Four key storylines of ECS Season 5 Finals

The eight best teams from the online portion of ECS are gathered in London for the season finals, boasting a $660,000 prize pool. We take a look at the storylines to follow at the event.

The ECS Season 5 Finals will see five top ten teams compete for the trophy in London, with Astralis, FaZe, Liquid, fnatic and Cloud9 all showing up. Four of them have been placed in the same group, making up for a stacked fight to get into the playoffs.

The two groups are as follows:

Group stage action will use the GSL format, a double-elimination bracket consisting of best-of-one matches in the upper part, and best-of-three series in the elimination and decider stages. The playoffs will see the top two teams from each group compete in a single-elimination bracket to clinch the title.

Astralis look to dominate yet again...

It's no secret that the current No.1 team in the world have looked frighteningly strong on LAN these recent months, with victories at DreamHack Masters Marseille and at the ESL Pro League Finals, and a second place at IEM Sydney. They're also coming in hot at the ECS Finals with a staggering 17-1 record in league play, only losing a single map to mousesports.

Magisk and Astralis is a winning combination

Astralis decided to sit out the StarSeries i-League Season 5 event, which took place in Kiev last week, taking a break from a busy schedule. Now they're back in action and will look to keep their top ranking spot going into a similarly packed summer.

The question is whether any of the other teams in Group A can really threaten Astralis, even though it features three other top-10 sides. Liquid were the latest to match up against the Danes, but they only managed to win one map against them at the EPL Finals in Dallas while also losing 2-0 to them in the group stages. A similar pictures emerges when we take a look at Astralis' recent record against fnatic, whom they 2-0'd twice on LAN in the last three months, at IEM Sydney and DreamHack Masters Marseille.

The Danes haven't met Cloud9 since being eliminated by them at the ELEAGUE Major in January, a tournament the North American side ended up winning. The current iteration and form of Cloud9 are in no way the same as they were, though, with recents result under Pujan "FNS" Mehta's tutelage being far from impressive. The 26-year old Canadian has been moved to the transfer list, and the ECS Finals will be his last event one the Cloud9 roster.

... can FaZe challenge them without Olof?

If Astralis manage to get out of their group, FaZe will most likely be waiting for them on the other side of the bracket. Paired with NRG, Luminosity and a newly-reformed G2 in Group B, Finn "karrigan" Andersen and his men are looking at a less challenging trip to the playoffs.

One of those men is missing, though. The London finals were originally set to mark the return of Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer, after he had taken a leave of absence in April, citing personal reasons. But it seems that the Swedish star needs more time before he is ready to return, with FaZe confirming on Tuesday that Jorgen "cromen" Robertsen will be standing in for FaZe this weekend.

olofmeister won't be back in time for the ECS Finals

While the 23-year old Norwegian may not be regarded as a player of the same caliber as olofmeister, the former Dignitas member showed his worth while standing in for Heroic at the ESL Pro League Finals in Dallas, managing a 1.14 rating, the highest of the team. Looking at their results with Richard "Xizt" Landström, the former stand-in for olofmeister, FaZe have shown that they can quickly incorporate stand-ins and utilize their strengths. It's unlikely, however, that this very short time frame leading up to the ECS Finals will be enough for FaZe to reach the same level that they did with Xizt.

To go the distance at this event, the trio of Håvard "rain" Nygaard, Nikola "NiKo" Kovač and Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács will obviously have to show up big. This especially applies to the prospect of another round of the increasingly intense FaZe-Astralis rivalry, which is currently tied 2-2 this year on LAN.

New faces in fnatic and G2

While olofmeister won't be back just yet, the ECS Finals will see the return of another missed veteran of the scene. After undergoing extensive surgery on his wrist and being out since March, Richard "shox" Papillon is ready to play again, and he has brought a new iteration of G2 with him to London. Earlier this week, G2 revealed that their new lineup will feature shox along with Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro, Kenny "kennyS" Schrub, former coach Edouard "SmithZz" Dubourdeaux and Kévin "Ex6TenZ" Droolans, with the latter being named captain even though he is listed as a stand-in.

The unveiling of a new lineup comes after several months of disappointing results from the French side. The team placed 13th-16th at DreamHack Masters Marseille and 7th-8th at IEM Sydney, dropping out of the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time in over a year.

shox is back after wrist surgery

With kennyS and bodyy being the only two players with actual competitive experience in the last months, a deep G2 run in London looks to be a questionable prospect at best. When the new roster was assembled, the more recently experienced players Dan "apEX" Madesclaire and Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt were left out, with the latter having been a vital part of the French team's ECS league play to qualify for the offline finals.

While it will take more than a single event to show the true level of the new G2, it should be interesting to see the current individual skill of shox, SmithZz and Ex6TenZ, players who have been out of action for a while.

Also sporting a new lineup are fnatic, who dropped Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson for Xizt a few weeks back. After doing well as a stand-in for FaZe, the 27-year old was picked up by the Swedish side to become their in-game leader, replacing Maikil "Golden" Selim in the role.

Xizt is the new caller in fnatic

Even though fnatic haven't played a LAN tournament since being eliminated by FaZe in the quarter finals of IEM Sydney a month ago, the team have only had a few weeks to work in Xizt as their caller. Consequently, Group A should prove quite the challenge for the Swedes as they will be going up against well-oiled teams such as Astralis and Liquid.

NRG are on the up and up

The biggest surprise of the recently concluded StarSeries i-League Season 5 in Kiev was NRG. After beating Liquid and North in the playoffs, the North American squad reached the final, which they lost to a dominating Natus Vincere.

All five players on NRG showed up at the the event, with Ethan "Ethan" Arnold being their highest rated player at 1.16. Even more promising, though, was the skill shown by the young Bulgarian talent Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov. The 18-year old had never played in a big-stage tournament before, but still managed a 1.23 rating in the quarter-finals against Liquid and a whopping 1.39 in the semi-final series against North.

CeRq is a player to watch at the ECS Finals

If CeRq can reach that same level in London and the team's more experienced players, like Damian "daps" Steele and Jacob "FugLy" Medina, maintain their current form, NRG look like a contender to reach the playoffs, especially since they're situated in the easier Group B alongside G2, Luminosity and FaZe.

NRG are closer to the Top 10 in the HLTV.org rankings than ever before, currently sitting 11th after their impressive run in Kiev. Assuming they can reach the playoffs in London as well, a spot in the Top 10 is looking likely for daps and the rest of NRG.

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
Slovakia Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács
Age:
28
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
1450
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Canada Damian 'daps' Steele
Damian 'daps' Steele
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.87
Maps played:
906
KPR:
0.58
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
France Richard 'shox' Papillon
Richard 'shox' Papillon
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
1573
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.12
United States Jacob 'FugLy' Medina
Jacob 'FugLy' Medina
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
1037
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
Bulgaria Tsvetelin 'CeRq' Dimitrov
Tsvetelin 'CeRq' Dimitrov
Age:
19
Rating 1.0:
1.14
Maps played:
855
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.10
France Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Dan 'apEX' Madesclaire
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.04
Maps played:
1528
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.16
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1134
KPR:
0.81
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
Norway Jorgen 'cromen' Robertsen
Jorgen 'cromen' Robertsen
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
408
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.12
Sweden Maikil 'Golden' Selim
Maikil 'Golden' Selim
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
548
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.14
Sweden Jonas 'Lekr0' Olofsson
Jonas 'Lekr0' Olofsson
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
865
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.14
Denmark Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Finn 'karrigan' Andersen
Age:
29
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.93
Maps played:
1538
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
United States Ethan 'Ethan' Arnold
Ethan 'Ethan' Arnold
Age:
19
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
774
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Canada Pujan 'FNS' Mehta
Pujan 'FNS' Mehta
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
0.90
Maps played:
852
KPR:
0.61
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.14
Sweden Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Richard 'Xizt' Landström
Age:
28
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.00
Maps played:
1549
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.17
Sweden Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1329
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
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
Norway Håvard 'rain' Nygaard
Håvard 'rain' Nygaard
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
1165
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.15
Belgium Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Kévin 'Ex6TenZ' Droolans
Age:
29
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.94
Maps played:
1393
KPR:
0.62
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.15
France Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub
Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.14
Maps played:
1580
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.11
#6
 | 
United States SWiFTzZzZz 
Let’s go Liquid
2018-06-07 14:58
gl hf
2018-06-07 14:58
Astralis and Liquid in the Finals.. Liquid gonna win
2018-06-07 15:00
#86
 | 
United States bigsex69 
kek
2018-06-08 11:25
key storyline: ECS is rigged Renegades shouldve qualified over luminosity why why why
2018-06-07 15:00
i know fuck fuck fuck me
2018-06-07 15:06
#10
 | 
India MihirX27 
EZ 4 Astralis GLHF
2018-06-07 15:00
> Astralis look to dominate yet again... Easy win for them. > ... can FaZe challenge them without Olof? No fucking way. > New faces in fnatic and G2 Easy fail for both, especially for G2. > several months of disappointing results from the French side. The team placed 7th-8th at IEM Sydney So with Ex6, SmithZz and bodyy they must be placing within top4 to not be regarded as another disappointment, right? I'm laughing at those who think G2 may get to semis at any big tournament.
2018-06-07 15:05
Lol I pretty much agree
2018-06-07 15:03
+1 with new line up they need time to adapt to the situation ,for Faze idk they can single handedly win a match for the clan they are monsters with friendly faces .Some time they collapse very hard .
2018-06-07 15:10
FaZe are not the only team to collapse , Astralis proved several times that they struggle to handle the pressure and mental issues on Semis/Finals (IEM Sydney for example they played awful with countless mistakes)
2018-06-08 11:43
#21
 | 
Latvia phantzy 
Pretty much agree, FaZe don't have a lot of time to get use to "Cromen" and tbh he isn't a very good and well known player like xizt was, plus FaZe are coming off the back bone of suffering defeats in tournaments they should have won. As for G2... Sad to say(I'm a G2 fan) but IMO the team is going to be worse without "NBK-" and "apEX", even if it is going to be better can,t see them going far especially looking at the fact the change was made recently and "shox" has came back from injury/operation though i am happy to see "mixwell" out of the team, didn't like his performances tbh and didn't bring much to the team
2018-06-07 15:16
cromen >>> xizt any day of the week what you talking about?
2018-06-08 13:08
#92
 | 
Latvia phantzy 
No lol, xizt is consistent and experienced, he is a very good player and fit well ij the FaZe squad to replace olof, yes he wasn't quite as good as olof but he was simillar
2018-06-08 13:19
#23
 | 
Indonesia Exodd 
Even though it’s hard to disagree with your 3rd point, I kinda hope this new G2 lineup will do good in this tournament and onwards. Poor shox been through so much drama over choosing his teammates.
2018-06-07 15:24
Don't forget that "do good" for G2 means placing within top4.
2018-06-07 15:26
#54
 | 
Romania Iosif 
Nope, "do good" for G2 at this moment means that they should get at least the same result as their best with the old line-up, as this is the first tournament with their new one
2018-06-07 18:19
The old lineup played 2 LANs, they had no shox and a half of kennyS who didn't want to play without shox. But I can assure you: G2 will never get to semis at any big event (with AST, FaZe, Na`Vi, mouz & SK attending), neither at ESL Cologne, nor at any equal event.
2018-06-07 18:35
All G2 needs to do is -bodyy +NBK -SmithZz +apEX
2018-06-07 15:25
Nope. -bodyy +apEX EZ top 4
2018-06-08 01:29
If i need to choose 1 on -bodyy or -smithzz i will choose smithzz.Just make him to be coach.Gracias.
2018-06-08 01:32
I'd like to see SmithzZ playing as rifler, then we can say who should stay and who not. De nada
2018-06-08 14:04
Screenshotted
2018-06-07 15:25
FNATIC roster change is way less shit than g2 one and fnatic were already a top contender before doing it while g2 were shit and will be even shittier now
2018-06-07 15:27
#90
 | 
South Africa nimmaJ 
I'll be back
2018-06-08 12:09
What are your finals prediction? I think it will be Astralis vs NRG/Liquid.
2018-06-07 15:10
#18
oBo | 
United States Plactus 
G2 vs. Astralis final you heard it here first
2018-06-07 15:12
FaZe vs Astralis you heard it here first
2018-06-07 15:26
Same prediction
2018-06-07 16:04
Seriously why do fnatic keep Golden if his only worth was the fact that he was IGL? Now since Xizt is the IGL, I feel like fnatic won't reach anything with this lineup unless they trade Golden with someone who has a better individual skill.
2018-06-07 15:23
#38
 | 
Hong Kong Ver1tasC 
Don't worry, if golden can't do many frags, he will be kicked soon... But I still hope golden can stay. Let's see.
2018-06-07 16:05
So much fake hype for that shit g2 lineup
2018-06-07 15:26
-2 so you stay negative
2018-06-08 00:30
fan of smithzz omegalul
2018-06-08 09:56
Mvp of ecs you'll see
2018-06-08 10:13
Luminosity 0-2
2018-06-07 15:27
#34
 | 
CIS Merlas_mtk 
so ez for Astralis Faze with standin fnatic with bot xizt g2 with new roster they cant lose this
2018-06-07 15:51
G2 with shoxieJESUS and carryS FaZe Clan with god cromen Fnatic with pumpkin brain xizt
2018-06-07 18:27
#35
 | 
Serbia MAESTRO55 
Ez for Astralis
2018-06-07 15:55
#36
 | 
United States Prattatat 
Would be pretty wild if NRG make the playoffs and become a top 10 team.
2018-06-07 15:58
#45
 | 
Denmark mersault17 
True
2018-06-07 16:42
ez4 LG
2018-06-07 16:13
Sucks, eUnited could have been here if it wasn't for the MDL lan i think
2018-06-07 16:32
Also, GOOD LUCK FNS! MAKE THEM CHANGE THEIR MIND ABOUT YOU LIKE THEY DID TO SKADOODLE!
2018-06-07 16:33
g2-luminosity final ez for S T E E L E G A
2018-06-07 16:41
#47
 | 
Australia MajiC 
words cannot describe how hard the G2 lineup makes me
2018-06-07 16:49
g2 will bow out in group stage.
2018-06-07 17:07
#49
 | 
Russia evg1804 
So easy to predict that Astralis will win
2018-06-07 17:10
"it should be interesting to see the current individual skill shox, SmithZz and Ex6TenZ." u forget the "of"
2018-06-07 17:51
Thanks, fixed.
2018-06-08 11:41
#57
 | 
Denmark Fonder 
I feel for FaZe, olof placing his teammates in a difficult situation, I fear that Faze wont make it to the playoffs, my 4 hero's need to play some awesome vs.... especially karrigan have to do some world class calling and not something weird just because he can. FaZeUP
2018-06-07 18:24
#62
 | 
Argentina Fa7e07 
+1
2018-06-07 18:28
#74
 | 
United States johnjay 
#Tothestars EZ for the boys! (Hopefully undefeated throughout the whole event)
2018-06-07 19:21
EZ 4 Astralis
2018-06-08 11:05
#85
 | 
United Kingdom Beardo 
Ez for astralis
2018-06-08 11:12
#89
 | 
African Union mikecool 
ez NRG group B, australis won this tho
2018-06-08 12:01
#94
 | 
Latvia Dettheroc 
The format blows. Bo1s blow
2018-06-08 16:02
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