ELEAGUE S2 Group A preview
Here is our official preview for Group A in ELEAGUE Season 2 which will kick off tomorrow.
The most important change was the reduction of teams from twenty-four to sixteen. Each group still comprises of four teams but the format is different. Last season, teams played each other twice in a round-robin style and then they proceeded to the group playoffs. The GSL, best-of-three format will be adopted this season and two squads from each group will advance to the Season 2 playoffs.
ELEAGUE's second season will be played in Atlanta
The following preview will take glances at each team's performance in recent tournaments and assess their chances in the group.
The seventeenth team in our ranking is in turmoil with Tomáš "oskar" Šťastný, their recent acquisition, having decided to leave them for personal reasons, saying he felt there was something wrong when he joined.
The 25-year-old Czech will focus on playing FPL while the Spaniard loWel will be mousesports's new fifth. The youngster started his career with Spanish teams and joined PENTA after making a name for himself in his local scene. Although oskar wasn't performing all that well due to his discomfort, replacing him will be hard for a player like loWel who hasn't played many premier international LANs.
NiKo's team finished the last season 3-4th after losing to Virtus.pro in the semi-finals in July. They had to forfeit their match in the EPICENTER qualifiers as the finals would be played at the same time as ELEAGUE. mousesports couldn't manage to qualify for ESL One New York and then lost to Envy in the grand final of the four-team Gfinity CS:GO Invitational.
The Spaniard has a difficult task on his hands
mousesports finished their campaign in ESL Pro League Season 4 – Europe with an 18-8 record, placing third and qualifying for the $750,000 LAN finals in Sao Paulo, Brazil where they will travel to after ELEAGUE.
mousesports' opponents in their opening match will be Immortals who they have never faced before. The Brazilians will be looking to capitalize on their opponents' changes with an established tactical foundation while mousesports will be relying on raw aim.
Their biggest hope in Atlanta will be, as always, NiKo's personal performance. The three other teams in the group might have more skill than mousesports as a five-man squad but none of them possess a superstar like NiKo. With that being said, if NiKo can't get enough help from the supporting cast which is the likeliest scenario, Immortals and Cloud9 will get past the Europeans and get through the groups.
The North Americans made a quarter-finals run in the first season of ELEAGUE, finishing 5-8th while Alec "Slemmy" White was still with the team. Ever since autimatic joined the team in place of Slemmy, n0thing has been the IGL but everyone has been chiming in to help him call.
Cloud9 went on a European LAN trip in September, starting with SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 where they finished 3-4th after losing to NiP who won the tournament. They then reached the grand final at DreamHack Bucharest but Virtus.pro were too much for the North Americans to handle, as usual.
n0thing can stop those glasses
Stewie2K & company lost to Immortals in the grand final at Northern Arena at the start of September but recently won two online maps against the Brazilians in ECS Season 2, one of which went to quadruple overtime. This rivalry has the potential to decide who finishes Group A on top and Cloud9 are looking like they are a step ahead thanks to their recent LAN results.
Before reaching the final in Bucharest, Cloud9 beat FaZe 16-8 on Train in the group stage and looked more like a well-built unit, so it's fair to say they have the edge over the Europeans in their opening match.
With a 25-1 record to end the season in ESL Pro League Season 4, Cloud9 are the hottest team in North America. Their recent success and consistency combined with mousesports and FaZe's roster changes make the crew of Stewie2K the most likely winner of this group if they manage to edge Immortals.
Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey a.k.a. the problem is once again cut as the ex-Astralis member and IGL karrigan replaced him to bring order to the ranks of FaZe. Currently ranked fifteenth in the world, FaZe have had trouble producing favorable results in the recent months even though they replaced their weakest player Ricardo "fox" Pacheco with allu.
Can he fix FaZe?
FaZe finished ESL Pro League Season 4 – Europe with a 18-8 record and qualified for the finals in Brazil but their lackluster LAN performances and the fact that they have a new leader makes them the most likely last place finisher in Group A.
The second best Brazilian team impress whenever they have the chance to do so but finding a stage to perform has been a problem for them. ELEAGUE gives them a somewhat rare chance to demonstrate their credentials and show what they can do on an international LAN.
Since the offseason, they won Northern Arena 2016 over Cloud9, qualified for the second season of ELEAGUE with ease, won the online iBUYPOWER Invitational tournament, secured a spot in ECS Season 2 – North America, and placed second in the ESL Pro League Season 4 – North America. Their only lowlight was in the ESL One New York qualifier where they came short against OpTic, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
hen1 & co. will be aiming for the first two spots
Since the Brazilians won DreamHack Summer 2016 back in June, they have attended a grand total of, wait for it, oh. In the last three and a half months, they competed in only one LAN which was Northern Arena—an event marked by the absence of any top teams.
Immortals' problem isn't their lack of tactical foundation or personal performances (although zews has only averaged a 0.91 rating since he joined). They simply don't get enough chances to compete against top teams on LAN. Once again Immortals have a rare chance to prove themselves and it might just work out if they defeat mousesports in their opening match. The Brazilians are favorites to get through the group alongside Cloud9.
Group A of ELEAGUE Season 2 will get underway at 00:00 with opening matches which will see Immortals go head–to–head with mousesports, and Cloud9 face FaZe. You can go to our event page for more information about ELEAGUE and find the schedule here.
BenjaCS is a staff writer at HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter.