The Winners and Losers of ESL Pro League Season XIV

September 13, 2021 | 0 | 460| |

It’s over. After five weeks, the first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament after the player-break in 2021 has come to an end. 24 teams gave their best in ESL Pro League Season 14, and as always, while some teams left the tournament content, others ended disappointing fans and themselves.

So, it’s now time to review the key storylines that developed through ESL Pro League Season XIV. Who left the tournament on a high note, and who didn’t?

COMPLEXITY – Despite All Setbacks

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
blameFIn-Game Leader1.18
es3tagRifler [support, entry fragger]1.03
jksRifler1.02
NaToSaphiXRifler [support]0.92
poizonAWPer1.08

Just before group B started, when one looked at Complexity chances, they were dire. The squad had just added Patrick ‘es3tag’ Hansen to the roster, and then they would’ve to play with a stand-in due to one of their stars, Kristian ‘k0nfig’ Wienecke, getting injured.

This never stopped Complexity from giving their best, though. The team, including stand-in Niels Christian “NaToSaphiX” Sillassen, surprised many, and at the end of their group, they were rewarded for their efforts. After defeating Sinners, G2 and Virtus.Pro, Complexity qualified to the playoffs.

While Complexity didn’t go past the Round of 12, the team still managed to challenge Vitality. What was supposed to be one of their worst performances so far in the year, ended being a great showing to hype Complexity fans going forward.

Counting on a stand-in

During ESL Pro League, Complexity announced that the team will keep relying on a stand-in – albeit no NaToSaphiX – going forward. This decision has been made due to the uncertainty surrounding k0nfig’s injury.

In any case, Complexity is bringing two-times Major winner Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David from now on. While coldzera has a lot to prove with Complexity, the team itself has shown to have a good foundation, and once they have a full roster, they certainly will be one of the most exciting squads in the scene. Furthermore, if Valentin ‘poizon’ Vasilev can keep the same level of performances he shown at EPL, there’s no doubts that even with coldzera, Complexity will be turning heads.

ENCE – Better than Expected

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
dotoRifler [support]1.10
dychaRifler1.14
hadesAWPer1.21
SnappiIn-Game Leader1.01
SpinxRifler [entry fragger]1.09

As always, fans tend to separate in groups the favorites and the underdogs before a tournament. In the underdogs’ group, you had ENCE. Placed in group A, which featured Astralis, Heroic, Spirit and Vitality, most didn’t count with ENCE advancing to the playoffs.

However, the squad led by Marco ‘Snappi’ Pfeiffer not only made to the playoffs, but they did so in a strong way. The Finnish team defeated Astralis and Spirit in the group stage without dropping a map, and while they were beaten by Heroic, they even managed to take one map of the favorites.

In the playoffs, ENCE found themselves in a clash between underdogs as they faced forZe. While most expected forZe to win, ENCE once again surpassed expectations, and defeated the Russians without dropping a map. ENCE run finished in EPL quarter-finals, where they got demolished by the best team in the world, Natus Vincere.

Promising future

ENCE has been a team incredibly interesting to watch recently. The roster, which most recently added Olek ‘hades’ Miskiewicz as their AWPer has some extremely promising talent besides hades himself.

The team still is developing though, and it was possible to see their lack of experience in their matches against Heroic and Na’Vi. However, most importantly, they have shown promising signs, and it’s hard to not be excited to see more of ENCE.

After finishing in the top 8 in EPL Season XIV, ENCE next challenge starts this Wednesday at Malta Vibes KS 2. There, ENCE definitely is expected to perform well, and hopefully they do. After all, they have shown that they can, and as long as this team keeps developing, we’re sure that we’ll see them in more premier tournaments eventually.

G2 – (Much) Worse than Expected

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League14
AmaNEkAWPer0.91
huNter-Rifler0.95
JaCkzRifler [entry fragger]0.79
nexaIn-Game Leader0.88
NiKoRifler1.19

G2 fans opened ESL’s stream eager, expecting to see more from that G2 that had reached IEM Cologne 2021 grand-final just before the player break. What they found from the opening day to the closing day of group B, though, is that the G2 from Cologne was nowhere to be seen.

Instead, ESL Pro League Season XIV saw an uninspiring, lackluster G2. While Nikola ‘NiKo’ Kovač still performed well, the rest of his team didn’t. Audric ‘JaCkz’ Jug and Nemanja ‘nexa’ Isaković had their worst performances of 2021, and François ‘AmaNEk’ Delaunay and Nemanja ‘huNter-‘ Kovač didn’t do much better either.

However, individual performances weren’t the only problem G2 faced during EPL. The squad simply didn’t feel cohesive in game; outplayed by opponents like forZe, losing advantages mid-round and more. At the end of the week, G2 finished on the bottom of their group, having lost every single match, and winning a total of three maps over five BO3 series.

What comes next after Pro League

G2 failed to be the team they are supposed to be in EPL. It’s worrying for sure, but this being the first event after the off-season opens up the possibility that it was just a fluke. One bad tournament after months of solid performances.

Fortunately, it won’t take long until we see G2 returning to action. This Thursday, they will be heading to BLAST Premier Fall Groups, and they are set to face MiBR in their first game. To settle all doubts, that game is a must-win.

If G2 fails to perform up to the standards they set for themselves previously, then the situation gets worrisome. As the Major draws closer, this couldn’t be a worst time to fail to impress. It’s up to G2 to avoid that, and give a showing worth of their efforts before the player break from now on.

GAMBIT – Slowing Down

PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
Ax1leRifler1.11
HobbitRifler1.22
interzRifler [support]0.93
nafanyIn-Game Leader1.02
sh1roAWPer1.23

By no means Gambit is a ‘loser’ of EPL Season 14. However, it’s undeniable that the team which was once considered best in the world is no more.

During EPL, Gambit was expected to confidently top their group as clear favorites. While they did finish in first place, the team failed to dominate it as some anticipated, even losing to NiP in their final game of the group stage.

In the playoffs, Gambit only played a single game, against Vitality. Just like in their game against NiP, Gambit failed to win even a map against Vitality, and most importantly, the team found themselves in situations that they often failed to adapt to, and were clearly frustrated by these, something unusual in the past.

3rd

In an interview with HLTV just before their match against Vitality, Abay “⁠Hobbit⁠” Khasenov commented that “It was hard to hear we [Gambit] are the second [best] team in the world.” Unfortunately for Gambit, it seems that they might not have this spot for much longer, either.

While for most teams, reaching third or fourth place in the world rankings would be great, it’s clear that this isn’t the case for Gambit. The squad has tasted the feeling of being on the top, and they certainly want it again. It’s up to them to get it back, though, and it won’t be easy considering the level of competition they have ahead.

Still, Gambit is a team that has shown time after time that they know how adapt and bounce back. We won’t be seeing Gambit until the end of the month, which means that they have time to regroup and prepare for IEM Fall CIS. There, they will fight for a spot in the Major, and they will have to bring their best in order to get qualified.

LIQUID – Refreshed

EliGE had a great tournament in Pro League
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
EliGERifler1.14
FalleNIn-Game Leader, AWPer1.02
Grim Rifler1.10
NAFRifler [lurker]1.17
Stewie2KRifler [entry fragger]0.99

It’s hard to say whether Liquid is a winner or a loser this time around. However, while they did a solid campaign overall, it’s hard to ignore how they were ultimately eliminated from the tournament.

Liquid had a good group stage, at the very least. While some fans weren’t confident in Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo returning to the role of captain, the Brazilian not only put a great performance but also brought a much more cohesive Liquid to the tournament.

After finishing their group in second-place, only losing one match, to Gambit, the team headed to the playoffs of the event as the last remaining team from the North American region. In their match in the Round of 12, Liquid was able to defeat FNATIC to advance.

Liquid crumbled against Heroic, though. In the final map of their series, Liquid lost a crucial round to Heroic – more specifically, to Ismail “refrezh” Ali – and that round ultimately led them to their defeat. Unfortunately, Liquid fans, while heartbroken, are getting used to moments like these. In any case, you can watch it below:

Recency bias

Choking in key moments seems like a common occurrence for Team Liquid, even after years of roster moves and even leadership changes. And it doesn’t just happen every now and then; Liquid had a similar situation in their match against Gambit during the group stage. There, the team was unable to stop Gambit from making a comeback, and the game that at one point had a 12 – 6 score line in favor of Liquid, ended with a 12 – 16 result.

There’s an issue with this squad that they urgently need to address, that’s for sure. However, considering the way Liquid got eliminated, it’s hard to forget that up to that point, Liquid performed very well in the tournament. When comparing to the form that Liquid had shown in Cologne, it makes even more clear that this team is in a much better place now.

Heartbroken or not, Liquid won’t have much time until their next tournament comes up. Later this week, we will see Liquid facing Vitality in the BLAST Premier Fall Groups.

MOUSESPORTS – Held Back

Mousesports left Pro League frustrated this time around
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
acoRAWPer0.95
BymasRifler [entry fragger]1.11
dexterIn-Game Leader1.01
frozenRifler [entry fragger]1.17
ropzRifler [lurker]1.12

While Mousesports indeed reached the playoffs of ESL Pro League Season XIV, the European team struggled plenty in the tournament. Differently than Liquid and G2, however, their issues are more visible: inconsistency.

While Robin “ropz” Kool keeps delivering solid performances, and David “frozen” Čerňanský also had a good tournament, the remaining of the team not so much. The team’s AWPer, Frederik “acoR” Gyldstrand, specifically, failed when it mattered the most, and his underwhelming performances hurt the squad.

Overall, all things considered, Mousesports had a good run in EPL considering that they made to the playoffs. Still, EPL was a frustrating event for Mouz. They could have gone much further, but inconsistency issues again held them back.

Hoping for better days

As the Major starts in less than two months, roster moves aren’t being considered right now. However, if acoR can’t start performing as the AWPer he is supposed to, we probably won’t be seeing him with Mousesports for much longer.

For the time being, though, Mousesports probably won’t find themselves in form to compete for trophies. Instead, their best course of action at this point is regrouping and trying to prepare as much as they can for the upcoming IEM Fall EU, which will decide if Mouz will be going to the Major or not.

NATUS VINCERE – What Did You Expect?

Na'Vi has won Pro League Season 14
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
B1TRifler, AWPer1.04
Boombl4In-Game Leader1.00
electronicRifler1.11
PerfectoRifler [support, lurker]1.06
s1mpleAWPer1.35

Natus Vincere headed to EPL Season 14 right after winning IEM Cologne 2021, and the team started off strong. While Na’Vi was placed in the group of death of the event, they still finished in first place and they only lost one game.

In the playoffs, once again we saw a capable and confident Na’Vi showing up. The team’s star, Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, kept playing at an incredibly high level – which isn’t surprising – but it’s still amazing to watch the Ukrainian player at his best.

Na’Vi had to face ENCE – which got demolished by s1mple & co – first. Then, Heroic proved to be a challenge as the Danes managed to hold Valeriy ‘B1T’ Vakhovskiy and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov at bay. Even then, an unstoppable s1mple showed up, and after 92 kills, Natus Vincere closed the series in their favor. With that, they eliminated Heroic and advanced to the grand-final.

In the final match of the tournament, Na’Vi faced Vitality in a best-of-five series. The match went through all five maps, and in the last map we saw an incredibly battle between the two squads. There, Na’Vi played as an unit and at the very end, they showed that they were the better team in the server. With this victory, Natus Vincere has also been declared the winners of the third Intel Grand Slam series. This means that besides Pro League prize, they also took home another $1.000.000. Not bad!

The road to the Major starts with Pro League

While ESL Pro League Season XIV is a key event for CSGO, that doesn’t stop many teams to look forward the most to the upcoming Major. For Natus Vincere, it’s their chance to make history and get s1mple his first Major trophy.

To build momentum for the big stage, it’s key to keep good performances through the next weeks. With this win, Na’Vi has started with the right foot, though, and there’s no signs that the team will be slowing down any time soon.

Na’Vi won’t have time to catch their breath and enjoy their victory just yet though. This Thursday, the squad will be going to the next stop in their road to greatness as they are set to face OG in their opening match.

VITALITY – Pro League is their best tournament of 2021

ZywOo, once again, was essential for Vitality in Pro League
PLAYERROLE according to LiquipediaHLTV Rating in Pro League 14
apEXIn-Game Leader0.99
KyojinRifler [support, lurker]0.97
misutaaaRifler [entry fragger]1.07
shoxRifler [lurker]1.03
ZywOoAWPer1.31

Vitality first half of the year certainly wasn’t what the team expected, or wanted. While the team started strong in 2021, with a 3rd place finish in BLAST Premier Global Final, the squad failed to meet expectations later on. Since that event, and besides IEM Summer, Vitality failed to make to the playoffs of every other event they played in 2021.

This finally changed in EPL XIV, as Vitality had their best event of the year. In the event, Vitality played a total of nine games and only lost two, against Heroic and Na’Vi, respectively.

Most notably, Vitality defeated Astralis, Gambit and OG without dropping a single map. This Vitality Is definitely looking much better than the one we watched in past months. Hopefully they start building momentum from here onwards.

Keeping it up after Pro League

Vitality might not have won ESL Pro League Season XIV but the team still performed very well. While Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut keeps being the player pushing the squad forward, his team is trying to catch up.

This means that Vitality has yet to prove to be a team that will be consistently competing against the best. As great as ZywOo is, a team can’t rely this much on their star player nowadays. A lesson that Na’Vi learned a long time ago.

Still, it’s clear that Vitality has acknowledged this issue. While the ratings might not clearly show it, the team is playing much better as an unit. Dan “apEX” Madesclaire, especially, had one of his best tournaments of 2021. The other veteran in Vitality ranks, Richard “shox” Papillon, also had good showings.

Now, we’re eager to see how the French team will perform in BLAST Premier Fall Groups which starts Thursday. There, we will be able to better judge if this Vitality is here to stay. – here’s hoping it is.

The Next Stop After Pro League: BLAST Premier!

Our coverage of ESL Pro League Season XIV has come to an end. However, as CSGO never stops, we are already getting ready for the next event that starts later this week. On Thursday, it’ll be time to head to BLAST streams as the first stage of BLAST Premier Fall starts.

In order to keep up with the upcoming events in CSGO and other esports titles, make sure to follow us!

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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