• Lukas DeWitt

ESL Pro League S10 EU Recap: Group A

The European side of ESL Pro League concluded its first set of group play this past week, and it proved to be quite a treat for viewers. The games from start to finish were competitive, and there are plenty of positives for all of the advancing teams to build around. This first group set the tone for what looks to be another promising season of ESL Pro League. The biggest winners of the group are of course the group winners, Mousesports. In-game leader Finn ‘karrigan’ Andersen brought the international lineup fully prepared to grind through the group and earn a 3-0 record to qualify for Odense. The team was tactically ahead of their opponents, and all of the star players brought their A-game. At the conclusion of group play, the team scored victories on four different maps and three mousesports’ players were top five in rating.

Star rifler Robin ‘ropz’ Kool lit up the server the entire time he was in it. In fact, ropz finished first in four of 21 categories on HLTV including ADR and KD-difference. He was also top five in five other categories. Through the entire group stage, the Estonian star was in top form. Right behind him on the leaderboards is teammate and AWPer Özgür ‘woxic’ Eker. Ropz was more consistent throughout the seven maps, but woxic was absolutely electric for his team in the FaZe series. As primary AWP, woxic ended the 64 round brawl with 62 frags (45 with AWP), 99.7 ADR, and took out any FaZe player that tried to pick up the AWP against him. He had his ups and downs during the seven maps, but overall woxic continues to prove he is a top AWPer in CS. The third star player in the lineup was also firing on all cylinders for the team. 17-year old David ‘frozen’ Čerňanský was nearly flawless for the team and his progression as a talent continues to impress. His mechanical skill is irrefutable, and karrigan is doing a great job building him into an amazing pro CS player.

In second place is the new look FaZe that continues to look better as a lineup. They appear to be growing their map pool, and ex-MIBR star Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David was the best version of himself since joining FaZe. He tied with ropz for highest rating, and that is just one of the six categories he ended first in. Cold is finding comfort within this roster which is pivotal for FaZe’s success, but in-game leader Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovac continues to perform below standard. If NiKo is truly going to take a step back individually in order to tactically lead this lineup, then he has to figure out how to contribute in entirely different ways. The lineup is only eleven official matches old, so they are in the very early stages of development. A 2-1 group A run is something the lineup can certainly be happy with. They have the time, talent and resources to build off the group play before their next official. In order to get over the hump and start seriously competing for titles like they surely want to, certain players are going to have to step up. A good starting point would be entry fragger and former No. 4 ranked player Håvard ‘rain’ Nygaard. At his peak, rain is a rare force in Counter-Strike. If the FaZe camp can get rain or Olof ‘olofmeister’ Kajbjer in form then FaZe could start turning heads.

BIG’s new lineup came to the Pro League with only five official maps on LAN recorded, but the team looked prepared for group play. Although they placed third with a 1-2 record, the team has plenty of positives to take from the games. Over the course of the group they played every map except for Vertigo and they scored ten or more rounds in each loss but one, which suggests that in-game leader Johannes ‘tabseN’ Wodarz has his team properly prepared. Both losses to mousesports in the opening best of three were close through their entirety, as well as the loss to FaZe on Nuke. Although they remained competitive for most of the group, the closing statistics for all three of BIG’s stars were less than stellar. AWPer Owen ‘smooya’ Butterfield ended dead even at 1.00, tabseN at .99 and rifler Ismailcan ‘XANTARES’ Dörtkardeş a .97 through 13 maps. The lineup is in its very early stages, so there is no reason for panic. However, the team definitely needs to address how to better utilize the copious amounts of firepower. XANTARES, smooya and tabseN is a legitimate big three, and everything is set up for this team to succeed. We will not see much of them for the rest of the year, so advancing to the Finals through the second round of play is a must.

The OpTic lineup has been stuck in limbo for what feels like forever, and this past week was just another example of that. They got poached by North just days before Pro League and did the best with the most unknown of stand-ins. Even though they were somewhat competitive, they could not land any wins. Their 0-3 record earned them dead last and put them in relegation. The worst part about it is that is not the worst part. As a player, you can only take so much. This lineup has dealt with a lot this year and it is really unfortunate that this is what they have resigned to. Hopefully this mess gets resolved soon and we get to see the core players back in the server, whether they are together or not.