The ESL Pro League is back in a seventh season, and twenty six teams will compete over two months of online matches to qualify for the main event. That’s right, there will be two teams less this season than there usually are, what with Counter Logic Gaming being disbanded, and three core Misfits players becoming free agents. The North American section of CS:GO has really suffered over the last twelve months or so.
SoaR Gaming were forced to disband, because the team organization was more or less bankrupt. However, the players stayed together, and formed their own team, calling it ‘Ownage’. They then waited to see if any organization would support them for the ESL Pro League. Team Dignitas has decided to take on Ownage, and so the team will be competing this season.
We’ll give you the lowdown on each team competing here, the effects of any recent roster changes on their performance, and how likely they are to survive into the main event.
ESL Pro League – Top Teams from the European Region
Out of the fourteen teams participating in the from the European section, eleven teams qualified by being within the top eleven in the last season. These teams are Fnatic, North, FaZe Clan, Astralis, Ninjas in Pyjamas, HellRaisers, G2 Esports, Team EnVyUs, mousesports, Heroic and Team LDLC.com. Natus Vincere and Space Soldiers qualified through the Season 6 Relegation matches. Finally, AGO Esports (previously known as AGO Gaming), qualified for this season by defeating eXtatus in the Finals of the ESEA Season 26. Here are the teams likely to do best in this seventh season of the ESL Pro League
FaZe Clan, unreliable as they can be in play sometimes, rank as the best team in the world at the moment, and certainly in Europe. The reason they rank first is not because they have been winning matches, but rather, because SK Gaming has been losing them. Their roster is stable, and works together extremely well. They are possibly the most likely team to win this season, if it weren’t for their legendary ability to lose matches they should have won, with teams they should easily win against. That said, this organization of CS:GO veterans have a dominating presence here, and no team is going to go up against them lightly. Not even SK Gaming.
G2 Esports did astonishingly well at the ELEAGUE Major, not losing a single match until the quarterfinals, when they were booted from the event. This team nevertheless has a lot of potential and are certainly one of the teams likely to reach the Finals. Remember that G2’s current roster won the fifth season of the ESL Pro League. They stand fourth in the global rankings, and have a sixty percent win rate in online matches. Unfortunately, they also have a history of underestimating their opponents, and sometimes going all out in a free-for-all, while throwing strategy to the winds. They’re a good team, but over-confident. If they weren’t so, they’d have a much better chance of dominating events.
This team almost defeated FaZe Clan in the ECS Season 4 Finals. They currently stand fifth globally. Though this team have no more than a fifty six percent win rate in online matches, they always seem qualify for either a main event or the playoffs. There are some rumors about mousesports replacing STYKO with dennis. This means that if mousesports don’t do well in this season we may see a roster change, and their first choice will be to to replace STYKO.
Though Fnatic were clumsy enough to dump their star players olofmeister and dennis last year, they nevertheless managed to dominate the EPL Season 6 Europe and ECS Season 4 Europe. They may not be too effective in offline matches, but they have a sixty eight percent win rate for online matches. This clearly makes them one of the most effective teams in online events. Overall, Fnatic have somehow always managed to stay within the top ten in the global rankings, and currently rank sixth.
Astralis dominated 2016, stood third in the rankings in 2017, and currently stand seventh. Is that the start of a downward spiral? Well, possibly so, what with dev1ce’s illness and kjaerbye leaving the team. They’re nevertheless likely to make the main event. The team tried to replace kjaerbye with dennis, but that didn’t work out, and now Magisk of OpTic Gaming will be taking the fifth spot on the team. Let’s hope that dev1ce is feeling better, which might allow the team to perform better than they did in the ELEAGUE.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The Ninjas were once the most feared teams in the CS:GO universe, but that’s all ancient history. How long ago was that, do you ask? Ah, around the time of the samurai. Well, it was very long ago, at the very least. Ninjas in Pyjamas’ top spot has long since been taken by SK Gaming and FaZe Clan. However, there have been some interesting developments here, with their old coach pita returning to the team. Pita was coach for this team when they were at their peak, so he just may be able to whip the team into shape for this event.
North, Natus Vincere and Team EnVyUs are all playing in excellent form. Team EnVyUs have recently made some changes to their roster. SIXER and xms are benched and kioShiMa has finally returned to his old team. Other than kioShiMa, hAdji of EnVyUs Academy has also joined Team EnVyUs.
North has made a grab for power with their hiring of kjaerbye, and have already won seven out of twelve online matches with their new lineup. Natus Vincere have been doing very well after they replace seized with electronic three months back. If these teams play reliably, they could easily oust G2 Esports, Astralis or NiP from the event.
ESL Pro League – Top Teams from America
Out of the eleven top teams which competed in the last season, only nine will attend this one. Those teams are OpTic Gaming, SK Gaming, Team Liquid, NRG Esports, Luminosity Gaming, Cloud9, Renegades, Splyce and compLexity Gaming. Ghost Gaming and Rogue won the relegation finals and qualified again this season, and finally Team Dignitas are back in action after hiring Ownage.
SK Gaming have more or less dethroned themselves by losing to Cloud9 and Team Liquid in the CS Summit 2. Of course, that only means that they still hold second place in the global rankings. While there’s no doubt that this team will qualify for the main event, some of their recent performances have been quite disturbing. They did not win a single match against Cloud9 and Team Liquid in a best of three series. They also lost in overtime against Team Liquid.We know that SK Gaming, while deadly, are hardly reliably deadly, but their recent slew of losses make them a bad team to bet upon. They’re still the numero uno team from North America.
Cloud9 have been utterly dominating recently, competing relentlessly with SK Gaming for the top sport in American CS:GO in recent events. They’re going to be major players in the ESL Pro League, and you can bet against any lower ranked team that goes up against them without hesitation. They have a seventy four percent win rate in online matches, well over that of FaZe Clan. This team currently rank third in the CS:GO universe.
Team Liquid’s recent roster changes have shown some very positive results. It seems stanislaw and jdm64 were really holding this team back with unreliable play, because they’ve done exceptionally well since replacing jdm64 with NAF. This isn’t to say that stanislaw and jdm64 never used to put out some exceptional plays, because they did. But they were not reliable. They’d play some matches exceptionally well, and then some matches exceptionally badly. The new roster with NAF seems to be doing very well, but it’s still too soon to tell whether this is just an initial phase, or whether it’ll settle down into reliable team play. This is still a top notch team, and this season of the ESL Pro League will reveal their strengths… and weaknesses.
OpTic Gaming seem to excel at roster changes. It hasn’t been six months from when they last brought on new players, and they’ve already changed their lineup once more. Their new squad includes stanislaw from Team Liquid, k0nfig and cajunb from North, gade from North Academy and ShahZaM, who has rejoined OpTic Gaming after a hiatus of two years. In the last season of the ESL Pro League their roster changes worked out very well, so let’s see if the team can pull off something similar this season. Optic Gaming stand thirteenth in the global rankings.
Other American teams with potential…
The North American section in CS:GO doesn’t seem to be doing too well. However, there are three other teams from this section who are likely to excel at this event. Those teams are Renegades, Luminosity Gaming and NRG Esports. These teams have done reasonably well over the last few months, and while they are hardly in the league of Liquid or Cloud9, they all certainly do have a chance to qualify for the Finals of this season of the ESL Pro League.