WESG EU & CIS Regional Finals: 5 players to watch
With the WESG EU & CIS Regional Finals about to start, we take a look at five rising talents that everyone should keep an eye on.
The WESG EU & CIS Regional event will feature 20 teams, determined by a series of qualifiers held across the continent, who will face off for the chance to attend the main WESG event, where a whopping $1.5 million prize fund will be on offer.
There will be many established teams in attendance, including Polish giants Virtus.pro, the current No.8 side in the world, but we have instead decided to focus on up-and-coming talents, running down five players who will be looking to catch the eye during the Spanish event.
Brollan is one of the players garnering a lot of attention heading into the Barcelona event. The Swedish youngster will get his first real chance to shine at a top level as he will step in for fnatic in Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson’s stead.
The 15-year-old burst onto the scene earlier this year after reaching the final of the GAMERZ reality show. His team eventually lost the match, but he still put in an impressive display to yield a rating of 1.16, the second highest of the series.
Since then, Brollan has played for a number of tier two Swedish teams, most notably Japaleno and passions, putting in great individual performances on a regular basis. In fact, of the 24 tournaments in which he has competed this year, only twice has finished with a below-average rating, which is telling of the youngster’s exorbitant amount of skill – even though he has not been properly tested against top opposition just yet.
Brollan will be looking to make the most of this experience, and the opportunity to play alongside some of Sweden’s most decorated players, and under the tutelage of Maikil "Golden" Selim, will certainly help him to develop his game. The fact that every team progressing from the group stage secures a spot at the main WESG event will take some of the pressure off Brollan as fnatic’s skill alone should be more than enough to see them top a group in which only AGO seem to be a viable threat.
stavn has somewhat flown under the radar, mostly due to his team being overshadowed by North Academy and Tricked in recent tournaments, but he is one of Denmark's hottest prospects, and it should not be long before he makes the leap to the next level.
Just like Brollan, stavn is just 15 years old but has the raw skill that makes heads turn. After having just two LAN matches on record in 2016, this year stavn has already attended three events, the first of which ended with a trophy going to his team, who won the Danish Championship after beating the old Tricked and Singularity rosters, with the youngster averaging a 1.24 Rating.
Fragsters would find success very hard to come by at their next two LAN outings as they were eliminated by North Academy in the final round of the BYOC qualifier for Copenhagen Games, and by Tricked in the quarter-finals of Cross Border Esport. But they erased all doubts about their talent after pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the WESG qualifiers as they beat Heroic in convincing fashion, with stavn topping the scoreboard for his team.
The WESG EU & CIS Finals will be the biggest challenge in stavn's career. With a LAN rating of 1.19 and already some impressive performances against experienced teams (1.45 rating against ALTERNATE aTTaX and 1.85 rating against ARES), the 15-year-old will be out to make a name for himself. It is very likely that Fragsters will fall at the hands of AGO and fnatic in the groups, but they are still favoured for a third-place finish ahead of Limitless and RESISTANCE. If they manage to live up to expectations, Fragsters will earn a spot at the WESG event in China, which would be a reward for the hard work these Danish players, stavn included, have been putting in.
Boombl4 makes the cut after catching the eye at the most recent CIS Minor, where he inspired Quantum Bellator Fire to secure their first-ever Major qualifier spot with an impressive 1.18 Rating - the third highest of the event. The 18-year-old was the top performer for Quantum Bellator Fire in the last three series that the Russian team played in Bucharest, picking up a 1.23 rating in the consolidation final against Spirit and a 1.20 rating in the grand final against AVANGAR.
Prior to the Minor, Boombl4 was a largely unknown player outside of Russia, with no previous LAN outings on record whatsoever. Before joining Quantum Bellator Fire, the 18-year-old most notably represented EPG, playing alongside some well-known figures in the Russian scene, including veteran Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov.
It will be interesting to see if Boombl4 will be able to keep up the level from the Minor, especially since Quantum Bellator Fire should be playing with a loose style as they will be attending the event with a stand-in, Alexey "BAS" Kustov, who replaces Lithuanian member Aurimas "Kvik" Kvakšys. Without one of their key players, the Russian team will hope for another inspired tournament from Boombl4 to survive a stacked group that has in BIG and Space Soldiers its clear favourites, and in Oscar "mixwell" Cañellas's Wololos a playoff contender.
This is the second time that mertz has featured in one of our "five players to watch" articles. Previously, we tipped the 19-year-old to impress at Copenhagen Games, and he managed to live up to our expectations as he averaged a 1.18 Rating in the tournament despite North Academy going out in the quarter-finals.
2017 has been a dream year for mertz. The former Copenhagen Wolves member boasts an average 1.23 rating on LAN and is yet to finish an event with an under 1.00 rating, which shows just how dominant he has been, even if sometimes his teammates struggle to keep up with him.
In Catalonia, the Danish team will fancy their chances of reaching the playoffs, having been paired with two mix teams (Ukraine and NOREG), and two squads fielding substitute members, GODSENT and Endpoint. North Academy travel to Spain in high spirits, having qualified for DreamHack Winter with victories over in-form duo AGO and Space Soldiers. These two events will give the 18-year-old the perfect chance to show himself to the world; sooner or later, he will find himself playing for one of Denmark's big teams.
Marcelious rounds off the list thanks to some impressive performances in recent months, mostly online. The Norwegian player first raised eyebrows in the opening Nordic Championship Season, in which he played a couple of matches for Zoctai, but it was only in the league's second iteration that he truly cemented his credentials, averaging a 1.17 rating as Acapella finished third-fourth in the online portion of the tournament.
The 18-year-old also acquitted himself really well in the decisive WESG qualifying match against VITALIS, picking up a rating higher than Ruben "RUBINO" Villarroel and Morten "zEVES" Vollan, two of Norway's most experienced players.
It is hard to look past the fact that NOREG are a mix with little or no preparation, which, however, will mean little in a group that only features one team in the true sense of the word, without stand-ins. Some of this group's matches will come down to individual skill, and Marcelious has proved that he can hold his own, even though this will be the biggest event he has ever attended. Following the disbandment of dignitas, Norway's most famous team, the 18-year-old could be just the sort of rising talent that the Norwegian scene desperately needs to get back on its feet.