The groups of ESL Pro League Europe Season 9 have finally been announced and in this article, we will make an analysis of the teams and their chances in each of the four groups.
In case you’re not aware, ESL Pro League Season 9 starts on April 12th and takes place online until the LAN Finals. The online competition lasts for 6 weeks and the best teams from each of the four regions will advance to this final stage of the tournament. The prizes are substantial: $750.000. So nobody wants to miss the opportunity to take part in what is virtually a Major.
ESL Pro League Europe Group Stage Format
The Group Stage of ESL Pro League Europe Season 9 will be played in two rounds. The first round consists of four groups of four teams each. The winner of each group advances to the LAN Finals. The 2nd and 3rd place teams advance to the second round. This round consists of two groups of four teams each. The top two teams from each group advance to the LAN Finals.
Given this format, the main goal of the top teams will be to win their group during the first round. Or, if they can’t do that, then at least qualify for round two and finish 1st or 2nd in their group there.
ESL Pro League Europe Group A
- OpTic Gaming
- ex-Space Soldiers
Group A looks like a walk in the park for mousesports and North, which are the two main competitors in this group. So the only question is: which of these two teams is more likely to take the 1st place?
Here’s a brief analysis of each of these teams.
You may remember this team from their glory days. About a year ago, mousesports was a top 5 team with a formidable roster. They won several tier 1 tournaments and were considered a tough challenge for anyone except Astralis.
However, this is not the same roster we’ve come to know as mousesports. This is a new mousesports squad. Not entirely new, as two of the veteran players are still competing for the organization. But there are three other new faces as well. So overall, this is a blend of old faces and new ones.
Fortunately for mousesports, they kept both ropz and chrisJ, who were perhaps the best players of that old roster, and brought in an amazing captain: karrigan. This guy is one of the best and most accomplished captains in CS:GO. So if the other two players, woxic and frozen, can rise up to the challenge and compete at this level, then we’re likely to see a very capable mousesports in the months to come.
Our view regarding the team is that they’re the best in Group A, which they should win in the first round of ESL Pro League Europe Season 9.
North hadn’t been on people’s radar for a long time, until they won the GG.Bet Ice Challenge by defeating Na’Vi in the Grand Final at the beginning of February. At the time of this writing, North is struggling to advance to the Quarterfinals of StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7. Overall, they haven’t looked great throughout the event and they’re still a shadow of their former selves.
You might remember that in 2018, North won several titles, including the one at DreamHack Masters Stockholm 2018, where they defeated Astralis in the Grand Final. Since then, everything’s gone downhill for the Danes, who continue to struggle to this day.
Based on what we’ve seen recently, we don’t believe that North can be better than mousesports in Group A of ESL Pro League Europe Season 9.
ESL Pro League Group B
- FaZe Clan
- Ninjas in Pyjamas
Just like in Group A, we have two obvious competitors that are vastly better than the other two and will compete for the 1st place. These teams are FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas. We’ll analyze them below.
FaZe Clan is not in great shape right now. They do have some of the best individual players in the game, but their cohesion and overall strategy is rather poor. It does work of course against the lesser teams, but as soon as they encounter a real opponent they simply collapse. In this particular case, that opponent will be NiP. So we’re rather skeptical about FaZe’s chances of winning Group B during the first round of ESL Pro League Season 9.
Ninjas in Pyjamas
NiP is the typical mature, professional team, made up of a group of people who have been playing together for a long time. There’s one problem with NiP’s roster though. Dennis will be absent for a while and he’s been temporarily replaced by draken. This guy can be a phenomenal AWP player but his consistency is not that great.
Still, when you put everything in the balance, NiP is more likely to win Group B at ESL Pro League Season 9 than FaZe Clan.
ESL Pro League Group C
- Natus Vincere
- G2 Esports
- Windigo Gaming
This is by far the toughest group during the first round of ESL Pro League Europe Season 9. It’s hard to say who the weakest team is and it’s also hard to say who will win. The main candidate for winning is Na’Vi, but Fnatic has also played well recently. As for the weakest of the four, you might be inclined to say Windigo Gaming because you haven’t heard much about them. But the truth is that they recently won the title at WESG 2018-2019, crushing G2 Esports along the way.
Overall, we would put Na’Vi as the best team in Group C and G2 Esports as the weakest. However, one thing that tends to happen to small teams after they win an important event is the immediate drop in their focus and motivation. That’s because they’re so amazed by that one and greatest victory in their whole history as a team that they don’t realize just how fleeting victory is in CS:GO and how hard you need to work to maintain your level.
Going into ESL Pro League Season 9, you should keep an eye on Windigo Gaming and check their results prior to the event. That will tell you if they’re still the same team from WESG or if they went back to their casual level. Depending on the case, we expect either G2 Esports or Windigo Gaming to finish 4th in Group B.
ESL Pro League Group D
This is by far the easiest group to predict, unless something goes terribly wrong. On paper, Astralis should demolish all opposition without even trying while BIG and HellRaisers should finish 2nd and 3rd. As for ex-3DMAX, they don’t stand any chance against these opponents. The skill difference is enormous in each case.
The only real question in Group D is this: will BIG finish 2nd and HellRaisers 3rd or the other way around? At the recent IEM Katowice Major, BIG performed worse than HellRaisers. However, since then they’ve started to show signs of recovery and at the ongoing StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7 they’re currently sitting at 2 W – 2 L in the Group Stage.
Once again, you should keep an eye on these two teams’ form prior to ESL Pro League Season 9. That will be the main indicator of which of them is stronger.