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  • Ashlynn "Valkenn" Brady

ESL One Belo Horizonte Preview

Updated: Jun 13, 2018



To start out this week of LAN events we have ESL One Belo Horizonte. 8 teams will be battling it out in Brazil to try and get their taste of the $200k prize pool. We have a large variety of groups attending, from hometown heroes SK and NTC to the newly formed NA team Ghost. This is a big event for everybody attending, especially for those trying to prove they are worthy of competing in the top tiers of CS. With both the FaZe Clan and Mousesports playing with stand-ins, this could be the perfect time for Liquid to finally claim a trophy. Or even another opportunity for Space Soldiers to prove they are worthy of competing in offline events. This tournament is full of possibilities and today I am here to give you a look at who we will be seeing in Belo Horizonte.


BIG:

Since smooya joined the German squad, he has only played three maps. Due to the roster locks he has been on the sidelines for the most part, but the team as a whole has also been taking some time off. We haven't seen them compete lately, but the players have been practicing behind closed doors in a team house. BIG has been pretty quiet about everything, but looking at how they were doing before their boot camp started I expect they will be doing even better than before.


Their newest member, smooya, is a huge upgrade for the team. During his time on Epsilon he was constantly on and off the bench but played a big role in the little success the team had. Especially in the last few weeks he was with them, qualifying for the MDL Premier League as well as winning the Premiership Spring 2018 in Birmingham. Smooya will be filling in for the AWP role, something that the team has been lacking in for quite some time. He may be young, but he already has a vast amount of experience in both national and international scenes which is perfect for a team who just switched from being completely German. The young talent has also had quite a few experiences on LAN. Although, like most of his career, all of these have been with tier 2/3 opponents. This is going to be not just a big test for him, but for the rest of his teammates as well.


All in all, it will be exciting to see what BIG brings to the table. Maybe we will see something similar to their shocking run at PGL Major Krakow 2017. It would definitely be hard, especially since they have to face Liquid straight off the bat. To counter that, they also have the advantage of being able to shock every opponent they play against. Nobody has actually seen what they have stored in their playbook. This team has a lot of potential, however they will more than likely have to face both Mouz and Liquid just to make it out of groups. Even with Mouz playing with n0thing I feel like this will be too much to ask from the team, especially in a Bo3 format. Advancing to at least the decider match of the lower bracket is very likely for the team, but they will probably stop there. More than likely leaving them in 6th place overall.


Space Soldiers:

After more than 2-3 months of failures, visa issues, and internal conflicts between the org and the players (which is still going on) SS finally managed to win a LAN event. A good start to redeeming themselves from their embarrassing finishes at both the EPL Finals and DreamHack Masters Marseille. The impact of finally having their full lineup showed in Austin, Texas and other than their first two games the team looked amazing. It was a small event, but a perfect confidence booster for the Turks, especially after all their bad luck these past few months.


DreamHack Austin was a event with not a lot of competition, and SS really struggled with their first few games. However, they did manage to bring things back into control and quickly regained their composure once they got into the Bo3 matches. Even 2-0 Heroic, arguably one of the hardest opponents at this event. I think they struggled a lot in the Bo1’s because of the map that was played, Dust2, which was a very risky move on their part and they obviously didn't expect their opponents to be able to compete against them on it. Especially since they don't have a main AWPer, which is essential to playing Dust2. Thankfully they realized their mistakes and didn't let the map make it into any of their other games. Showing us that Mirage, Inferno, and even Overpass (which used to be their permaban) are the strong maps in their map pool right now.


Calyx’s support role in the team has a huge impact on their success and that really showed in Austin. The whole team flowed much better than when they played EPL without him. In fact, Calyx had the best stats overall at the event, ending with a 1.32 rating. Xantares, another key player on the team, stepped up big time putting up his best LAN results since the WESG 2017 Finals. SS seems to of finally started to get comfortable with playing in front of a crowd and this will be another semi small event for them to prove themselves at. Their first match will be against SK, a team that has been struggling for quite some time but will also be playing on home turf. They definitely have the potential to upset here but I don't think we will even see them make it to the semis. It all depends on what kind of form SK is going to be in. Either way, I think that SS will have a 5th place finish overall.


FaZe Clan:

The absence of Olofmeister has definitely taken its toll on the team that was once considered to be the best in the world, unable to find a permanent sub for the veteran player has left them having to change how they function twice now. Thankfully they decided to keep cromen instead of using Horvy for this event, hopefully making things a bit less chaotic for the players. Despite having to play with the young Norwegian, the team still managed to place 3-4th overall at the ECS Finals. Cromen managed to pull his own for the most part, however his stats were pretty inflated because everyone else on FaZe had a mediocre event.


Most recently cromen subbed for RUBINO on Heroic, during his time with the team he didn't pull off anything super spectacular, but he had his moments. He isn't a very consistent player and lacks the experience that Xizt has as well as the skill and firepower that Olof brought to the team. But for now he will have to do, he is young and overall this will just be a really good learning experience for the Norwegian. As for the rest of the team, they put out just about the same performance we have been seeing. Nothing like the FaZe we saw last year, but still good enough to be considered a top 5 team at every event they attend. The players are still putting up the same numbers for the most part, but it just isn't enough to carry them all the way to the grand finals. Whether this be because their opponents have finally figured them out or because of their standins, things have been pretty stale for most of 2018 seeing as they have only won one LAN this year.


Luckily for FaZe, their first game will be against Ghost who are one of the worst teams at this event. Making it out of groups should be a breeze for them, going further than that though will depend on if they play Liquid or not in the semifinals. Liquid and SK are the only teams I really see stopping FaZe from taking home the trophy at this event, especially since Mouz will be playing without oskar. Even if we see the same FaZe from ECS, I expect them to be ending the event in 3rd place overall.


Team Liquid:

Right now Liquid is one of the few teams consistently placing well, their roster changes and adjustments came a lot earlier than most top teams and this has put them at a clear advantage. They also managed to adjust to Taco’s play style and find a position for him very quickly, leading to a very short transition stage for the group. Right now the only opponent they can't seem to beat is Astralis, a team that nobody can compete with right now. Liquid is coming into this event from 2nd place finishes at both the ECS and EPL Finals, as well as a 7th place finish at StarSeries. Obviously they struggled a bit in Kiev, but they quickly turned things around and eliminated most of the worries I had for them with their performance last week.


NAF has stepped up big time for the team, especially last weekend at the ECS Finals where he had a 1.30 rating overall. Tying with dev1ce, the MVP and best player of the event. Adding onto that, NAF hadn't put up those kinds of numbers since playing with RNG at the IBP Masters in November of 2017. EliGE and Twistzz also had amazing performances, both of them were hitting shots left and right. Helping NAF secure rounds with ease against their opponents. In fact Twistzz led the headshot leaderboards in every way possible, ending the event with an outstanding 66.5% HS percentage. Nitr0 has proven to be a very good IGL for the team so far, and it is clear that everybody is putting in work to make this lineup work. Even Taco’s numbers have improved and he seems much more comfortable with his role than he did on SK.


Liquid has definitely proven they are top 5 team material in the past month or so, and they have a very good chance of finally taking home a trophy here in Brazil. Especially if we see the same level of gameplay that EliGE, NAF, and Twistzz showed us in London. Liquid is going to be starting out this event against BIG, a team that nobody has any real information on. However since this is a Bo3, it should be a breeze for the more experienced and talented lineup. They are definitely the best team in their group and making it not just to the semis but the grand final of this tournament as well should be a walk in the park for the team. I expect that they will be taking home the trophy as well as 1st place.


SK Gaming:

Right now, the only events that SK seems to be winning are the small ones. Ones with super low tier 1 teams and semi-high tier 2 teams. They have won two lan events with Stewie2k, Adrenaline Cyber League and Moche XL Esports. Two events that they were the obvious favorites to win seeing as they were miles ahead in skill and experience compared to every team attending. However once they start playing with the big boys, we see them exiting before they even make it out of groups. These struggles may be due to the language barriers they are still working on, or the fact that they are going to be changing orgs very soon. Either way this is not the performance we are used to seeing from these winning players. During StarSeries they did have a good start, beating VG.Flash, AVANGAR, and even Liquid. However every game they played was sloppy. They went from losing 16-1 against VG.Flash to winning 16-2, or against Navi they went from OT on Inferno to getting destroyed on Mirage and Overpass. Basically they are super inconsistent right now, and it will be hard to judge what kind of SK we will be seeing in Brazil.


We also have to take in the fact that Coldzera is slowly but surely transitioning into the IGL role, this could give them an advantage since most teams are used to Fallens style of calling. In fact even with the change of roles, Coldzera is still putting out similar numbers to when he wasnt IGLing. Even Fer has managed to cope with everything pretty well and has seemed to of found some footing in the chaos. Personally I think he's had his best performances this year with the addition of Stewie2k to the team. Fallen has also been enjoying the change of scenery, since lifting the weight of being an IGL off his shoulders he has been playing more freely. However for Stewie2k, things have not been so good. He has been playing even worse than when C9 started to fall apart, just barely averaging a 1.00 rating. You can see in the way that he plays now that he's not as confident as he was just a few months ago, and it's taking a toll on his performance.


SK is like a ticking time bomb, it's only a matter of time before they suddenly start popping off again. They will be hometown heroes (besides Stewie) for this event, and with the crowd cheering them on I expect that they will do well here. ESL One Belo Horizonte is a small event, just like the ones that they recently won. They can easily make it out of their group, and they have also proven that even in their recent form they can compete against Liquid or Mouz. Which is why I see them placing 2nd overall.


Mousesports:

This will be n0things first game of tier 1 professional CS since leaving C9’s active roster in August. He will be taking over oskar’s role for reasons that the organization has not made public. His teammates sure seem excited to be able to play with the NA legend, but is all the hype really worth it? Statistically, oskar is a much better player than n0thing is and seeing how the American is not an AWPer this will cause problems for the team. They will have to pass on the role solely to chrisJ and will more than likely be running without a double awp set up this event. Hopefully chrisJ has come up with some sort of plan to keep them in this tournament for as long as possible.


Seeing as n0thing only got 207 kills during his career with an AWP, using the weapon just a little bit more than 2% of his time playing, ChrisJ is going to be on his own. N0thing is also not a very big impact fragger, during the last year of his career he averaged a 0.97 rating over the course of 16 events (both on and offline). I don't have anything against the American legend but, he isnt going to be able to bring anywhere near the same level of impact that oskar does for Mouz. Especially since this move seems to of been very abrupt and unplanned. Jordan was also just in London as an analyst for the ECS Season 5 Finals, meaning the team has had no time to practice with him.


Mouz has a long road ahead of them without their AWPer oskar playing, they just lost one of their main carries as well as their most experienced player. Seeing as their group is made up of two of the bigger underdogs of the event, I do believe that they can make it. However when it comes time to face the likes of Liquid, FaZe, or even SK I don't think they are going to be able to pull it off. Especially in a Bo3 format, that is a lot to ask of a team lacking such a key player. Unless teams NTC or BIG decide to play out of their minds, this leaves Mouz escaping the group stage, placing 4th overall.


Ghost Gaming:

The ex-Torqued members have finally found a new org and two new teammates to play with. So far we have seen nothing from this lineup, which means we don't have a lot to look at. What I can say though is that the three core players of this team have been pretty underwhelming lately, and all five have little to no experience in an offline environment. With their first game being against FaZe, they have a very long road ahead of them. Especially since they will be forced to face SK or SS in the losers bracket, another task that will be nearly impossible for them to achieve in a Bo3 setting.


Looking at the newest additions to this trio, both players will be filling in important roles that were left behind when swag and AZK left. Subroza had a pretty off and on season with Ghost, especially when his team needed him the most. So far his 2018 year hasn't been nearly as impressive as his 2017 year, but he still has managed to help out his team against the likes of SK and Liquid. Wardell on the other hand has been much more consistent, especially when he has the AWP in his hands. These are two young players that have shown promise, even with their lackluster EPL Season. They may of just barely made it to the next season, but every game they played was either a pretty close loss or a convincing win.


As we have seen from both the old Torqued and Ghost lineups that these players have come from, they are a pretty inconsistent bunch. For Pollo and Steel, these kind of events are the closest they will ever get to a Major title and if this lineup does take off it would shock me if Wardell, koosta, and Subroza didn't try to move onto bigger things. Who knows how long these five will last together, but for now they are focused on trying to prove they are good enough to continue to attend events like this. Like I mentioned earlier, they will be facing FaZe in a Bo3 straight off the bat. The Ghost players will also probably have to play either SK or Space Soldiers to advance from the losers bracket. Seeing as how stacked their group is, I am expecting a last place finish from them.


Não Tem Como:

NTC has a pretty stacked roster, with 2x major winner FNX and ex-SK member Felps on the team you’d think these guys would have made a name for themselves by now. Sadly they have been stuck playing in the lower levels of the pro scene, which on the bright side has really boosted their stats. With no surprise they have been destroying their competition and this is the first time the lineup will be able to prove that they aren't just a bunch of washed up Brazilian players. Most of these guys are pretty young, however bit and FNX have quite a few years of experience on the team.


Bit has been known for not just his IGLing skill but for his fragging ability as well since the 1.6 days. NTC is definitely the biggest team he's played with for some time, but I feel confident that his leadership skills have been great for the younger players. Then we have one of the more well known AWPers in CS:GO, kNgV-. Despite his flaws, it is hard to ignore the skill that this player has. Since joining NTC he has averaged a 1.30 rating and even when the team loses he drops around 20 kills. Felps, FNX, and Chelo have been putting in work as well and this tournament will be putting all of their skills to the test.


Their first game will be against Mouz, a team that is without their main AWPer oskar. This will be the first time NTC has played in an offline event since forming. It will also be the first time they will be playing a team that is statistically around/above their skill level. These guys have been tearing through the Brazilian scene, having only one loss last month out of the 13 games they played. But the real question is if they can bring this same level of play against top of the line competition. On paper this is a great lineup, and I doubt we see them leaving the stage first. However they also have a very slim chance of making it out of groups. I am predicting they will be winning at least one match up, but no more than that. Leaving them to likely drop out in the 7th place spot.

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