The competition is heating up in Atlanta at the ELEAGUE Premier beyond the rising summer temperatures; from eight top-seeded teams diminished to only four, there’s little room for error as the remaining band sail off into the weekend’s playoffs.
A lofty $1 million (£762,770) prize pool has every squad playing for keeps, and with only the “world’s best teams” participating at this event, the pressure is surmounting rapidly. We’re walking you through which teams to look out for during the last leg of this event in this week’s ESI Gambling Report, powered by Thunderpick.
Astralis vs. mousesports
After failing to capture the ESL One Cologne title, the Astralis reign status quo that had been established over the last several months was put into question. Undoubtedly, the bout between them and Na’Vi which showed the Danes an unexpectedly early exit in Cologne was a tight race – everyone expected a lot more from them; with that being said, there was a lot riding on Astralis moving into the ELEAGUE Premier.
Back with a vengeance, the Astralis we’ve seen thus has appeared to mirror that same velocity we’ve become accustomed to. Looking past a dodgy Cloud9 squad forcing an overtime scenario against the Danes during their opening map, Astralis picked up some serious steam and hasn’t let up since. In their match against Liquid, the Danes displayed aggressiveness leading to consecutive round wins with little-to-no room for their challengers to enforce a comeback. Individually, the members of Astralis are leading the tournament in kills, damage, headshots and ratings – most of these stats are home to Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, but it’s clear his explosiveness has been infectious for the rest of the Danish outfit. Astralis has a tough match ahead of them though – before reaching the finals, they’ll have to outclass a resilient mousesports in a best-of-three semi-final match. This’ll be a challenging match-up for Astralis if mousesports show up on Saturday with the same energy they’ve maintained against the other top teams at this event.
Astralis is definitely the better team, but if they show any signs of weakness against mouz, it could be fatal.
Last week, we pinned mousesports as a wildcard, not knowing which variation of the team would show up at the ELEAGUE Premier, it’s evident we got one of the best versions of the crew playing in Atlanta. Mousesports showed a bulk of resilience against formidable squads like Na’Vi, Fnatic, and FaZe Clan, clinching a win or two where most analysts had counted them out. The team provided some of the most exciting games this tournament, displaying a wealth of dexterity and strategy that had all of us on the edge of our seats – mouz even gave Na’Vi a run for their money in their clash. In the face of a death group, mousesports showed the severe toughness that gained our respect and given them a glimmer of hope moving into the playoffs this weekend. Collectively, the team has been playing exceptionally – Tomáš “oskar” Šťastný, Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski and Miikka “suNny” Kemppi have all risen to the occasion after being pitted in such a tough group, rewarding them with a well-earned playoff spot. It’s worth noting however that mousesports has wrestled big-time on Train; each of their losses were dealt out on the map, only securing an unconvincing win on Train against Fnatic, 16-14.
Keeping these stats in mind, drawing this map against Astralis would believably be troublesome for mousesports – and in a best-of-three format against a team of Astralis’ calibre, every map is already stretching. All hope isn’t lost for Mousesports though – in this form, the squad has a real shot at challenging Astralis. The Danes have lacked that elite exposure this tournament while mousesports has been through the ringer, well-practised and emerged on top.
If they can topple the Danes in this semi-final match, they might just have a shot at the title – we’re pinning them as the dark horse here, or should we say dark mouse?
Team Liquid vs. Na’Vi
Having shown little promise in the months leading up to the ELEAGUE Premier, no one really expected Liquid to do anything big this tournament. After acquiring Brazilian superstar fragger, Epitácio “TACO” de Melo, Liquid were projected to place well at events following the transfer given the firepower inclusive of their current roster.
Skill-wise, Liquid ranks highly in terms of sheer talent, and not many teams can rival them when it comes to individual ability. However, this hasn’t been the case for Liquid – the team has undeniably struggled to ‘find themselves’ and snag a title win in a long time. In spite of losing two of their lead fraggers, Tarik “Tarik” Celik and Jake “Stewie2k” Yip to MIBR, we’re finally seeing some adroitness from Liquid. With the group having seemingly settled into their roster, we saw some dominating exhibitions against MIBR and Cloud9 – closing out each match with relative ease. Against Astralis however, it was a completely different story – the team was overpowered by the Danes, only challenging them slightly on Nuke, the rest of the series was a wash for Liquid.
We’ll give it to you straight; it’d be an utter miracle to see Liquid survive Na’Vi in the semi-finals, let alone contest the winner of an Astralis versus mousesports prizefight.
While we’re happy to see Liquid finally starting to show signs of life, it just doesn’t seem plausible to imagine they can keep pace with any of the three teams remaining in this tournament.
After Na’Vi’s extraordinary ESL One Cologne win, the team has garnered a volume of respect among other top CS:GO competitors. With such a dynamic and talented composition, it shouldn’t have come to that much of a surprise when they knocked out Astralis in Cologne and trounced a high-toned BIG on their home turf.
It’s safe to say Na’Vi has maintained this championship status here in Atlanta – sealing their opening and winner’s match, seeding them in the playoffs. Albeit, the wins against Fnatic and mousesports weren’t as commanding as you’d expect – both being taken to the third map – they were still hard-earned victories against two class teams. Liquid shouldn’t be a problem for Na’Vi in their semi-final match – but we wouldn’t go as far as to discount them yet.
Na’Vi is surely the more robust squad of the two – however, this configuration of Liquid might have some room for an upset, just don’t bet your bank on it. A potential pitting against mouz or Astralis will unquestionably be a tight running. As predicted, Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Denis “electronic” Sharipov would show up in Atlanta with the same flashy frags and brilliance that set them apart in Cologne – couple these two stars with a similar aptness coming from the rest of the squad and you’ve got a pretty fierce contender on your hands. Assuming a Grand Finals matchup between mousesports or Astralis, these can truly go either way – we’re firmly under the impression that Na’vi could both win or lose to these squads and it’ll really depend on the maps being played and who can come out the gates stronger. Astralis seems to be the better team, therefore a clash between the two would require a Herculean effort on the part of Na’Vi; despite just recently besting the Danes in their last meeting, we’re not convinced this is a routine outcome between the two superteams, yet.
While mouz might be an easier draw for Na’Vi on paper, the group has shown a cluster of reasons to not discount them in these last two rounds; one thing both teams have in common is stamina – the ability to go 70 or 80 rounds in a match without slowing down. Given the likeness in quality between Na’Vi and Mousesports at the ELEAGUE Premier, this potential face-off would definitely be an exciting one, regardless of the outcome.
Delivering on their promise of brandishing the best team in the world, the ELEAGUE Premier has already shaped up to be a cracker of an event; but the action isn’t over yet – in fact, this playoff lineup has moulds of being the most intriguing of them all.
Gear up for two exciting days of Counter-Strike, and if you do choose to wager on any of the matches, ESI reminds you to bet responsibly!