It is time people, the biggest major in the history of the game is almost upon us and 16 elite teams will be going up against each other for a shot at the lion’s share of $1 million dollars. There will be many matches between the true titans, but Day 1 will start off a bit slow, mostly pitting teams that have a noticeable skill gap between them. However some matches can turn out to be really interesting and this being the major, expect everyone to bring their best. Now without any further due, let us get tipping!
NIP Gaming vs FlipSid3 Tactics
Before the Pyth situation, this matchup leaned greatly in favor of the Swedes. They had some great showings at ESL Pro League Season 3 and was visibly improving with Pyth abroad and Threat holding the strings. Granted Pyth was not putting up big numbers on the scoreboard, but with him the team seemed to function a lot more efficiently, suggesting that he was more of a sudden impact player than anything else. Something I doubt Threat can do with so little practice, after all, the man did not play a single professional game in months and only focused on his duty as a coach. On the FlipSid3, WorldEdit and Bondik have stepped up their game massively since the qualifiers and are starting to show a lot of confidence. The entire situation is unfortunate and it gives FlipSid3 Tactics a chance at a potential upset if the veto is done properly, but make no mistake, the overall star power and experience at big stages will still favor NIP here. They still have the original core that gave produced many great moments and with the Get_Right + Forest duo in effect once again, I believe they will pull through.
Our Pick: NIP-Gaming wins a competitive match on the back of their star power
Key players: Get_Right & Forest
Luminosity Gaming vs Mousesports
On one side we have the best-structured team in the world, on the other we have a very talented lineup led by an amazing superstar level player. In this care, the structured team wins hands down, which is of course is Luminosity Gaming. Niko has shown a lot of individual prowess in the last few months and one can make a case that he might be the most skilled player in the server for this one, but unfortunately his team lags behind greatly and even the German superstar cannot guarantee a full on carry performance in a consistent manner. Whereas Luminosity Gaming has been the ultimate team for months now, sporting an amazing balance of synergy, star power and tactics. Fallen has carved these guys out of many fierce battles and they are probably the second best team in the world at the moment, being second to only the giant that is FNATIC. Whether its map pool, overall skill distribution across the board or even experience at big stages, Luminosity Gaming has Mouz beat. So unless Niko drops a 40 bomb and takes over the game entirely, the Brazilians will stroll through with an easy victory here.
Our Pick: Luminosity Gaming outclasses Mousesports with their superior synergy and overall firepower
Key players: Fallen and ColdZera
Faze Clan vs Team Liquid
Probably the most interesting game of Day 1, Team Liquid and Faze Clan are both in a very similar place right now. Both squads sport many individual monsters but are yet to find a stable state within the team to make full use of it. On top of that, they have had a similar journey recently, both losing out games they should not have and are riding a bit of a slump. So who has the edge here? I would actually take a risk and give Team Liquid the nod here. Why? Both teams have amazing players, great stars who can make sudden impacts and change the game, they even have similar weak links in Fox and Adren, but only one sport a potential superstar and that is S1MPLE on Team Liquid. In terms of raw skill, he has the ability to outclass even the likes of Rain and JKaem when on fire, not to mention his last performance was a relatively bad one, a first for the young Russian. So it is only fair to assume that the young Russian will go all out here, that is if the rest of his team can hold their own at leats.
Our Pick: S1mple gives Liquid the edge necessary to close it out over Faze Clan
Key players: S1mple & Hiko
FNATIC vs Splyce
This one should be a clean case for FNATIC. They are so far ahead of Splyce in almost every area that it is amusing when you put them up against each other. Map pools, star power and tactics, there is nothing Splyce can do to actually gain the upper hand here. Apart from Davey, no one feels like a challenge at an individual level and even then FNATIC have enough team synergy in the team to get out of any bad situation that can be created. They sport the best player and the best duo in the world at the moment, likes of which Splyce has never gone up against. So an ICB bet is all you can justify here if you want to go with Splyce, but expect FNATIC to run over them in dominant fashion.
Our Pick: FNATIC wins in dominating fashion
Key players: Olofmeister and Krimz
Team EnvyUS vs Counter Logic Gaming
Given the very poor showings from Team EnvyUS recently, one might think that CLG actually stands a chance here. Especially with Tarik being in such great form and finally stepping up to be the star player everyone wants him to be. However, the reality is EnvyUS are still the favorites here by a fairly big margin. People forget that even though Devil is an inexperienced player, the rest of the squad are some of the most skilled out there. Not to mention that KennyS has returned to form in great fashion, putting up big numbers once again and almost carrying his team in a manner similar to the Titan days. Then you add in the individual skill on the likes of Happy, NBK and Apex, it is a big gap in just that. Also, with Maniac subbing in they will probably have a more structured playstyle, which has always been a big problem for NA teams who prefer aim duels over anything else and frankly even the latter will be no party against this French squad. Expect EnvyUS to have a good showing and overcome CLG.
Our pick: Team EnvyUS reign supreme over CLG
Key players: KennyS and NBK
Gambit Gaming vs Astralis
While I am very excited to see Dosia back in action once again on the big stage, this is definitely a rough draw for Gambit Gaming. Astralis are a top 5 team who rarely fall on group stages, having amazing consistency throughout their career when it comes to making semi-finals. Also man for man, they have a fairly big advantage over Gambit Gaming. There simply aren’t many who can match the trio of Device, Dupreeh and Xyp9x, who are all among the very best in their roles. Not saying that the likes of MOU, Dosia and Waylander can’t do some damage, that they certainly can. However, I seriously doubt they have what it takes to close it out against the Danish giants. The only chance at a major upset here would a horribly done veto process by Astralis and even then they will probably be able to make it through anyways due to their superior structure and star power.
Our Pick: Astralis overpower Gambit Gaming
Key players: Device and Dupreeh
Natus Vincere vs Cloud9
A top 3 team going up against the slumping NA hope, sporting Stewie2k of all players. Yeah, there really is no positive way to put this, Na`VI should outclass Cloud9 in every possible way here. They have the better entry fragger, the more in form sniper and the superior structure. Everything Cloud9 could claim over their usual opponents is nullified against the CIS Giants here. Even in terms of map pools Na`Vi has evolved far passed the typical NA strats and can probably make their way into a comfortable one. Sure Freakazoid and Skadoodle has shown some decent form as of late, but the reality is that Natus Vincere is a different beast entirely that will simply ignore the arrows from Cloud9 and eat them up anyways.
Our Pick: A somewhat competitive match ends in Na`Vi closing it out over Cloud9
Key players: Flamie and Guardian
Gamers2 vs Virtus.Pro
Similar to the match between EnvyUS and CLG, this is also a battle where most would favor Gamers2 greatly over the Polish squad. However let’s not forget that Taz and co have had some time boot camping and are surely more prepared than ever before. They should be well aware of their issues by now and have probably been trying to patch them up. So this might not be as easy of a victory for G2 as many may expect, but in the end, I still favor the French squad here. They have shown a lot of improvements in the last few months and that applies to almost everyone except Smithzz even at an individual level. EX6 has been fragging better than ever before and RPK is slowly but surely living up to his name. Then you add in the fact that they have some serious firepower in Shox and Scream and this paints a bad picture for Virtus.Pro. There is always the chance of a sudden plow sure, but Gamers2 are well equipped to handle that and probably edge out the Polish squad this time around. Expect this to be the major where EX6 finally makes it out of groups.
Our Pick: Gamers2 get a win on board after a competitive battle against the Polish squad
Key players: RPK and Shox