ELEAGUE Premier 2018 Winners and Losers
Astralis are creating an era and it looks like there are few who can stop them, and their former rivals FaZe Clan have had a major fall from grace.
While Astralis demonstrated their clear superiority over the rest of the competition, the team has not yet sealed an official era even if they are close. The current state of the scene is so fluid outside of Astralis that it is near impossible to tell what team will perform well (Team Liquid) or poorly (FaZe Clan) give or take the event. Natus Vincere had a clear shot at the throne, but unfortunately, the coachless Liquid showed their affinity for second place.
The clear winners, Astralis are gunning not only for the large prize pool and prestige of the ELEAGUE trophy but the establishment of an era unlike no other. While they did lose ESL One Cologne 2018 placing a mere 3rd-4th, the Danes were shockingly dominant against all of their challengers in Atlanta. Despite possessing a roster that any one member can go absolutely bonkers on a map, Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz was the standout as he absolutely fed on the North American competition.
Despite the adversity of not having their all-star coach Wilton “zews” Prado and the heartbreaking news that Epitacio “TACO” de Melo’s father passed away, Team Liquid overcame the odds and made an impressive run to the title game. While they ultimately fell short, the team bought a lot of goodwill after having the worst possible ESL One Cologne possible.
While the team feels like it his hitting a plateau, losing to the most dominant team in recent memory without your coach after beating Na’Vi is not the worst storyline for the reigning kings of the Americas. With regional rivals mibr (ex-SK Gaming), Cloud9, and NRG weak due to roster moves and tournament disappointments, this is the perfect time for Team Liquid to prove they can be a long-term number one in the Americas.
The tournament organizer took a risk dropping Richard Lewis from his iconic spot on the ELEAGUE desk, but the tournament went very well with viewership doing well in spite of competition from the Overwatch League First Finals and Fortnite’s Summer Showdown. As per usual, ELEAGUE’s strong production prowess showed as the tournament had few breaks for technical pauses and the event was smoother than a gla1ve 4k on Mirage.
For ELEAGUE the event was a big test to see how the company could continue working in the CS:GO space as that was the Turner Sports owned company’s initial foray and since has seen success on both TBS and Twitch with esports and fighting game such as Rocket League and Street Fighter V. Having a successful event made the announcement of another event presumably in Atlanta was proof of the team’s faith in the esport and one can only pray that we will see a return to the televised weekly CS:GO that the original ELEAGUE season’s provided.
Not everyone can be a winner and while Na’Vi and Mouz made top four and FaZe Clan had their first event back with Olaf “Olofmeister” Gustafsson, they were major losers for reasons beyond their placements.
The much-hyped return of Olof to the active lineup did not go as planned as the star-studded lineup wasted hard carry Nikola “NiKo” Kovacs in form. Despite not having Astralis in their group, FaZe Clan would go down in order to Mousesports and Fnatic. Why FaZe only managed to win one map out of five and finish in the same place as fellow ELEAGUE Boston Major grand finalist Cloud9 cannot be blamed on one player, but Havard “rain” Nygaard did not have a good performance.
Perhaps this was a transitional event after losing their long-term stand-in Jorgen “cromen” Roberttsen, but the results are unacceptable for one of the few squads who has gone toe to toe with Astralis. Finn “karrigan” Andersen will need to draw up a new gameplan quick or the team might be looking at replacing some players post the major.
Na’Vi was hailed as the anti-Astralis as the CIS squad has powered through three straight events including a crowning at the Cathedral of Counter-Strike with a 3-1 grand final win over BIG. While the squad won their group, they were swiftly 2-0d in the semi-finals by a Team Liquid who placed last at ESL One: Cologne. Crazy? Well Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev probably should’ve asked for a hair plug from Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken as the Canadian was the only Super Saiyan in the server and Denis “electronic” Sharipov was not carrying his usual weight.
In an interview with HLTV, Keith “NAF” Markovic said he felt that Liquid matched up very well with Na’Vi which does not bode well for Na’Vi’s chances at challenging Astralis in the future. Maybe NAF’s comments about Na’Vi will give the team more motivation to prove people wrong and emerge as the tactical alternative to Astralis or Na’Vi will be dragged down by a lack of firepower.
The other international top team not named FaZe did make top four, but an absolute thrashing by Astralis on usual home territory for Mouz completely decimated any hope I had for this new team. I was never onboard for Mouz spending big money on signing former Polish star Janusz “Snax” Pogorzieski, but the team has multiple let downs to blame.
Outside of Chris “ChrisJ” de Jong, no one on the team looks particularly reliable, and that is a major problem for a team on paper with limitless firepower. For Mousesports to pose a threat in the future, the team will have to figure out why star players are not feeling at home on maps such as Mirage, Nuke, and Inferno which used to be Mouz’ bread and butter or Astralis will be cat to their mouz.
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