This weekend sees the next major event in London, and it’s Counter Strike that gets the limelight now. ECS Season 5 finals are coming, and with them eight of the best teams in the world are on their way to fight for a share of the $660k on the line. After what might have been the greatest game of CSGO in history at the Starladder finals, there is a lot to live up to, but we have no doubt the teams in Group A, previewed below, are good enough to entertain us all.
For many, Astralis are the best team in the world right now, and it’s easy to see why people hold that opinion. The contenders for that spot in the second half of 2017 are all faded or struggling, with FaZe still missing olofmeister and SK Gaming still missing a gameplan, cohesion, and leadership, and in their place has come this Danish machine. Some believe they are merely seatwarmers until FaZe find their final form, but it is clear nobody in Astralis feels that way.
The addition of Magisk when konfig looked likely was a surprise, but since then the former has gone from strength to strength while the latter has done nothing except engage in twitter slap fights with rodent royalty. Under the leadership of Gla1ve and with the occasionally problematic Kjaerbye gone, there is no obvious weakness to their gameplan, and no exploitable tilt factor that is obvious to see. There are great sides in London this weekend, but none will come in believing they have as much right to win as Astralis, and they should be comfortable favourites.
From the outside, it seems like Fnatic are a team that has enjoyed a bit of success, and wants nothing more to do with that whole circus. Once the greatest team in the world, they are now a very good team, but have been trying to get worse for a while. First they planned to kick leader Golden in favour of the declining former-NIP man Xixt, before Golden delivered them a couple of titles and public sentiment changed things, but that didn’t stop them.
Now, they have added the ex-Ninja to their team, at the expense of Lekro, the newest and least experienced member of the team. The fact his stats were better in most ways than either JW or Flusha’s apparently didn’t factor into the decision, and this is the first event we’ll see how the new, slightly less dangerous team fares here. They should be battling with Liquid for the second spot in the group, but anything can happen in this format.
ECS Season 5 Finals prediction prize
The international lineup that gets to be called NA, Team Liquid should be dark horses to take this entire event, no pun intended. On the other hand, that should be true of a lot of events, including the one in Kiev that top-level analyst Moses predicted they would win last weekend. In case you weren’t able to catch the action, Liquid didn’t win the event, and the final was Na’Vi vs NRG, so that piece of analysis probably could have worked out better…
With NAF, EliGE and Twistzz in the team, there is a massive amount of talent, and we’ve already seen how much difference TACO can make to a talented colleague with SK’s decline, so all the pieces are in place. If Liquid don’t make it out of this group they should be disappointed with their effort, as they have as much talent as any team in it, and have arguably the best coach in NA too.
It is becoming more and more obvious as time passes that Cloud 9 are not that serious about CSGO as an esport. After winning a major at the start of the year, you’d think the American org would finally have a reason to fully commit to the game, but with their Overwatch brand thriving and other considerations always on Jack’s mind, or in his pocket, they have stagnated due to a series of ill-conceived business decisions.
You can respect the players all day, but letting Stewie2k leave to follow his misguided dream of playing for SK was poor decision-making, and spending $200k to replace him with FNS even worse. Now, with the team publicly rejected by NBK for sporting reasons, there is a real crisis over their future, and they need a good event. Sadly, with the group draw C9 were handed, it could well be that they only play three games here before heading back to North America with another loss to reflect on.