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
10:00 Denmark North vs. Brazil Immortals BO1
11:30 Poland Virtus.pro vs. Korea MVP Project BO1
13:00 Brazil SK vs. China TYLOO BO1
14:30 Denmark Astralis vs. United States CLG BO1
16:00 Europe FaZe vs. Europe HellRaisers BO1
17:30 Kazakhstan Gambit vs. Sweden fnatic BO1
19:00 Sweden NiP vs. France G2 BO1
20:30 CIS Natus Vincere vs. China UYA BO1

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

After the event, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo vowed to go back to the way SK played before and find a way for felps to fit into the old system, and that's what we're looking to see at StarSeries.

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

As one of the few events to host Asian qualifiers, this edition of StarSeries will be have three teams from that continent in attendance, MVP Project, UYA, and TYLOO.

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.

UYA (formerly 5POWER) will be making their first international appearance after showing good results in Asia, most notably beating TYLOO in the qualifiers that earned them a place at StarSeries.

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.

You can follow HLTV.org's Milan "Striker" Švejda on Twitter

France Nathan 'NBK-' Schmitt
Nathan 'NBK-' Schmitt
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1652
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
France Edouard 'SmithZz' Dubourdeaux
Edouard 'SmithZz' Dubourdeaux
Age:
30
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
1161
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
China Ke 'captainMo' Liu
Ke 'captainMo' Liu
Age:
30
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
708
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.12
Brazil João 'felps' Vasconcellos
João 'felps' Vasconcellos
Age:
22
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
729
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.16
Slovakia Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Age:
28
Rating 1.0:
1.13
Maps played:
1425
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
France Richard 'shox' Papillon
Richard 'shox' Papillon
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1531
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.12
Russia Denis 'seized' Kostin
Denis 'seized' Kostin
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1224
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Korea Soo-Yong 'kAyle' Jung
Soo-Yong 'kAyle' Jung
Age:
19
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
49
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.71
APR:
0.14
Sweden Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Mikail 'Maikelele' Bill
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
895
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
China WeiJie 'zhokiNg' Zhong
WeiJie 'zhokiNg' Zhong
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
905
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.17
France Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
1486
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.16
Indonesia Hansel 'BnTeT' Ferdinand
Hansel 'BnTeT' Ferdinand
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.20
Maps played:
623
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.15
Sweden Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Patrik 'f0rest' Lindberg
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.13
Maps played:
1577
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Sweden Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' Alesund
Christopher 'GeT_RiGhT' Alesund
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1609
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.15
Sweden Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Jacob 'pyth' Mourujärvi
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
732
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.13
Sweden William 'draken' Sundin
William 'draken' Sundin
Age:
23
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
931
KPR:
0.72
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.10
Brazil Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo
Age:
28
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.09
Maps played:
1119
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.60
APR:
0.11
Brazil Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Lincoln 'fnx' Lau
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.06
Maps played:
489
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.16
Ukraine Sergey 'starix' Ischuk
Sergey 'starix' Ischuk
Age:
31
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
573
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Ukraine Andrey 'Andi' Prokhorov
Andrey 'Andi' Prokhorov
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
10
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.17
China YuLun 'Summer' Cai
YuLun 'Summer' Cai
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.11
Maps played:
836
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.14
France Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Alexandre 'bodyy' Pianaro
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.96
Maps played:
762
KPR:
0.65
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
United States Ronald 'Rambo' Kim
Ronald 'Rambo' Kim
Age:
-
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.00
Maps played:
0
KPR:
0.00
DPR:
0.00
APR:
0.00
France Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub
Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
1542
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.11
#1
 | 
Greenland freqgod 
Good article like always, gl to the team.
2017-04-02 22:31
#23
 | 
Europe wai7ing 
Striker is truly a master writer.
2017-04-02 22:50
He forgot one thing sadly. 'Can Fnatic rise to the top again?'
2017-04-03 06:07
Everyone knows the answer xD no xD
2017-04-03 09:54
#68
bodyy | 
United Kingdom phes 
Brutal... Savage... Rekt.
2017-04-03 19:41
#3
mason | 
Tunisia mason~ 
n1
2017-04-02 22:30
clg win easily!
2017-04-02 22:30
#12
 | 
Czech Republic PZKenny 
good article
2017-04-02 22:30
EZ NIP
2017-04-02 22:30
ez vp and fnatic
2017-04-02 22:33
NICE
2017-04-02 22:36
Extremely ez for NiP. Looking forward to see fnatic going out in groups once again.
2017-04-02 22:38
astralis will crush the competition and win again #ToTheStars #MAJORCHAMPIONS #RUNASTRALIS
2017-04-02 22:48
hahaha astralis have one fan
2017-04-02 23:42
true XD
2017-04-03 00:42
Can we agree to leave the hashtags out? It looks stupid
2017-04-03 16:20
not watching cause not bntet
2017-04-02 22:56
#41
 | 
Singapore acels 
I rekt bntet in mm everyday
2017-04-03 01:36
bntet doesn't even play MM LULLLLLLLL
2017-04-03 10:13
#50
 | 
Singapore acels 
How do u know LUL
2017-04-03 10:36
#25
fer | 
Argentina MyMatkhev 
Good job striker
2017-04-02 22:59
#27
 | 
Europe JuliusCaesar 
I know its almost impossible but I'd really like to see Tyloo and MVP out of gruops and winning against VP/NAVI/SK/Astralis. I'd be fun to see Asian teams in top10. GL for VP 'n Asia ;)
2017-04-02 23:19
#31
 | 
Brazil BuddyINSANE 
We can do it my boys! Let's go Brazil zil zil zil zil!!! We smart, we loyal, we friendly, we are from BRAZIL! Kreygasm
2017-04-02 23:45
SHOXIE is a fucking god whether you like or not
2017-04-02 23:52
the most interesting things for me to see are the Astralis vs VP rivalry and if FaZe can show up again with Niko
2017-04-03 00:18
#37
 | 
Indonesia rareguy 
Hi STRIKER
2017-04-03 00:29
#45
 | 
Bangladesh drvken 
hi
2017-04-03 10:06
#38
 | 
Malaysia phyzell 
Forget about map picks. Imagine Shox making hairstyle picks coming from team Tyloo. Nyehehe...
2017-04-03 00:37
Oh CLG is on this one LUL Hoping that it was C9
2017-04-03 01:42
Thank you Striker! ;)
2017-04-03 10:15
ez4Astralis!
2017-04-03 10:17
#49
 | 
United Kingdom Jonty04l32 
Striker truly is the best article writer for HLTV. Amazing work man! :)
2017-04-03 10:29
#51
 | 
Lithuania xeNNw0w 
Ez for ENCE
2017-04-03 11:05
ez for Mikko Välimaa's ENCORE
2017-04-03 15:02
#71
rain | 
Slovakia TrYx_ 
North > Immortals VP > MVP P. SK > Tyloo Astralis > CLG Faze = HR Gambit < fnatic Nip > G2 NaVi ´> UYA
2017-04-03 21:31
LOL SK VS TTYLOO AGAIN LOLOL RIGGED ez for tyloo Zhoking is legit a god DD ok somebody ok Mo GOD TTTTIER BETTER THAN KENNYFAIL LUL BNTET RIPPPP
2017-04-04 04:01
GOOOOO CLG
2017-04-04 08:44
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.