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The second half of the ESL Pro League Season 5 gets underway as the sixth week of action begins

Peter Stewart
Contributing Editor
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Last week, we finally hit the halfway mark of the ESL Pro League Season 5, and now, we get ever closer to finding out which teams will be playing in the offline finals later this year in Dallas, Texas. With both leaderboards now getting tighter than ever, whether it’s at the top or the bottom, every point now counts as we enter the second half of the season, and with matches like Ninjas in Pyjamas versus Natus Vincere in Europe, and SK Gaming versus OpTic Gaming in North America, taking place, we could witness another complete change to how the standings look.

Here is everything you need to know for the sixth week of the ESL Pro League!

Europe

Standings

As Week 5 of the ESL Pro League concluded, Danish side North dethroned mousesports, and topped the European standings, after acquiring a total of 30 points from 14 matches played, giving them a very strong 10-4 win/loss record. With that being said, when you look at the actual leaderboard, North have played two more matches the mouz lineup.

After last week’s results, the European leaderboard saw some unexpected changes, and it is now all to play for with a number of teams just sitting outside of the qualification zone, first to sixth. The last team in the qualification zone, HellRaisers, sits at a total of 21 points, but just behind them, there is six teams that are only six points behind, or two map wins. I’m excited to see what might happen.

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

Hot Match of the Week - Natus Vincere versus Ninjas in Pyjamas

This week’s Hot Match of the Week for the European region features another top tier battle between the fourth place side in the Pro League, Natus Vincere, and Ninjas in Pyjamas, who have seen a complete turnaround in their results after welcoming William “draken” Sundin to the team.

Since their close quarter-final match between Astralis at the ELEAGUE Major 2017, we haven’t really seen anything too special from Natus Vincere, which in all honesty, is very surprising, considering the level of skill that the five players in the CIS lineup possess. At IEM Katowice, they finished 5th-6th after losing to Astralis, Heroic, and North - we all know that’s not how Na`Vi normally performs.

Regardless of that, Natus Vincere are still currently sitting as the sixth best team in the world. On top of that, the CIS lineup holds the fourth place position in the ESL Pro League Season 5 with a win/loss record of 8-4, leaving them with 24 points, alongside second place Astralis, and third place mousesports, so they must still be doing something right. Let’s see if they can step it up a notch though this week.

Natus Vincere’s opponent, Ninjas in Pyjamas, have been through quite a different story this year in comparison to the other teams that are competing in the ESL Pro League. As the weeks went on, NiP’s situation just seemed to keep on getting worse and worse as they quickly racked up a win/loss record of 0-6, even after competing against a team like Heroic in their first match of the ten week season. Then, when the team looked to be at it’s lowest, a hero in the name of William “draken” Sundin appeared.

With only a couple of days to go until their match in Week 4 against Team Kinguin, Sundin replaced Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, and you could instantly tell that a positive change had been made, winning both maps in the series, 16-12 on de_cache, and 16-14 on de_train. That win set the team up well, and obviously gave them a morale boost, as the Swedish giants now sit in ninth place with 18 points, only three points behind the qualification zone.

This match is definitely going to be one of the best matches that the ESL Pro League Season 5 has featured as we could see NiP shoot up into the qualification zone. What a turnaround that would be. Regardless of what happens, we’ll be enjoying the action between these two European heavyweights.

Tune into the YouTube exclusive livestream at 19:00 CET on Wednesday, March 29 to watch the two sides go head-to-head.

North America

Standings

At the end of last week, SK Gaming took down Misfits 16-6 on de_cbble, and 16-5 on de_mirage, extending their flawless record to 12 wins from 12 played, giving them a total of 36 points, and a nine point lead over Cloud9, NRG Esports, and Team Liquid. The Brazilian side continues to blow me away week after week, and I really am beginning to wonder if they will go through the whole online process without a single map lost. Who’s with me?

Similar to that of the European region, with the exception of SK Gaming, it is still hanging in the balance as to which teams will definitely be making the trip to Dallas for a spot in the LAN finals with a number of sides sitting around the qualification zone with just a few wins needed to make the move up into that all important zone. Teams like Misfits, and Renegades, are still in with a chance of qualifying, and who would of that at the beginning of the Pro League? I certainly didn’t.

The four teams at the bottom of the leaderboard, compLexity Gaming, Rush, Winterfox, and Selfless Gaming, are having their own mini battle as the team that finishes in outright last place, instantly drops down to the Premier division, and I can imagine how demoralising that will be for the team that is unfortunate enough to have to do that. However, if you want to compete at the highest level, you have to be able to consistently play at the highest standard, or it’s just going to be an uphill battle right from the beginning.

Below, you can find an updated look at the North American ESL Pro League Season 5 standings at the end of week five:

Hot Match of the Week - SK Gaming versus OpTic Gaming

This week’s Hot Match of the Week for the North American region features SK Gaming, who currently sit in first place with a flawless 12-0 win/loss record, and OpTic Gaming, a side that just sits outside of the LAN finals qualification zone in 9th place.

If we’re being completely honest with each other, there’s not a lot we can say about the Brazilian side of SK Gaming, other than the fact that they are the team to beat across the North American region, and even if you do take a map off them, they are the type of team that will bounce back in a instance, and demolish you 16-0.

On the other hand, with SK Gaming’s opponent, OpTic Gaming, there’s a little bit more to discuss. Since the departure of Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, Spencer “HiKo” Martin had been filling in for the OpTic Gaming lineup, but after an unsuccessful trial period with a 9th-12th finish at DreamHack Masters Las Vegas, and an 11th-12th finish at the IEM World Championship in Katowice, Martin and interim coach, Luis “peacemaker” Tadeau, parted ways with the organisation.

After the departure of Martin last week, there has been no further announcements about the permanent roster for OG, but with that being said, Ryan “fREAKAZOiD” Abadir has been standing in for their online matches. Maybe this could lead to something in the foreseeable future?

Outside of their roster troubles, OpTic Gaming still find themselves in a relatively good position for the ESL Pro League at ninth place with 21 points from 10 matches, giving them a 7-3 win/loss record. Without looking at the standings, ninth doesn’t sound like a good position to be in, but in actual fact, there are four teams that have achieved 21 points from their matches, one of which, Counter Logic Gaming, on the cusp of the qualification zone in sixth place.

This is definitely set up to be a great match, but it’s definitely going to be a tough task for OpTic with the way that SK is currently playing, and their whole situation. Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome of the match, and I can definitely see either of the two maps going to overtime.

Tune into the YouTube exclusive livestream at 17:00 PT on Tuesday, March 28 to watch the North American sides battle.

Week 6 of the ESL Pro League is here!

Tune into ESL CS:GO YouTube channel to watch the best teams in CS:GO battle for their spot at offline finals in Dallas, Texas from June 3-4. If you want to watch the season finals live, you can purchase tickets here whilst they are still available.

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