By Pavo Jurkic
October 4, 2019
It’s safe to say these last few weeks of CSGO have been rather hectic. First, ESL One New York unveiled a brand-new contender in the world of CSGO, Evil Geniuses, who finished on top after beating Astralis on two occasions. Second, DreamHack Masters Malmo started just a few days ago and already brought forth massive surprises.
However, this article won’t be about those two events. As the title suggests, this is sort of like an ESL Pro League Season 10 EU Preview, focusing on the European regular season and assessing the current state of affairs among the teams from the old continent.
Next up on the pecking order is the tournament format section. Our ESL Pro League Season 10 EU Preview can’t go without it. After all, knowing all about the competing teams but not knowing the basic rules of the qualification process is rather silly, don’t you agree?
For starters, sixteen teams will be competing in this event for a chance to grab one of eight tickets for the ESL Pro League Finals. Things are going to be quite competitive; there’s no doubt about that. Especially when we take a look at the rulebook, which confirms this ESL PL iteration will sport the same format as the last one.
That means we’ll see two rounds of group stage fixtures. The first round features four groups with four teams, and the top teams in each of the groups qualify for the Finals right away. Runners-up and third-place teams advance to the second round of group stage matches while the bottom teams are kicked out of the arena and sent to pack their bags.
The second round of group stage matches features eight teams and decides the four remaining Finals’ tickets. Of course, they go to the top two teams in each group. Best of all, both rounds sport only best of three matches meaning there won’t any massive surprises we’ve come to expect from bo1s. Last but not least, both group stages will pan out in the round-robin system, meaning each team plays once against all three of its group rivals.
As always, our event preview articles feature a section dedicated to the most prominent teams. The same goes for our ESL Pro League Season 10 EU preview, which features four teams that will most likely qualify for the Finals without having to go through the second round of group stage fixtures.
FaZe Clan is in the biggest slump of the organization’s existence in the CSGO sphere. Currently, they’re ranked as the 15th CSGO team in the world, which is their worst rank ever. This is the first time they fell below the top 10 since September 2017, right before their triumph on ESL One New York 2017 and ELEAGUE Premier 2017.
For those of you living under a rock, FaZe Clan went through a massive roster alteration after yet another mediocre campaign. StarLadder Major Legends Stage elimination was the final straw, which resulted in NEO and GuardiaN departing from the roster. In came Broky and Coldzera, two very potent fraggers who already have their eyes set at making history under their new colors.
However, the arrivals of two new rifles means NiKo will have to take up the IGL role again, and we all know FaZe wasn’t successful last time the BOSSnian had the IGLing stick. In my books, FaZe Clan is making all the wrong moves, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more alterations down the road. Perhaps even the departure of their star player, NiKo, who’s been struggling in recent months.
It all depends on FaZe Clan’s performance and their ability to qualify for the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals. If they fail to do so, I’m almost certain either olofmeister or NiKo will say their goodbyes to the starting roster.
If, however, FaZe Clan manages to qualify, and they have the firepower to do so, their snowballing potential is huge. Coldzera, NiKo, and broky – three mechanically pitch-perfect players who can easily decide matches with a single flick of the wrist.
One thing’s for sure – these next few weeks will be interesting if you’re a fan of FaZe Clan.
Moving on with our ESL Pro League Season 10 EU Preview, the next team we’re going to talk about is Vitality. Realistically speaking, Vitality is the heavy favorite to win group B. Their opponents are by no means a challenging bunch, and ZywOo should be able to take care of them with the help of his boys.
However, Vitality isn’t exactly in the best of forms. Yes, their StarLadder Major performance was all right, perhaps even a bit underwhelming considering their quarterfinals heartbreak. On the bright side, their DreamHack Masters Malmo performance seems to be on the right track. They got through the group stage and are looking comfortable in the playoffs.
Vitality shouldn’t have any issues with the likes of Sprout, Heroic, and NiP. The Swedes pose as the most potent rival, but with twist just joining the starting roster late-September, it might take a bit more time for them to synchronize properly. The same goes for Sprout, who’ve just recently acquired denis. However, they already had several notable scalps with denis in the starting roster, with the most notable ones being FURIA, DreamEaters, and Aristocracy.
Vitality is in a pretty easy group. If ZywOo gets his game on, nothing is stopping the Frenchmen to cruise to their ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals’ tickets.
ESL Pro League Season 10 European regular season is going to be a thrilling contest. Furthermore, group C might be the most exciting group as far as advancements are concerned. Not so much for the top spot since Astralis is back up on their feet, but definitely for the second and third place, which are leading to the second round of group stage matches.
Why am I so confident Astralis will end up topping their group? Well, apart from their two matches against Evil Geniuses, Astralis looked pretty sure. Their in-game strats, dueling capabilities, and utility usage is, once again, second to none. Their brilliance came to shine, and I believe there’s only a handful of teams that can adequately contest this in-form Astralis in best of three series. None of them, of course, are playing with them in group C.
That said, Astralis ought to take the top spot, I can’t see it going any other way. However, as far as the two second-round tickets are concerned, that’s going to be a proper contest. At first glance, Fnatic and North should be able to snatch the tickets and hopefully advance through to the Finals later. Aristocracy is not to be taken for granted, but I doubt the Polish boys can do much in this group.
NaVi had a wonderful run in Berlin. Even though they struggled against CR4ZY and almost finished without a spot on the playoffs, electronic, S1mple and the company managed to pull themselves together and finish strong. However, their one and only playoffs match (quarterfinals against NRG) wasn’t anywhere near their usual standards and kickstarted a slump that went on to plague their BPS Moscow campaign.
On the bright side, NaVi is looking confident in Malmo. Their DreamHack Masters Malmo campaign is looking good thus far. They’re already in the semifinals, waiting for the winner of Vitality/mousesports and are looking like the favorites no matter the outcome of that quarterfinals contest. Yes, haters will say NaVi had a ton of luck since Liquid lost against OpTic in the opening match of group B. This pinned NaVi against North, OpTic and NiP, a rather lenient bunch which was no match for S1mple and the NaVi fellas.
Talking about S1mple, the 22-year-old Ukrainian superstar seems to be back in business. He showed off his skills in Malmo, averaging cca 1.40 rating across all three of their group stage matches in Malmo. The new kid on the block, GuardiaN, is playing well, but there’s much room for improvement. His best match thus far was against NiP, with 46 kills and 86.8 damage per round across two maps.
All in all, NaVi is the strongest contender in group D and, if S1mple starts on the right foot, the rest of the team will follow.
For the final section of our ESL Pro League Season 10 EU Preview, we’ll be going through the group stage schedule. Like I said in the tournament format section, the group stage features a somewhat unconventional (at least in CSGO world) round-robin system, meaning we get all group stage matchups since they’re not relying on the outcome of initial fixtures.