EPL Season 7 Finals Preview: Group Red
Updated: May 16, 2018
This is the second part of my EPL Preview in which I discuss Group Red. In this article I discuss how I think each team is going to do at the upcoming event as well as a general summary of how each team is doing right now.
Liquid are coming into this event from a disappointing 9-12th finish at DreamHack Marseille, granted this was their first LAN event with Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo. However, you also have to take into consideration that they had been practicing with him a few weeks before they announced his official singing to liquid. So compared to teams like C9 or FaZe, who also had just gotten new players but did better than Liquid at Marseille, they had more time to prepare for this event. More time to try to integrate him into their lineup and get him somewhat comfortable with their strats. Obviously getting a new player takes more than a few weeks to get used to, but Liquid didn't even make it out of groups. Right now they look like a much better online team than a LAN team, Liquid got the #1 seed in this season of EPL with a 20-2 record (60 points). The NA squad does in theory have a pretty easy path out of groups only having to beat Grayhound and the winner of Renegades vs Space Soldiers. even if they end up doing it through the lower bracket, I think we will see them advance to the quarterfinals.
Not much needs to be said about this Danish power house, they are arguably the most dominant team in the CS:GO scene right now coming from a 2nd place finish at IEM Sydney and a win at DreamHack Marseille. They had a very shaky final against FaZe at Sydney which they lost 3-0, but each game went into overtime. Even on Cache, a map that FaZe dominated during that event. They also just got done placing first in ECS Season 5 ending the season with a 17-1 record (51 points) as well as having a 15 point lead over the closest team to even competing with them. It goes without saying that I definitely see these guys making it to the finals and I also see them taking home the trophy.
Grayhound managed to eliminate SK before going 1-2 against FaZe during IEM Sydney. They definitely have potential here especially since they get to avoid playing Astralis, NiP, and SK at least for the first round or even second round of the group stage. These guys came into IEM Sydney relatively unknown but now they are one of the few underdog teams at this event I see having the potential to upset. The only way I see them making it out of groups is if they somehow stay in the winners bracket where they would only have to face the winner of RNG and SS to secure a spot in at least the quarterfinals. If they end up in the lower bracket, they would have to face quite a few challenging teams. I don't see them consistently upsetting every game they would have to play.
At the last LAN (DreamHack Marseille) these guys played at they were the 2nd team to get eliminated, coming into the event they looked like a team that had the potential to make a run to at least the quarterfinals. They started out with an embarrassing 16-2 loss on inferno against Astralis, who to be fair is miles ahead of the Turkish squad so the loss wasn't super concerning. They then proceeded to get 16-7 by Gambit, a team that has been losing consistently to Tier 3 teams as of late and also just got relegated from ECS. This was not the result that anybody expected of Space Soldiers, and since that LAN we haven't seen them play anything but their last set of EPL matches which they lost. Their form is very questionable right now, and if its anything like their recent games online I would be very concerned. It was also announced early this morning that Buğra "Calyx" Arkıns request for a visa got declined and they will be using back up player Çağatay "DESPE" Sedef. Calyx is definitely one of the more impactful players on the team and this will have a huge affect on their game play. With this new information, as well as looking at their recent performance, I predict that Space Soldiers will be eliminated in the group stage.
Renegades just came from a impressive quarterfinals finish at IEM Sydney, taking down FaZe the eventual champions of this event. Besides that though they only had a win against Legacy, and a 2-0 loss against TyLoo in the group stage. They also immediately got eliminated 2-1 by Mouz in the Playoffs. They went a lot farther than I expected they would but looking at how they did it is a bit underwhelming. I feel like coming into this these guys may be a little over hyped and I am actually going to be predicting that they won't make it out of groups.
There has been a lot of drama around this team lately since they became a fully Danish squad, we also have yet to see them do anything but get relegated from ECS. We have little to no information about these guys as a team. Even with players like Jakob 'JUGi' Hansen and Kristian 'k0nfig' Wienecke I have no confidence that they will be making it out of groups especially since their first game is against Astralis.
Since the addition of IGL Dennis 'dennis' Edman, the Swedish squad has been under the radar. They placed 5-8th at DreamHack Marseille and 5th-6th at IEM Katowice. In the past they have been known as a LAN team, and they definitely have the potential to make it here. I think this is a do or die event for NiP if they want to continue their status as a top team in the world. They have yet to make it past the quarterfinals of any major event they have attended this year, and I am sad to say we will probably see this same result here in Dallas. They get to face a struggling SK lineup for their first game, but if they win that they will more than likely be facing Astralis which I am confident will lead them to the lower bracket. It will definitely be a tough group stage for them but I think they can pull it off.
Since adding Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip SK have been in worse form than towards the end of their time playing with Epitacio 'TACO' de Melo. They are trying to become a completely English speaking lineup, so their coms are all over the place right now. It also seems that they are trying to reform their whole roster around Stewie which in my opinion is not a good idea. Most recently they announced that Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo was stepping back from being IGL and Marcelo 'coldzera' David will be taking over the role. SK are in the process of rebuilding, and with all the changes they have made this process is going to take months and months of hard practice and probably even more adjustments. This will probably be another early and disappointing exit for the guys, something that will sadly be a common reality for them in the upcoming months.