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Time to step it up a notch in the second half of ESL Pro League Season 7

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WESG China has concluded this past weekend, and after IEM Katowice, the Swedes from Fnatic take their second international title in as many weeks. Contrary to the rumors surrounding Golden, it seems as though he will now remain in Fnatic and not get replaced by Xizt – a huge relief for many fans of the Swedish org.

Finally, the extremely busy tournament circuit of early 2018 is slowing down, allowing teams to fully focus on EPL for the upcoming month. Especially the North American part of EPL will have time to catch up to the European region, where the league has progressed at a faster pace.

Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from both regions in the upcoming week.

Europe

Arguably the four strongest European sides currently lead the league. Mouz on top, followed by Astralis, FaZe Clan and Na’Vi. The only hot team missing from that group is Fnatic, but they only played 8 maps, and after their encounter with North on Thursday, they should move up a few ranks.

Na’Vi has a chance to cement their position at the top with matches against the struggling teams from LDLC and EnVy. Granted, the latter have only played four maps, but their recent performances don’t suggest we should expect great things from them. They played miserable at WESG and got completely rekt by Team Russia’s mix.

We will get a first look at G2’s new roster with mixwell on Tuesday against Heroic. Obviously, the team had no time to practice yet, with mixwell competing in China. But practice is also a luxury the French aren’t afforded. Their season is already on the line, every points counts, which makes this a precarious moment for mixwell’s integration. Let’s see how they deal with the pressure. The Danes from Heroic themselves are in an unpleasant situation. They sit in seventh place, but are only a couple map losses away from dropping out of playoff contention.

Our two teams from MDL are clashing this week too. The premise for both couldn’t be more different however. The Space Soldiers could make their way into the top 4 with wins against EnVy and  AGO, whereas the Poles are in desperate need of points if they want to avoid relegation.

Check out the standings for ESL Pro League Season 7 below:

Match Of The Week – Ninjas in Pyjamas vs. Heroic

The fifth placed Ninjas are going to encounter Heroic, currently seventh, in a battle that will certainly be crucial to each team’s season.

We didn’t get to see too much of the Ninjas after they added dennis mid-February to replace Xizt. They occupy a respectable fifth rank in EPL with 6W-3L-1OTL. We’ve seen them once on LAN at IEM Katowice, where they finished in 5th-6th place – a good showing all things considered.

There’s no doubt that dennis, arguably the world’s best pistol player, is a skill upgrade for NiP. But it seems as though the root cause for NiP’s problems over the last years remains the same even after this roster move. The team lacks a strong tactical foundation. So, while this was a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen if they can develop further under their new coach pita.

The Danes from Heroic on the other hand are playing a truly surprising season with some refreshing Counter-Strike. Especially the victories over their Danish foes from North and Astralis stand out. JUGi is the standout player, with a 1,13 K/D ration in EPL. If he keeps playing like that, Heroic will be hard pressed to fend off all the offers from some of the bigger orgs.

There really isn’t a clear favorite in this match-up. Both teams are well-versed on Inferno and Train, which should serve as the perfect foundation for an exciting series. I predict a 1-1 here.

North America

NA will pick up speed in the upcoming week with 24 maps in total and a bunch of crucial matches.

After conceding four losses in a row due to the boot camp in Germany, SK Gaming is looking to get back on track against Rogue on Wednesday in an absolute must-win series. The Brazilians are eleventh with 2W-6L, they cannot afford any more losses against weaker teams. It’s on for FalleN and his boys.

Also from Brazil, but on second place is Luminosity Gaming with 6W-3L-1OTL. Slowly but surely the boys surrounding NEKIZ have fought their way into the upper echelons of NA CS. They will face Liquid and Splace this week with a chance to strengthen their position at the top.

Liquid and NRG are looking to keep their clean slate. Both will be in action, and both are facing tough opposition. Let’s see if both can keep a clean record.

Still at the very bottom with six straight losses and no win is Team Dignitas. They are facing NRG on Wednesday. A tough task, and most likely two more defeats added to the loss-column.

Check out the full NA standings going into week 4 below:

Match Of The Week – NRG vs. Cloud9

Cloud9 returned to the cold and harsh reality of life in Counter-Strike after their miraculous Major victory. A 9th-11th spot at SL i-League, 5th-6th at IEM Katowice and an unacceptable loss to Team One at the WESG finals last weekend for a 5th-8th finish. Voices are being raised that their Major victory was a fluke, and who can blame them. The five players who showed such incredible performances against FaZe in Boston went AWOL and we need them back. They can start by fighting their way back top the top in EPL where they belong, after a bad start into the season. everybody knows they are way too good to be spending their time at the bottom of the league. That said, with NRG a new, forceful opponent awaits that won’t simply gift away points.

NRG beat Splyce, Rogue and SK cleanly this season. And past weekend they even won the iBP invitational over Liquid, proving they rightfully reside among NA’s elite. daps has formed a strong unit, and CeRq rocks an unbelievable 2,02 K/D ratio in EPL, with nahtE, FugLy and Brehze not far behind. We shouldn’t jump to conclusions too quickly though. There’s a huge difference between winning a few online games, and actually proving it on LAN against the elite. But it’s safe to say NRG has heaps of potential as they have turned into an exciting to watch team.

It’s vital for C9 to win both maps here, but I don’t see it happening. NRG is too strong right now, and something seems off in tarik’s team.

Welcome to Week 4!

As always we will be returning with more EPL action from both regions on Tuesday.

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.

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