ESL has increased its focus on Brazil in recent years. The South American market is one of the biggest markets in Counter Strike and ESL has just begun to host tournaments out there. ESL One Belo Horizonte will commence on 13th June 2018 and continue for five days till the 17th. It features a $200,000 prize pool and it is a part of the Intel Grand Slam.
The teams participating in the tournament present a mixture of some of the best teams as well as mediocre teams in Counter Strike. However, this particular group of teams has the potential to present a great tournament. As we preview the tournament, there are the favorites and the challengers, each section perfectly capable of putting forth some quality counter strike. The tournament has four invited teams and four qualified teams.
The Top Contenders
The tournament has four invites and each one of them has the potential to go through the Belo Horizonte Journey. The invited teams are obviously the strongest teams at the event. The likes of Faze Clan, Team Liquid and Mousesports have all been on the verge of winning LAN tournaments in the past few weeks. Let’s take a look at each team, it’s performance and potential at the Brazilian event.
Faze Clan: Can they win in the absence of Astralis?
Faze Clan was one of the best teams in the Counter-Strike scene. Along with Astralis, they formed the top two in CS GO, rotating trophies amongst themselves. However, the Faze roster lost a big part of its team when Olofmeister had to temporarily step down.
Faze fielded Xizt during IEM Sydney 2018 and put up a really strong performance. Xizt stepped up to the occasion and had a few crucial rounds especially on Overpass. The Faze roster is made up of several superstars on the roster. The likes of Guardian, Niko, Rain do not need any introduction. Their average gameplay puts them amongst the Top 5 in CS GO. When the team begins to perform better than average, they are truly a sight to behold. Having so much talent at his disposal obviously makes Karrigan’s job easier. But he is constantly striving to make the team a functioning and effective unit.
In their last three LAN events, Faze has faced off against Astralis in the elimination match or the finals. Astralis seems to be slowly becoming their nemesis. However, Astralis is not present at this tournament, which clears the way for Faze to take the trophy. While Astralis might not be present at this tournament, we do have the likes of Team Liquid and Mousesports posing a considerable threat to the Faze roster.
While Faze has a particular subset of strong and comfortable maps, we have seen them put up strong performances on almost all the maps. They prefer to veto Nuke out of the rotation as it is one of their weakest links.
Team Liquid: Can they keep up their performance?
Team Liquid is shaping up to be a strong roster in the North American scene, second only to NRG right now. The Liquid roster only lost to Astralis at the ECS Lan Finals. Liquid has a very young roster which is bolstered by the addition of Taco.
Liquid relies on their players’ individual skills for the moment. But with Taco’s inclusion in the roster being a relatively recent event, the team still needs time together. The team’s run at ECS LAN finals was mainly due to the format. Despite being a strong team, they were not much of a match for the Astralis roster. Team Liquid has a very aggressive gameplay style which is complemented by their individual player skill level. There are occasions when they decide to throw down the gauntlet and pressure through one side of the map. The move to get information on the map is usually backed up by multiple members doubling down. It is a relatively low risk method to gain real estate and information about the enemy’s whereabouts.
Despite their individual performance and Taco’s presence, Team Liquid has not really been able to achieve much. They have bowed out of several tournaments and leagues falling mostly to NRG. This tournament is a great chance for them to prove their worth and potentially reach the finals.
Mousesports: The Playoff team
Mousesports will be looking to getting back to winning ways with their full roster in attendance. They have played a few tournaments recently, but they attended ESL Pro League without one of their key players due to visa issues. Since then, they attended and won the V4 Sports Festival defeating Virtus Pro in the finals.
But Mousesports has always remained as the team which has the greatest potential to upset the top echelons in CS GO. They have had close matches against the likes of Astralis, Faze clan in the past. Regularly featuring in tournament playoffs, no team takes Mousesports lightly. The recent resurgence in form for ChrisJ definitely helps matters.
The mousesports roster has had quite some time together and the team development is witnessing rapid progress. For this team, Na’Vi seems to be their final stop in most of their tournaments. Oskar has been one of the most consistent performers on the roster, keeping up amazing performances even in lost matches. Oskar’s flicks with the AWP are complemented by his rifle play. He has a very static playstyle with the AWP and an opposing aggressive gameplay with the rifle. Featuring a very high KDA, Oskar is the X-factor for Mousesports.
However, keeping that in mind, Mouz also has so many other players, each of whom can step up at the right moment. The young talent Ropz has really come together with the team. While previously he had a very singular focus on his gameplay, his recent matches have shown his team-oriented playstyle. He will not take extremely risky peeks and ensure his team has the advantage when it matters.
The Home teams: The Crowd favorites
Neither Of the two Brazilian Teams has proven their worth on LAN yet. SK Gaming houses some of the biggest names in Counter-Strike, yet their newest roster has been struggling to find its footing. SK Gaming has a rich history of striking back with a vengeance when they make a roster move. The roster changes might seem confusing at first, but the team comes together so well under the leadership of Fallen. However, this time around, SK seems to be quite ineffective if their first few matches are any indication of their future performance. However, the team will be the beneficiary of the full Home crowd support. The Brazilian fans are known to be a vociferous lot and they will undoubtedly throw their weight behind the home team.
There is also another Brazilian roster in playing at Belo Horizonte. Não Tem Como comprises the likes of KnGv, Felps, Fnx etc. These are players who have been considered the best of Brazil, however, being quite young they have had temperament issues. That being said, there is little doubt about their skill within the server. The fact that they will definitely have the support of the Brazilian fans makes them a dark horse. This is the roster’s first LAN event, so there is no saying how the team will perform. But they definitely do have the potential to cause massive upsets at the tournament.
The two Brazilian rosters will be the life of the tournament. They are the fan favorites, irrespective of their current form. If they can cause upsets and potentially reach deep into the tournament, the crowd enthusiasm might just carry them over the finish line.
This leaves us with the remainder of the teams namely Space Soldiers, Ghost Gaming, and BIG. The hierarchy amongst these three teams is very evident from their results. Space Soldiers seems to be the team with the best chance in the tournament (amongst these three). The team has decent online performances, but when it comes to LAN they definitely are not as effective. However, their performance at ESL Pro league, Dallas has to be taken with a grain of salt. They were not fielding their full roster which is definitely going to impact their performance and gameplay. The Space Soldiers team has a very map specific lineup. They are great on specific maps and their form drops off dramatically if their map-pool is not available. There is no taking away of their individual talent and potential. However, judging from their past results the map veto is probably the most important when it comes to Space Soldiers.
The current roster of Ghost Gaming came into existence recently when they signed several players and the coach from Torqued Gaming. The current roster is fairly new and has no experience or time together. It is safe to say, they are going to approach this tournament as a way to enhance their team chemistry and understand each other. Ghost Gaming might be a mediocre team later in the North American region, but the expectations from the team are very low right now.
BIG Gaming does not seem to be in the same category as some of these teams. Their recent performances and results have all been against teams in a lower category. The lineup does have one of the best In Game Leaders in GobB, however, his individual performance on the server has taken a turn for the worst.
ESL Belo Horizonte: The race in the middle of the pack
This article clearly establishes a ranking amongst the participating teams. While you might disagree with some rankings, there is no doubt that the real competition is amongst the teams in the middle. There are so many unknown factors when it comes to teams such as Space Soldiers, SK Gaming & Não Tem Como.
ESL One Belo Horizonte begins on the13th of June 2018 at 1100 BRT. It is an ESL One event and therefore will be streamed live on Facebook.