• Ashlynn "Valkenn" Brady

Top Three Teams to Look Out for at ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

With a $1 million dollar prize pool up for grabs, the ELEAGUE CS:GO Premier 2018 is one of the biggest events hosted in the CS:GO scene. With as much money up for grabs as a Major, as well as the same level of competition to compete for it, this weekend is going to be an all-out brawl. We will be seeing some of the best teams in the world competing in Atlanta, Georgia. Group A consists of Astralis, Cloud9, Liquid, and MIBR, definitely the lesser stacked side of this tournament. As for Group B we will be seeing Fnatic, FaZe, mousesports, and Natus Vincere battling for a spot in the playoffs. From the return of legends like Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjer to the Ukrainian super team trying to claim their fourth victory in a row, anything can happen in the upcoming days. Today I will be taking a look at who is attending and discussing my top 3 favorite teams coming into this event.

Can Natus Vincere Win Their Fourth Event in a Row?

The hype around Astralis has left Navi in the shadows to slowly but steadily improve themselves both on and off the stage. It is clear not just from the various Navi bootcamp youtube vlogs, but their recent string of first place tournament finishes as well that they are determined to become the best team in the world and maybe even put an end to all this talk about the “Astralis era”. With every tournament that goes by this team is looking better and better, currently on a three-tournament win streak. Their most recent win at Cologne has definitely brought them the most attention, especially since they managed to take down Astralis 2-1 in the semis. Navi have won 16 of the 19 games they have played since their first first place finish of the year at StarSeries Season 5. With their recent form, the Ukrainians are turning out to be one of the most likely winners of ELEAGUE. Even Danylo 'Zeus' Teslenko has been having a good time, dropping 30 kills on Inferno against Astralis during one of Navis biggest games at Cologne.

Since the end of May, the CIS squad has shown us what they are truly made of. From winning on home turf at StarSeries Season 5 to playing all the way in China against the best teams in the world, Navi has been doing it all. Of course, the player headlining these victories has been Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev who claimed the MVP at not just these two events but at Cologne as well. However Denis 'electronic' Sharipov has been not too far behind him the whole time, slowly creeping closer and closer to matching his fellow star teammate in terms of skill and performance. In fact just a few weeks ago he tied for being the second-best player at Cologne with a 1.31 rating as well as a stellar performance in the final against BIG. Over the course of the five Bo3’s that got played, electronic was almost always right behind s1mple if not ahead of him.

It is quite obvious that Natus Vincere has found a method that has worked for them, especially with a veteran caller like Zeus. A lot of people criticize him for his not so glamorous stats, however even s1mple himself has made the public very aware of how much of an impact the IGL has. In a recent interview that HLTV did at cologne s1mple mentioned; “Before I do something, I always ask Zeus if it is going to be ok with the team and if it is not going to fail the round for us”. Proving furthermore that the Major-winning IGL has also had a huge impact in leading the younger players in the right direction. This super team has it all, from the firepower that s1mple and electronic bring to the brains that Zeus has. they are the whole package and it has shown. It’s gonna take a lot to bring down these players, and they will be looking to secure their fourth and biggest win of 2018. With every day that passes the battle between Astralis and Navi as the best teams in the world gets closer and closer. Winning ELEAGUE could be the tipping point that puts Natus Vincere slightly in the lead.

The Brazilians are Turning to NA For Help

As many of you know, MIBR just made their return to the CS:GO scene by picking up SK’s lineup. However their time together didn't last very long, just a few days ago the team dropped Ricardo 'boltz' Prass and picked up Tarik 'tarik' Celik. This move happened just a few months after they grabbed Jake 'Stewie2K' Yip from the same Cloud9 lineup. As most of you have probably seen from the various twitch clips floating around from MIBR's public "practices", the guys have been having a lot of fun... The one (and only) big takeaway being that the Brazilian players English has improved greatly and communication should no longer be a huge problem for the team. The members on both Cloud9 and MIBR have been playing well below their usual skill level for a majority of the year, however this move may just be the answer to MIBR’s problems. Boltz has been on the chopping block for quite some time now, and it is no question that Tarik is an upgrade for the team. The MVP of the Boston Major has not found a lot of success this year with C9 and will be coming into MIBR looking to prove that he wasn't just another NA one hit wonder.

As we all know Tarik is a very well known, as well as extremely talented, NA player. He demonstrated that pretty clearly at the most recent major when he not only fragged out of his mind but called the strats for the team throughout the event. Seeing as the mixed team has been indecisively switching between strat callers FalleN and Marcelo 'coldzera' David from map to map, they may have finally found a permanent secondary caller. This is of course assuming that Tarik wants to get involved with any of the IGL business again, a task he expressed his distaste for in recent times. No matter what path he chooses he is clearly a player who can not only bring even more power to this star-studded lineup, but structure and confidence as well. Despite Cloud9’s struggles this year after the Boston Major, Tarik has consistently been one of the best players on the team. Both on and offline, he was always either right behind Timothy 'autimatic' Ta or ahead. He has also been a top 20 player at a majority of the events he has attended this year, even when C9 would take an early exit from the event. Without the added stress of transitioning into a new org (especially with how things ended between SK and it's former players), as well as finally finding a fifth player to replace the weakest link in their lineup. The major winning talents will finally of had time to properly prepare themselves for an event.

Lately MIBR’s map pool has been nonexistent, the groups has yet to show repetitive dominance on any single map. Creating a solid map pool is a hard enough task and with the team bouncing back and forward between strat callers it is no wonder they struggle even on the maps they have dominated in the past. Every team they have faced has either been reading them like a book or easily maneuvering past their lackluster team play. These are not problems a team can fix overnight, and will definitely be a huge barrier to their success if they let it. MIBR’s first game will be against Liquid, a team that they have yet to face under the orgs name. They last played each other at StarSeries i-League Season 5, a series that the MIBR players won, however this time around things probably won't be so easy. Liquid have been on the rise and it wouldn't surprise me if they ended the year as the best team in NA, especially with Cloud9’s fall from grace. Outside of Liquid their group consists of Astralis, as well as Tarik and Stewie2K’s former team, Cloud9. I would say that MIBR are kind of a dark horse pick, especially given who they have to face in their group, however the likes of coldzera FalleN are just the kind of players who surprise when you least expect it.

Is the Era of Astralis?

Astralis has been the most consistent and put together group of players since the Boston major. They have avoided all the roster drama, only changing one player, and it has made them the best team in the world. Coming into this event, they are yet again one of the favorites to take home the trophy. However this time around they will be forced to compete against the rapidly improving players of Natus Vincere and the full five-man roster of FaZe. Besides StarSeries and the Major, Astralis have managed to place top three at every single LAN event attended in 2018. Of these six events, half of these ended in them taking first place. Not to mention their current reign of terror on Nuke, a run that reminds be quite a bit of what Ninjas in Pyjamas managed to do on the map back in 2012. All of this success has come from just one roster move; the removal of Markus 'Kjaerbye' Kjærbye and the addition of Emil 'Magisk' Reif. Since this change, everybody on the team has improved both individually and as a team.

The most notable improvements are from star AWPer Nicolai 'dev1ce' Reedtz and entry fragger Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussen. Both players have earned MVP rewards with this roster, something that dupreeh hadn't accomplished before this year. During dev1ces time with Kjaerbye on the roster, he had a 1.14 rating (234 maps) however since Magisk has joined that number has gone up to 1.24 (117 maps). As for dupreeh he went from a 1.07 rating to a 1.12, obviously they haven't played nearly as many games with the new lineup but the progress that they have made is well above what they showed before the Major. Seeing both your entry fragger and AWPer improve this greatly with just one change is exactly what teams are looking for when making changes to their roster. In fact so far this year Astralis seems to be the only team who has been able to fix their problems without completely revamping their roster and gameplan.

There is a lot of question and worry that the “Astralis era” is simply due to the chaos the rest of the scene has been in. Especially since this chaos has revolved around all the top 10 teams in the world, however even with some of them bouncing back Astralis have still been dominate. Most recently at ESL One Cologne, they managed to place 3rd overall. Falling to Natus Vincere in the semifinals. Like most events this year, they also ended as the best team overall with a 1.20 rating as a whole. Well above both BIG and Navi, the two teams who made it to the grand final. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be showing yet another dominant performance in Atlanta. However their main competition, Natus Vincere, are on a three tournament win streak and will be looking to for their 4th in the upcoming days. With a 1 million dollar prize pool on the line, everybody will be playing their hardest. Meaning that Astralis need to bring their A game, especially if they wanna beat the likes of FaZe and Navi.