ELEAGUE Premier playoffs preview
Eight teams are set to battle in the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier playoffs this week, with the quarter-finals starting on Tuesday. Before heading into the ELEAGUE studios once again, we took a look at the squads and prepared a preview of the event.
The ELEAGUE group stage, which spanned over four consecutive weeks, saw eight teams book spots in the playoffs. FaZe and G2 came out of the first group, North and fnatic followed suit, Cloud9 and Envy made it out of Group C, while Astralis and Heroic wrapped it up by finishing top two in the final group.
SK and Liquid are notable absentees, having failed to make it out of group D, as well as MOUZ, who attended ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier shortly after their triumph in Mykonos, only to go out last in Atlanta. Ninjas in Pyjamas are another team many would expect to make it to the playoffs, but the Swedes were shocked by Envy in the decider match after winning the Frenchmen's map pick.
The draw saw the four favorites—Astralis, FaZe, G2 and North—spread out evenly across the bracket, with Richard "shox" Papillon and co.—who finished second in their group behind FaZe—being drawn against Cloud9. The French-American matchup will be the first one to be played out at the ELEAGUE Arena, with Astralis - fnatic following on the first day. The other two quarter-finals will take place on day two, when FaZe will take on Envy and North will face Heroic in a Danish derby.
ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier features a total prize pool of $1,000,000, with $500,000 set aside for the winner and $150,000 for the second-placed team.
|Rating used are from last three months on LAN|
|William "RUSH" Wierzba||1.15||Kenny "kennyS" Schrub||1.19|
|Jake "Stewie2K" Yip||1.08||Dan "apEX" Madesclaire||1.10|
|Tarik "tarik" Celik||1.08||vs.||Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt||1.04|
|Timothy "autimatic" Ta||1.06||Richard "shox" Papillon||1.01|
|Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham||0.97||Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro||0.99|
|Soham "valens" Chowdhury (coach)||Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux (coach)|
Group C proved to be a walk in a park for Cloud9, who dropped just eight rounds total against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Envy on their way to the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier playoffs. The American side have been active ever since putting together their new roster, attending four LANs since the summer break.
Putting aside an underwhelming debut in Malmö, Cloud9 have been performing respectably, making top four at both ESL One New York and DreamHack Open Montreal. Continuing the semi-final trend in Atlanta will be no easy task, as they are set to face G2. The French side wasn't too active after winning Malmö, with the ELEAGUE group stage their only LAN outing, so it remains to be seen if the level they showed in Sweden is something they can keep up with.
What should play in G2's their favor is the AWPing showdown between kennyS and Skadoodle. The American sniper did step it up on the two maps he played in the group stage in Atlanta—against Ninjas in Pyjamas and Envy—but has been pretty lackluster apart from that. If kennyS is able to get the upper hand in the AWPing duel consistently, Cloud9 could easily find themselves playing catch-up in the series. Coming back from a deficit is not something we've seen Cloud9 do with this roster yet, with bad starts often leading to complete blowouts—out of the nine maps they lost on LAN, four finished with Cloud9 picking up six or fewer rounds.
That is not to say that Cloud9 are complete underdogs in the series. Despite moving to a peripheral role, Stewie2K is still an impactful player for the side, and can be a solid AWPing option for his team, as his aggressive style is very different from Skadoodle's and could catch the Frenchmen off-guard. autimatic's stable output hasn't changed, while RUSH has been looking like his end-of-2016 self under the leadership of tarik, who has been able to frag fairly well while calling.
In the pick-ban, G2 is most likely going to veto Train, which they have not been able to figure out with this roster, leaving Mirage open to Cloud9. That should be the ticket into the series for Cloud9, who will surely remove Nuke, a map they have never played with this five. Cobblestone or Inferno are likely to be picked (and won) by G2, who, with the form of their strike duo apEX-kennyS, should be favored to close it out on whatever map pops up as the decider.
|Nicolai "device" Reedtz||1.17||Robin "flusha" Rönnquist||1.06|
|Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen||1.14||Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson||1.06|
|Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander||1.07||vs.||Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson||1.04|
|Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye||1.06||Jesper "JW" Wecksell||1.01|
|Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth||1.05||Maikil "Golden" Selim||0.96|
|Danny "zonic" Sørensen (coach)||Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson (coach)|
gla1ve's troops haven't been on point lately, with struggles following the summer break. The team admitted that they lacked firepower and that the individual form wasn't there after a group stage exit in New York, with Kjaerbye having the biggest drop off at the ESL One event. The 19-year-old's form is nothing to be worried about yet, though, as the youngster stepped his game up in the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier group stage, with the rest of the team following suit—gla1ve had a particularly strong outing, with device being reliable as always.
While two BO1 victories saw Astralis qualify for the playoffs, fnatic had a bit longer road to get to the same point. The Swedes started out with a 16-14 loss to North, so they had to edge out MOUZ before 2-0'ing Immortals to move past the group stage. flusha was the main man during the matches in Atlanta, even though Lekr0 and KRIMZ had been the duo pushing this fnatic squad forward up until that point.
How well fnatic's new in-game leader Golden will work with the squad is still unknown. The Black and Orange haven't been delivering impressive performances on LAN yet, with the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier the only bright spot so far. The task ahead of them is not an easy one at all, and it seems that the window in which they could get a surprise win over Astralis is a few weeks behind us. ESL One New York was the wake-up call the Danish squad needed to kick into a higher gear individually, and with their strong tactical foundation still in place, they shouldn't be troubled by whatever JW and co. can throw at them.
If they move past fnatic, things should get more interesting for the Danes in the later parts of the playoffs, with the winner of G2 - Cloud9 waiting on their side of the bracket. One more hurdle is the final, in which Astralis could face off against FaZe, who historically have had the upper hand against the Danish squad—and now have form on their side as well.
|Nikola "NiKo" Kovač||1.30||Cédric "RpK" Guipouy||1.18|
|Håvard "rain" Nygaard||1.30||Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom||1.13|
|Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács||1.23||vs.||Vincent "Happy" Schopenhauer||1.05|
|Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer||1.12||Alexandre "xms" Forté||1.01|
|Finn "karrigan" Andersen||0.89||Christophe "SIXER" Xia||0.97|
|Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström (coach)||Damien "maLeK" Marcel (coach)|
The third quarter-final sees FaZe, the team with unquestionably the best short-term form, face off against Envy, who had dire LAN form after the Summer break but finally caught a break in the ELEAGUE group stage.
FaZe are, of course, the overwhelming favorites in the matchup, with their win at ESL One New York being a sheer display of the power this roster possesses. The 'superteam' surely lived up to the name in the Big Apple as they let their opponents get to double digits on just one out of the seven maps they played.
Comparing the squads, it will be a miracle if Envy are able to match FaZe's fragging output in Atlanta, and unfortunately, good fragging is what got them the second place in Group C a couple of weeks ago. RpK rolled back the years and averaged a 1.44 rating, with ScreaM following at 1.12. This is something that is hardly sustainable, not only due to RpK's stunning showing but also due to the fact that the duo almost never perform well at the same time, with their group stage performances being an outlier. The rest of Envy' squad has not been able to go anywhere near that level, with SIXER's AWP continuing to be a non-factor against tier 1 teams.
The French side could have an opening on either Cobblestone or Nuke, two maps FaZe isn't renowned for and are, at the same time, the best ones for Happy and co. However, FaZe will be heavily favored on whatever comes in after that, and a deep run is more than likely.
|Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke||1.23||Jakob "JUGi" Hansen||1.11|
|Valdemar "valde" Bjørn Vangså||1.14||Nikolaj "niko" Kristensen||1.09|
|René "cajunb" Borg||1.10||vs.||Andreas "MODDII" Fridh||1.06|
|Philip "aizy" Aistrup||1.07||Marco "Snappi" Pfeiffer||1.01|
|Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen||1.02||Patrick "es3tag" Hansen||0.98|
|Casper "ruggah" Due (coach)||Henrik "FeTiSh" Christensen (coach)|
Closing the quarter-final stage of ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier will be a Danish derby between teams lead by MSL and Snappi. The North - Heroic rivalry has grown over the last year, ever since Snappi's side exploded in the scene with a win at the Danish-only Power-LAN 2016. North have been able to hold on to the title of the second best Danish team, though, even taking over the number one spot from time to time.
The two sides met in the ECS Development League recently, with Heroic picking up a 2-0 win on Mirage and Inferno, but the last LAN meeting, at ESL One Cologne, was a 16-14 win in favor of North. Comparing their recent achievements, MSL's troops are indisputably the favorites, with a second place at DreamHack Masters Malmö and a victory at DreamHack Open Montreal behind them. On the other hand, Heroic were in a tough spot after the Summer break, losing important online games to underdogs and finishing dead-last at ESG Tour Mykonos, but turned things around in the ELEAGUE group stage.
Two victories over SK, in a BO1 and a BO3, with both JUGi and niko playing well showed the potential the team has when their stars are on point. However, the X-factor in the series win over the Brazilians was MODDII. The 28-year-old was on the same level as the two young guns - not something we often see -, and it's a bit unlikely that we will see a repeat performance this week.
Going up against one of the scariest CS:GO players at the moment, k0nfig, as well as their former teammate valde won't be easy at all, but Snappi's side, as the underdogs, have the factor of a domestic rivalry working in their favor. Not only that, but the map pools of the two teams somewhat line up, with both teams avoiding Cache. Playing chicken with the veto—or maybe a surprise pick from one of the sides—, could be something that allows Heroic to upset North on Wednesday.