ESL Pro League has presented a host of intense and exciting matches so far, and the quarterfinal match ups tonight promise to keep delivering. The first BO3 Quarterfinal at 18:00 GMT is Mousesports versus SK Gaming, with the second quarterfinal, Team EnVyUs versus Team Liquid, kicking off at 21:50 GMT.
So far, SK Gaming have had their ups and downs, beating the defending champions Cloud9 16-7 on Cobblestone, as well as Immortals 16-5 on Mirage. Cobblestone has proved to be quite a popular map amongst a few teams, such as Team EnVyUs, meaning picks and bans for this next set of quarterfinals will be hugely important, especially now that they are B03’s. Mousesports also beat NaVi on Cobble 19-15, after taking the game to overtime, with NaVi ultimately being eliminated. However, for this first Quarterfinal, SK Gaming will likely take the series 2-0, although mousesports may be able to take one map depending on their map picks. SK Gaming undoubtedly have a stronger map pool than mousesports, and will be able to use this to their advantage during the pick and ban process.
SK currently also have a stronger roster, although losing to both G2 and EnVyUs, the team have still showed their strength against other teams such as Cloud9, Immortals and Fnatic. However, SK still has some work to do, with many players not being on their usual consistent form. This was especially noticeable in their game against Team EnVyUs, with nV winning 16-3. Whilst Coldzera top fragged with 18 kills, both Fallen and fer lagged behind with only 7 kills, not up to Fallen’s usual high standard as he has shown in other games in this tournament such as against Cloud9. However, it is also important to consider that these games were BO1’s, with these next BO3’s giving SK more room and map variety to work with.
It is hard not to be impressed by mousesports form at ESL Pro League. After losing their best player and arguably the best player in the world, Niko, mouse have still persevered, and have been showing their strength at this tournament. Oskar in particular has really stepped up, however, ChrisJ has not been so consistent. If we can see him on the same form as their game against Optic Gaming, where they won 16-12, then they may have a chance of taking one map off of SK. However, SK will ultimately win this BO3, they are much more coordinated as a team, with a wider map pool and more experienced top level players.
— SK Gaming (@SKGaming) May 31, 2017
The second Quarterfinal, Team EnVyUs versus Team Liquid will be a much closer match, and will be particularly exciting seeing as nV have really showed their strength since playing at in ESL Pro League. nV had a particularly impressive game against SK, beating them 16-3. In yesterdays games, it seemed as though the team had finally found their feet, with all players performing well, with RPK especially showing his strength as a player. Even xms, one of the newest players to nV’s roster, has begun to perform more consistently, especially in yesterday’s games again SK and Fnatic.
Team Liquid do have some inconsistencies, especially concerning players such as Twistzz, who still went negative in their 16-5 win over Optic Gaming as well as in their victory over NRG, then top fragged when they lost against mousesports 16-12. The team as a whole has a mix of some very inconsistent players, however, the same can be said for Team EnVyUs at some points, whose relatively new roster has only recently begun to find their feet. Both teams gave similar map pools, both having a high win rate on Cobble, a popular map this tournament. Cobble, along with Cache, are two maps that are strong for both teams so the pick and ban stage of this quarterfinal will be extremely important if either of the teams want to dominate this series. Team EnVyUs most notably have Inferno as a strong map, whereas Liquid are much stronger on Overpass, so it may be expected for both these maps to be banned.
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) June 1, 2017
For these reasons the games will undoubtedly be close, but I still believe that Team EnVyUs will come out on top with a 2-1 win, simply because of their high level of performance yesterday. It seems as though the team is finally coming together after a turbulent past, with Team liquid not showing that same level of consistency over this tournament.
Photo credit: ESL