Group A of ESL Pro League will commence tomorrow. Six teams are fighting for three playoffs spots and for the lion’s share of a $750.000 prize pool. The group features BIG, Heroic, Complexity, OG, Renegades, and FunPlus Phoenix. Can the best German team set themselves on top of these opponents to make first place?
Even though the playing field of Group A features only few top teams, BIG are currently not in their best shape. While they did have a great start to the year, they suddenly made last place at IEM Katowice 2021.
Heroic defeated them on a convincing 2-0 scoreline, but now, the Danish team enters the server with two new players. Ismail “refrezh” Ali and Rasmus “sjuush” Beck have left MAD Lions in favor of Heroic, replacing Nikolaj “niko” Kristensen and Johannes “b0RUP” Borup. After Heroic have had an unsuccessful run in these past few months, the two star talents are supposed to breathe fresh air into the roster. The players have definitely proven to be capable of such a feat, but it stands to question whether Heroic will have prepared enough in such little time.
OG AND FPX FEATURE STAND-INS
No one knows what the future holds for OG. After Nathan “NBK-” Schmitt has been removed from the roster, rumors indicated that Heroic’s own niko would eventually become the new fifth man. While there hasn’t been any official statement on this, the Dane will already work as a stand-in for OG during ESL Pro League. This might just mean that OG want to try him out before committing to this roster.
FunPlus Phoenix are stuck in a similar situation. They had brought in Chris “ChrisJ” de Jong on loan from mousesports, but apparently FPX weren’t all too happy with the Dutch player. Miikka “sunny” Kemppi now takes his place and will lead the international team into battle. With just a few days of preparation, the team should struggle to compete, but the other teams in the group are also not playing to their best abilities.
Group A – WHERE OPPORTUNITIES ARISE! ?
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COMPLEXITY IN A DOWNWARD SPIRAL?
Benjamin “blameF” Bremer and his men have had a particularly weak start into the year. Following the return of Valentin “poizon” Vasilev, they put up a great show for a few matches, but at IEM Katowice they didn’t even get past the Play-In Stage. Their losses to mousesports and the Ninjas in Pyjamas didn’t look too inspiring. Only Renegades and FunPlus Phoenix are struggling just enough so that Complexity might be able to score some points – even with their current bad form. This unfortunately means that they will have a hard time making it into the playoffs.
THREE SPOTS ARE UP FOR GRABS
Despite their IEM Katowice blunder, BIG have the biggest shot at making first place in Group A. With their two new players, Heroic have the ability to surprise and score upsets. Complexity will try to catch up to the level they displayed last fall. If niko can bring his individual level to the server again, OG will certainly bring the heat to their opponents. For Renegades and FPX, however, only upsets remain as a way to make it to the playoffs.