Can anyone stop MOUZ NXT's Academy League reign?
MOUZ NXT will be heavy favourites when WePlay Academy League begins, but who can challenge them?
The fifth season of the WePlay Academy League begins on Monday July 25, with an expanded 14 teams battling it out for the title and the lion’s share of a $100,000 prize pool.
A double round-robin group stage will see the group winners advance to the playoffs, whilst the 2-4th teams in each group proceed to the Play-In stage, a gauntlet-style bracket that will decide two more teams for the playoffs. The playoff bracket will be a double elimination best-of-three.
The question on everyone’s mind for this season, is this: can anyone stop MOUZ NXT?
The rulers of the Academy League
MOUZ NXT have taken every single WePlay Academy League title on offer thus far, and the team has seen some of their previous stars propelled into the tier-one scene with the main roster in the form of Ádám "torzsi" Torzsás and Jon "JDC" de Castro. Not only has the team succeeded in the Academy Leagues, but also in tier-two online events, picking up top-fours at a couple of Malta Vibes events with the previous lineup and taking scalps against teams like forZe during REPUBLEAGUE with the current one.
It was particularly impressive to see MOUZ NXT grab the Season 4 trophy having rebuilt the squad, the additions of Jimi "Jimpphat" Salo and Miłosz "mhL" Knasiak proving shrewd ones, with the latter picking up a 1.26 rating across 20 maps during the title-winning campaign. That roster remains for Season 5, and they will undoubtedly be heavy favourites to remain undefeated champions.
The Germans of BIG Academy have come second in the last two seasons of the Academy League, one with Karim "Krimbo" Moussa in the lineup, the other with Nils "k1to" Gruhne. With k1to on the roster, the young BIG squad have a wealth of experience to call upon, and their star man Marcel "hyped" Köhn was the third highest rated player during Season 4, with a 1.26 rating over 16 maps.
They also recently won the Y-Games Pro Series, outplacing the likes of AGO and far outstripping their 5-8th placed Academy brethren NAVI Junior. With recent success under their belts, and the prior pedigree in this competition, they will be second only to MOUZ NXT on the list of favourites.
The best of the rest
Astralis Talent are usually there or thereabouts at the top of the Academy League placings, and with the best-rated player from the last season in the form of Frederik "Fessor" Sørensen, they will undoubtedly be dangerous once again.
The Brazilians FURIA Academy deserve a mention for their upward trajectory, going from 9-10th in Season 3 to third in Season 4, and they will be keen to continue their improvement this time around.
ENCE Academy have been the headline addition to WePlay Academy League’s fifth season, and they will field a lineup that sports some hotly-touted talent; Youssef "juissi" Adam in particular impressed during Elisa Open Finland Season 2, and Henri "HENU" Ylilehto put in some solid performances during Fragleague Season 8.
There are a couple of unknown quantities outside of ENCE Academy, with PROSPECTS and Young Ninjas sporting much-changed squads when compared to Season 4, and they may be able to harness the surprise factor when taking on the more established rosters, though we're still waiting to see what their lineups look like.
The groups for WePlay Academy League Season 5 are:
The schedule for the first day of play is as follows:
Monday, July 25
16:00 Astralis Talent vs. NAVI Junior
17:15 Young Ninjas vs. OG Academy
18:30 Eternal Fire Academy vs. MOUZ NXT
19:45 PROSPECTS vs. Spirit Academy
21:00 Apeks Rebels vs. BIG Academy
22:15 Young Gods vs. ENCE Academy
The rest of the schedule and any other information about the tournament can be found on the event page.