• Lukas DeWitt

Players to Watch: ESL Pro League S10 Finals

With only a month left in the year, the ESL Pro League Finals is the biggest event left in 2019. Sixteen teams made it through the qualification process during the group stages of Pro League, and now they are at Odense with hopes to lift a trophy. An event of this caliber gives the opportunity for players to step up and make a name for themselves. Stories are told through the performances of these players, and some players have better stories than others. There are six that stick out above all others this time around and should change the outcome for their respective teams in the Finals:

Brehze (EG)

Evil Geniuses’ stud rifler Vincent ‘Brehze’ Cayonte had a rough November. In fact, November was Brehze’s worst month this entire year. His .97 rating in 23 maps is an insane drop from his stellar 1.19 rating from January through October. Brehze’s poor month could be attributed to the location of tournaments, seeing as two of his worst events on the year were both in China. All of EG looked stale on the month, but it is no secret that Brehze is the driving force of this team’s firepower. If his individual performance returns then the team’s success will follow. The North American roster will have little time to solve their problems before being thrown to the wolves, as they start their event by facing No. 3 ranked fnatic. When they previously met at the StarSeries Season 8 finals, Evil Geniuses were in form and Brehze tore up fnatic with 28 frags in both maps. Like coldzera before him, this best of one could be just what Brehze needs to gain confidence and go on a tear in Odense.

coldzera (FaZe)

Since joining FaZe, Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David’s numbers have only been increasing. Every day that passes, coldzera looks more and more like his former No. 1 ranked self. With a 1.13 rating through 47 maps, there is no denying cold is getting closer to his generational form. Coldzera is a player that feeds off energy during the game, and he is also a player that elevates in the most important games. Well, FaZe’s first game is going to be one of those important ones. To start the Finals in Odense, the international squad will be taking on coldzera’s former team MIBR for the first time since his departure. This best of one game could have huge implications. If coldzera comes into this game and destroys his former team, his confidence may elevate so high that he goes on a tear throughout the whole tournament. Getting to watch coldzera go on a revenge-fueled rampage in the server for the event would certainly be a treat, and the opener versus MIBR may be enough to kickstart that.

GuardiaN (Na’Vi)

Since returning to the Na’Vi lineup in late September, AWPer Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács has been largely underwhelming in his performance. He has a .97 rating through 25 maps and at .56 KPR - his impact is nearly non-existent. When we last saw him at BLAST Copenhagen, GuardiaN seemed out of place in the server. His addition was meant to help the team get over the hump by shouldering some of the weight that star riflers Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov carry, but that has not been the case so far. With Na’Vi having most of November off from officials, the team has had plenty of time to work out the kinks in the server. GuardiaN was impactful at the end of his tenure with FaZe a handful of months back, so there is a reason to believe he has the ability to perform at a top-level for Na’Vi. He has not done it yet for the lineup, but he will have another opportunity to do so at the Pro League Finals starting with the opener versus No. 19 ranked TYLOO.

woxic (mousesports)

Turkish AWP sensation Özgür ‘woxic’ Eker secured his first HLTV MVP award after mousesports took home first place at the CS:GO Asia Championships. Mousesports is undoubtedly packed with talent, and a tournament win of this caliber is what the team needs to propel them to new heights. Woxic is very much a confidence-based AWPer, and if he carries the highs from Shanghai into Odense he could earn his second MVP award en route to another mousesports tournament victory. Mouz looks like favorites to sneak into the playoffs as the third seed of Group B behind Liquid and Astralis. The problem for mouz has been getting over the top teams in the world, and the timing is right for woxic and company to break the glass ceiling. The road to glory starts against ATK.

kennyS (G2)

Kenny ‘kennyS’ Schrub has been inconsistent since the organization brought Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković and Nemanja ‘huNter-’ Kovač into the lineup. huNter- has found little problem finding comfort in the G2 lineup, but kennyS has failed to provide the consistent firepower in tandem with huNter- that fans had been hoping for. At the Asia Championships, Kenny was invisible against Evil Geniuses. He had eleven frags on Mirage and five on Overpass, both of which they lost 16-5. This lineup has a high ceiling but they also have a low floor. This team could compete for a playoff spot as quick as they could bomb out of the tournament. The outcome will heavily depend on kennyS’ performance at Odense.

jks (100 Thieves)

Whenever 100 Thieves are in a tournament, they are a dark horse to win it. When the team is in form, they can compete with any team in the world. The Australian roster has the firepower that can go blow for blow with the best of teams, especially when Justin ‘jks’ Savage is in form. The Australian star has been the driving force for the lineup’s successes, and he will surely end up on the top 20 lists at the end of the year. 100 Thieves will certainly have a tough road ahead of them when it comes time to the ESL Pro League Finals. They start their journey with an opener against a surging Heroic. If jks wants to prove he is a top ten player, the Pro League Finals is his best place to make the case.

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All statistics used are from the HLTV database.

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