ESL Pro League Season 14 sparked to life with Group C being decided on the final round of fixtures with four teams in the running for a spot at the playoffs, and the excitement looks set to continue with Group D kicking off immediately after. Here are some of the best storylines you should keep an eye out for as the final round of group stage fixtures play out…
Liquid carrying NA’s hopes
The online era has been a disruptive, frustrating time for all orgs outside of EU, but Team Liquid have found things especially hard to navigate through. A side that have grown accustomed to rubbing shoulders with the very best in the world at the most prestigious of events, the online era has seen a recurring theme of Liquid isolated away from the action in their home region, losing out on valuable practice time, before jetting off to EU and being immediately up against the odds.
So far at EPL Season 14, NA’s representatives haven’t been able to do the region much justice, with both Bad News Bears and Evil Geniuses being eliminated without a single series win to their name, so hopes now turn to Liquid in Group D.
The org are certainly the best-placed side in the region to do some damage at the tournament in terms of the talent they possess in their lineup, with the spotlight undoubtedly on Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip, both of whom have gone missing at times for Liquid recent times.
Team Liquid were knocked out of IEM Cologne with just one series win to their name before the player break, so a strong showing at ESL Pro League would be the perfect remedy for the team’s recent blips in form.
FURIA and Team One to produce a Brazilian Clasico
Brazilian CS has seen some major shakeups over the past year or so, with the likes of O PLANO and GODSENT emerging to stack the region, however, it is FURIA and Team One that arrive at Pro League as its sole representatives.
Both sides have been drawn together in Group D for the event and, whilst twenty-nine places are separating them in the HLTV world rankings currently, there’s plenty to suggest this Brazilian Clasico could be much closer to call than one might think. Time and time again form and placements have gone out of the window when a Brazilian derby has come to the server, and the recent news that head coach Nicholas “guerri” Nogueira is having to fill in for FURIA for the event will surely narrow the odds further.
Team One qualified for Pro League after a long campaign at ESEA Season 37: Premier Division – North America, whereas for FURIA, guerri filling in is just the latest in a growing list of roster reshuffling the org have done throughout the year hoping to find a consistent winning formula, showcasing just how close things could turn out to be when the two sides lock horns in the second round of fixtures.
NIP to finally deliver?
If Ninjas in Pyjamas are ever going to convince the community that this new era of theirs is ever going to result in a potentially Major-challenging side, the org need to start delivering some better results at tournaments like Pro League.
It’s been over four months since Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz broke the Esports world with his jaw-dropping move to the Swedes but, a runners-up finish at Flashpoint 3 aside, results have hardly been what most in the community were expecting. The side have dropped down to 9th in the HLTV world rankings, and have frequently looked short of spark when it’s come to taking on the teams immediately above them.
With only Gambit and possibly Liquid being the only real threats to NIP, qualifying out of Group D in the ESL Pro League shouldn’t pose too many hazards for the Swedes, however, there’s a growing sense that now is the time for the org to start laying down some statements of intent, picking up some big wins and going deep into these sorts of competitions. There’s a lot of investment and expectation riding on NIP’s performances these days, so the pressure is well and truly on for the Swedes at EPL Season 14.