ESL Pro League Season XIV – The Storylines from Group D

August 30, 2021 | 0 | 400| |

After three weeks of incredible Counter-Strike matches, surprises and disappointments, ESL Pro League Season XIV group stage is finally coming to an end as its final group prepares to enter the server this Wednesday.

On surface, group D, looks like the most predictable group out of the tournament. However, things might not be as clear as some might believe. For that reason, we are going to take a closer look at each of the six squads from the group, their backgrounds and expectations below.

ENTROPIQ – Eastern European Danger

El1anAWPer1.261.15 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
ForesterRifler1.111.20 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
KradRifler1.061.17 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
Lack1Rifler1.051.05 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
NickelbackIn-Game Leader1.051.15 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series

Coming from Russia, Entropiq will be taking the same role on group D as Spirit did on group A, and forZe did on group B. They are the team from the CIS region that no team can fully predict, and one that presents plenty of danger, even to the favorites.

As a team, Entropiq has been a fairly competent competitor so far in this year. More recently, however, the team seems to be more than ready to take the next step. They finished in a respectable 9 – 12th place in Pinnacle Cup II, but they most impressive achievement is also their most recent one – first place at Malta Vibes Knockout Series, where they most notably beat Copenhagen Flames and ENCE.

Following on forZe steps

If you have been following ESL Pro League, then you certainly know how well one of the other underdogs from the CIS region performed in group B. forZe finished their group after only being defeated once, and they are certainly inspiring Entropiq.

Considering Entropiq’s current form, they have a concrete chance of advancing from the group stage. While they might fail to beat a team like Gambit, there will be plenty of opportunities for them to make up for it. Entropiq brings the famous CIS danger to group D, and they have plenty of talent to back that up. Aleksey ‘El1an’ Gusev, especially, has been one of the best AWPers from his region and he will be key for Entropiq in Pro League.

FURIA – Looking Incomplete

arTIn-Game Leader1.040.94 @ IEM Cologne 2021
hondaRifler [entry fragger], AWPer0.870.80 @ IEM Cologne 2021
KSCERATORifler1.151.29 @ IEM Cologne 2021
VINIRifler0.990.94 @ IEM Cologne 2021
yuurihRifler [entry fragger]1.111.11 @ IEM Cologne 2021

It’s no secret to anyone who have watched FURIA recently that the squad looks incomplete. After Henrique “HEN1” Teles left the squad back in January, the team has been on the lookout for a replacement, but so far, they hadn’t much luck.

With the Paytyn “Junior” Johnson experiment failing to impress, FURIA went back looking for a player that can fill the hole left by HEN1. The team has already announced its new fifth, André ‘drop’ Abreu, but he won’t be playing for the team in EPL. Due to time limitations, Lucas “honda” Honda, another played that FURIA tried earlier in the year, will be standing-in for the squad.

One Last Ride with Honda in Pro League

It’s undeniable that FURIA lost all of its momentum for a while now, and hasn’t recovered it. With the team playing with an incomplete roster in Pro League, their chances, which weren’t the best, went further down.

For the team, the best they can hope for is to put a good fight, try learning whatever they can from the likes of Entropiq, Gambit and NiP, and immediately return to the server with drop as they prepare for their next tournament. For honda, events like these are invaluable opportunities to learn, so hopefully the young gun can take the most out of it to become a better player.

In any case, FURIA situation is one that they have been actively trying to solve, but haven’t been able to do so until now. Even with drop, the team will still need to prove itself in the future, and EPL probably will see one of FURIA’s weakest performances this year.

GAMBIT – Reclaiming the Throne

Ax1leRifler1.191.16 @ IEM Cologne 2021
HobbitRifler1.191.15 @ IEM Cologne 2021
interzRifler [support]0.970.89 @ IEM Cologne 2021
nafanyIn-Game Leader1.071.17 @ IEM Cologne 2021
sh1roAWPer1.231.19 @ IEM Cologne 2021

After holding the spot of best team in the world for a respectable time period. From April 12th to July 12th, Gambit was the team to beat. After IEM Cologne 2019, however, Natus Vincere took their place, and even G2 managed to defeat the Russian powerhouse.

However, Gambit is far from done. The team led by Vladislav ‘nafany’ Gorshkov has shown plenty of times to be able to quickly adapt, and considering the off-season, Gambti had plenty of time to recover and rebuild themselves as they aim to reclaim the place of best team in the world.

Building their path back to the top

From group D, Gambit are the clear favorites and it’s a perfect chance for them. Establishing themselves as the best team of the group shouldn’t be an issue, and it would help them build momentum going into the playoffs.

At the end of the day, Gambit is aiming at the trophy. After losing the EPL Season XIII trophy to Heroic, and later dropping to second-place after Natus Vincere, Gambit have plenty of interesting matches waiting for them in the next stage of the competition.  

It’s key for them to not focus too much in the playoffs just yet, though. They are favorites, but so was G2, and we all saw what happened to the Europeans. Gambit will have to play in full force from day one if they want to impress right from the start, and considering that the likes of NiP and Liquid are in the same group, we should expect some very interesting encounters here.

LIQUID – The Fallen

ELiGERifler1.160.97 @ IEM Cologne 2021
FalleNIn-Game Leader1.010.94 @ IEM Cologne 2021
GrimRifler0.990.95 @ IEM Cologne 2021
NAFRifler [lurker], AWPer1.121.05 @ IEM Cologne 2021
Stewie2KRifler [entry fragger], AWPer1.010.91 @ IEM Cologne 2021

2021 has been a mostly forgettable year for Team Liquid. After closing 2020 as the sixth best team in the world, right now Liquid is nowhere to be seen among the best ten squads in CSGO.

Of course, the pandemic-related restrictions play an important part on Liquid’s results, but overall, Liquid is seemingly much weaker than anyone anticipated. Besides their win at the Americas-only cs_summit 8, Liquid doesn’t have much to show this year. They finished in 4th place in BLAST Premier Global Final, and 3-4th in IEM Katowice 2021, but their most recent results aren’t that good. A 9-12th finish in both IEM Cologne and EPL Season XIII certainly doesn’t help their case.

Why is that happening, though? It’s becoming clear that Liquid doesn’t quite have the same synergy we once saw in this squad back in the days when Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella led the team. In Cologne, we saw a much more individualistic team, relying too much on individuals stepping-up, and that didn’t work.

A Change in Leadership for Pro League

Casually announced during the player break, Jacky ‘Stewie2K’ Yip will be passing up the leadership role back to Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo. This is the latest in a series of changes in the role that started earlier in the year. 2021 started with Stewie2K leading Liquid, then FalleN became the IGL back in February. In May Stewie became the captain again.

Unfortunately, this move doesn’t quite paint Liquid in a good light as they would’ve liked, even if we don’t take the previous role changes that happened this year. FalleN, as an experienced player he might be, hasn’t the same effectiveness as a captain he once had. Moreover, his individual performances aren’t helping Liquid right now.

However, it’s unclear what else Liquid can try at this point. The issue with this team isn’t simply related to individual performances, but as shown in Cologne, it’s something in the squad core. EPL Season XIV is an opportunity for Liquid to put fans doubts to rest, and FalleN’s to reassure his place among top competitors as an IGL, but chances of Liquid fairing well here are remote at best.

NINJAS IN PYJAMAS – Restart at Pro League

dev1ceAWPer1.131.09 @ IEM Cologne 2021
hampusIn-Game Leader1.051.17 @ ESEA Summer Cash Cup 4 EU
LNZRifler [support, lurker]1.020.87 @ IEM Cologne 2021
PlopskiRifler [entry fragger]1.000.94 @ IEM Cologne 2021
REZRifler1.101.09 @ IEM Cologne 2021

NiP is having a busy year in 2021. The organization did the biggest roster move in CSGO in the past months with the signing of ex-Astralis Nicolai ‘dev1ce’ Reedtz. Alongside with dev1ce, NiP has also brought Erik ‘ztr’ Gustafsson which was replaced by Linus ‘LNZ’ Holtäng as their fifth players in attempt to find the ideal squad this year.

However, even with dev1ce in the roster, NiP hasn’t quite reached the results they have aimed at. After finishing in second-place in Flashpoint 3, NiP finished IEM Summer in 7-8th place, and at 4th place in BLAST Premier Spring Final. While that is a seemingly good result, that comes with an asterisk. It’s worth mentioning that NiP was defeated by Complexity in their opening match, and reached fourth place after beating a lackluster Evil Geniuses and BIG.

After BLAST, NiP headed to IEM Cologne, where they finished in 9-12th place after losing to Gambit and Virtus.Pro. In their match against Virtus.Pro, especially, NiP looked weaker than usual. However, that is being said with an asterisk, too. After all, Cologne saw the first international LAN in CSGO in quite some time, and NiP played with an unexperienced LNZ and a new-to-the-team dev1ce.

After the Break

With the player-break, NiP had a much-needed opportunity to regroup. After three roster changes since February, NiP’s captain Hampus ‘hampus’ Poser and coach Björn ‘THREAT’ Pers finally had time to get the team together and work on what’s next.

The fourteenth season of ESL Pro League is where we should see a much stronger-looking Ninjas in Pyjamas. Hopefully, the Swedes had a productive break, because fans expectations are through the roof.

Overall, group D is a perfect group for NiP. Having an opportunity to face a dangerous team like Entropiq and a high-caliber squad like Gambit will provide them with plenty of opportunities to show-off and it makes them a favorite to advance through the group stage.

TEAM ONE – 1% Chance

malbsMdRifler [entry fragger]1.041.10 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
Maluk3In-Game Leader0.960.79 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
pesadeloRifler0.960.89 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
prtRifler [lurker], AWPer0.950.90 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series
xnsRifler1.030.88 @ Malta Vibes Knockout Series

Coming from Brazil, Team oNe is now a fairly known organization within the region. However, even after years in the scene, Pedro “Maluk3” Campos and his most recent rosters failed to break through the international scene, and haven’t been able to compete in the same levels that second and third tier European teams do.

While the pandemic certainly didn’t help Team One, the squad has managed to get into some key tournaments for them this year. However, their results have been mixed, to say the best.

Team One finished in last place of both IEM Katowice and IEM Cologne Play-In stages, and also got last place in EPL Season XIII. They also finished Pinnacle Cup II in 17-18th place, and Malta Vibes KS in 9-16th place. Besides winning ESEA Premier Season 37 NA, Team One doesn’t have many accomplishments under their belt this year.

Bad Outlook

There’s no way to conceal Team oNe outlook coming to Pro League Season 14. While everyone loves a good upset, and Team One would certainly provide the biggest ones from their group, this squad simply isn’t on the same level as their opponents.

It’s an unfortunate reality, but for Team oNe, EPL Season XIV is more than a tournament where they are the absolute underdogs. It’s a good opportunity to learn and get experience considering that they will be playing five games against teams from North America, Europe and the CIS region. All things considered, oNe won’t leave this tournament empty-handed at the very least.

ESL Pro League Season XIV Group D starts this Wednesday

After weeks of packed matches, it’s time for one last group in EPL Season 14. Starting this Wednesday, we will be seeing all teams listed above doing their best to go above and beyond expectations and reach the top of the group as the playoffs get closer.

In order to make sure with the latest events in Counter-Strike and everything esports, make sure you follow us! As always, thanks for reading, and have fun watching all games coming up!

The author

My name is Marcos, I have been following the CSGO pro scene since 2015 but really got into in following games and pro teams in 2016. Used to bet a lot, stopped a bit but never stopped following the esports scene. I'm a student right now so I got a lot of time to keep with it and discover new things.

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