G2 Esports will face SK Gaming, and Team Liquid will play North in the semifinals of the ESL Pro League Season 5, which begin Saturday. But there’s been a week of matches and plenty to digest, so let’s take a look at the biggest developments to this point of the event.
EnVyUs bounced back after a 0-2 start to the event by rattling off victories against Cloud9, Immortals and SK on Wednesday to reach the Round of 6. EnVy beat both Fnatic and SK in overtime tiebreaker matches and to join its french comrades in the playoffs. After assembling the current roster, EnVy lost its first three maps on LAN at Dreamhack Open Tours. Considering the team battled back from a two loss deficit in the more difficult group, this accomplishment carries weight — even if that journey came to an end Thursday in a 2-1 loss to Liquid.
Liquid steps up and the rest of North America disappoints.
Cloud9 and NRG amassed one win and a combined round differential of -52 over 10 maps. Neither team looked comfortable, except for the solo win by Cloud9 against G2. OpTic Gaming missed the playoffs with its only wins occurring against NRG and a dysfunctional Natus Vincere. Those three teams and their performance once again reinforce the wide gap that exists between North America and Europe. Meanwhile, Team Liquid qualified for the the quarterfinal and beat EnVyUs 2-1 to advance to the semifinals against North. Playing North is the best chance for Liquid to proceed, with SK and G2 on the other end of the bracket. Reaching the finals, even in a somewhat diluted pool, would be a great step for this relatively new Liquid roster.
Fnatic shows improvement
After a heartbreaking exit from the event, Fnatic should feel confident heading into next month’s PGL Major. Fnatic’s performance in Dallas was its best by far since reassembling the lineup that dominated the latter half of 2015 and early 2016. The players look more confident, and fans had to feel a bit nostalgic as they beat up on teams like Cloud9, Immortals and EnVyUs. Two losses at the hands of SK Gaming and G2 Esports — the best two teams in attendance — ultimately put Fnatic in a tough situation. Losing overtime tiebreakers can be disheartening, but this team has the experience to learn from it. I expect Fnatic to bounce back at ESL One Cologne and make a deep run into the playoffs.
Na’Vi is in trouble
There are clear issues with Na’Vi, and time is running out to fix them. Even after getting into the easier group, Na’Vi fumbled the opportunity with only two wins coming against NRG and Team Liquid. Those who watched the matches saw over-extension on both sides of the game and terrible communication. This performance is quite similar to what we saw last month at DreamHack Tours. Changes to their lineup are necessary, especially if Na’Vi wants to retain its legends spot in Krakow next month.
SK Gaming continues to dominate
Despite cutting it close with a tiebreaker, SK Gaming has yet again made it into the playoffs. SK thoroughly handled an impressive mousesports team that decided to play SK’s three best maps in Mirage, Cache and Cobblestone. They only needed the first two and did away with Mouz, looking exceptional heading into the weekend. SK will meet G2 in the semifinals Saturday, which could easily be the best series of the entire event. Marcelo “Coldzera” David continues to demonstrate his world renown form with a +17 K/D and 95 ADR over 47 rounds against Mouz. SK has the form and map pool advantage against G2, who will have to bring its A game to escape with a win against the Brazilian superstars.
Cover photo courtesy of DreamHack