ELEAGUE Premier CSGO 2018 finals preview

After all the shouting, arguments, and heads banged against the wall, we finally know the four teams that will battle it out on the weekend for the ELEAGUE Premier title, and it’s about 50/50 between surprise results and predictable outcomes. The likes of Astralis and Na’Vi have done what was expected of them, but FaZe and to some extent even MiBR have once more underperformed, although both have a somewhat legitimate excuse for that.

First up, the ones we expected. Group A went exactly as planned, with the class coming out on top and the teams without a plan going home. Team Liquid may not have had their coach with them, but they still demonstrated how mad zews would be to leave for MiBR at this point by flexing their talent against the former world number ones.

Coldzera, fer, Stewie2k, FalleN and Tarik are all massive names, but at this point it’s obvious they have no talent advantage of the likes of NAF, EliGE or Twistzz, and far less of a game plan in 99% of the situations they encounter. When you consider the age of the latter three, and their direction of travel, it seems like this result was one we should have expected, and maybe one we should think about getting used to in the future.

Without TACO, the stars of what was SK look lost (and the handshakes are frequently awkward), and rather than gaining certainty from their American recruits it seems like that feeling of disconnection has spread to Tarik and Stew, who frankly seemed out of their depth at this event. Statistically coldzera has been on the slide for nearly a year now, and while class is permanent, the ability to express it as good form in-game is clearly out of their grasp, without the group being able to put their finger on why.

Elsewhere in that group sit Cloud 9, the team that MiBR most love, because next to the Americans it seems like the boys from South America are at least trying. Since winning a major the only thing C9 have done in support of CSGO is say they still love CSGO, with every other move having weakened them on a team or financial level, and the team that played at this event is unlikely to ever appear together again. Certainly if Jack decided this was the five he wanted to commit to their would be riots in the fan base, and rightly so.

So, all in all Group A looks like it should, with the best team in the world (Astralis) on top and the worst team at the event (Cloud 9) at the foot of the table. Because of what went on in Group B, there are some slightly odd-looking matchups in the semi finals, but nothing to really change what seems like the eventual outcome of the tournament.

Group B shocks

Group B was more of a rollercoaster, but even prior to the event it was difficult to say exactly who should come out on top. Recent form says Na’Vi are the best team, and they duly went 2-0 to win the stage, but with FaZe welcoming back olofmeister there was a degree of unpredictability about their chances. As it turned out, Olof was able to produce well, being the second-best rated player for his team in the loss to mousesports, but some of those around him failed to deliver.

In particular rain and karrigan looked poor across both series that FaZe played, with the former the lowest-rated player vs mous. Since peaking at a 1.20+ rating in summer of last year, the Norwegian has been on a fairly consistent slide, although his rating has rarely if ever dropped below one. On the other hand, he doesn’t play for the average team, and if rain continues to be an issue for FaZe they may decide to replace him outright, especially if the right option can be found.

Fnatic will be delighted with their win over FaZe, but a little frustrated that wasn’t converted into a top two finish in their group. The question for their chances was really more about how mousesports would get on in their second run-out with Snax in the saddle, and by all accounts things are looking a little bit better for that side, even if they are still not out of the woods.

In the three maps vs FaZe, the Pole went 59/51, second only in his team to ropz and ahead of oskar, which suggests he’s already playing better than in the last twelve months with Virtus.pro. his struggles against Fnatic were harder to watch, but mous fans will hope that is an anomaly, rather than the norm going forward.

What does it mean?

All of that essentially means one thing, we’ve got some cracking semi-finals lined up for the weekend, with the four best teams this week all on show. Game one on Saturday is between Astralis and mousesports, and sees the tactical might of the Danes face off against one of the most balanced teams in CSGO. Pundits love to call mous a mini-FaZe, but that actually does a disservice to a team that has far more in strategy than they get credit for.

One of the strange things about the way mous’s reputation evolved was the fact they were virtually unbeatable on certain maps a few months ago, and not just because they hit more headshots. That went away due to the team frankly playing too much and being analysed by their opponents, but when Chris J and his team have time, they are capable of playing some very good fundamental CSGO, and it’s clear they now have the talent to compete with any team in headshot terms.

Still, beating the Danes will not be easy, but there is one thing in mous’s favour. Preparing for them is not easy, as they have an unpredictable star in oskar and a new x-factor in Snax, so this game has a chance to go either way. Other sides have shown Astralis are mortal of late, so don’t write off the underdogs in Saturday’s first semi.

The second game of the day looks really good, with Na’Vi taking on Team Liquid in what could be an absolute classic. Liquid have struggled to deliver on their talent consistently of late, but Twistzz has shown this week what an absolute monster he can be, and if the likes of EliGE and NAF also turn up Liquid become a terrifying prospect. They’ve struggled to all show up together at times, but there is good reason to think this won’t be one of those occasions.

With the talent Na’Vi possess in electronic, s1mple and flamie, Liquid know it will take a great team performance to come out as winners and make the final, and that is the key really. The game needs both teams to turn up if it is to be a classic, but if Liquid find their flow and Na’Vi are on form this might end up being one of the matches of the event, if not the year.

Whoever makes the final will already have run the gauntlet, but it’s fair to say Na’Vi vs Astralis is probably the game most people expect, and might want to see. For us, all four teams remaining are world class, and the only thing that remains is to thank ELEAGUE for another stunning event, that has produced great CS so far, and has more to deliver.

Image credit: ELEAGUE