In competition, there are two ways that ‘crowd’ abuse can change the outcome of a game or event. The first is the normal, and what most abusers hope standard flow chart of ‘I shout something at person > person is upset and plays worse’, and then you have the other kind. It might be Reggie Miller getting stick for his new trainers, or it might be Emile Heskey getting racial abuse from German football fans, but every now and then all the doubt, scorn and hate just motivates an athlete further, and the field pays the price.
It may not have escaped the attention of all CSGO fans, but it’s worth pointing out that, of late, it has been Astralis getting most of the stick esports has to offer, due to the perception they are responsible for the success of Blast Pro Series, among other things. Being the good professionals they are, there hasn’t been the backlash from the Danes you might expect from other top teams, but you can be sure they have a point to prove when they finally get in server on LAN.
ECS Season 7 Finals is so close you could almost reach out and touch it, so it’s about time we ran a more detailed rule over the teams taking part in FACEIT’s London extravaganza. With the talent announcement now out of the way (why do those still exist?) it’s all about the players on show, and more accurately the Danish five that until very recently were considered the world’s best, trying to perform to the level they know they can.
Let’s talk about six
It wasn’t that long ago that ECS was wrapping up Season 6 of its tournament series, November of last year to be precise, and it’s worth having a look back before we cast our eyes forward to the weekend. That event in Arlington did feature both the kings of Denmark and Team Liquid, which sadly cannot be said for Season 7, but then sadly for Liquid they didn’t really feature in the end at Season 6 anyway, ending the event last, alongside Cloud9 in 7-8th.
This time around we're going to get to see Astralis take on the North Americans, or the Finns from ENCE that ended the Nuke streak, and as a result the Danes are extremely strong favourites going into the tournament. Hovering around the 1.5 mark before a Glock has been fired in anger, Gla1ve and co know their theoretical challengers are rated as MIBR at 5.6 and Vitality at 6.3 respectively, and even with the struggles we’ve seen Astralis face it’s difficult to believe they are going to be turned over by teams as unreliable as the Brazilians or the French.
On the other hand, that does make for some very decent value if you fancy the shock, and we know MIBR have a good record against Astralis in the head-to-head too. Given the weakness of the field outside of those two, there is definitely a chance MIBR could cause a shock in London, especially if they can win their group and avoid a semi-final match up against Astralis. With Complexity and Vitality to contend with, as well as a revitalised North, getting into the semis might turn out to be the biggest ask for FalleN and co.
MIBR vs North in the opening round is only a BO1, in which MIBR are 1.51 to North’s 2.4, and it will set them up for a great run if they can get the best of the other Danish side. It’s hard to know how the Copenhagen crew will go at this competition, as they’ve made Valde in-game leader, a move that traditionally blunts the edge of any player. On the other hand, he’s already proven himself over and over, and it would be very in-character for him to turn out to be a godlike leader too.
Complex problems for NA
The other interesting things to look out for come from the North American continent, where both NRG and Complexity arrive at something of a crossroads. The former are in a run of form they would not have been expecting when they won the race for Tarik, while the latter have just dropped stanislaw to replace him with young prospect oBo, who is a talented player but totally unproven at this level.
All coL will want from their new blood is promise, as it’s too early to expect the team to click right away, especially when you consider they have also moved Dephh to IGL in stan’s absence. All in all though, for those two and NIP this is going to be a learning experience ahead of tournaments like ESL One Cologne and the Major, as they are currently not strong enough to contend at this level consistently, and while a bit of NiP magic is always possible it’s not something you can rely on.
Finally, we have Furia, and they are definitely the dark horse for this tournament. They take on Astralis in their opener, and at 4 are a long way back on the Danes’ 1.2, but there is a depth of tactical thought and talent on this Brazilian team to worry anyone. They could easily get out of their group in second, and that would leave them in a great spot to make a surprise final appearance after a series of impressive LAN performances in recent weeks. With massive events just around the corner, this is a vital few days for a fair few teams, so make sure you tune in to all the action from ECS Season 7 Finals.
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CSGO podcast - stream now
The latest episode of The Week In CSGO looks ahead to ECS Season 7 Finals and back at DreamHack Masters Dallas, as well as discussing oBo stepping in for Complexity.
Pictures: Patrick Strack / ESL