What a way to kick off 2018. Only two months in and CS lovers have already been blessed with four superb events.
The ELEAGUE Major, cs_summit 2, SL i-League and IEM Katowice this past weekend. The Spodek once again proved its status as one of Counter-Strike’s prime locations for competition and had a few series in store for us that will go down as instant classics.
In the end, Fnatic stole the title from a heavily favored FaZe Clan and finally, after a two-year absence, claim a tier-one title again. Even more, the Swedes join the list of INTEL GRAND SLAM winners, alongside SK (2x victories), FaZe, NiP and G2 (all 1x victory).
A vintage flusha took over the series when it mattered most and dropped two historic aces in the closing rounds of the final map to keep the dream alive, before his boys closed it out in OT.
FaZe on the other hand will kick themselves after losing both finals they made in the most dramatic manner imaginable. Hopefully they won’t succumb to the pressure that’s surely building within the team and fall victim to the choke – something we know from the past karrigan’s teams are prone to doing. Especially with the almost unfulfillable external expectations, this is a real danger.
Luckily, Pro League is back and offers FaZe the chance to make amends. Check out our preview for the top matches and everything else you need to know in the upcoming week!
We’re only one week into the season and EnVy have yet to even play a match, but a look at the EU standings clearly indicates what we can expect from Season 7 – it’s going to be tight.
In earlier iterations of EPL, there was a more distinct separation between the favorites and the underdogs. That’s no longer the case as competition grows and the skill gap diminishes. Easy matches are a thing from the past and people shouldn’t be surprised when teams like AGO or Space Soldiers, who both come from MDL, take maps, or even entire series from the big orgs.
Astralis and FaZe Clan lead the league after the first week with 14 points and 8 games each. Fnatic follows on third with 13 points. Rounding out the remaining playoff spots are Na’Vi, Space Soldiers and mouz. But obviously a lot of shuffling around will still happen.
For the third time in a row, G2 are off to a slow start, losing four out of their first six maps for a ninth spot. The French are in bad shape. Deep tournament runs are scarce or non-existent. If they don’t find success soon, they could be forced to make a roster move.
LDLC is another French team that’s in trouble. They are at the bottom of the board with only one map victory in their first six matches. They need to figure out how to absorb Ex6TenZ’s absence soon, or the season could be over before it ever started.
Check out the EU standings of Pro League below:
Match Of The Week – North vs. mousesports
These two teams are on polar opposite trajectories. mouz is on the verge of breaking through that incredibly thick stonewall that separates tier-one teams from the rest, while North are in free fall.
The Danes come off a spectacular roster move post Major, cutting cajunb and k0nfig to bring in Kjaerbye from Astralis and mertz from their own Academy team.
So far, they have failed to qualify for IEM Katowice playoffs and played a poor cs_summit 2. But even before the roster move, North have continuously struggled to meet expectations. 2017 in its entirety has to be regarded as a failure for the organization with only a few second places and not a single T-1 tournament victory.
It’s high time for them to turn things around or the risk of things turning sour increases. From what we’ve seen of mertz so far, he’s definitely got the skill to shoot with the big boys. We know what Kjaerbye is capable of – under MSL’s leadership he started to blossom before joining Astralis. The question is if MSL can reignite that spark and if he can prove himself as a leader once again who knows how to form a strong unit, because against mousesports anything less will end in defeat.
The German clan is oozing with confidence, coming off their biggest tournament victory to date at SL i-League two weeks ago, beating Na’Vi with s1mple in god-tier form in front of a Ukrainian crowd.
No opponent seems too big for chrisJ and his boys in their recent form. But, as they rise through the ranks, opponents start pay attention and will stop taking them lightly. That’s why it’s so damn difficult to become one of the few elite teams.
That’s exactly the challenge mouz has to face now.
They will be favored to take the victory in this clash with North, especially with Inferno and Train as the chosen battlegrounds.
NA hasn’t seen a lot of action in week one. Three teams have yet to play a single map. Amongst them is OpTic Gaming, one of the wildest and most surprising rosters in recent CS history.
It’s impossible to predict what comes out of this experiment. It’s either blazing glory or grandiose failure. The roster will have its premiere this week, and I for one, can’t wait.
compLexity and Luminosity share first place of the leaderboard with 10 points each and six matches played, which is not a bad feat, but we should expect changes at the top, once NA’s top dogs begin to dig in.
All of them will be active this week. SK and C9 sit in the middle of the pack, Liquid starts their season this week with matches against both SK and C9. Ghost Gaming (0-4) and Team Dignitas (0-2) have yet to win a map.
See the full NA standings below:
Match Of The Week – OpTic Gaming vs. Cloud9
This week has a few delicious match-ups on the menu. Especially Liquid against both SK and C9 should be spicy. But, nothing trumps seeing OpTic in action for the first time against none other than our current Major champs, C9.
What a test right at the start of the season. With stanislaw, ShahZaM, k0nfig, cajunb and gade, OpTic have assembled a team that, similar to the past season, should be able to reach a top six placing in EPL on individual skill alone.
But this time the roster has a true IGL. stanislaw has been inactive since leaving Liquid, but he has been hailed as NA’s prime IGL before. In OpTic he has the chance to prove those claims are still true with three highly skilled, battle-tested individuals and a promising youngster by his side.
The Canadian IGL already lead another OpTic roster to a tier-one tournament victory, but that was over a year ago. In addition there are a lot of external factors that could make life difficult for this roster. The three Danish players are moving to the USA, which can be difficult depending on personality. We don’t know if the language barrier will have an affect on the team. Some say ShahZaM is a great teammate, others disagree vehemently. All these factors will hopefully be answered to some degree in the upcoming weeks.
And of course they’re facing the strongest Cloud9 of all time here. Major champs, finalists at cs_summit 2 and a strong showing at IEM Katowice where they were eliminated by FaZe in another epic series. A rivalry fans can look forward to seems to be in the making between these two sides.
Cloud9 aren’t afraid of anybody right now and they’ll surely enter this series as favorites. But the past weeks have been exhausting for the NA powerhouse, which opens the door for an upset here. Don’t be surprised if OpTic takes one, or even both maps here.
We’re back for week 2!
Tune into the here to watch your favorite teams battle for a spot in the offline finals in Dallas. If you want to watch the season finals, you can purchase tickets here.