ESL Pro League Season 11 Preview, Interesting Facts & Key Storylines
Even though the coronavirus pandemic is shutting down both sporting and esports events all across the globe, CS:GO events are still going strong and don’t seem phased by the massive panic we’re surrounded with.
The two biggest events scheduled to start these days haven’t been drastically affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The inaugural season of FACEIT’s and B Site’s joint venture called Flashpoint will pan out in the organizer’s studio in Los Angeles. The folks over at ESL took more serious action, making a format switch from offline to outline and postponing the finals, ensuring the virus doesn’t spread to the CS:GO pro community.
On the other end of the spectrum, Dota 2, League of Legends, Overwatch and a ton of other esports titles are canceling large-scale events across the globe. Heck, even the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games are in question due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
But, enough with the COVID-19 talk. It’s a burning issue, I know, but we’re here to concentrate on esports, and esports we’ll concentrate on! That said, let’s jump straight to the most interesting facts about ESL Pro League S11 before moving to the main portion of this piece, key storylines!
ESL Pro League S11 Preview | Interesting Facts
Fresh news coming in from ESL – apparently, the league is once again regionalized and three teams withdrew from the competition (Renegades, Sharks, and Heroic). They’re set to be replaced by Swole Patrol and BIG (not 100% legit yet), while the third replacement team still hasn’t been officially unveiled.
A high-stakes offline event featuring all of the best teams in the world has now returned to its classic regionalized online system. It’s still going to be a thrilling event from start to finish, but with the finals being postponed indefinitely, it’s safe to say the coronavirus outbreak hasn’t been easy on the folk over at ESL.
As far as the prize pool goes, it is divided into two sums because there are now two parts of the event, online season and the finals. The online season packs a hefty $400,000 while the finals come in an equally hefty $350,000. That’s still lower than Flashpoint’s $1 million, mind you!
A Closer Look at the Formats
At first, ESL Pro League Season 11 only made the offline-online switch and postponed the finals. However, breaking news just came in about the new online format that would take care of lag issues that are inevitable in an online environment.
In other words, ESL Pro League is returning to its online regional season, but this time packing only European and North American regions. The odds are heavily in favor of Europe since they have whopping eighteen teams, with NA packing only six (one of which still hasn’t been officially unveiled).
As for Europe, the event will feature two group stages and playoffs. The first group stage will feature three single round-robin groups with six teams each and only Bo3 matches. Winners proceed to the second stage while second and third-place teams have to battle against each other to clinch their Stage 2 tickets.
The second stage will feature only one single round-robin group with six teams. The group winner advances straight to the grand finals while second and third-place teams advance to the semifinals. Yep, it’s a bit complicated, but we’ll have to live with it.
Luckily, NA’s format is much simpler due to the fact there are only six teams onboard. The online show stats with a single round-robin group with six teams and only Bo3 matches. Top two teams proceed to the upper bracket; third and fourth-place teams proceed to the lower bracket.
The brackets are organized in the conventional double-elimination system, with all matches scheduled for Bo3 contests, all except for the grand final, scheduled for a proper Bo5 contest.
ESL Pro League Season 11 Key Storylines
Now that we have all the interesting facts out of our way, it’s time to say a thing or two about the most prominent teams that will be competing on the first-ever semi-franchised ESL Pro League event. Yep, in case you’ve missed it, ESL Pro League Season 11 has a plethora of news regarding its system, one of which is the “permanent partner organization” system, which ensures league spots for the top-tier teams out there.
The following list features just one non-permanent partner organization team. Try and guess which one it is!
We have to start this section off with Astralis. After all, they are the greatest CS:GO team of all time and deserve the attention. Sure, they still aren’t in the best of forms. The start of 2020 has been rough on them. They failed to snatch a spot on the BLAST Premier Spring Finals and had a somewhat disappointing run on IEM World Championship in Katowice.
Overall, it’s still the same old Astralis we all know and love. When they’re at their peak, there’s virtually no team that can take a title away from them. But, when they’re not having a good day, they’re just as mortal as everyone else…
Natus Vincere… Are they the best team in the world right now? I mean, sure, they did win the IEM XIV World Championship spectacle in Katowice. But, realistically speaking, that’s the only campaign they did well on in quite a while. More precisely, the last notable title NaVi had won before IEM XIV WC Katowice was StarSeries Season 7. And that event was way back in April.
With Perfecto onboard and GuardiaN out of the picture, NaVi’s roster has adopted a slightly different in-game dynamics. Whether it’s a change for better or for worse, only time will tell. Luckily, S1mple is still at the top of his game, just like electronic and Flamie. As long as NaVi’s core is in good shape, we have nothing to worry about!
FaZe Clan could finally have a proper year to their tally. They’re always dubbed as that team that packs extraordinary talents but always underperforms. Well, things could finally start going their way. For instance, they already had a good outing on BLAST Premier, securing a spot on the Spring Finals without too much hassle.
The best thing about FaZe Clan is the fact they’ve finally clicked. And that means a lot, especially when you have so much firepower and fragging potential in one team. NiKo, olofmeister, Coldzera. It’s a deadly mix. I’m pretty certain the scene will get their taste of FaZe’s might in 2020.
Everyone thought Vitality was going to be a force to be reckoned with in 2019 after ZywOo starting pumping up his games to unbelievable levels. However, the rest of the team slumped behind the talented 19-year-old, and Vitality failed to reach full potential. They did finish 2019 off with a win on EPICENTER, but it was only a consolation prize after failing to capitalize on IEM XIV Beijing and DH Masters Malmo.
Coming into 2020, I expect a lot more from the best French side out there. Sure, they might not be the most cohesive roster, but they’ll still be dangerous, even to the best teams like Astralis and NaVi.
Mousesports and NaVi are probably the most in-form teams in Europe at the moment. Woxic and the boys conquered ICE challenge, had a great campaign on EPICENTER, won the last ESL Pro League, as well as the CS:GO Asia Championship. And they’ve done all that since November. If that’s not a massive accomplishment, especially in Astralis’ era, then I don’t know what is.
Ropz, woxic, and frozen are still looking sharp, averaging over 1.14 over the last ten maps. When they’re on a roll, they’re capable of dealing with practically any team out there. However, if they fail to get in front early on in big tournaments, they’re known to choke. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen on this event!
Team Liquid is always up there with the best CS:GO teams at any given date. However, in recent months, their form has dropped significantly. Heck, not just in the recent months but ever since their golden era in the summer of 2019. Nowadays, TL is way below their usual standards. Even though the end of 2019 saw them budge a bit, it’s nothing newsworthy.
Considering all this, it takes no genius to realize Team Liquid desperately needs a proper outing. As it stands, ESL Pro League S11 might just be the ideal event for Team Liquid to get on top of the CS:GO world rankings by HLTV.org. At the moment, the boys in blue are on the fifth spot.
G2 Esports is doing well out here. Not only did they have an excellent Spring Season on BLAST Premier, but they also had a great outing in Katowice at the recent IEM XIV World Championship. A quick reminder, G2 lost to NaVi in the grand finals.
Nexa and hunter are proving to be the key figures for G2’s recent success. They’re enjoying themselves out there, scoring plenty of frags and winning rounds on their own. If this dynamic duo continues with their great spells, G2 could be a dangerous team to face in ESL Pro League S11.
The last team we’re going to talk about here is OG. Nope, I’m not referring to Snoop Dogg’s weed strain but the brand-new CS:GO team that aims to make a proper name for themselves. Their players need no further introduction. NBK, valde, ISSAA, mantuu, and Aleksib at the in-game leader position. OG is packed on all fronts and will pose as a difficult team to contain coming into the ESL Pro League Season 11.
They did have a small hiccup along their way, last week. For those of you who aren’t following the Minor qualifiers, OG lost against GODSENT and won’t be making an appearance at the upcoming Rio Major. The way things have been going over the last few days, I wouldn’t be surprised if not a single team makes an appearance in Rio.
ESL Pro League S11 Schedule (CET)
Last but not least, we need to shed some light onto the ESL Pro League Season 11 schedule. While the coronavirus pandemic did affect the event’s format (switch from offline to online), it didn’t do much in terms of its schedule. Everything has stayed the same, with all four groups ready to play their matches according to initial plans.
There’s a whole ton of matches played in this stage of ESL Pro League. A total of thirty matches in the group stage, to be more precise. Unfortunately, it would take way too much space to list them all here. So, if you’re interested in the event schedule, feel free to check out ESL Pro League Season 11 Liquipedia page!