How Is The ESL Pro League Looking So Far?
For the first time in a long, long time, a S-Tier Counter-Strike event is being held online as opposed to being in an offline studio.
19:34 20 March 2020
the results have already shown some true shocks. The first, second and fifth best teams in the world have already tasted defeat against sides thought well outside of their skill level and the ever evolving crisis outside the game is helping shift the dynamics in the Esports world everyday.
Here’s our take on how the action has shaped up so far.
New Maps Throwing Up The Shocks
At the recent IEM Katowice tournament, the latest event coming into the Pro League, most of the sides present were the top tier sides that have become used to playing eachother frequently. As such, they had the luxury of choosing maps from a pool whose current meta is so distinctive for the best sides in the rest of the world.
However, we’ve already seen the likes of Fnatic run into a couple of hiccups in the European Qualifying Minors on a number of maps recently, and that trend has so far continued at ESL.
At Katowice, it was clear which maps the top teams preferred. Dust 2 was played 17 times in total and Inferno was picked 13, with one of those two maps present in almost every series. Whilst Nuke came up as a third favourite at 11, the next nearest, Vertigo and Mirage, both came way behind at 9 picks each.
However, at ESL Pro League, the maps have been much more diverse. Dust 2 is still out ahead at the time of writing at 5, however Mirage is joint top with 5. Inferno has 4 picks to its name, however that is still the same amount as Nuke and Vertigo, maps known for being left out in the cold by top tier pros.
Not only are these maps unrefined, unoptimised and alien to the top sides, at the time of writing Na’Vi, Astralis and Fnatic have dropped 9 maps between them, but they often bring a whole host of tactics and strategies to them that LAN sides are accustomed to, but offline sides haven’t seen before.
Old Habits Die Hard For Na’Vi
Natus Vincere were always known as being a side blessed with all the talent in the world, however they were a roster prone to infights and were bailed out by the genius of S1mple far too many times.
The stars seemed to be aligning however at Katowice where the Ukrainean/Russian roster suddenly began clicking and put a truly spellbinding series of displays together. The side really came into their on the stage however, dismantling the mighty Astralis 2-0 and romping to the title with a 3-0 over G2. They soared up to the very top of the latest HLTV rankings heading into ESL, were amongst the leading lights in the latest esports betting markets at Unikrn, but have so far really struggled.
Whether the shift to an online format and the lack of a collective house, or simply burnout from their performances at Katowice, something hasn’t looked right with Na’Vi so far. Whilst S1mple continues to put up some truly staggering numbers (81-36 KD against BIG), the side just look so tentative and disjointed with their plays.
At the time of writing, Na’Vi remain at the very bottom of Group B and face a serious uphill battle trying to scrape into the top two now, with a game against a reinvigorated Fnatic looming large and being potentially crucial to their league season now.