The CS:GO ESL Pro League Season 5 continues apace in North America and Europe as 14 teams in each region battle for their respective six playoff places to qualify for the Finals in June.
SK unbeaten in North America
In North America SK Gaming stand alone atop the ESL Pro League standings after 10 matches. With a 10-0 opening, the addition of felps from Immortals has so far produced quality results, at least online.
Surprising, however, were SK’s narrow wins over poor performers Rush. After being pushed to 16-12 on Cobblestone, SK were taken into overtime before securing a 19-17 victory on Mirage.
The road for SK does get more difficult in the coming weeks as matches against second and third place teams Team Liquid and Cloud9 lie ahead of them. If SK are to continue their run of good form, in game leader and primary AWPer FalleN will have to step up his play from his poor showings as of late.
Team Liquid have made a fast start
Team Liquid surprisingly sit in second place, but it would appear that this has more to do with their schedule than anything else. Playing exclusively the bottom of the pack teams, Liquid have only lost two matches so far; a 19-22 defeat in double overtime to NRG on Cache and an 8-16 loss to RNG on Cobblestone. With rumours of potential roster swaps imminent, it’s difficult to see Liquid continuing their good start, especially when up against the likes of SK, Cloud9 and Immortals in future weeks.
Keep an eye on CLG
One team that could be on the rise in the coming weeks is Counter Logic Gaming, who currently occupy joint eighth place. Some difficult opponents are ahead but CLG’s newest addition Rickeh (formerly of Renegades) could help give the team an upswing in the standings. While it is unlikely CLG will challenge for the top tier spots, a fourth or fifth place finish is not out of the question.
Surprise leader in Europe
In an absolute stunner, mousesports currently top the European standings, sporting an 8-2 overall match record. After losing superstar NiKo, many expected mousesports to struggle, but they have shown resilience in Pro League thus far.
The team’s first loss came at the hands of Astralis, the team widely accepted as the best in the world. Not only was it a close affair (11-16), but it also took place on one of the best maps for Astralis; Nuke. Their second loss was 10-16 to LDLC on the same map.
While it is unlikely mousesports will remain in the top spot all season, a top 2-3 finish certainly seems obtainable; something no-one thought possible at the beginning of the season.
Challengers are bunched
There is currently a two-way tie for second place in the European region with North (7-3) and Astralis (7-5) three points behind mousesports (although note that the Danes have played two games more than both). Meanwhile Virtus.pro (5-3), FaZe Clan (5-3), Na’Vi (5-3), Fnatic (5-4) and Heroic (5-7) are six points further adrift, most with games in hand over those ahead of them.
While having one of the toughest schedules remaining, FaZe Clan are still one of the favourites to take over first place from mousesports. They are nine points behind but with two games in hand. With former mousesports superstar NiKo now on the team, FaZe have looked absolutely dominant. NiKo has been the best player in the world over the last month and FaZe Clan is his first opportunity to play with four other top tier players. Even with difficult matches against Na’Vi and Astralis this coming week, FaZe are a team that expects to challenge any team in the world.
Look for them to improve over the coming weeks as NiKo gets more and more familiar with his new squad.
Surprise cellar dweller
Shockingly, last place is currently occupied by G2 Esports, also known as the “French super team”. Even without facing one of the top teams in the league, G2 have managed only a single map win, a 16-13 back and forth affair with Heroic on Train.
G2 have incredibly high expectations and the ending to their schedule is particularly brutal. If G2 are going to get any wins in Pro League they will likely have to do it in the next few weeks as the last four teams G2 play are Na’Vi, Astralis, Virtus.pro and FaZe Clan. That being said it’s still difficult to picture G2’s slide continuing, with super star players shox and kennyS hungry for victories.
All in all it has been a fascinating CS:GO season so far then, with lots still to play for.