As the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals come to a close, we wanted to see what each team had accomplished and in which direction the various rosters will go in the future.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
The only full Swedish team to attend this event was Ninjas in Pyjamas. They fared pretty decently at this event, making it to the semifinals only to be knocked out by SK Gaming 2-1. In the group stage, the Swedes had quite a rollercoaster in terms of results, losing to Team Dignitas and Cloud9 while retreiving 3 wins against NRG, FaZe Clan and SK Gaming. This put them at a 3-2 win-loss ratio and got them into the playoffs. The first match that they played was against EnVyUs, where they won 2-0, only having the second map to really contest with the French. It went all the way to overtime and NiP managed to win narrowly with a 19-17 scoreline. However, this success would soon be over as the Brazilians halted them in their tracks in the semifinals 2-1. They did put up a decent fight, and based on the skill levels of both teams, the main overall deciding factor was the choosing of the maps which benefited SK Gaming.
What We Learned: Ninjas in Pyjamas can still fair really well against top level teams on LAN, even with a stand-in.
One of the European teams at the event did surprisingly well, also making it to the semifinals. During the group stage, they had 3 really nice wins against Liquid, EnVyUs and OpTiC, only losing to the other half of the Brazilian duo, Immortals. After defeating 3 teams who are above them in most online rankings, they successfully secured a spot in the semifinals where they would have to face tournament winners and North American rivals, Cloud9. Unfortunately, the Europeans lost 2-0 to the Americans and left in #3/4 place at the event. A very outstanding performance for a team of this caliber.
What We Learned: Mousesports are slowly coming back from a mid-2016 slump and have received great results to show it.
FaZe came into this tournament as one of the lesser teams, and were looking to showcase their stacked and talented roster. Unfortunately, they went out in the group stage of the event. On the bright side, they did manage to win 2 of their matches, one of which was against rising stars Dignitas. As they didn’t get into the playoffs, there isn’t much to highlight for the European lineup, but here’s hoping they get their team back on track soon.
What We Learned: FaZe Clan, although they look amazing on paper with their ‘all aim, no brain’ roster, they simply haven’t shown up to major events and something definitely needs to change.
The formerly glorious French roster of EnVyUs had a fairly decent run at this tournament, even with the new addition of SIXER. The French got off to an amazing start in the group stage, winning very convincingly over their first 3 opponents. None of the teams that they faced in the first 3 matches managed to get over 5 rounds total, completely dominating the group. After winning the first matches of the group stage, they still had to face 2 more opponents. Unfortunately, they couldn’t manage to go for a 4-0 streak into the playoffs, only losing to Mousesports in their final match. After a phenomenal group stage performance, they had to face fellow Swedish rivals, NiP in the quarterfinals. However, at this tournament the Swedes defeated the French without much effort, knocking them out of Brazil with a 2-0 victory.
What We Learned: EnVyUs still has what it takes to be a top tier team again and not much is needed in order to see yet another dominant French team once again.
The most recent tournament winner at the event was Dignitas, who have proven themselves to be the best Danish team in the world at the moment and as well as a top 3 team worldwide. Heading into the group stage, they had to face 5 other teams in order to make it to the playoffs. They got off to a great start, winning against OpTiC 16-3, giving them the confidence needed in order to progress further in the event. Their next match was against NiP, which they narrowly won 16-14 and put them 1 match away from a quarterfinal/semifinal spot. To many people's surprise however, the Danes lost their next 3 matches to the likes of SK Gaming and Cloud9. After getting off to a really decent start, they essentially threw it away and went home in the groups.
What We Learned: The Danes still have what it takes to be a world class team, but they still need to practice their cohesion throughout their lineup in order to cement their glory.
The outright best North American team currently managed to pull off a godlike run in Brazil, plowing through the groups and eventually winning the whole event. During the group stage, they demolished everything in their path, except for SK Gaming. With a 4-1 result, they got placed against OpTiC in the quarterfinals where they would have to have an all out American brawl to see who would play against Mousesports, who were already waiting for the winner of this matchup in the semifinals. Cloud9 bulldozed through the other American team, winning the match in a very convincing 2-0 fashion. When they played against Mousesports, they won with very similar standards when comparing with the match where they played against OpTiC. Finally, they made it to the grandfinals of the whole event where fellow Brazilian rivals, SK Gaming were waiting to play in what was going to be a great series between the 2 giants. Eventually after 3 maps, Cloud9 came out on top and won an event featuring some of the best teams in the world, breaking a 10 year curse for North American Counter-Strike.
What We Learned: Cloud9 is definitely the best North American team and are looking to prove themselves on the big stage. Out of the 4 seasons of the ESL Pro League, Cloud9 are the team who have had the best run including the online league and the LAN finals.
Half of the Brazilian duo had it really nice coming into São Paulo with a second place finish during the online league of the EPL. On top of this, having the event hosted in the home country is always an added bonus due to the extra supportive crowd. For some reason however, Immortals simply couldn’t prove themselves at this event. They had to play a total of 4 matches against teams of similar caliber in terms of various skill levels. After losing their first 2 matches very horrifically, they had to win their next 2 in order to qualify for the playoffs. In their 3rd match, they won over tournament semifinalists Mousesports in a very close 16-14 victory. However, when pitted against their North American rivals Liquid, they fell short of 2 rounds, also finishing 16-14 and thus knocking them out of the event.
What We Learned: Immortals, although they had a great confidence boost due to the location of the tournament, the Brazilians didn’t show up. They need to work on something within their roster if they want to come close to reaching the level of their counterpart team, SK Gaming.
The other half of the Brazilian duo featured two-time major winners SK Gaming. Although they have been recently losing their position as the former best team in the world, they still looked strong coming into this event with the advantage of the event being held in their home country and still being a highly ranked team internationally. Although losing their first match against NiP, they kept their cool and won the next 4 matches in a row, guaranteeing them a spot in the playoffs. Since they topped their group, they got through the quarterfinals without playing anyone. In the semifinals, they had to face NiP, a team that they did lose against earlier in the tournament. This time however, the Brazilians were prepared for what was coming and as a result, they won against the Swedes after getting off to a rough start on de_nuke. In the grand finals, they played against Cloud9 and unfortunately after winning the first map in overtime, everything fell apart and the Americans simply outplayed them in almost every aspect.
What We Learned: SK Gaming definitely still have what it takes to be considered a top level team and not much is needed in terms of improvement in order to become the best roster in the world once again.
One of the dark horses to watch out for this tournament was OpTiC, a team that has recently beaten teams like Cloud9 in important matchups. They really got off to a great start, defeating Immortals and Liquid with extremely convincing score lines. Since they were in the group without a 6th team, they instantly qualified for the playoffs and had to face event winners Cloud9 in a much more important match than the last time they played. Unfortunately, they lost against the other American team pretty badly with a 0-2 defeat.
What We Learned: Although OpTiC isn’t a top tiered team, they are definitely still capable of pulling off great upsets against teams that are significantly better than them.
Heading into this event, NRG seemed to be the lowest tiered team out of the whole tournament. Not many people expected them to go far, and even putting them on the level of a ‘dark horse’ would be overestimating the international lineup. They placed last in their group, managing to lose all 5 of their matches against teams such as Cloud9, Ninjas in Pyjamas and FaZe Clan. Although they couldn’t win a single match, they did pull off some great performances against NiP and FaZe. When they played with the Swedes, they almost won their match, going all 30 rounds, only to lose 16-14. With FaZe, they went all the way to overtime, narrowly losing 22-20 on de_dust2.
What We Learned: NRG came in with low expectations and left with low level results, although pulling off decent performances against other teams. However, a team of their caliber shouldn’t be considered a high level team in general.
The final North American team to attend the event was Liquid, most noted for getting to the semifinals and finals of 2 different majors this year. They came in with decent expectations, looking to cement themselves as a top 10 team worldwide. To many people’s surprise, they lost their first 3 matches and now had no chance of making it to the playoffs. They did however win their last match against Immortals 16-14, so they didn’t leave Brazil completely empty handed.
What We Learned: Liquid came into this event looking somewhat strong for an American team and left without accomplishing much. Something needs to change internally in their roster if they want to succeed internationally once again.
The ESL Pro League Season 4 LAN Finals changed a lot for the teams attending the event. Some teams surpassed the qualifications immensely and some didn’t manage to accomplish anything. This tournament really set the stage for how each team will supposedly perform heading into the end of 2016.