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European and North American teams return to the ESL Pro League after IEM Katowice

Peter Stewart
Contributing Editor
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After another thrilling week of action in the ESL Pro League Season 5, teams from the respective regions, Europe and North America, took a break to compete at IEM Katowice, where Astralis took the US$100,000 first place prize after a thrilling grand final against the newly formed FaZe Clan roster. This week, across both regions, all of the top teams are in action, including G2 Esports versus North in Europe, and SK Gaming versus Luminosity Gaming in North America. Therefore, by the end of week 3, we could witness significant changes to the leaderboards with G2, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Renegades, Rush, and Winterfox, all yet to win a single map.

Here is everything you need to know for the third week of Season 5!

Europe

Standings

After three days of constant action in week two, it was mousesports who held the outright lead in the European region with a win/loss record of 6-1, establishing a total of 15 points. Holding 12 points, alongside Team EnVyUs who sit in third place with less round wins, is the recent major champions, Astralis. With all three of these teams coming up against some fierce competition, we could see these three teams remain in a similar position, while their competitors begin to close the gap on the top 3 teams.

At the opposite end of the European table, there is still two teams, G2 Esports and Ninjas in Pyjamas, that are yet to earn a single point from the matches that they have played. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it for as long as I need to. If these sides don’t figure out the problem that they are having, then it’s highly unlikely that we will see them at the LAN finals in Dallas, Texas later this year.

Below, you can find the updated European ESL Pro League Season 5 standings at the end of week two:

Hot Match of the Week - Virtus.pro versus Astralis

 

This past weekend, we saw the conclusion of IEM Katowice where Astralis were crowned world champions, and now, without a single doubt, we can say that the Danish side are the number one team in the world. Coming off of that win, Astralis will look to utilise the momentum that they have as we transition into the third week of matches.

As it stands, Astralis have been performing very well in the online league, only losing to Natus Vincere and mousesports, taking their win/loss record to 4-2. This record has left the Danish lineup with a total of 12 points, putting them into a good position for qualifying for the LAN finals later this year in Texas. However, in a match like this, against the second best team in the world, taking both of the maps would give Astralis a little bit more breathing space over the other competitors in the region.

Although they did not come up against each other at the recent IEM Katowice tournament, Virtus.pro will still be looking for more revenge against Astralis after their devastating loss at the ELEAGUE Major 2017. Coming off of a tournament win at the DreamHack Masters Las Vegas event, there was a high expectation of VP featuring in the playoffs of the tournament, but it wasn’t to be as the Polish side only won a single map. Is this a sign of what we are to expect from the veterans of Virtus.pro?

For season 5 of the ESL Pro League, Virtus.pro are sitting at 10th place, four places below the qualification zone, with only two map wins under their belt after four matches played. If it is a whitewash victory for Astralis, which I am expecting after their inconsistent performances, VP could find themselves in a very dangerous place, especially when you look at their matches over the next few weeks. After Astralis, the Polish veterans will come up against Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, mousesports, and Team EnVyUs.

North America

Standings

At the conclusion of week two, it is ESL Pro League Season 4 champions, Cloud9, and former number one team in the world, SK Gaming, who lead the pack with a flawless 6-0 win/loss record, establishing a total of 18 points. However, with three more round wins it is the Brazilian side that leads the North American standings going into the third week of action. Sitting behind them, on 15 points, is both OpTic Gaming, and Team Liquid. Much like in the European league, all of the mentioned teams are in action this week so we could see a fair bit of movement at the top of the leaderboard.

The bottom half of the table features a very different story to the top with three of the 14 teams, Renegades, Rush, and Winterfox, still yet to acquire a single map win after a combined total of 16 maps played. In my own humble opinion, with the level of competition at the qualification zone, 1st through 6th, I think we can rule out these teams achieving the desired invitation to Dallas, Texas for the offline finals, however, this is CS:GO, and you just never know what could happen. Maybe the Gods will turn to their side.

Hot Match of the Week - Cloud9 versus Immortals

This week’s Hot Match of the Week for the North American region features the NA ‘Kings of ESL Pro League,’ Cloud 9, and Immortals who now seem to be fully settled in with their new recruit, Lincoln “fnx” Lau.

Cloud9’s ESL Pro League Season 5 has gotten off to the best start they could have imagined, earning themselves a flawless 6-0 win/loss record, accumulating a total of 18 points. However, when it has come to offline play, it almost seems like it is different team playing, finishing 9th-12th at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, and 9th-10th at IEM Katowice with losses to Virtus.pro, North, and Natus Vincere.

With that being said, being back in what seems to be their favourite tournament of the year, you can’t underestimate the ability of these Cloud9 players, especially when they are on this flawless match record. However, if you take their unbeaten record out of the picture, this is not a must win match if you look at the matches to come in the next few weeks for C9. After this week’s match against Immortals, Cloud9 will face off against OpTic Gaming, Misfits, and compLexity, two of which I think will be relatively easy wins.

For the first time, Immortals competed at IEM Katowice as a full roster alongside a plethora of other top level sides. At the world championship event, the Brazilians finished in a very respectable 3rd-4th place, defeating OpTic Gaming, Astralis, Fnatic, and North. This result really begins to show the flare that this side has, and that they are definitely going to be a force to be reckoned with as the CS:GO season begins to unravel.

In an online capacity, Immortals have seen an average start to their Pro League campaign, constructing a 3-3 win/loss record, and now finding themselves just outside of the LAN finals qualification zone at 7th place. Looking past their match against Cloud9, IMT will come up against CLG which I believe will be a very entertaining match for us all, considering CLG’s 5th place position in the league, and the similar abilities of both sides. In the days and weeks after their match against CLG, Immortals will come up against Winterfox, and NRG Esports, which I’m predicting to be whitewash victories for the Brazilians.

Therefore, taking those matches into consideration, if Immortals is able to obtain at least three points from Cloud9, we could see the Brazilians shoot up into the end of the North American standings.

We’re back for week 3!

Tune into the ESL CS:GO YouTube channel to watch your favourite team’s fight for their spot at the LAN finals later this year in Dallas, Texas. Want to watch the season finales live? Purchase tickets whilst they’re still available.

For all the latest updates on the ESL Pro League, be sure to follow ESL Counter-Strike on Twitter and Facebook