ESL Pro League S10 Recap: Group B NA
Group B in the American division of Pro League was headlined by Evil Geniuses’ expected 3-0 run. They did drop a map each to eUnited and Complexity, but overall this looked like another day in the office for the lineup. With Evil Geniuses making it out as the winner, it was left to the other three teams to fight for survival and avoid relegation.
In the first matchup between the three teams, Cloud9 and Complexity went at it in a three map exchange that left Complexity standing tall in the debut of in-game leader Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer. In the next round, both Cloud9 and eUnited looked to bounce back from 0-1 against one another. Once again, the exchange went to three maps and once again Cloud9 lost on map three. After both beating up on Cloud9, Complexity and eUnited were both set for second and third place. In the final match of the group, the two teams fought hard and they took it to three maps once again. AWPer Shahzeb ‘ShahZaM’ Khan ran wild on Inferno, leading the server statistically and carrying his team over the finish line to solidify second place. For the three American teams, it became a rat race over who would avoid relegation and Cloud9 drew the short stick.
For blameF and company, second place has to feel good. Coming in and immediately scoring 2-1 victories over eUnited and Cloud9 are huge confidence boosts moving forward. Cloud9 has been working on their project for three months and the eUnited core has significantly more time together than what Complexity has as a lineup. Their victory over Cloud9 was shouldered by blameF’s performance, but the win over eUnited was a complete team win. Each member had an impact against eUnited and they looked better as a unit with each game. Complexity ending second is the best realistic outcome for the debuting lineup.
eUnited’s performance in the group stage was a success entirely because they did not get last place, but losing to a new look Complexity has to be disappointing for a core of four that have been together since March. When things are clicking, eUnited has the tools to be a good team. They have a talented offensive in-game leader in Anthony ‘vanity’ Malaspina, a mechanically insane rifler in Edgar ‘MarKE’ Maldonado and a solid AWPer in Austin ‘Cooper-’ Abadir. It feels like whenever they are winning in impressive fashion, these are the three producing for the team. However, whenever they are losing, it feels like these are the three players notably underperforming. Finding a level of consistency is something the trio has to figure out how to progress at the top level. Besides the individual growth of the trio, questions have to be raised about the other two players on the roster. Victor ‘food’ Wong has been a project for the team that has not necessarily failed, but he has shown consistent inability to frag at a top-level. The other player is Ryan ‘freakazoid’ Abadir who has been mediocre for the team since joining three weeks ago. Typically, three weeks is not nearly enough time to draw these kinds of conclusions, but it is hard to imagine a scenario where eUnited end up better as a team with both of them in the lineup. If they want to make strides in the rankings, they are going to have to make a free-agent splash.
Last and certainly least is Cloud9, who was underwhelming throughout the entirety of group play. Like the two teams before, losing to Evil Geniuses is totally excusable. What is not excusable for Cloud9, is to lose to eUnited with a new fifth and a fresh Complexity lineup. It has been three months for the lineup, and they flopped against two completely newer teams with less preparation. They played six different maps and only won on Nuke and Overpass one time. The odd thing is that when they did win, they blew out their opponents. In-game leader Damien ‘daps’ Steele is going to have to work diligently to find that middle ground with the team. There is too much talent and too many resources for this team to roll over like they did. The lineup is reaching a point in time where these mediocre results are becoming inexcusable. The window is closing.