Day one of ECS Season 8 Finals went roughly as you’d have expected, looking at the matchups and the teams involved.
Liquid and EG were the class of one half of the draw, with the horse heads making the boys in blue bleed, and on the other side of things Astralis are back to making things look simple, or at least as simple as they can be after having to clutch up vs the Sharks.
That leaves us with some do-or-die games today, and NIP vs AVANGAR is interesting for a lot of reasons, not least the fact it might be a last chance to see some of the most famous NIP names represent that org.
After months of speculation as to when AVANGAR would be picked apart, it might be the end for Sweden’s finest, at least in their current form.
NIP vs AVANGAR live stream is due to start at 3pm GMT / 4pm CET on Friday, November 29th, 2019.
For those not in the know, the organisation has been struggling ever since the explosive revelations from Robin ‘Fifflaren’ Johansson, a former NiP player, that exposed what looked like some very shady dealings at the time NiP were the world’s best.
This was followed by the long process of GeT_RiGhT leaving the team, and now it seems that all is lost with the news f0rest could also be on his way, to a new team at Dignitas.
This is the backdrop for their trip to ECS Season 8 finals, and as you’d expect it wasn’t the best preparation. They might well have lost to Team Liquid either way, but the comprehensive smashing the NA team handed out was more than most expected, and has left NiP needing a best-of three win over the Major finalists just to stay alive in the event.
AVANGAR were able to run Evil Geniuses a little closer than NiP were Liquid, but eventually gave up the game 16-10, and the result in the NA derby between EG and Team Liquid was pretty emphatic in the favour of the latter.
With this in mind, it’s hard to say either side comes in in great form, but of the two it’s likely AVANGAR are in slightly better shape.
For NiP to have a chance it seems like Plopski and f0rest need to be at their best, as REZ and Lekr0 are not producing at a significant level as 2019 draws to a close.
Twist remains hit and miss, but the mental fortitude he was suspected of lacking hasn’t really developed as far as the public can see, and as a result NiP look capable of breaking under the slightest pressure.
That’s not to say they can’t win, but the fact AVANGAR are currently underdogs might be worth a look, as this is a very tight affair and could really go either way.
The headlines around the Swedes may have passed the bookies by, but with the turmoil in their camp don’t be surprised in the Ninjas slip quietly into the night, rather than fight the good fight here.
Don't forget, you can find the full ECS Season 8 Finals schedule updated throughout the tournament.
Picture: BLAST Pro Series