Buckle up guys, the ESL Pro League Season 3 is kicking into high gear now. Why? well while some teams are relatively safe towards the top of the leaderboard, the middle of the pack is jammed with multiple teams hovering around with the same score. Therefore, getting a win on board now sports more value. Now let’s get started.
Gamers2 vs Team Dignitas
Inferno: Recently Gamers2 had some great showings on this map. They won a 19-17 marathon against Mousesports and also ran over FlipSid3 Tactics. On paper, Dignitas look equally strong on this map, they took down a slumping EnvyUS and edged out FlipSid3 in a close match. However, I personally favor Gamers2 because their form is more reliable, whereas Dignitas often fail to reproduce a high level of play in a consistent manner. A good example would be their defeat at the hands of Renegades, where they got dismantled 16-5, despite showing much better form just a few weeks ago. Not to mention EX6 and RPK’s return to form has finally made enough space for the stars to shine, as a result you get a very well structured team in the French squad. Expect G2 to edge out Dignitas on this one.
Overpass: This is one of the best maps for Gamers2 at the moment. EX6 has put in a lot of time to explore the tactical side. Individually this has been the French IGL’s best map and he always makes space for people like RPK and Shox to shine. Granted SMithzz is clearly not at his best at the moment, but the rest of the team have shown to work around that weakness for the moment. Dignitas on the other hand sports a lot of trouble on Overpass unless they gain a lot of momentum. A good example would be their match against Astralis, where they had a solid 9-6 start, but then proceeded to lose 10 rounds in a row.
Our Pick: Gamers2 wins 2-0 due to superior structure and consistency across the board
Key players: EX6 and RPK
Ninjas in Pyjamas VS FNATIC
Cache: This is Olofmeister’s playground and once he gets going it is amazingly hard to stop. Couple that with JW’s amazing balance between offense and defense and it becomes a gigantic mountain to climb. Now I am not saying that NIP is a bad team on this map by any means. They have shown some good performances here since bringing in Pyth, overcoming Mousesports and beating down Virtus.Pro, though the latter really doesn’t hold much weight anymore. However they aren’t quite ready to tackle the giant that is FNATIC on Cache, so unless the old duo of GTR and Forest pulls off something ridiculous, this should be a map for the boys in yellow.
Inferno: The Swedish rivalry is beginning to heat up once again now that NIP is back in business. However times have changed and FNATIC is now the ones who roam around at the top. Not to mention that Inferno is the latter’s best map and they have built an entire era centered on it. Krimz is undoubtedly the god of Banana, surpassing anything Friberg has ever done there and Olofmeister is the ultimate impact player who can just make any situation work. Though let’s not forget that NIP picked Inferno against FNATIC during IEM Katowice and showed surprisingly good form. Dare I say if a few clutch situations went the other way, things might have been very different, but that is just FNATIC for you, they seem to always have that little extra edge in an offline setting. However this is an Online match and one can make a case that they won’t push as hard as they did on IEM Katowice. So chances are deceptively good to see an upset. Not to mention the ridiculous odds, this one is just begging for a risky bet on NIP.
Our Pick: 1-1, FNATIC wins on Cache but fall to NIP on Inferno
Key players: Olofmeister, Get_Right, Forest, and JW