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Fabio | 20. September 2020

ESL Pro League EU: Regular Season Review

The regular season of ESL Pro League concluded yesterday with its very last matches. Now, the playoffs are ahead of us and we will soon discuss the chances of the teams in attendance. However, it might be sensible to first take a look at the past games of the league. In this season, a lot of crazy stuff has happened.

FAZE CLAN & G2 ESPORTS DISAPPOINT

What is there to say about this team that hasn’t been said already? FaZe are at the absolute end of their wits with this roster. The addition of Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye has given them nothing and now Nikola “NiKo” Kovač appears to have one foot out of the door already. At the moment, G2 Esports are being carried by their Eastern European arm. François “AmaNEk” Delaunay is the only Frenchman with a positive rating. Both Kenny “KennyS” Schrub and Audric “JaCkz” Jug finished with 0.90 ratings for the season.

So the signing of NiKo might not be such a bad thing after all. In G2, he would unite with his cousin, Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač, and finally have a capable in-game-leader to rely on in Nemanja “nexa” Isaković. Ever since the departure of Finn “karrigan” Andersen, FaZe had lacked such a player.

MOUSESPORTS ARE SLOWLY COMING BACK

While we’re talking about karrigan – the player appears to finally have left his team’s horrible Summer performance behind. Now, the mouz players are capable of contending with the top teams again. After they had exited ESL One Cologne in last place a month ago, they’re now firmly planted in the playoffs of ESL Pro League. While the fourth place in Group B doesn’t exactly scream ‘world dominance’, their improvements are visible. David “frozen” Čerňanský in particular is back at a level that we have missed from him for quite a while now. In their group, they were only overtaken by Astralis, Complexity, and Spirit. The latter have really delivered a beautiful season.

SPIRIT UPSET GROUP B WITH A 3RD PLACE FINISH

With the Ninjas in Pyjamas, fnatic and FaZe Clan at the bottom of the standings, it is quite a surprise to see Spirit on third place in the standings. But the team has really had an impressive run so far with some incredible victories. Vitality, mousesports, FaZe and NiP were all on their bucket list and they crossed them out in absolute style. Nikolay “mir” Bityukov has really stolen the show from his colleagues and a lot of star players as well. With his 1.18 rating across the EPL season, he has certainly taken out a lot of opponents and persevered in critical situations.

But can Spirit retain this level? The teams of Group A will definitely not make the mistake of underestimating them. Not after Spirit have already managed to take down Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut.

COMPLEXITY & NAVI SURPRISE

In a Group alongside fnatic, Vitality and Astralis, Complexity’s chances weren’t exactly great. At ESL One Cologne, they had exited in the Quarter Finals, whereas Vitality, for example, had managed to go all the way to the Grand Finals. But during this EPL season, Complexity have been able to reach new heights. They were fueled by their in-game-leader Benjamin “blameF” Bremer, who hasn’t just done the mind work, but also delivered on the fragging aspect of the game. His value in the international context is steadily rising, as there are very few callers capable of being the top performers for their team as well.

If they hadn’t lost their last match versus FaZe, they would have led their group in first place. Under those circumstances, however, they were “only” able to make second place. They have still displayed a better performance than most of the top teams of the league, though. Their chances in the playoffs are considerably high now.

HEROIC ONLY MIDDLE-OF-THE-PACK

There’s not a lot left of their ESL One Cologne victory. The impact of Nicolai “HUNDEN” Petersen has arguably been quite massive, as his departure has led the team to break down almost entirely. During the first play-days in ESL Pro League, they lost their engagements against ENCE and AGO, and could only narrowly scrape past GODSENT.

However, they have slowly stabilised throughout the season and have certainly posted some better results lately. Still, they’re a long way off the level that they showed against Vitality in the ESL One Cologne Grand Finals. Casper “cadiaN” Møller has to prove that he can call as great as HUNDEN and lead his team to victory just as much. The star players also need to be re-activated. Martin “stavn” Lund earned himself a solid 1.11 rating across the regular season, but the rest of his team laggs behind a lot. René “TeSeS” Madsen has experienced a particularly severe dip in performance. He has a lot of catching up to do in the playoffs, after Heroic narrowly secured their ticket to the next phase.

THE NEW ASTRALIS SEEMS TO BE WORKING FINE

The Danes were able to show up strong with Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander again. Patrick “es3tag” Hansen plays like a fully-fledged part of the roster and manages to fill the void left by Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth. But we haven’t seen Lucas “Bubzkji” Andersen live just yet. The 7th man of the roster is currently biding his time on the substitute bench. However, coach Danny “zonic” Sørensen has promised us that all players will be actively used in matches in the months to come. So we can expect Bubzkji to finally be in action at some tournament or another. Astralis have only lost to Complexity and were able to post a +70 round difference in EPL. This sets them on top of all teams, which includes Group A as well.

Actually, es3tag even leads the standings for his team. With a 1.23 rating in EPL, he is a tiny cut above Nicolai “device” Reedtz and Emil “magisk” Reif. After this dominant display throughout the season, they would surely like to revisit their match against Complexity. Today, they might actually take the win home and not suffer two overtime losses.

Before the playoffs, we will take a closer look at the teams and analyze their chances going into the bracket. Until then, the teams will have more than a week to prepare. From the regular season, they should have gathered more than enough resources to really dissect their opponents and learn to counter them as well. The teams will enter the playoffs with lots of preparation and hopefully in top form. So we can expect to witness an exciting conclusion to this ESL Pro League season.