EPL Season 7 Finals Preview: Group Yellow
Updated: May 16, 2018
Now that the online portion of ESL’s seventh season has come to a end, it is time for the teams to head to Dallas, Texas to compete in the LAN finals. This will be the hardest part of the season for all the teams who managed to survive the 8 weeks of online games they played. Over the course of the season we saw teams changing their players, roles, and coaching staff left and right. We also saw the fall of legends like EnVyUs and the rise of underdogs like NRG. All of these changes will definitely make this an interesting and exciting season finale to watch, especially because of the groups that ended up being drawn this year. There are two groups, Group Yellow and Group Red. Both sides are equally stacked, ranging from legends to teams just barely beginning to make a name for themselves. In my first installment of my preview for the EPL finals I will be discussing Group Yellow. Discussing how each team is doing coming into this event and how far I think they will make it in Texas.
Mouz is coming into this event as one of the more consistent teams of the past 5 months, already having several top 5 finishes this year. Most notably they won both V4 and StarSeries Season 4. Not only have they been winning these events, but they have been putting up impressive stats as well both as a team and individually. They have only given up a handful of maps on LAN to teams like NaVi, Astralis, and NiP. Three teams that are known for their LAN performances. Not only have they been shutting everyone out, but besides IEM Sydney and DreamHack Marseille they have averaged a 1.10 rating at the LAN events they have attended. Mousesports is full of both young and old talent, from Tomáš 'oskar' Šťastný carrying the most experience under his belt with two MVP awards, including one from V4, as well as being ranked a top 20 player in the world last year. To Robin 'ropz' Kool, a 18 year old from Estonia whose career is just getting started and seems to be improving with every event this team attends. These guys will be out for blood, as well as to prove they are indeed worthy of being the 3rd best team in the world. I am predicting that these guys will make it out of groups and place in the top 5 at this years ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals.
When the rumors of Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev And Egor 'flamie' Vasilyev trying to sign with SK came to light, Na’Vi as an org stepped up their game tremendously to keep their CS:GO team together. After the deal didn't go through, they bought a boot camp house and the team has basically been living there between events. They also made changes to team policies and contracts. Since these changes the teams overall attitude and performance has improved tremendously. So far this year they have had two 2nd place finishes, DreamHack Marseille and Star Series Season 4. Before that they had a impressive 3-4th place finish at the ELEAGUE Boston Major. Sadly due to visa issues they couldn't attend IEM Sydney, but I have no doubt that if they could’ve gone we would have seen another top 3 finish from the Ukrainian squad. Quite obviously s1mple is the star of this team, already having two MVP rewards under his belt this year without even getting first place. However lately Denis 'electronic' Sharipov, the youngest member of Navi, has been improving his game as well. The team has been giving him more freedom in his play style which showed at DreamHack Marseille where he had a 1.36 rating. Overall, Navi is a team that we have seen improve tremendously over the past few months and I see them taking the 3rd or 4th place spot at this LAN.
NRG came into this season of EPL looking like another NA team that was just gonna get bullied and plowed through by the likes of SK, Cloud9, and Liquid. That was quickly eliminated from everybody's minds when they suddenly started destroying the very teams that were supposed to be dominating the NA side of EPL. Even with their 2nd place finish during the EPL season I sadly don't see them making it past the group stage. They just haven't had enough time or experience at LAN events or even individually which we saw happen at IEM Sydney where they placed 9-12th overall. They will also be attending this event without their coach Ian "Immi" Harding, which for a younger team like this can be a pretty big deal. Fortunately NRG has lots of LAN events coming up, and assuming they keep up their recent form and continue improving both as a team and individually I can see them placing top 5 at some point this year.
FaZe finally won their first LAN event of 2018 at IEM Sydney last week and have also managed to integrate Richard 'Xizt' Landström into their lineup. Before last week the team had been stuck in a repeated cycle of making it to the finals and then choking. They also had their first 5-8th finish at a big LAN event since DreamHack Malmö 2017 when they attended DreamHack Marseille with Xizt. To sum it up, before IEM Sydney FaZe looked like they were potentially gonna drop out of top 5 in the world rankings but they pulled off a miracle and proved that even without Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbje they can be the best team in the world. If FaZe brings the same mentality and performance that they did at IEM Sydney I see them souring right by the group stage and finishing 1st or 2nd in this years EPL finals.
Since the Boston Major, C9 has fallen off the wagon. They don't even look like a major winning team anymore, not placing any better than 5th place at a big LAN event in the past few months. Now with the loss of Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip as well as having barely any time to practice with their new IGL Pujan 'FNS' Mehta I am sad to say that I don't think these guys are gonna be making it out of the group stage. At IEM Sydney they didn't even make it out of groups, getting eliminated by Tyloo in a 2-0 loss. Then before that at DreamHack Marseille they got 2-0 by Gambit in the quarterfinals in yet another sad exit. They do get to play FaZe for their first game, a team they have gone neck to neck with at almost every LAN event this year. Even with FNS they have been able to somewhat compete against them, and if FaZe has a slow start they could have a chance of making it a bit further in the upper bracket. However if they do lose to FaZe I don't think we are going to see them make it past the losers bracket. C9 need a few solid months of practice with FNS before we will see them putting out good results again which is why I am predicting that they won't be making it out of the group stages this year.
Heroic have come in last minute in place of HellRaisers who couldn't come due to a few visa issues. They also just recently signed Adam 'friberg' Friberg, a definite upgrade to the team, and are using Jorgen 'cromen' Robertsen as a stand in for RUBINO who can't attend this event due to medical issues. Overall, this lineup has had no time to prepare for this event and they also have a stand in who they have played one game with. A 2-1 loss against AGO, a team they had been able to beat numerous times before that day. As of right now there really isn't enough information to make a accurate prediction for how these guys will do. They’ve got several players who have the experience needed to compete at a LAN but it's all going to come down to what kind of communication they have as well as if they have any strats set up with this lineup.
These guys are definitely one of the underdogs of Group Yellow and rightfully so. They are a top 30 team in the world, but this will only be their 3rd international LAN event and looking at their results from IEM Sydney they just aren't at the level needed to be upsetting against top 10 teams. Especially with their first game being against Navi, their only chance here is potentially making a run in the lower bracket but even that is looking slim since they would more than likely be forced to face yet another top of the line team. These guys may be an amazing South Korean group, but they are not able to compete with the likes of Astralis, Navi, FaZe, or pretty much any other team that is attending this event.
This is a fairly unknown team, they are a Brazilian squad who to my knowledge have never played at a major LAN event or even faced a tier 1 team. I do not know a lot about these guys, but from the matches I have seen they always seem to struggle to close out games. Something that they can not afford to do at a event like this. Another thing I have noticed is that when they start losing the players completely zone out, and then continue just to get plowed by whoever they are facing. These are two mental blocks that you just can't consistently have when facing top of the line teams. They are definitely a young team that needs a lot of work and more experience before they can compete at a event like this. My prediction for them is that they will be the first team to be eliminated from the LAN in the Yellow Group Stage.