The Returning Champions of the ELEAGUE Major
The most prestigious event in the
These are the Legends, but do they have what it takes to retain their titles?
The Reigning Champions: SK Gaming
The Brazilians played a storm throughout 2016, and ESL One Cologne was no different. They went in as favorites after coming seemingly out of nowhere to steamroll the preceding tournaments. SK found themselves shuffled into the tournament's “group of death” alongside Fnatic, FaZe, and G2 Esports.
However, the Brazilians easily secured their group's top slot in spectacular 2-0 fashion. The
Even though most of the two-time Major side stayed together, losing coach Wilton “
SK came into the tournament looking disheveled, hoping to keep their Legend spot and make a new start with their latest roster.
America's Golden-Boys: Team Liquid
Liquid had a successful ESL One Cologne, and bringing Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev back for one last hurrah under the North American organization seemed to be a winning recipe for the team. Granted a difficult group alongside Virtus.pro,
S1mple’s replacement, Jacob “Pimp” Winneche was already set to join the American side before the tournament began. The writing was on the wall for Spencer “Hiko” Martin's team, as many knew that the post-s1mple Liquid wasn't going to be as successful. The tournaments following proved this, only achieving one top four placing at an offline event in the second half of 2016. A great deal of work's needed to get them into shape, something picked up on by a European
A great deal of work's needed to get them into shape, something picked up on by a European
The Fallen Kings: Fnatic
Fnatic managed top four of the last Major in Cologne, even amongst heavy rumors of changes beforehand. Coming second out of their group, behind champions SK Gaming, they had a mixed run during the playoffs. A swift destruction of Gambit was followed by their own at the hands of Liquid. From that moment,
Post-Cologne appeared like a return to form for the Swedes, finishing second at the
This saw Robin “
Polish Powerhouse: Virtus.pro
The ever-present force of the international
They apparently were, as they signed long-term contracts with their organization until 2020 in December. Coming into the Major they have two tournament wins under their belt, taking the first season of
The Unlucky Danes:
The unluckiest team from the previous Major,
The change after Cologne was slow for
Top four at IEM Oakland was the start, before a second-place finish at the
Talent and FlipSid3 Tactics
The plucky CIS team that could. FlipSid3 were placed in a no-hope group against Na`Vi, NiP, and OpTic at Cologne. They managed to slip through to the playoffs behind their fellow CIS side, taking out NiP in a simple Bo3 and ending the Swedish team’s 100% Legend status since Majors began. But coming up against SK in the quarters wasn't going to help F3's further ambitions, losing in two maps.
The CIS squad hasn't had a particularly explosive run up to the Major, but there are solid results. Two top four finishes before this include a win at DreamHack Leipzig and running up at the ACL finals. However, alongside that are disappointing finishes at DreamHack Winter and the iBUYPOWER Masters, so they'll be hoping their tactical play is up to speed this week.
The Switch: Gambit Esports
One of the surprises in Cologne, Gambit topped their group against
Gambit's been busy before the Major, bringing in Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko after his unceremonious dumping from long-term squad Na’Vi, and Abay "
Even though they're not one of the strongest teams at the Major, they're an almost unknown quantity coming in hot, looking to cause as many upsets as possible.
Sleeping Giants: Natus Vincere
Na`Vi finished top eight in Cologne after getting through their group comfortably. With NiP and F3 being no match for them, only for Liquid to narrowly take them out in the quarter-finals sending them home. After the Major, Na`Vi made swift changes to their roster. Bringing on Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev seemed to be a no-brainer, leading to a rash of top finishes.
Top four at
There are a few names being touted for the title, but one stands out strongest—Astralis. Safe to say we’re not counting out the ever-strong Virtus.pro or a rejuvenated Na`Vi for this title. The Swiss-style format leaves a lot open for upsets, so nobody's safe. If you think you have what it takes to predict the