Blaze 'Draulon' Lengyel, November 18, 2016

Draulon's Draft: ELEAGUE Season 2 Group D

Draulon's Draft: ELEAGUE Season 2 Group D

The second season of the distinguished ELEAGUE kicked off in late October. With modifications to the tournament format, the league is now shorter but compensates for that in excitement, production value, and on-camera talent.

Played out over this weekend, Group D may be one of the most interesting groups at ELEAGUE simply because of all the uncertainty facing the teams participating.

A lot of storylines will come to crossroads over the next few days. Because of this, we're taking a closer look at the teams in Group D in order to see who will join mousesports, FaZe, Virtus.pro, Ninjas in Pyjamas, Astralis, and SK Gaming in the playoffs.

Fnatic

Just when people expected it to be over, the Swedish shuffle got back on the menu after GODSENT and Fnatic exchanged Freddy "KRiMZ" Johansson and Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson, resulting in Fnatic effectively receiving GODSENT’s Legend status at the major.

While GODSENT seemed content with their roster, Fnatic was not and ended up replacing John "wenton" Eriksson with Epsilon’s star player—Joakim "disco doplan" Gidetun.

On paper, this exchange was a very significant boost in firepower and role versatility. However, it doesn’t look like disco doplan has found his sweet spot on the team just yet. So far, his performance is vaguely reminiscent of the player he replaced on Fnatic. Out of six maps he has played so far, his best performance when counting kills is when he secured 20 kills against Dignitas in a match that went into overtime. When looking at HLTV ratings, his best match was against FaZe with a rating of 1.19.

While this is very unbecoming of the young Swede, the question has to be asked is whether or not he needs to play at a superstar level when he has teammates such as olofmeister, dennis, and twist. There's no definitive answer to this as even these players have their hiccups and one-off games. When occurrences like that happen, it has to be disco doplan who carries them through to the finish line.

"Fnatic's placing at ELEAGUE may come down to Disco Doplan." 

Another player to note is KRiMZ, who seems to slowly rediscover his chemistry with his old teammates. While he also has a small sample size of six maps so far with Fnatic, he did show signs of that vintage KRiMZ returning, barring entry to bomb sites and putting down hooligans who threatened Fnatic’s control of the map.

Unfortunately for Fnatic, Dennis “dennis” Edman announced that he will not be attending ELEAGUE due to personal reasons, resulting in their coach Jimmy "Jumpy" Berndtsson standing in for him for the duration of the event. In regards to firepower, this is a big setback for Fnatic as he is arguably replacing their best player. Although, having a dedicated IGL may prove useful for the Swedes in the end.

Fnatic still has a lot to figure out, and how far they can go in ELEAGUE depends a lot on their new members and their stand-in coach. Will Fnatic be able to replicate Zonic’s and THREAT’s stand-in success, or will they crash and burn? We can only guess.

EnVyUs

Just when EnVyUs was planning to slowly work their way back to the top in baby steps, their heavily criticized player Timothée "DEVIL" Démolon was replaced with Christophe "SIXER" Xia from Millenium’s roster. In an interview with flickshot.fr, kennyS explained that SIXER’s “mentality and his team play are superior compared to that of DEVIL,” and that they “needed a player with some experience and his journey in 1.6 was large enough.

It seems to be obvious that EnVyUs feel that they have much better chemistry and team atmosphere with their new recruit, and this is very important, especially for players such as kennyS, whose performance is really influenced by the team’s atmosphere. The change is noticeable on the AWP legend, as his performance has been almost immaculate as of late.

EnVy have attended only three LAN events so far with their new roster. However, they have successfully managed to reach the playoffs at each one. While they smashed each North American and Brazilian team they have played so far, they still struggle against their fellow Europeans, winning only two maps out of the nine they have played against EU teams in the top ten.

So what is in store for EnVyUs at ELEAGUE? Well, we're obviously not expecting SIXER to be the player who goes on to carry the team to the playoffs. Instead, that responsibility will fall to kennyS and apEX, who have both put in great numbers as of late. The big question mark right now is NBK and Happy. The former is not the consistent fragger we know him to be, and the fluctuations in his performance can often be paired with the outcome of their match.

We should be seeing marginal improvement for EnVyUs, though for them to truly succeed they need NBK to be there for them when they need him. Their track record against OpTic is one-sided, thrashing them both times they met offline. Furthermore, the real challenge will be Dignitas, whom they will be meeting straight away in their first match at ELEAGUE. With everything considered though, it isn’t a stretch to say that EnVyUs has a good chance to qualify for the playoffs.

Dignitas

In the past few months, Dignitas took the world by storm. Spearheaded by their young superstar Emil "Magiskb0Y" Reif, the “Four-Danes-and-a-Norwegian” squad surprised everyone by winning EPICENTER 2016 and taking the grand finals against Virtus.pro in an incredibly dominant fashion.

Curiously enough, their triumph was followed by a group stage exit at the ESL Pro League S4 finals at the hands of FaZe, SK, and Cloud9. While there's no definitive explanation for the underwhelming placement, the players themselves have confirmed the fact that they simply couldn’t get the team play flowing as usual, and no one was their usual self. Whether or not this can be attributed to travel exhaustion is unknown. However, it is important to note that Dignitas have attended four offline events in the past 40 days. Taking a breather will probably help them at ELEAGUE.

"All work and no play make Dignitas a dull boy"

For now, we can only assume that Dignitas will be their usual self at Atlanta, which also means that we should expect them to secure one of the two playoff spots.

OpTic Gaming

OpTic will be representing the North American scene in Group D and have quite the task ahead of them in order to make it to the playoffs. By no means should we write them off, as they have quite an impressive track record against European teams, going far in tournaments featuring some of the best teams in the world.

Despite taking maps off Astralis and G2 at ESL One: New York, they had to settle with a group stage exit—placing the ESL Pro League S4 Finals in their crosshairs as a chance of redemption. Salvation was not to be found in Brazil, but OpTic was able to reach the playoffs where their fellow countrymen Cloud9 cut them short in the Round of 6.

OpTic was finally able to reign supreme at Northern Arena 2016: Montreal, winning the event and the first title for their current lineup as well. Even though they had a relatively easy time against NRG in the group stages, the difficulty ramped up as they had a back-and-forth row with Heroic in the semi-finals before meeting G2 Esports in the grand finals. OpTic shook the French team over the course of three maps, losing the first by a small margin. Nevertheless, OpTic sealed the deal on the final two, and went on to win themselves the tournament.

The result is both good and bad for OpTic when thinking about what they will achieve at ELEAGUE. Due to the win, expectations will be high for OpTic to replicate the success and secure at least one of the playoff spots. We can expect mixwell to be consistently fragging and opening up the map for OpTic (which will be key when facing off opponents such as kennyS, twist, and cajunb).

Keep in mind, it is tarik who really has to transfer his form at Montreal to ELEAGUE. If all cylinders will be firing for OpTic, they certainly are capable of securing the two maps required and triumph on home soil.

Photo credit: WESG, statistics courtesy of HLTV and Liquipedia

Blaze 'Draulon' Lengyel

Blaze is a student who currently lives in Europe and has a great interest in Counter Strike and competitive games. He spends his time hitting the gym or working on various game dev projects where he has a role in management or 3D graphics. You can follow him on twitter @draulon