In each of the four regions, including ESL Pro League Americas Season 9, the groups have finally been announced. In this preview of the event, we will offer you an analysis of the groups and their favorites.
ESL Pro League Season 9 starts on April 12th and ends on May 23rd. Throughout this time, the matches will take place online. At the end of this phase, a LAN Finals will take place in France and the prizes are very attractive: $750.000. So, naturally, everyone will try to make it to the main event, as this is one of the few Majors of the season. It’s not strictly speaking a Major, but the prizes and the caliber of the teams are comparable to one.
ESL Pro League Americas Group Stage Format
The Group Stage of ESL Pro League Season 9 is scheduled to be played in two rounds. Just like the ESL Pro League European counterpart, the first of these rounds consists of four groups of four teams each. The winner of each group qualifies for the LAN Finals. The next two teams advance to the second round of the online tournament. During this round, there are two groups of four and the winner of each group advances to the LAN Finals. So in total, only 6 teams out of the initial 16 will take part in the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals.
ESL Pro League Americas Group A
- NRG Esports
- INTZ eSports
The battle in group A will take place between NRG Esports and Renegades. Both teams are in very good shape right now so let’s take a look at what they’ve done lately and see how they compare to each other.
NRG showed promising results during the first stage of the IEM Katowice Major, ending it with three consecutive wins. But then they got completely destroyed during the second stage, ending it with three consecutive losses.
Following this rather disappointing 15th – 16th place finish, NRG Esports made a big CS:GO roster change and brought in tarik, a former member of Cloud9 and MIBR. The results came immediately and at the time of this writing, NRG is waiting to play against Fnatic in the Semifinals of StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7.
Ever since kassad became the team’s coach and Renegades brought in liazz and Gratisfaction, the Australian squad has become one of the best CS:GO lineups in the world. It’s actually impressive just how fast they managed to go from underdog at every event to one of the favorites, regardless of how strong the competitors are.
Renegades finished 5th – 8th at the recent IEM Katowice Major and is currently playing against NiP in the Quarterfinals of StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7.
Between NRG Esports and Renegades, we believe that Renegades is the stronger side and should in principle win group A. However, the battle will probably be very close, as both teams are in excellent shape.
- Team Liquid
- Ghost Gaming
- compLexity Gaming
- Lazarus Esports
This group can only have one winner, and that is Team Liquid. It’s been over 100 days since the organization went through its big roster changes, at the end of which zews and TACO joined MIBR and were replaced by adreN and Stewie2K. Following these changes, Team Liquid went on to play in two Grand Finals of tier 1 tournaments, winning one of them. They also placed 5th – 8th at IEM Katowice.
Compared to the other three opponents from group B, Team Liquid is almost two orders of magnitude stronger. So the first place in the group should be a done deal. The question is: who will get the 2nd and 3rd place?
Given that Lazarus Esports is an entirely new team with no experience whatsoever in playing as a unit while Ghost Gaming and compLexity Gaming are experienced competitors with a fair amount of noteworthy results, we believe that Lazarus is not going to do anything miraculous in this group B and will probably finish in 4th place.
- Team Envy
This is probably the most challenging group to predict, as the best two teams are both in poor shape. However, Rogue has gone through a partial disband will need to find new players as soon as possible. Subsequently, we do not see how they could possibly avoid finishing last in this group.
Let’s take a look at MIBR and Cloud9, as they are the main candidates for taking 1st place here.
After bringing in TACO, zews and then felps, MIBR had a chance to prove their worth at the IEM Katowice Major. And they did, finishing 3rd – 4th. But immediately after this result, they plunged into a series of disastrous tournaments where they lost almost every single game. It’s not yet clear what’s going on with the roster. Could it be a transition period in which zews is reshaping the team’s strategies and tactics? Could it be felps’ fault or maybe some other player’s?
The questions regarding MIBR abound and unless FalleN and his squad manage to pull themselves back from the brink, we are probably going to see another series of roster changes. Because this is getting ridiculous. The last 5 weeks have probably been the worst for him in a long long time.
Like MIBR, Cloud9 experienced a lot of poor results in recent months but they still managed to do fairly well at the IEM Katowice Major, where they finished 9th – 11th. The main problem with C9 is that they went through 4 roster changes in the last month. They have a new coach and three new players, even though Golden had been an inactive member of the team. We’ve yet to see vice in action, who is on a trial period, as well as cajunb.
Overall, we think that MIBR should still win the group in spite of their disastrous results at recent events, simply because there’s no real opponent apart from Cloud9. And C9 is going through a lot of problems as well, trying to find a winning formula.
Keep in mind that there are still a few weeks to go until the start of ESL Pro League Americas Season 9. This should work in MIBR’s advantage, as they are the ones with a much stronger roster and a lot more potential once they discover what the errors are within their playstyle.
ESL Pro League Americas Group D
- Isurus Gaming
- FULL SEND
- Denial Esports
- DETONA Gaming
This is the Latin America group and all of these teams are rather unfamiliar to us and to the world of top CS:GO. However, the main favorites are likely Isurus Gaming and Denial Esports. These are the teams with the highest experience and the best results of the four. The weakest of these competitors, at least on paper, is DETONA Gaming.
The winner of group D is almost guaranteed to be Isurus Gaming. During 2018, they won a number of tier 3 events and proved their worth at that level of Counter-Strike. And since their opponents aren’t above that bracket, we should see the Argentinians win and take part in one of the biggest tournaments of their careers, if not the biggest.