Key storylines of StarSeries S3 Finals
The SL i-League StarSeries Season 3 Finals is less than two days away, and it's time for us to take a look at the key storylines when it comes to the $300,000 event.
The StarSeries Season 3 Finals will kick off on April 4 with the Swiss system group stage's first round, which will see the invited teams face those that came through the qualifiersn.
The $300,000 event will feature nine out of top-10 teams in the world according to our Team Ranking (the exception being Heroic), as well as several more from the top 20.
Here are all the attending teams and the first-round match-ups:
|Tuesday, April 4th|
Without further ado, let's get into our key storylines, where we go over some of the most exciting aspects of the Kiev event.
The French revolution - a dream or reality?
Rumours about a new French lineup had been circling the scene since the beginning of the year, and it was in early February that EnVyUs and G2 joined forces by combining three members of each lineup with hopes of making the ultimate team.
The French revolution saw Kenny "kennyS" Schrub and Richard "shox" Papillon come together for the first time to the delight of "baguette" Counter-Strike lovers, with Dan "apEX" Madesclaire, Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt and Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro completing the active roster and Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux moving to a coaching position.
Can G2 make their way back into the elite?
The beginnings of the new G2 didn't quite match the hopes many had for them as the Frenchmen failed to qualify for IEM Katowice and kicked off ESL Pro League Season 5 with only one win out of seven matches. Recently, however, NBK- and company have turned things around by securing a spot at StarSeries and winning five out of their last seven matches in the league.
Fans have had to wait two months for G2 to make an offline appearance, but now the wait is over. All that remains is for G2 to prove whether they're fit to make their way back into the elite, where half of their members have been missing for a year, at such high level of competition.
SK's search for the right playstyle
Initially, SK's addition of João "felps" Vasconcellos looked fantastic, with the Brazilians picking up second place at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas and being only a few rounds away from going all the way in the final against Virtus.pro.
However, IEM Katowice saw the first issues emerge, with the team perhaps too reliant on their individual players after giving the aggressive felps space to move around. SK exited the tournament in the group stage for the first time in nearly a year, losing to Natus Vincere, Virtus.pro, and most importantly to Cloud9 on Nuke, which the Americans had never played.
felps' unique playstyle proved to be tough to incorporate
The in-game leader hasn't been the same high-impact sniper after he gave up his strength in opening up rounds following Lincoln "fnx" Lau's departure, and that's another aspect of SK's game that could come back into play.
Na`Vi come in with a new coach, Andi
After a disappointing end to 2016, Na`Vi's results improved slightly, but they still haven't been able to pass quarter-finals at three events in a row now, losing series to Astralis and SK during the first quarter of 2017.
That resulted in Sergey "starix" Ischuk leaving the coach position after the team decided that he had nothing more to offer, in Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács's words, and the veteran was replaced by Na`Vi's then analyst, Andrey "Andi" Prokhorov.
Na`Vi are looking to break their streak of quarter-final exits
Based on the interview we have just conducted with the Slovakian sniper, the new coach has been working tirelessly to find new things for Na`Vi and fix their issues in-game, but the question is whether that is all the team needs to get back on the horse.
It's no secret that Denis "seized" Kostin and company have been having morale issues. They focused on that during their latest bootcamp and GuardiaN had nothing but good words to say about it, so the only thing left for us is to wait and see whether it paid off and what the change has brought to the table.
Is draken the infusion NiP needed?
Aside from G2, another team who will make their debut at StarSeries are NiP, who brought in former Epsilon player William "draken" Sundin while benching Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi a little over two weeks ago.
That was a result of a string of poor results, which saw the Swedes miss out on a spot at the ELEAGUE Major following a shocking defeat to Vega Squadron at the offline qualifier in December, and more recently exit IEM Katowice in the group stage with only one win.
NiP showed in the past that a dedicated AWPer can do them a lot of good
The clear upside to the switch (and the reason for it) is that NiP have finally got a dedicated AWPer again, after Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg and pyth had been splitting sniping duties for the past year.
StarSeries will show what draken, who has very little experience in top-tier competition, has in store and whether it's enough to invigorate NiP's key players, especially Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund, who hasn't looked like a star player for several months now.
History suggests the Swedes will do well in Kiev, as they have every time they have made a change. Let's not forget that the last time it happened was before the team's trip to Ukraine's capital for StarSeries, when they took home a title with Mikail "Maikelele" Bill standing in for pyth.
Three Asian teams looking to make their mark
TYLOO are no strangers to this level of competition as most of their players have been to numerous international events, although this lineup doesn't yield the same local dominance as the previous one with YuLun "Summer" Cai. Visa issues also prevented their newest member Hansel "BnTeT" Ferdinand to travel to Ukraine, so Ke "captainMo" Liu's squad will have to do with a stand-in, WeiJie "zhokiNg" Zhong.
TyLoo get yet another chance to make their mark on the international scene
For the best Korean team, MVP Project, this will be only their second top-tier tournament since last year's Season 2 of StarSeries. Since then, they have added veteran Ronald "Rambo" Kim as coach and 16-year-old Soo-Yong "kAyle" Jung as a player, with whom they'll have another go at the best of the best.
There's no denying that Asia has yet to catch up to Europe and North America, but StarSeries will give us a chance to see what progress the region has made in the last few months.
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