurczynski (coach)|
Virtus.pro could be seen as the interim number one team due to a number of factors: SK's temporary absence, lots of changes in the scene and a lack of consistent results from the rest of the elite teams.
The top-tier scene is still very unstable in the aftermath of the off-season and Virtus.pro have won two of the last three events they attended. Their failure at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals puts a dent in the argument, but I simply don't believe we saw the real Virtus.pro in Kiev, especially after NEO's explanation in our DreamHack Bucharest interview.
After finishing last at StarSeries, the Poles returned to their usual form and triumphed in Romania. Two maps of the Dignitas semi-final series there were dangerous, but other than that TaZ's squad had quite a comfortable cruise through the event.
NEO, byali and TaZ all shone over Snax in Bucharest
What was even more impressive in VP's DreamHack journey was that they didn't need Snax to play like a superstar. NEO, byali and TaZ took good care of the fragging duties and each put in an especially consistent performance.
Virtus.pro will face the new fnatic first in New York and that is a minefield of a match-up, as it's a debut for the Swedes and no one has an idea on where they stand. They have met each other in Pro League where Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer's team came out on top of both Cobblestone and Dust2.
ESL One New York will be a big test for VP. If they were to win in the United States, their position in the scene would be solidified and SK could be in real danger of losing the number one rank. On the other hand, if they fail to make it past groups, they'll lose that chance and will have to work for it all the more in the future.
|Richard "shox" Papillon||24||1.09|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||22||1.07|
|Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro||19||0.99|
|Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||27||0.96|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||27||0.90|
G2's only LAN appearance in the past two months was the SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals, where we witnessed the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the best French team.
Like I highlighted in the "What we learned from StarSeries" article, G2 are and will be title contenders at any given tournament, but there's a condition implied: shox and ScreaM need to be at their best, all the time.
G2's frontmen need more support to repeat a top two finish
Unless one reaches godlike levels, both of them have to put up good numbers to win big series, because usually there's no one else to pick up the slack. bodyy, RpK and occasionally even SmithZz can be the swing votes, but they rarely have the same impact as the two aforementioned stars.
It'll be much harder to reach the final at New York than it was at StarSeries. G2 can't count on VP to disappear again, SK are back, Natus Vincere can show up to play at any moment and there's always a danger in facing Astralis. This time, I don't believe very good displays from shox and ScreaM will cut it, at least one of the other three need to step up.
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz||21||1.16|
|Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye||18||1.12|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen||23||1.11|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth||21||1.00|
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen||26||0.96|
|Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)|
A team who remained unaffected by the off-season are Astralis, who have yet to win an offline event in 2016 or even reach a semi-finals at a big event since they replaced René "cajunb" Borg with Kjaerbye.
These past few months haven't been easy for the Danes who had to field two stand-ins at ESL One Cologne and finished top eight at three consecutive international events: the aforementioned Major, ELEAGUE Season 1 and most recently StarSeries S2 Finals.
Astralis' lineup change from May has yet to come to fruition
Astralis' stance in the Danish scene is in shambles as well. They've recently lost multiple encounters with Heroic and Dignitas, the latter of whom also have two semi-final runs in a row under their belt, adding insult to injury.
Their chances of advancing from groups in New York aren't great due to the competition, but not non-existent, especially because the best-of-one format helps with their shaky map pool.
It's hard to imagine device's team will be able to withstand the pressure for much longer, so there's a lot at stake for Astralis. A group stage exit could very well produce a lineup change, a good result should prevent it.
|Natus Vincere (#10)|
|Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev||18||1.07|
|Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács||25||1.04|
|Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev||28||0.99|
|Egor "flamie" Vasilyev||19||0,98|
|Denis "seized" Kostin||22||0.87|
|Sergey "starix" Ischuk (coach)|
Over the last month, Natus Vincere's position in the rankings has dipped from fourth to tenth place, mostly as a result of their failure at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2.
Valve's coaching rules forced Na`Vi to adjust
After a couple of weeks, it came to light that s1mple would take the secondary AWP after all, while seized became the in-game leader. The latter adjustment is obviously a response to Valve's new coaching limitations, which will be in place at ESL One New York.
The 18-year-old going back to his roots is an exciting prospect, but the leadership change could become Natus Vincere's downfall, as they haven't given themselves much time to get used to the modification.
seized led the team for a while, but starix taking over the reins in 2015 was what helped Natus Vincere climb the ranks. Now, they're going backwards. New York will essentially be a test run for their new-old system and we'll get to see how the new rules affect one of coaching's biggest beneficiaries.
|Nick "nitr0" Cannella||21||1.08|
|Jacob "Pimp" Winneche||21||1.05|
|Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski||19||1.04|
|Josh "jdm64" Marzano||26||1.04|
|Spencer "Hiko" Martin||26||1.00|
|Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu (coach)|
Hiko's squad has fallen off the radar in the past couple of months due to their absence from offline events and Cloud9's meteoric rise. While Jordan "n0thing" Gilbert's team were decimating online competition and made a good name for themselves offline as well, Liquid stayed at home, barely breaking even in ESL Pro League.
To top it off, they are one of the teams directly affected by the coaching limitations. Until very recently, coach Luis "peacemaker" Tadeu led the team, but since he wouldn't be able to call the shots in New York, nitr0 became the in-game leader once again.
nitr0 has a lot of pressure on his shoulders
That system hasn't worked very well. When Liquid didn't have the luxury of a leading coach, the role was passed around like a hot potato before it fell into the hands of nitr0, who is hardly the ideal choice due to the conflict with his entry-fragging role.
We only learned about the switch a few days ago, but we have to assume it has been in place for at least a couple of weeks now. If it hasn't, Liquid have a lot to worry about, because the combination of a LAN debut and substantial leadership changes make early elimination all the more likely.
|Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas||20||1.13|
|William "RUSH" Wierzba||22||1.04|
|Tarik "tarik" Celik||20||1.02|
|Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz||22||1.02|
|Keith "NAF" Markovic||18||1.01|
After the off-season came to a close, OpTic secured a spot at StarSeries via the Americas qualifier but decided against travelling to Kiev, citing a fairly suspicious reason: moving to a new gaming house.
At that point tarik was brought in to the team to replace stanislaw, who ended up standing in for OpTic at Northern Arena at the beginning of September. At the Toronto event, OpTic barely made it out from groups following a crushing loss to Echo Fox and a close series with TSM. Their quarter-final match-up was one of the hardest, as they collided with Heroic and fell short in the series.
NAF's squad have been doing well online
After the event in Canada, stanislaw was brought back while Damian "daps" Steele moved over to the coaching role, but his short tenure as OpTic's coach recently came to an end after internal disagreements.
Overall, OpTic seem to be in form. In the past couple of months they have only lost to Cloud9 and Liquid in online series, but they also bested the former for a place at ESL One New York in the North American qualifier's grand final two days ago.
|Dennis "dennis" Edman||25||1.14|
|Simon "twist" Eliasson||21||1.06|
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||24||1.05|
|Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson||23||0.99|
|John "wenton" Eriksson||23||0.94|
|Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson (coach)|
fnatic had to start from scratch in terms of the rankings, because their position was inherited by GODSENT who grabbed the three-man core. They're sitting at 26th place as of now, thanks to wins in ESL Pro League.
So far the Swedes have won 10 out of 16 maps in the league but are in the bottom half of that league, admittedly with fewer maps played than most teams above them.
dennis has been by far fnatic's best player in Pro League
After the big swap, the consensus was that Markus "pronax" Wallsten's team would benefit in the short term, while fnatic would work their way up slowly, but it might just be the other way around. GODSENT have failed to impress and it's up to olofmeister and company to show what they have in store.
The level of competition in New York makes the event a poor testing ground for a new lineup. However, if fnatic were to make it out of groups or at least give elite-level teams a run for their money, it would give us a better understanding of who came out on top of the big roster swap.
For detailed information on ESL One New York's format, schedule, talent and prize distribution, head over to our viewer's guide.
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