In the first premier tournament since rostermania, it will be our first chance to critique and witness how the new teams play. With $250,000 and another notch towards the $1M Intel Grand Slam, there is a lot at stake in Marseille, France this weekend. Here are three key story lines to follow and players to watch.
Roster Changes oh Roster Changes.
Out of the 16 teams attending, six have changed their roster. Each of these teams are expecting different results and changing the narrative surrounding their team, but it will take more than one LAN to define a squad. It is hard to identify which of these changes is most clear, but the one that stands out the most is Jake “Stewie2K” Yip linking up with the Brazilian powerhouse SK Gaming. Stewie’s departure from his North American brothers have left the team in disarray, picking up Pujan “FNS” Mehta and after a brief period of Skadoodle going inactive, he is back in the active lineup. Alot is to be made of some other roster changes, the hometown G2 French side is looking to show that they are more than a group stage them with the acquisition of Oscar “mixwell” Canellas. So far the Spaniard has performed well with the team online but whether their double AWP will work on LAN is up in the air. The world number 1 was forced to make a roster change after Olofmeister had to step down for an unknown period due to personal issues.
The latter was replaced by Richard “Xizt” Landstrom the former captain of NIP. The one is surely a mystery too many as Xizt is typically not know for his fragging abilities but it will interest to see how he adapts to Olofs positions and to see if this Faze lineup can keep their top ranking. Finally, the last major move saw the former SK Gaming member Epitacio “TACO” de Melo join forces with Team Liquid, arguably the best North American team at the moment is looking to make even more noise at major lans. With this addition upgrading their support role, star players with Elige and NAF will have to show up and capitalize on this.
No matter what team you look at with a new roster all of them have sometime to prove. Questions to answer and critiques to silence.
Invaders from Space.
Space Soldiers have been dominating as of late, recently qualifying for 3 major LANs in the coming months. IEM Sydney, Pro League Finals and ESL Belo Horizonte will all see the Turkish side attending. Along with securing a spot in Marseille, XANTARES and co. are ready to make the noise. The main driving force behind this team is the trio of XANTARES, Calyx and Paz. The three have been the spearhead for their recent success, XANTARES has been stellar posting an average 1.42 rating over the last 3 online qualifiers. Many eyes will be on Space Soldiers in the coming months as they have many chances to impress and solidify themselves as a consistent top 10 team. And with a fellow Turkish awper turning heads for his recent performances at lans in w0xic, it is unclear if things do not go their way if he they will settle the tussle between the two and link up. Much is yet to be made of the Turkish side, they will be definitely a team to keep an eye out over the next couple months.
Will the French show up?
For G2 and Envyus the two premier French sides results have been far from spectacular as of late. G2 mentioned above have added mixwell to their roster. The Spanish hybrid player has been impressive as of late as G2 is looking to rebound from their sub par start to Pro League and qualify for the finals in Dallas. The top French side is looking to make noise on home soil, Apex has been on form recently and he will have to show up and our duel many if they look to make a deep run. On the other French side is Envyus as G2 is on the rise again Envyus are without a doubt on the decline. Falling out of the top 30 rankings over the last week has become a new low for Happy and crew. Over, the course of April they have posted a shocking 9-14 map count as long as sitting in last place in ECS and 12th in Pro League. This may be one of the final nails in the coffin for nV, after failing to qualify for any of the upcoming lans, Marseille is surely the only chance they have left. Not being relegated from either of the online leagues will help salvage a so far miserable 2018.
One last chance at redemption and for another a chance to prove they are more than just a group stage team. Both French sides want to play in front of their home crowd.
Players to Watch.
1. dev1ce – Astralis -> The Danish superstar looks to be back to his dominate form. After a terrible Major and recovering from his recent illness it looks like Astralis and himself are looking to contend for another title in Marseille.
2. paz – Space Soldiers -> The third component to the Turkish trio has been getting a lot of praise for his form over the recent weeks. It will be pivotal for him to frag out for Space Soldiers to make a statement.
3. FNS – Cloud 9 -> The former Complexity IGL is now under the brightest spotlight under the Cloud 9 badge. All eyes are on FNS this weekend to see if this was surely the right pickup for the former major champs.
4. xccuarte – Tyloo -> After proving the doubters wrong at WESG and Starladder, the young Indonesian will look to carry his form into France to potentially cause upsets and get China back to the top 20.
5. seized – Gambit -> A recent leadership change at the Bet.net Masters has seen the former Navi captain once again be in charge. Thie Gambit team has been experiencing a leadership struggle as of late and if the Navi IGL seized shows up, then Gambit are in trouble.
Predictions (Top 8).
- 1. Astralis
- 2. mousesports
- 3/4. Team Liquid
- 3/4. G2 Esports
- 5-8. Fnatic
- 5-8. SK Gaming
- 5-8. Faze
- 5-8. Navi
What team do you see taking the top prize in Marseille? Comment your predictions below!
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