ELEAGUE S2 Group D preview
The fourth and final group of ELEAGUE Season 2 starts tomorrow, so within here we assess the four teams' temperature going into Group D.
Six teams have already qualified for the ELEAGUE play-offs and now we have reached the final destination of the group stage to find the remaining two quarter-finalists. ELEAGUE Season 2 will then go into hibernation until November 29th when the playoff stage will resume the action.
Like the other groups in the tournament, the format is the default GSL type, with the opening and winners' matches being BO1, while elimination and decider matches are BO3.
|Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke||19||1.15|
|Emil "Magisk" Reif||18||1.14|
|René "cajunb" Borg||26||1.12|
|Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel||22||0.97|
|Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen||21||0.87|
* Ratings are from the past 3 months
One of the fastest improving teams since the off-season came to a close, and at the moment in the field of contenders for the bigger events, following an almost linear progression of improving results. A progression that culminated in them winning EPICENTER: Moscow against very stiff competition.
The addition of Magisk has been instrumental in the team's breakthrough into the top 5, carrying a rating of 1.21 on LAN in the past three months, which is in stark contrast to what Jesper "TENZKI" Plougmann brought to the fragging department.
Something in the team's chemistry has just clicked for MSL’s concoction of players, as Magisk has further made space available for k0nfig to put up consistent performances, as well as cajunb having a stronger purpose as the team's primary AWPer. That makes for a very strong trio of playmakers.
Starting off at StarSeries Season 2 they had a solid run where the semi-finals was the end of the line with G2 standing in their way. And though it was a much smaller and less stacked event, their showing at Dreamhack Bucharest was perhaps even better as they tested the otherwise unstoppable Virtus.pro to the limit, Filip "NEO" Kubski pulling off a 1v5 clutch worthy of a fairytale to close out the decider map narrowly 16-13 for the Poles, resulting in another semifinal finish for Dignitas.
Due to the nature of roster rules for WESG, dignitas did not exactly prove much by winning the EU & CIS qualifier, but a win is win. It was at EPICENTER: Moscow that they truly made their mark on the Counter-Strike scene, though the group stage did not tell us much other than the peculiar BO2 format not being without faults.
Coming into the playoffs however, the Danes were a different beast, persevering in all their three BO3 series by winning 2-1 over fnatic, Natus Vincere and even the mighty Virtus.pro facing them in the final.
Surprisingly, the Danish dynamite came back from losing Nuke 11-16, to take both Cobble and Mirage 16-5 to win 2-1. (both maps are considered firmly in control for the Polish veterans). The current roster proved in Moscow that they are to be taken seriously, seizing the lion’s share of the $500,000 prize pool in the process. It was truly a new high watermark for Danish Counter-Strike, that even brought the experienced cajunb to tears in the process.
If dignitas can show up in Epicenter form, they are to be feared
A couple of days later and cajunb and co. were competing in the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals. The expectations were naturally high, and even though they were in the much harder group B it was surprising that they ended up losing three matches, especially the 7-16 loss to FaZe on Mirage looked like something was amiss for MSL’s squad.
Apparently Magisk was dealing with the aftermath of food poisoning and the event in Moscow could very well have depleted the young squad’s resources, because it lasted almost the entire week. In the meantime they have kept an respectable form in the ECS league, only dropping a single map to NiP and two overtime maps to fnatic.
In my book dignitas are the clear favorites for this group. Envy could potentially upset them in opener, but MSL should be able to veto out both Cache and Dust2 safely, and it is hard to favor the French side on either Nuke or Cobblestone.
Should it happen, I then have a hard time seeing either of OpTic or fnatic in their current form edge out k0nfig and the boys in a BO3 setting. The experience and depth of the Danes is simply too much for either of those two teams to overcome.
|Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas||21||1.14
|Tarik "tarik" Celik||20
|Keith "NAF" Markovic||18
|Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz||22
|William "RUSH" Wierzba||22
Much like Dignitas, OpTic have also been coming out of the break with improving results, although not with the same ferocity as the Danes. The first Northern Arena in Toronto ended with a disappointing quarter-final exit to Heroic, and though they qualified over Cloud9 for ESL One New York, it was seen as a fluke and with the event being so stacked they were considered a non-factor by most.
The prophecy of a swift exit was about to come true after going 0-2 in the event’s Swiss format, but they gave a good account of themselves by taking out G2 and Astralis before being narrowly poked out by Virtus.pro in a 14-16 defeat. And this was accomplished just mere days after a turbulent roster change, as Damian "daps" Steele was removed to reinstate stanislaw, the latter player initially being the one to be removed to make way for tarik.
They continued to show stable form in the ESL Pro League to qualify for the Finals in Brazil, in which they had a decent showing in the hampered group A and qualified for the play-offs. They were unfortunate to run into their domestic rivals Cloud9 who decided to turn it up to 11 at this stage of the tournament and 2-0’ed the hapless Green Wall and proceeding to outclass both mousesports and SK to take the title.
OpTic is North America's last hope in ELEAGUE
Last weekend we then saw the North-American team in action in Montreal for another Northern Arena event and with just G2 and Envy looking like contenders, there was a decent chance for OpTic to win in Canda as both the French teams are prone to Jekyll/Hyde performances.
They had a poor showing in their BO1 against Envy, whom they also lost to in single digits in Brazil, but G2 were kind enough to take their French compatriots out in the semi-finals. OpTic themselves took revenge on Heroic 2-1, closing the series out with a dominating 16-4 victory on Cobble. tarik especially had a field day with just eight deaths over the 20 rounds, culminating in a 2.03 rating in this decider map.
Going into the final against the French Samurai and having their pick of Cobblestone nicked away from them 14-16 could have been too much to reset from, but stanislaw rallied the troops on Dust2 to win 16-12 and closed the deal on Train emphatically 16-7 to win the $100,000 tournament.
So mixwell and company are coming in hot form into ELEAGUE but whether that is enough to take out either Dignitas or Envy in a BO3 is hard to make a case for, so their best bet is probably to seize momentum swiftly and go for two straight BO1 wins.
|Kenny "kennyS" Schrub||21||1.18|
|Dan "apEX" Madesclaire||23||1.05|
|Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer||24||1.03|
|Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt||22||0.99|
|Christophe "SIXER" Xia||25||0.92|
Despite having put the brakes on their decline with decent placings at both StarSeries and Bucharest (5-8th and 3-4th respectively) and a supposed confidence boost by winning the Gfinity Invitational, the former Major champions decided that Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon's time was up and brought in SIXER to replace him permanently.
They went to Kiev to qualify for the WESG Finals in the EU & CIS qualifier and did not face much resistance in their group where they went 4-0, with only a low-confidence Astralis testing them remotely. They then had a close 1-2 loss versus a fatigued Virtus.pro in the round of 8. Neither a good nor bad result, it was simply mission accomplished for Happy's men.
Qualifying for the EPL S4 Finals was a success in itself after having to forfeit whole matches and play with Niclas "enkay J" Krumhorn as a substitute midway through matches on a few occasions. They did a fine job in the group to qualify for play-offs, but were constantly fighting from the back foot in the quarter-final against NiP whom they lost 0-2 to.
The Boys in Blue are very much the kennyS show at present, but in fairness both NBK- and Happy have been able to make themselves much more useful in the last 1-2 months, alleviating some of the pressure off the bulldozer apEX.
This face tells you everything and anything you need to know about EnVyUs
Both the French top teams are currently muddling around the outer rim of the top 10, and a direct battle between the two went down at Northern Arena Montreal just this weekend. The distance or lack thereof between their strength can be considered of much importance right now, as if neither team starts to rack up better results, a new shuffle between the French players could be inevitable, as their contracts are set to run out shortly after the ELEAGUE Major in January next year.
Envy did surprisingly well on Overpass, which has been their perma-ban for well over a year since acquiring apEX and kennyS last summer, though that could as much have been Richard "shox" Papillon not reading into what setup Envy were going to run, as the map turned out to be back and forth on the T-side. Nuke was very one-sided, as Envy could not contain G2's aggression and making impatient pushes with man advantages on CT-side did them no favours in mounting a comeback.
Although it is never quite known what shape or form Happy’s legionnaires will turn up in in any given match, their head-to-head results against OpTic is in the French hands, as they beat them convincingly both at the recent EPL Finals and Northern Arena Montreal in BO1’s, which could be advantageous if it comes down to straight up aim duels where confidence is key in the playstyle that both the teams employ.
|Simon "twist" Eliasson||21
|Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun||21
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||24
|Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson||22
|Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson||29
From the outset, this group looked to be one of the more competitive ones, but the Swedes travel to Atlanta in a weakened version as Dennis "dennis" Edman cannot attend due to personal reasons and they will use their coach Jumpy as a stand-in. That is a major setback for the Swedes.
dennis has been fnatic’s most stable and impactful player for an extended period of time, even back when the former lineup contained Jesper "JW" Wecksell and Robin "flusha" Rönnquist and was running on its last legs. On top of that Jumpy has not played an official match since early August when he played for Escape.
A Minor that olofmeister's side would have had to qualify through after losing three players of the old core to GODSENT. However, as GODSENT continued their disappointing results and KRIMZ in particular had a hard time making impact for Markus "pronax" Wallsten’ new squad, he was lured back to play with his old LGB mates.
KRIMZ is back among familiar faces, but how far will that take the new fnatic?
KRIMZ rejoined olofmeister and dennis shortly before the EPL Finals and as such the Swedish team did not participate, despite qualifying in the online league, so we have yet to see the current iteration of the roster on LAN. The re-addition of olofmeister's snus-chewing deputy meant that fnatic regained their Legends status and could skip the qualifying process for the coming Major entirely, which GODSENT now had to trudge through. John "wenton" Eriksson was then replaced by disco doplan just days before the Minor.
Whether the reunion of the famed LGB-duo will instantly transport them back to their previous versions is of course something to be wary off for their opponents, but I highly doubt this new lineup have their roles drilled to a high enough level to compensate for the lack of dennis, a map pool that is most likely still under construction and the fact that disco doplan has yet to play against such a compact group of top-tier teams in succession.
If any hope is to be had for the Swedish squad, I can only see it be possible with two straight BO1 victories. Both OpTic and Envy are fine with playing Dust2 and Cache which can be won almost entirely by having the better aim. The trio of twist, olofmeister and KRIMZ might just be able to bring the edge in firepower and run with the momentum to win single maps, but this is clutching at some very thin straws.