Right after the London Major, but right before the start of the ESL Pro League Season 8, the best CS:GO players on Earth will gather this week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to battle it out for a prize pool of $250,000 USD. Just in case you still need a little kick to get in the mood, these are the reasons why you won’t want to miss a second of the action at ESL One New York 2018!
5) The group stage bracket is insanely balanced.
Having only eight teams in the tournament roster is a good thing in New York’s case, mostly due to how even the playing field between them is. We’re not claiming that there aren’t favorites heading into the competition, but the reduced format means that there is only a very narrow margin for mistakes from the big names. Add to that the fact that Na’Vi and FaZe Clan were still in full swing in London last weekend and we can see how the mid-tier squads could capitalize on their longer rest since the major.
Specifically, fnatic and mousesports could be the biggest beneficiaries of this. Both teams will meet each other on the opening match of Group A, avoiding top-seeded Na’Vi in the process. This means that the winner of this particular contest will grab some much-needed momentum before facing the Winner Match on day 2, while the loser can still realistically hope to stay alive until Day 3’s Decider Match, which could be a rematch for both squads if forecasts are proven true.
4) The Big Apple is ripe for an upset
The funny thing about forecasts is that they tend get thrown out through the window once the action gets going. After the emotional roller coaster that was ESL One Cologne, with BIG Clan’s epic and odd-defying run to the Grand Finals, we should not rule out the minnows of this tournament. Gambit will try to live up to their name by tricking Na’Vi into making mistakes in the opening round through the hand of the X-God. Even if that fails, they’ll live to see another day with fnatic or mousesports in their sights and the hope of making it into Day 3 and beyond.
In Group B, you should not rule The Baguettes of G2 out of contention. The fact that they haven’t made it into the Arena Days of any of their tournaments this year only means that they are hungry for a breakthrough, which almost came at the London Major, where FaZe Clan eliminated them on the last day of the Legends Stage. They will get a rematch in the opening day of the New York bout and an upset on such a stage would completely turn their season around.
3) The ESL One trophy could finally stay in NA.
Team Liquid have been knocking on the doors of glory throughout the year. Save for the occasional slip, they’ve consistently made it into the semi-finals of most premier tournaments in 2018 and they almost took the definitive step on home soil earlier this year only to be denied by Astralis in the Grand Finals of the ESL Pro League Season 7 decider in Dallas. Last week, at the major, they were once again trumped by the Danes in the semi-finals.
With their black beast nowhere to be seen in New York, and the support of the home crowd, they will aim to make it to the final at the Barclays Center improving on their silver medal last time around, when FaZe took the spoils. No NA squad has managed to keep the ESL One trophy on home soil to date, which will surely give the Liquid squad some extra motivation. NRG, the other local crew, could also experience a breakthrough in the big time after their IEM Shanghai win earlier this year carried by the NY crowd.
2) Na’Vi are hungry for glory.
Without a doubt, Na’Vi’s finest hour this year came at the Cathedral of Counter-Strike, defeating favorites Astralis in the semi-finals before taking the ESL One Cologne 2018 title despite the visible (and audible) support behind German underdogs BIG Clan at the arena. No one is calling into question their status among the CS:GO elite at this point, especially after making it to the Grand Final at the London Major, but the Yellow Beast is clearly still hungry for more.
Although they are currently ranked as the second-best team on Earth, they need to make a statement in the Big Apple to really challenge the traditional Nordic powerhouses of the game. The New York crown would be the perfect opportunity to do this, as a win would put them level with FaZe Clan and Astralis in the chase for the $1,000,000 USD Intel Grand Slam prize with the advantage of still having a further seven attempts to take the spoils, while their rivals will only get four and three more chances respectively.
1) FaZe Clan could set up an Intel Grand Slam match point.
Having said that, FaZe are still very much ahead in that particular race and could set themselves up nicely for that six-figure check, especially after Astralis decided to take a bye for New York. After winning ESL One Belo Horizonte earlier this year, they needed to conquer either ESL One Cologne or DreamHack Masters Stockholm to be the first IGS winners in history. Failure to do so meant their ten event count was reset forward to IEM Sydney and they now need to win two of the next five events in the circuit.
Lifting the ESL One trophy in New York would only leave them needing one victory at either IEM Chicago, the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals in Odense, the IEM World Championship in Katowice or the yet-to-be-announced next event in the circuit. Given their stellar record and consistency at premier events, the odds would be heavily stacked in their favor. Their closest rivals in the race, Astralis, will have to win two of the next three events to steal the IGS. New York will be a historical opportunity for FaZe Clan, will they make the most of it?