The pole position in the battle of countries is clearly Denmark’s, with Astralis, North and Heroic on top of the EU leader board. Sweden on the other hand is forced to watch their neighboring foes take the reigns over Scandinavia, while the region’s own representatives, NiP and Fnatic, sit at the bottom of the table, side by side with the Poles from AGO, who had to go through relegation to stay in EPL.
Denmark is the new Sweden. The trend started last year, and it is now crystal clear. No other country boasts as many skilled players and teams and the first week of EPL is just another confirmation of that fact. Astralis had a solid start into the season, with 5 victories in 8 matches against BIG, Space Soldiers, FaZe and mousesports. gla1ve’s boys had to fight for their points, but that is to be expected in an online league and their losses to BIG and Space Soldiers aren’t too worrisome, especially as it is difficult to imagine the same outcomes on LAN. Astralis are in the lead after Week 1, already setting the tone for another attack on the title.
North can look back on a successful opening week as well. After bringing in cadiaN and gade, they stand at 16 points after 8 matches. The replacement of MSL was looked at with scepticism, and one week of EPL surely isn’t enough to render a verdict, but wins versus BIG, AGO and the third Danish team, Heroic, show promise. Talking of which, Heroic sit on a somewhat tainted second place, due to having played 12 matches already, earning them 17 points. This isn’t a bad showing at all, but I don’t expect friberg’s boys to be able to hold that spot deep into the season. Just making the playoffs would be a huge success already.
Even going back to Counter-Strike 1.6, Sweden has never been so far away from the top. The country still has 12 representatives in the league, second only to Denmark, but, and it hurts to say this, they are all stuck in mediocrity. The Ninjas in Pyjamas managed to win only one map in matches against Space Soldiers, Heroic and AGO. Pro League is ruthless, and a botched start can spell disaster. It is surprising to see f0rest and his boys in such a dire situation right out of the gate, as they have been on the up in recent months. NiP already have their backs against the wall, and some serious headshotting will be required to redeem their losses against supposedly weaker teams. Fnatic have only had one match against Heroic thus far, which ended in a draw. After benching draken and losing flusha to Cloud9, it’s difficult to figure out what to make of the new team. ScreaM is still standing in, and twist has been signed permanently, after years in the second tier. This is still a team of veterans. Hopefully the internal issues that plagued Fnatic before, are solved now, and Xizt can lead his team into battle reenergized.
AGO down but not out
The Poles from AGO survived relegation past season, but the struggle continues. Ten matches in, and they stand at 2 wins and 8 losses. An argument for SZPERO and his team being the number one side in Poland could be made, but in Europe, the elite is still too strong. AGO will most likely be involved in another relegation battle.
Check out below the full standings for Season 8 of ESL Pro League:
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