ELEAGUE S2 Group B preview
Virtus.pro, NiP, G2 and Echo Fox are set to play Group B of ELEAGUE Season 2 which kicks off tomorrow evening. Here's our preview of the four teams.
After Group A was played out two weeks ago with mousesports and FaZe securing the first two spots in Season 2's quarter-finals, it's time for Group B's quartet to show what they have in store for Atlanta.
The entire group stage is played in a classic GSL format, where the initial round and winners' matches feature best-of-one matches while elimination and decider matches are played in best-of-three's.
Let us delve into the four teams battling for two more spots in ELEAGUE Season 2 quarter-finals and find out what we can draw from their recent results and form:
|Janusz "Snax" Pogorzelski||23||1.07|
|Paweł "byali" Bieliński||22||1.04|
|Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas||30||0.99|
|Filip "NEO" Kubski||29||0.97|
|Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski||28||0.96|
* Ratings are from the past three months
Virtus.pro have had a busy yet quite successful several weeks, as they played ESL One New York, WESG European Finals and EPICENTER: Moscow in October.
While they never reached the very top at any of the aforementioned events, the consistency they've shown over the last few months gave them first place in our Team Ranking, at least until SK regained that spot after Pro League Finals.
The Poles decided not to travel to Brazil for the $600,000 event even though they had been asked to replace fnatic, which means they had a little over one week off to get ready for their next adventure.
Virtus.pro are favoured in Group B
They likely used that one week to finetune their Mirage, which is their most played map on LAN in the past three months but also the least successful. In October they lost on it to teams such as .Norway and .Russia at WESG, and to fnatic and Dignitas at EPICENTER: Moscow.
Their Nuke has become one of their best maps. They hold a 5-0 record on it across their last three events, with wins against established Nuke teams: Dignitas, SK and HellRaisers. I wouldn't be surprised to see Nuke in any of the potential match-ups, especially the initial round with Echo Fox, who have good results on Nuke as well. The Americans and G2 are unlikely to beat the Poles on it, but if it comes down to it against NiP, all bets are off.
Overall Virtus.pro should be at least slightly favoured in all of their match-ups due to their strong map pool. That advantage won't do them too much good in the best-of-one's, but if they fall down to the best-of-three matches, that's where it will shine through. NiP have two maps they don't play at all, while G2's Nuke or Train aren't strong enough to take on the Poles.
|Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund||26||1.12|
|Richard "Xizt" Landström||25||1.06|
|Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg||28||1.05|
|Adam "friberg" Friberg||25||1.02|
|Mikail "Maikelele" Bill||25||0.99
While Virtus.pro had the week off, NiP are going to their third event in a row after a month-long break. At EPICENTER: Moscow, the Swedes were part of Group A where all teams exchanged maps in the best-of-two matches, and went out due to the worst round difference of the four teams.
They were close to a similar scenario happening in Pro League, where they lost to Cloud9 and Dignitas and defeated eventually first-placed SK in groups, but the Americans' win over Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen and company secured them a place in quarter-finals.
There they defeated Envy on two maps before taking on crowd favourites SK once more. Despite starting 1-7 on Nuke, the Swedes proved themselves worthy on the map, but then they barely contested the Brazilians on Overpass and Cobblestone.
NiP should be hoping to avoid Virtus.pro in a series
Their biggest strength right now seems to be Nuke, which they only lost to Dignitas. They clearly have issues on Cache, which was a problem against G2 in Moscow, and they don't play Mirage and Train at all — a scary prospect when facing Virtus.pro.
NiP will probably play G2 on Dust2 or Cobblestone, great maps for both teams, and if they pass that they'll be hoping for Nuke against Virtus.pro. They have a very good chance to go through from first place, but if G2 does and The Swedes go on to play Virtus.pro in a best-of-three, it's almost as if they started 0-1 in the series.
What bodes well for NiP is that GeT_RiGhT played well in Brazil, while friberg had a very good showing in Moscow. However, Maikelele and f0rest both dropped off from their amazing level at StarSeries, and they need to be on form against G2 and Virtus.pro.
|Richard "shox" Papillon||24||1.10|
|Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||22||1.07|
|Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro||19||0.97|
|Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||27||0.95|
|Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux||27||0.88
Since G2 got silver at StarSeries in the first half of September, they haven't been able to show up on anywhere near that level. At ESL One New York, shox's team shockingly went out in last place following losses to Astralis, Liquid and OpTic.
Afterwards the French-Belgian squad travelled to Moscow, where they were also part of the group full of ties and showed they can play with the best, splitting series with three great teams: Dignitas, NiP and Natus Vincere. They ended up falling short to SK in the quarter-finals, which included a 0-16 bashing on Train, leaving the competition in 5th-6th place.
shox wasn't himself in New York, but he stepped it up in Moscow where he played a pivotal part in three of their four map wins with his sidekick ScreaM. However, the other three didn't step up when it was needed once again.
G2 have a good chance to advance despite their disappointing results as of late
Dust2 continues to be G2's strength and Cobblestone is their second best map right now, but their Train has been awful on LAN and Mirage is their instant veto. In a best-of-three scenario against NiP or Virtus.pro, which is almost inevitable, they should pick Cache for a chance in the series.
They're unlikely to win Nuke against either of them, or Train against Virtus.pro, so we should see a three-map series whomever they meet out of those two in the decider match. The third map should be Dust2 against NiP and Cobblestone versus Virtus.pro, which will give them a solid chance to advance to playoffs.
|Shahzeb "ShahZaM" Khan||23||1.08|
|Ronnie "ryx" Bylicki||23||1.03|
|Daniel "roca" Gustaferri||21||1.03|
|Ryan "freakazoid" Abadir||23||0.91|
|Sean "seang@res" Gares||28||0.90
While the other three teams travelled around for the past three months, Echo Fox stayed at home and only played online competitions ever since they placed fourth at Northern Arena in early September.
In Pro League they finished in eighth place, two wins away from qualifying to the $600,000 Finals. They also attempted to make it into ECS Season 2 but lost 0-3 to Immortals in the semi-finals of the Development league.
Echo Fox are massively outmatched in this group
Overall Echo Fox will be massively outskilled in Group B of ELEAGUE. However, seang@res' anti-stratting could make for an interesting show, as he has had loads of time to study the other teams while the others couldn't give a damn about Echo Fox considering the time constraints.
In the initial match against Virtus.pro they'll probably take their chances on Nuke. In a series against one of NiP and G2, Nuke is a possibility once again and so is Dust2, but it's still hard to see them winning maps against three top ten teams in the world.
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