WESG World Finals: Five players to watch

With the WESG 2018 Finals about to start, we picked out five players that you should keep an eye on this week.

The 2018 WESG event will kick off this Monday with almost 30 teams split into eight groups, with the top two sides of each group progressing to the single-elimination, best-of-three bracket.

Almost $1 million will be on the line at the WESG event

All eyes will be on MIBR, fnatic, G2 and OpTic, but there is a lot more to this tournament than just the favourites. The single-nationality rule makes for some great mix rosters and also gives talented players who are rarely in the spotlight an opportunity to shine and make a name for themselves. Here are some names that you should be watching out for as the event is about to start:

Argentina Luca "Luken" Nadotti (Furious)

2018 LAN rating: 1.40

The 21-year-old Argentine has emerged as one of the most interesting players to follow in Latin America, becoming a centrepiece for Furious, who are eager to step out from the shadow of local rival Isurus.

Luken put on a show in the recent match between the two Argentine teams, averaging a 1.42 rating in the exciting three-map series at the ESL LA League Season 3 Finals. Isurus' superior experience proved key in the decider map's overtime, but that match proved that Argentina's giants can indeed be challenged.

Luken has been making waves in Latin America

That was the sort of performance that we have come to expect at regional events from Luken, who has not yet had a single below-average rating on LAN. The WESG Finals will pose a completely different challenge, with much tougher opposition, and, on top of that, Furious will be in attendance with a stand-in, Nahuel "Straka" Vazquez, who was part of the Argentina squad that reached the final at the World Championship 2016.

Furious' playbook may be a little bit rough around the edges but, following MVP PK's withdrawal, they are very much expected to be in contention for a spot in the playoffs along with FrostFire and Absolute. To Luken, being side by side with some of the best players in the world still feels very much like a dream, and he will need to shake off that feeling of awe to prove that he is the real deal.

Bulgaria Valentin "poizon" Vasilev (Windigo)

2018 LAN rating: 1.27

poizon enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence in 2018, in which he astonishingly did not end a single tournament, be it online or LAN, with a below-average rating, earning a spot in Windigo, Bulgaria's strongest side, and his own entry in HLTV's "One for the future" series.

Those who doubted the 20-year-old's ability were proved wrong at the start of 2019 as he put in a respectable 1.24 rating at the Europe Minor despite the fact that his team won just two out of the six maps that they played at the event, in Katowice.

poizon with Windigo at the Europe Minor

The WESG Finals will be the biggest event yet for poizon, who boasts a remarkable 1.26 average rating on LAN, and an opportunity for him to confirm his credentials as one of Europe's most exciting young prospects. Blessed with a deadly AWP, the 20-year-old looks on course to become Bulgaria's next big thing, following in the footsteps of Tsvetelin "CeRq" Dimitrov, who is currently plying his trade for NRG in North America.

Having been placed in the 'Group of Death' along with fnatic and Movistar Riders, Windigo will be hoping for some inspired performances from their star player to reach the playoffs and find some much-needed stability after a troubled period in which the lineup was up for sale.

Canada Matthew "WARDELL" Yu (WARDELL N Friends)

2018 LAN rating: 1.17

The 20-year-old headlines this year's Canadian WESG representative and is one of just two players who were part of the Ghost team that won the qualifier and will compete in Chongqing.

After a quiet first year with Ghost, WARDELL established himself as one of the most promising young talents in North America in 2018 with a series of impressive performances, both online and on LAN, even if, when it came to Big Events, he showed a tendency to blow hot and cold.

Can WARDELL lead his friends to the playoffs?

The Canadian AWPer had a rough first LAN event in 2019, ending the iBUYPOWER Masters with a 1.00 rating, so he will be looking forward to the WESG Finals to return to shape and get rid of the rustiness that he showed in Los Angeles ahead of Ghost's first real test of the year, the ESL Pro League Season 9 Americas.

WARDELL N Friends will need to work hard to get out of a group that includes the talented Russia mix, Imperial and Panda. Entertainment will be guaranteed in WARDELL's matches: the young Canadian tends to shine in low-pressure situations, and the team's loose playstyle should give him the freedom that he needs to showcase his talent.

United States Ricky "floppy" Kemery (Singularity)

2018 LAN rating: 1.30

The WESG Finals will be the second international event for floppy, who showed some promise at the ESEA MDL S29 Global Challenge as he averaged a 1.19 rating in Vireo.pro's 5th-6th place finish, acquitting himself well even against the group's tougher sides, 3DMAX and Kinguin, both of whom would go on to reach the final.

floppy joined Singularity only last month after impressing for Win Scrims Not Matches, and the early signs have been positive. He helped the team to take the top seed in the ECS Pinnacle Cup with a 1.28 rating and has averaged a 1.08 rating in ESEA MDL since replacing Gage "Infinite" Green in the line-up of the ex-Gorilla Gang squad.

floppy will try to lead Singularity to the last-16 stage

With NiP out of the picture, Singularity all of a sudden find themselves within reach of a playoff spot from a group that also features a G2 side playing their last tournament with Alexandre "bodyy" Pianaro, and Revolution. The Vietnamese team are no strangers to international events, but the North Americans will still be heavily favoured for that match, which could be a confidence booster for floppy as he looks to extend his solid LAN record.

Australia Matthew "Texta" O'Rourke (Chiefs)

2018 LAN rating: 1.24

The 17-year-old has been putting in some solid numbers at Oceanic and Asian LAN events since 2017 and now gets another chance to shine on a global scale after cutting a frustrating figure at IEM Sydney 2018, his first Big Event, where he averaged a career-low 0.65 rating.

That was the only disappointment in what was otherwise a very good year for Texta, who guided Chiefs to victory in several domestic tournaments, most notably two ESL Championships, and to a playoff appearance at the eXTREMESLAND 2018 Asia Finals, where they were eliminated by the team's surprise package, NASR.

Texta returns to an international event with Chiefs

In Chongqing, Chiefs will not be able to field their newest recruits, New Zealander duo Chris "ofnu" Hanley and Ryan "zewsy" Palmer, but they should still be a well-oiled machine as Mohammed "MoeycQ" Tizani and Jesse "InfrequeNt" Barker had been with the team since October. Texta has not yet played on LAN this year but, if his online form is an indicator, then he is in tip-top shape and ready to power his team to top a group that looks easy on paper.

Notable mentions:

Hong Kong WingHei "Freeman" Cheung (ENZO): The ViCi player raised eyebrows as he helped his team to make a surprise appearance at the IEM Katowice Major and now finds himself helping a band of fellow Hongkongers to survive a group that includes 5POWER and Ukraine.

South Africa Aran "Sonic" Groesbeek (Denial): The 20-year-old was instrumental in Bravado's fairytale story and ended 2018 with a 1.19 rating, which was no small feat given the quality of opposition that they faced throughout the year. Now under Denial, he will be looking to build on the form that he showed at the recent LAN events that he attended.

Brazil Bruno "shz" Martinelli (Imperial): The former Luminosity and Immortals player has had few chances to prove his worth on LAN recently, but his 1.21 rating in 2018 shows that he cannot be taken lightly. At the recent Americas Minor, he was a nuisance to INTZ in the three-map series between the two teams.

Japan Koji "Laz" Ushida (Absolute): The Japanese player boasts an incredible 1.23 LAN rating and has been competing at a top level in Asia since 2016. Expect him to cause Furious and FrostFire all sorts of problems in the battle for survival in Group D.

Canada Matthew 'WARDELL' Yu
Matthew 'WARDELL' Yu
Age:
21
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.10
Maps played:
504
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.10
Argentina Nahuel 'Straka' Vazquez
Nahuel 'Straka' Vazquez
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
280
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.15
South Africa Aran 'Sonic' Groesbeek
Aran 'Sonic' Groesbeek
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
521
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.13
Hong Kong WingHei 'Freeman' Cheung
WingHei 'Freeman' Cheung
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
627
KPR:
0.78
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.13
United States Gage 'Infinite' Green
Gage 'Infinite' Green
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
412
KPR:
0.76
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
United States Ricky 'floppy' Kemery
Ricky 'floppy' Kemery
Age:
19
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.12
Maps played:
411
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
Argentina Luca 'Luken' Nadotti
Luca 'Luken' Nadotti
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.16
Maps played:
163
KPR:
0.78
DPR:
0.63
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
New Zealand Ryan 'zewsy' Palmer
Ryan 'zewsy' Palmer
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
611
KPR:
0.71
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.16
New Zealand Chris 'ofnu' Hanley
Chris 'ofnu' Hanley
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
662
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.15
Australia Mohammed 'MoeycQ' Tizani
Mohammed 'MoeycQ' Tizani
Age:
26
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
527
KPR:
0.70
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.13
Australia Matthew 'Texta' O'Rourke
Matthew 'Texta' O'Rourke
Age:
18
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.14
Maps played:
618
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.68
APR:
0.18
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
Brazil Bruno 'shz' Martinelli
Bruno 'shz' Martinelli
Age:
21
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
542
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
Australia Jesse 'InfrequeNt' Barker
Jesse 'InfrequeNt' Barker
Age:
25
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.07
Maps played:
467
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.12
Bulgaria Valentin 'poizon' Vasilev
Valentin 'poizon' Vasilev
Age:
20
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.15
Maps played:
673
KPR:
0.77
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.12
Japan Koji 'Laz' Ushida
Koji 'Laz' Ushida
Age:
23
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.18
Maps played:
250
KPR:
0.79
DPR:
0.62
APR:
0.11
Better than Major
2019-03-11 02:01
#8
 | 
Asia gabefill 
Fk so fast
2019-03-11 02:01
#29
ScreaM | 
Dominican Republic casxd 
Mario > Sonic
2019-03-11 02:13
+1
2019-03-11 03:12
-1
2019-03-11 03:20
#64
 | 
Spain JustNo 
+1
2019-03-11 03:25
#72
 | 
Panama Cyain10 
-1
2019-03-11 03:59
#80
fer | 
Brazil _Awper 
+1
2019-03-11 06:29
-1
2019-03-11 08:46
#89
fer | 
Brazil _Awper 
Nt prokda
2019-03-11 08:48
ExplosioN the God couldn't make Saudi Arabia qualify. All. Hail the middle east s1mple Also Laz is nutty
2019-03-11 04:28
#4
 | 
Brazil COLD_THE_BEST 
ez 500k for mibr :<
2019-03-11 02:01
#21
 | 
Hong Kong NyKnight 
from 800k to 500k sad
2019-03-11 02:08
#37
 | 
Brazil COLD_THE_BEST 
yep :c
2019-03-11 02:22
#40
 | 
Brazil Vitor_IS 
why did the prize pool get reduced?
2019-03-11 02:29
#65
 | 
Spain JustNo 
Bcs nobody cares about wesg lmao
2019-03-11 03:26
#71
 | 
Brazil Vitor_IS 
so in 2017 people cared about it? cuz it had a 1.5kk prize pool
2019-03-11 03:48
They tried to make people care. Now they realized it doesnt work.
2019-03-11 07:18
#95
 | 
Brazil Vitor_IS 
hm ok
2019-03-11 16:55
true lmao
2019-03-11 11:36
what can you expect from communist china
2019-03-11 03:26
#94
 | 
China VanNistelrooy 
:( why
2019-03-11 15:26
you guys need to rise up and beat ur stupid survellience government
2019-03-12 03:25
#69
 | 
Australia _Lurkin_ 
cos of shit teams? lmao
2019-03-11 03:41
#70
 | 
Brazil Vitor_IS 
every wesg is filled with shit teams, and used to have a 1.5kk prize pool
2019-03-11 03:47
It’s 1.5 million not kk men
2019-03-11 05:30
kk literally means mil men
2019-03-11 07:03
#83
HenkkyG | 
Czech Republic cortan 
+1
2019-03-11 07:13
hook line and sinker
2019-03-12 03:14
#6
 | 
Iceland caverat 
nice
2019-03-11 02:01
Go FG
2019-03-11 02:01
WESG: Five hour delay (before every game) fixed the title for ya
2019-03-11 02:02
#10
 | 
Argentina Dll14 
Ez for Luken, the best SA player atm
2019-03-11 02:02
Yes Luken > Baitzera
2019-03-11 07:03
#11
 | 
Argentina DxRama 
Luken a.k.a "PAPITO" UwU
2019-03-11 02:02
#12
Luken | 
Argentina turu21 
Vamooooooooooo luken viejo y peludo nomassssss iwiiiiiiiiu. Lesgooooooooouuuu lukeeeeehen,
2019-03-11 02:02
#13
 | 
Brazil Collee 
shz and luken lmao
2019-03-11 02:03
wtf what about me
2019-03-11 02:02
How i will watch Luken if Isurus didnt go to China???
2019-03-11 02:02
#19
 | 
Argentina EzeRollin 
maybe because he plays in furious xD
2019-03-11 02:06
HAHAHHAHAHHAH Dumb af. Sorry bro.
2019-03-11 02:08
#17
 | 
World smash143 
I like the single nationality aspect of WESG and how it promotes new up and comers but the execution of it is so bad.
2019-03-11 02:06
#18
 | 
Brazil wdks 
betten than major omggg
2019-03-11 02:06
#20
gAuLeS | 
Brazil GsF77 
EZ4Mibr???? I believe
2019-03-11 02:07
Where is my name?
2019-03-11 02:11
#25
 | 
United States Raptorial 
WESG new valve sponsored major.
2019-03-11 02:11
#26
 | 
United States inflict 
ez for floppy
2019-03-11 02:11
#27
NiKo | 
Asia LustBoi 
hope small team win this
2019-03-11 02:12
#28
Merca | 
Argentina DNG14 
Luken GOD
2019-03-11 02:12
#30
shox | 
France KR1MEZ 
Who ???
2019-03-11 02:14
Xd Who ??? 2019-03-11 02:14 Who? 2019-03-11 02:15
2019-03-11 02:16
#44
rain | 
Netherlands Trissen87 
U're from vietman, lmao, nothing to say
2019-03-11 02:36
vietnam is in war? XD
2019-03-11 13:13
Who?
2019-03-11 02:15
#34
 | 
Brazil hugoooo 
mibr will be flamed hard no matter the outcome. If they win, haters will spam HLTV saying that this is the only kind of tournament they are able to win, blablablabla If they lose, twice as many threads will pop, hating them even more for not being able to win a tournament without Astralis, Liquid, Na'Vi, FaZe, ENCE etc.
2019-03-11 02:17
#55
shox | 
France KR1MEZ 
who cares about M16R?
2019-03-11 03:10
#67
shrek | 
New Zealand is_love 
what does m16r mean? "Maybe 16 rounds"?
2019-03-11 03:29
One time they lost 0-16 (against renegades or other team. Since then they are called m16r
2019-03-11 08:40
#86
flusha | 
Europe detr0 
SHOX FAN SPEAKING LUL
2019-03-11 08:42
Si luken!
2019-03-11 02:19
#36
Xyp9x | 
Portugal CRMN1 
Wth I had no idea who this luken dude was, then I checked his stats. He's literally making SA region look like bots. Can't wait to see him play. His stats look insane!
2019-03-11 02:19
#38
f0rest | 
Argentina enzo27Q 
Too easy for LukenSkywalker
2019-03-11 02:28
#39
 | 
Bulgaria vectralsoul 
ez 4 poizGOD
2019-03-11 02:28
#41
 | 
Brazil Vitor_IS 
is that the actual WESG trophy? looks really cool
2019-03-11 02:31
#42
 | 
Europe LowAlching 
who who who who and who?
2019-03-11 02:32
#45
 | 
Argentina GonzaPines 
LUKEN Kreygasm
2019-03-11 02:37
#46
 | 
Argentina roulettesoad 
luken the argentinian papito
2019-03-11 02:38
#48
 | 
France BOOBALECOQ 
And Sabaaa ? When he gonna rekt everyone you must dont talk japanese after
2019-03-11 02:50
#51
 | 
Argentina Cushiion 
EZ 4 Luken A.K.A PAPITO
2019-03-11 02:54
LUKENZERA TIER 1
2019-03-11 02:56
#53
 | 
Argentina Maiv 
vamo lukenn
2019-03-11 03:06
5 players to watch: huNter,LETN1,nexa,Impulse and emi
2019-03-11 03:07
#56
 | 
Argentina RiverPlate 
Ufff papito
2019-03-11 03:12
#58
 | 
Argentina Inetero 
go luKeNwOw~
2019-03-11 03:13
#59
 | 
Latvia tkbcsgo 
YES PAPITOU
2019-03-11 03:16
#60
 | 
Brazil Brazilian Wax 
Texta vac banned scum.
2019-03-11 03:19
Who?
2019-03-11 03:20
Luuuuuuuuucaaaaaaaaaa luuuuuuuuuuuucaaaaaaaaaaa
2019-03-11 03:21
#68
 | 
China KensonS 
ez Mibr pick money
2019-03-11 03:41
where is seized?
2019-03-11 04:14
LETS GO FLOPPPAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY
2019-03-11 04:25
#76
s1mple | 
Brazil afxsaw1 
NiKoM > luken
2019-03-11 04:44
#77
 | 
Philippines kretsim 
Go Philippines ! ! ! ! ! ! !
2019-03-11 05:21
#79
 | 
Argentina damik1ng 
LukenGOD
2019-03-11 06:11
#88
 | 
Finland Kuiva_Simo 
ResidentSleeper tourney
2019-03-11 08:47
#90
 | 
North America AlanSmith 
where are shox and kennys?
2019-03-11 08:55
No
2019-03-11 11:34
si lukrecio
2019-03-11 17:34
+ coldzera obviously
2019-03-11 19:23
WALLDELL
2019-03-13 01:36
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