Five key storylines of ESL One New York

The packed schedule of September continues as ESL One New York is drawing near, kicking off on Thursday with several big names in attendance. Previewing the $200,000 event taking place in Brooklyn, here are our five key storylines going into the tournament.

ESL One New York returns for the fourth year in a row, as always housing some of the best teams in the world. This time, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams, Liquid and Astralis, headline the eight-team tournament alongside several other big names coming in as direct invites, including NRG, ENCE, G2, and FaZe, and two worthy challengers who came from regional qualifiers: eUnited and OpTic.

The packed circuit continues as we're off to the city that never sleeps

The event will begin with a best-of-three GSL group stage, featuring double-streamed matches for the most part on Thursday and Friday, before the competition moves on to the iconic Barclays Center in the heart of Brooklyn, New York, for the weekend. For a more detailed schedule and anything else you might need to know to watch ESL One New York, refer to our viewer's guide.

A new FaZe saga begins

Show of hands: who did not see Marcelo "coldzera" David to FaZe coming?

Anyone?

If you didn't even after this, or this, you've probably been living under a rock for a while because the move was one of the worst-kept secrets as of late, so let me get you up to speed with the latest news. After multiple reports over the last few weeks suggested the European side were trying to buy the Brazilian out of his contract, the deal finally went through on Wednesday following a month-long negotiation with the Immortals-owned MIBR. The 2016 and 2017 best player in the world joined FaZe alongside Latvian up-and-comer Helvijs "broky" Saukants to fill the vacant spots left by Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, who left the team for Na`Vi, and Filip "NEO" Kubski.

The fact that coldzera, who has stayed in great form despite a lengthy period of struggles with MIBR, is back within three months from his benching is amazing news considering he, as a huge brand and player, must have been locked behind a substantial buyout. It should really come as no surprise that it was FaZe who made that happen, both because they were one of the few good fits for the superstar, especially looking at the well-documented friendship between him and Nikola "NiKo" Kovač, and because they are one of the few organizations with a history of splashing the cash on players with such a status, as proven by the moves they made back in 2016-2017 to make their CS:GO division world-class.

coldzera will be back in action after spending the last three months on MIBR's bench

The most obvious observation when looking at this new constellation of players is that NiKo will once again in-game lead, which we should all know by now isn't a long-term solution unless the team has completely given up on the idea that they will ever find a leader that will work. Another one is that even though four people can pick up the AWP (and probably will from time to time), broky should be the primary sniper as the only player who has experience in that role from before his time with Epsilon — albeit very little internationally.

On paper, there is a lot of star power on this new FaZe roster, especially if Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer keeps playing like he did at the Major, but will it work in practice? We should get some answers in the rather tough Group B of ESL One New York, where Janko "YNk" Paunović's team will make their debut come Thursday. The presence of NRG and Astralis makes a deep run for a fresh lineup unlikely, but there is always a chance if NiKo and coldzera turn up.

Liquid defending No. 1 status against Astralis

After Liquid earned the right to call themselves No. 1, dominating the competition before the break, a fight is brewing for the title of the best team in the world again for the first time since June, with Astralis now hot on the North American side's heels following the record-breaking triumph at the StarLadder Major.

After what was quite a troubling period between 2019's Majors, the Danes looked like their terrifying selves once more, going on another undefeated run in the Berlin tournament's playoffs, during which they beat their North American rivals in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Liquid were nowhere near the amazing form they had showcased before the break, barely making it to the bracket stage at the StarLadder Major following losses to NRG, AVANGAR, and a close call against mousesports in the deciding series. What's more, they haven't improved if their online form is any indication, as they lost a map to eUnited and a best-of-three series to Sharks in the first week of ECS.

At this point it's too early to panic when all we've seen is a post-break tournament, which can be an awkward time for teams who couldn't recover from rustiness quickly enough, and a competition in an infamously random online environment, but there's definitely cause for worry if you're a fan of Liquid. There's blood in the water and Astralis can smell it, and it's up to Nick "nitr0" Cannella's team to fight back in New York because as far as they're concerned, this could be the tournament that sets the tone for the rest of the year.

Is suNny going to turn up?

Miikka "suNny" Kemppi's return to the scene after his long hiatus on mouz's bench was met with some controversy when he replaced ENCE's in-game leader, Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen, and so far it hasn't gone very well for the 25-year-old, who put in an underwhelming showing at BLAST Pro Series Moscow. In his first tournament back in an active playing position since January, the former mousesports star only recorded one above-average map in five while finishing the event with a poor 0.85 rating, his lowest in nearly two years.

It's difficult to judge him or ENCE, who actually did decently as a whole outside of an opening blowout against forZe, earning five points from a win against NiP and ties with Natus Vincere and MIBR before a close loss to AVANGAR put them out of a race for a spot in the grand final. It was only their first tournament together and suNny's first time playing at a top level in close to eight months, after all. It is bound to take some getting used to, both individually and as a team, which is something the Finn has acknowledged himself.

suNny will be the only defending champion in New York

However, it could start affecting his confidence if another performance like that follows at ESL One New York, which will be tricky to recover from when the team has to travel overseas to Malmö immediately afterward, preventing him and the team from improving on their mistakes. All eyes should be on suNny, coincidentally the only defending champion, when the Finns play Group A, where they are in a good position to at least place second with a Fabien "kioShiMa" Fiey-infused G2 and eUnited in the same group, if not even in first place ahead of a seemingly out-of-form Liquid.

NRG's chance to step out of Liquid's shadow

Liquid seem to be at the center of everything when it comes to New York. A lot relies on whether they will return to form, including NRG's chances to finally step out of their local rivals' shadow after being the second-best North American team for well over a year, maintaining top-ten status throughout most of that journey but never looking like a title contender with their consistent top-four exits at Big Events.

That hasn't changed so far with the arrival of Peter "stanislaw" Jarguz, as NRG have retained the same quality, adding some more deep runs but always missing the extra flare to fight for big titles. At one point it looked like they might finally break through that barrier at the StarLadder Major when they powered through the competition, including Liquid, Astralis, and Natus Vincere, three of the biggest names at the tournament, but they were once again stopped in the semi-finals in a rematch with the Danes.

It was only a fantastic Astralis who looked at peak form that stopped them, however. What if it was anyone else on the other side of that semi-final? Would NRG have reached the title decider? We might find out the answer to that this time, with Tarik "tarik" Celik & co. looking favorable for a spot in the playoffs at ESL One New York with a new FaZe in their group alongside one of the two sub-top-20 teams in OpTic. There is even a decent chance that the North American side will meet Liquid in the semi-finals, which would make for a mouth-watering clash and a chance for NRG to outplace their rivals for the second time in a row.

Could NRG be on the verge of breaking through the top-four barrier?

OpTic out to impress

There is a lot riding on this tournament for one other team: OpTic. Mathias "MSL" Lauridsen & co. have been searching for a different organization to represent for months ever since the Immortals Gaming Club, the parent company of MIBR, acquired OpTic and with that found themselves owning two competing CS:GO rosters, creating a conflict of interest amidst the organization.

With over three months having passed since the acquisition and no news on their new home, the Danish team are in dire need of a good result to attract potential backers, who would have to buy three players out of their contracts. OpTic are a part of ESL Pro League and have been able to qualify for some big tournaments such as ESL One New York and DreamHack Masters Malmö, but the lack of direct invites due to their low ranking makes the few opportunities MSL's team get extremely important at a time when they are unsure about a sustainable future.

A solid placing doesn't look entirely out of the realm of possibilities with such an unknown force in the new FaZe in the same group, but it would still take at least one massive upset for OpTic to turn some heads and potentially advance to the playoffs. Unfortunately, first up for them are Astralis, who were hardly ever on the receiving end of an upset in their prime, and they looked just as scary in Berlin.

Brazil Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Marcelo 'coldzera' David
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.19
Maps played:
1086
KPR:
0.80
DPR:
0.61
APR:
0.12
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
Latvia Helvijs 'broky' Saukants
Helvijs 'broky' Saukants
Age:
18
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.03
Maps played:
252
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.63
APR:
0.12
United States Nick 'nitr0' Cannella
Nick 'nitr0' Cannella
Age:
24
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.02
Maps played:
1207
KPR:
0.69
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
United States Tarik 'tarik' Celik
Tarik 'tarik' Celik
Age:
23
Rating 1.0:
1.05
Maps played:
1195
KPR:
0.73
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.15
Finland Aleksi 'Aleksib' Virolainen
Aleksi 'Aleksib' Virolainen
Age:
22
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
588
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.18
Bosnia and Herzegovina Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač
Age:
22
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.17
Maps played:
1141
KPR:
0.81
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.13
France Fabien 'kioShiMa' Fiey
Fabien 'kioShiMa' Fiey
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.01
Maps played:
1258
KPR:
0.68
DPR:
0.64
APR:
0.15
Poland Filip 'NEO' Kubski
Filip 'NEO' Kubski
Age:
32
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
1681
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.67
APR:
0.17
Finland Miikka 'suNny' Kemppi
Miikka 'suNny' Kemppi
Age:
25
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1043
KPR:
0.75
DPR:
0.69
APR:
0.15
Serbia Janko 'YNk' Paunović
Janko 'YNk' Paunović
Age:
27
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.97
Maps played:
117
KPR:
0.67
DPR:
0.70
APR:
0.13
Denmark Mathias 'MSL' Lauridsen
Mathias 'MSL' Lauridsen
Age:
24
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.91
Maps played:
1530
KPR:
0.64
DPR:
0.72
APR:
0.15
Sweden Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer
Age:
27
Team:
Rating 1.0:
1.08
Maps played:
1336
KPR:
0.74
DPR:
0.65
APR:
0.13
Canada Peter 'stanislaw' Jarguz
Peter 'stanislaw' Jarguz
Age:
25
Rating 1.0:
0.99
Maps played:
1006
KPR:
0.66
DPR:
0.66
APR:
0.14
Cool stories!
2019-09-26 11:30
#6
 | 
Myanmar xdcc 
lets hope broky doesnt get baited
2019-09-26 11:31
cool!
2019-09-26 11:33
Baitzera ruined faze 😥
2019-09-26 11:33
they dont even play a game yet and u already crying??
2019-09-26 11:36
HLTV users in a nutshell
2019-09-26 13:01
#45
twice | 
Korea Tzuyu 
and u think theyre serious? HLTV users in a nutshell
2019-09-26 13:20
baitko ruined faze
2019-09-26 12:23
#36
 | 
Romania decis1ve 
Nobody ruined faze. They still have 3 good players
2019-09-26 12:45
#46
broky | 
Latvia De1Co 
4*
2019-09-26 13:24
5* if they all show up.
2019-09-26 13:28
#48
 | 
Romania decis1ve 
I meant the players that got fans into loving the team in the first place, srry for confusion. Broky and cold are great too :)
2019-09-26 13:30
#52
broky | 
Latvia De1Co 
Broky, Rain, Niko and Olof are still good
2019-09-26 15:00
#67
 | 
Czech Republic knox^ 
hahahaah +1, already got
2019-09-28 16:44
coolstorybob
2019-09-26 11:57
#66
 | 
Russia Lucas_ 
+, it is
2019-09-28 04:48
Expected
2019-09-26 11:30
Pog
2019-09-26 11:31
#7
 | 
Germany Flachzange 
great storys
2019-09-26 11:32
#8
 | 
Sweden Trkmag 
FaZeUp
2019-09-26 11:32
#10
 | 
Other W1K1PED1A 
nice
2019-09-26 11:33
What about new Cache??
2019-09-26 11:33
#26
frozen | 
Czech Republic PlaSSma 
There will be only showmatch.. It's not going to be part of the map pool this event.
2019-09-26 12:22
#37
 | 
Kazakhstan tomik0 
Shit event
2019-09-26 12:47
mad that fnatic didnt get invited
2019-09-27 04:07
#64
 | 
Kazakhstan tomik0 
Nah same maps + vertigo I can't stand this crap
2019-09-27 04:55
G2 out to surprise with stand-ins.
2019-09-26 11:34
You forget to rename NRG to Evil Geniuses
2019-09-26 11:34
#16
 | 
Turkey _TT 
FaZe vs Liquid grand final FaZe take m1 TL take m2 last game goes op, FaZe won thanks to coldzera's clutch MVP for NiKo the GOAT
2019-09-26 11:45
#25
 | 
Latvia Matematikis 
FaZe vs Liquid grand final FaZe take m1 TL take m2 last game goes op, FaZe won thanks to broky's clutch MVP for broky the GOAT fixed it for you
2019-09-26 12:13
#49
 | 
Turkey _TT 
lol, broky need to prove himself first. i hope he will be the 2nd stewie for eu, but if it is a clutch situation it can be anyone beside broky
2019-09-26 14:30
#31
 | 
United States Trump2020KAG 
Flair??
2019-09-26 12:35
Flair does not check out
2019-09-26 12:42
#57
 | 
United States Artifactz 
I mean that would be great
2019-09-26 16:44
ez4faze
2019-09-26 11:47
#20
s1mple | 
Europe Sam2k 
flair checks out
2019-09-26 11:49
"NRG" xaaxaxaxax
2019-09-26 11:49
#19
s1mple | 
Europe Sam2k 
wow cool post thanks for sharing
2019-09-26 11:49
#21
Brollan | 
Finland olskab 
EZ4ENCE EZ4EVILGENIUSES
2019-09-26 11:54
#58
 | 
United States Artifactz 
Just say EG “EZ4EG”
2019-09-26 16:45
EZ4EVILGENIUSES
2019-09-27 03:46
#23
 | 
Germany Trax_ 
EZ4OPTIC
2019-09-26 11:59
#24
 | 
Sweden RoyceSW 
Liquid #1
2019-09-26 12:10
ExitForFailZe
2019-09-26 12:22
always cracks me up when sports analysts talk about "storylines" as if we are watching a scripted drama tv show.
2019-09-26 12:22
#32
 | 
United States Trump2020KAG 
I agree. It’s dumb I’m here for pimps legendary fundamentals and commentary knowledge of the game we call CSGO
2019-09-26 12:38
i wish they just had a B stream of the game without any of these welfare recipients who think their random shouting will interest me i would watch on govt but i deleted this trash game from my pc
2019-09-26 12:41
#40
 | 
United States Trump2020KAG 
Lmao. I just watch the live update feed from hltv most of the time. Pretty much mo and Anders are the only announcers I like and EVERY chat on any platform is unwatchable
2019-09-26 12:54
#30
 | 
United States Trump2020KAG 
Let’s go liquid
2019-09-26 12:33
only one key storyline: could astrlias be back to where they are used to be?
2019-09-26 12:41
yes if valve put their smoke exploit back in the game and neuralize every other team so they forget about it
2019-09-26 12:48
lol they were still dominating after the patch
2019-09-26 23:47
not really
2019-09-27 14:52
ez4ence
2019-09-26 12:54
#41
HUNDEN | 
United States DervGuy 
Faze coldzera baby HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
2019-09-26 12:59
#43
xartE | 
Finland Walrus24 
bOtPic
2019-09-26 13:04
#44
 | 
Turkey i_eat_kebab 
EZ 4 GODZERA
2019-09-26 13:19
i was here as G2 fan... no one talks about them
2019-09-26 14:42
F
2019-09-26 14:47
pkmkb
2019-09-26 15:01
ill take this is a friendly joke and not a serious one, but IKMKB
2019-09-26 17:32
#54
 | 
Switzerland _IS_OVERRATED 
nice
2019-09-26 15:08
Rip ence, shame what they did to aleksiB
2019-09-26 15:33
#56
 | 
Denmark valt3rr 
Who is NRG?? You mean EG right?
2019-09-26 16:29
#60
 | 
Brazil millerjmatos 
GG
2019-09-26 19:01
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