This week, the ESL Pro League returned for its fifth season, and in classic CS:GO fashion, the matches from the respective regions, Europe and North America, did not disappoint, especially those with a major storyline behind them. Before the week began, a number of teams decided to make changes to their official roster for the 2017 season, including G2 Esports, Team EnVyUs, OpTic Gaming, and SK Gaming.
Many people within the community found these team shifts to be controversial, namely, the ‘French Revolution’ between G2 and Envy. The two former lineups went through a rough patch after the positive starts to the 2016 season, with neither of the two teams surpassing the group stages at the ESL One Cologne 2016 major tournament, or the ELEAGUE Major 2017.
At the end of Week 1 of the ESL Pro League, it is FaZe Clan who currently leads the European standings with nine points after six matches played. This table may look unusual at the moment, with some of the better teams featured in the lower half of the table, but as the season progresses, there will be some drastic changes in who will fit inside the qualification zone of sixth place or higher.
Match to Watch - Recap
In the lead up to the start of the ESL Pro League Season 5, we recommended that you should tune into Astralis versus Natus Vincere for a replay of the quarterfinal matchup at the ELEAGUE Major 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. The match began on de_overpass, which was also the first map in the quarterfinal series in Atlanta, and the two teams were on a level playing field. However, it was the CIS lineup of Natus Vincere who came out victorious with a 16-11 match win and obtained their first three points of the season.
The second map, however, de_nuke, was a completely different story. This time around, it was the major champions and Danish side, Astralis, who obtained their first set of three points in spectacular fashion. By the end of the first half, the game looked like it was already over with Astralis leading Na`Vi 11-4. Indeed the game was already over, as in the second half, Natus Vincere, a team who can usually mount a comeback when it is needed, did not win a single round in the second half, leading to a 16-4 win for the Danish lineup.
Highlights of the Week
The Theory of Nothing
In their first match of the week against Astralis, mousesports found themselves in a tricky 2v2 situation with their opponents nowhere to be found before Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander peaked his enemy. In a split second, something magical happened for the mouz side, and in all honesty, words can’t even begin to give it justice.
He’s a keeper
With less than a day to go before their first match of the ESL Pro League, it was announced that Philip “aizy” Aistrup would be joining the Danish team, North. With very limited practice time available, we were all unsure as to what the outcome of the match would be, but regardless of that, everything seemed very positive. In their match against Fnatic, Aistrup proved his worth with great individual plays, including this little gem.
ScreaM shows no mercy
After the changes took place between the two French giants, G2 Esports and Team EnVyUs, Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom was left out on a limb, but fortunately for Benrlitom, he replaced David “devoduvek” Dobrosavljevic just before the start of the Pro League. As the two teams went head-to-head, Benrlitom showed G2 Esports, and his former teammates, that he should have stayed on that G2 roster.
With the addition of Spencer “Hiko” Martin, OpTic Gaming have come out the gates with first, winning all of their four matches so far. They now lead the North American standings with 12 points. As the ESL Pro League continues to take six teams from each region for the offline finals, it will be interesting to see how some of the lower ranked teams within NA are able to perform against the likes of OpTic, Cloud9, and SK Gaming. Only time will tell.
Match to Watch - Recap
Before the fifth season of the ESL Pro League got underway, we recommended that you should tune into SK Gaming versus Immortals for one of the best grudge matches due to the recent switch of players Joao “felps” Vasconcellos and Lincoln “fnx” Lau. Immortals, the underdogs of the match, put up a good fight on de_cache, but it was the Brazilian boys from SK Gaming that came out victorious with a 16-11 win, providing SK with their first three points.
Much like the European Match to Watch, the second map was a bit of a different story. It was again the former number one team in the world, SK Gaming, that took the other three points up for grabs in the series as, on de_cbble, Immortals looked a little lacklustre. The match eventually concluded with a 16-7 scoreline.
Highlights of the Week
Cloud9 must like this Pro League thing
Looking to defend their ESL Pro League title, Cloud9 kicked things off with a bang as 19 year old Jake “Stewie2K” Yip picked up four frags in very quick succession against a fully loaded Rush side.
You can’t see me
Surrounded by smokes, and in a normally unusual position, Spanish player, Óscar “mixwell” Cañellas stayed hidden from the enemies that are marching towards him, and swiftly picked off three players from the opposing team.
jdm is nutty
With Team Liquid having a convincing lead over their opponents, MisfitsGG’s Josh “jdm64” Marzano looked to put things to bed early as he pulled off an insane double noscope kill before flicking to another enemy for his fourth kill of the round.
We’ll be back soon!
With DreamHack Masters Las Vegas taking place next week, the 28 teams take a break from the ESL Pro League to focus on their preparation for the US$450,000 tournament. Taking the DreamHack event into consideration, we will make our return on Monday, February 21 with our preview of what to expect from Week 2, before we go live the next day at 19:00 CET!