The second stage of the FACEIT London Major has dished out a handful of stunners early in this tournament meanwhile squads have risen to the occasion to perform at the notorious event. A lofty $1,000,000 prize pool underlines each match in this fierce contest where legends are either born or forgotten; we’re providing you details on who we suspect will parlay their momentum into the Champions Stage in this week’s ESI Gambling Report, Powered by Thunderpick.
Ninjas in London
Up until their first loss in the Major against Team Liquid, Ninjas in Pyjamas were undefeated and looked to have finally resurfaced to the top of the barrel; having toppled the likes of Virtus.Pro, TyLoo, and Astralis in quadruple overtime (yes, you read that right) NiP showed remnants of their storied legacy that once encapsulated CSGO. A win against Mousesports reinforced the point that NiP shouldn’t be taken lightly regardless of what prior tournament placements or absence of should incline one to assume; despite losing to Liquid in a hard-fought battle, they were able to unnerve the North American giants, a statement in of itself. In a tournament of this calibre, studying your opponents is essential when so much is at stake and NiP is a team who have seemingly done their homework; entering each match-up you can almost feel their confidence through the screen with beautifully choreographed strategies that have established them as a threat in London. The squad won’t catch a break as they continue to skirmish against the upper-percentile of teams, truly testing their resilience – in this case, that obstacle is Na’Vi.
Speaking of this talented Ukrainian squad – a lot of us are left scratching our heads, wondering where the Na’Vi we witnessed triumph at ESL Cologne went. Having been shown what was thought to be a premature exit for the squad at the ELEAGUE Premier and a 5-8th finish at Dreamhack Masters Stockholm (against later champions, North) it was honest to be slightly sceptical regarding the current formation.
Na’Vi would be forced to kick things into gear early in their Major outing as they drew global leaders Astralis in the first round of the Legends Stage. While the score (14-16) would reflect a tight running between the two, it never really seemed that close. Looking past a sluggish start from Na’Vi, the team had visible struggles during their match against the #1 ranked side in which you could clearly see frustration and flummox stemming from the players. Even wielding, whom many consider the best fragger in the game right now, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, it’s difficult to overlook the clear trivial harmony issues that are too large to ignore. Don’t get me wrong, if the entire squad can get firing on all cylinders, they are a clear contender to survive this stage and wage war at the main event – however, we’re just not seeing that explosive squad at the moment.
Rebranded and reborn
Facing very believable struggles early on after welcoming two American players onto their predominantly Portuguese-speaking squadron, MIBR is finally showing signs of life and it’s just-in-time for the major. The newly rebranded SK Gaming team took a first-round loss to a hardy TyLoo side but responded by trouncing Mousesports in commanding fashion. Taking note of the post-game coverage provided to us, Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo was very confident in saying that the loss against TyLoo was “the only loss they’ll have this tournament” – while delivered with a noticeable hint of sarcasm, MIBR appears to be ringing with confidence and you can see this in their gameplay. FalleN additionally mentioned the culture shift fostered in-lieu of their newest addition, YNK, as a head coach; citing that the group had become “close friends” in which spotlighting a misstep or poor play became a mere shrug of the shoulders while YNK is enforcing player accountability for mistakes which may cost them a match.
In light of these roster changes and coaching expertise, MIBR is a deadly squad that has likely not even come close to their full potential yet; having banded together so recently seeing them falter to top organizations wouldn’t be unthinkable, although, if they continue to make things ‘click’ as they are, they should be closely monitored by their opposition.
A literal dark horse of the event, Team Liquid faced several turbulent months after acquiring Epitácio “TACO” de Melo in which they regularly failed to meet expectations. Well, things have changed. Liquid is looking more confident and stronger than ever, currently sitting at the top of the table where many believed them to belong; now, arguably their toughest challenge yet at this event – they must square up against Astralis. Going up against the Danes is no easy feat, and while they accumulated a single loss against NiP in the Challengers Stage in what proved to be a fight to the death, they’ve maintained their blueblood in every match moving forward.
In-game leader Nick “nitr0” Cannella, seemed very confident after their win against NiP – he admitted this was the greatest variation of the team during his lengthy career with Liquid. After solidifying their spot in the 2-0 bracket nitr0 was quoted by HLTV saying “I’m hoping we get Astralis, we can definitely put up a good show and a good fight” – and they got that wish. But how will they fare against the world’s best? It’s tough to call at this point – Liquid has shown a valiant amount of vigour thus far at the Major but their opponents haven’t quite been of Astralis calibre. The Danes are favourites to win, however, we do think Liquid has a fair shot at this if they play their cards right.
The London Major is getting spicier by the day – with teams like NiP making a major comeback and powerhouses such as Astralis showing a bit of mortality, you are not going to want to skip a game as the event progresses. We’ll continue to follow the action and break down all the latest developments through the tournament – if you do decide to wager on any of the matches, Esports Insider reminds you to bet responsibly!