New York City is soon to play host to one of the most puzzling CS:GO tournaments in recent memory. With a slew of ‘post-holiday break’ tournaments taking place across the globe every week, ESL One: New York will bring together some of the most untested and volatile teams in the scene.
Making predictions and testing team expectations would be considered foolhardy when taking into account both the teams attending and absent from ESL One: New York. Even the most seasoned of analysts turn into nothing more than glorified oracles and mystics when trying to predict a bracket so deeply founded in speculation.
To a casual fan, the wild guessing involved in these predictions make little sense considering the class of the team names present, especially when considering the ‘upgrades’ all of these teams have made in the last months. On the contrary, the journey for fans expectations into New York should be tempered to say the least, as the quality and style of games played will be venturing into uncharted waters.
The Swiss Group Tournament Format adopted by ESL tournaments initially throws fans off balance with its complicated surface appearance, though ESL have made certain steps to alleviates some of the confusion; the simple understanding of ‘3 wins you’re into the playoffs, or 3 Losses and you’re out’ is simple enough for most fans to come to grips with the basic premise.
This system, although not commonly used, is one of the best possible formats for group stage games in CS:GO. Firstly, there are three ‘lives’ for a team to get out of groups, and the teams they are matched up against after the initial rounds of matches will be on the same win/loss record as them.
Secondly, these large number of games are quickly burnt through over two days due to their Bo1 nature. Furthermore, this system can lend itself to teams with strong single map upset potential to snake their way into knocking down some favourites, and considering how close the general field is expected to be, some behemoth names might not even get out of groups… who doesn’t love a giant killing!?
Of all the teams present in New York, the only real LAN activity that any teams have had was the StarLadder StarSeries Season 2 Finals, with 4/8 attending teams present. Even more notable is the complete lack of LAN appearances from Fnatic, SK, and Team Liquid since July or with their new rosters.
The only activity of any merit has been from Virtus.pro, who seem to be cementing themselves as a real threat to the top spot with their win at both ELEAGUE and Dreamhack Bucharest. Aside from knowing that the NA representation of Optic and Liquid will probably not see the light of the playoffs and that Virtus.pro might be in contention for the role of favourite – the lack of data on everyone else makes it impossible to predict what’s going to happen.
The teams that should be feeling the most pressure are Natus`Vincere, SK Gaming, and Astralis. Since the addition of S1mple, Na`Vi have failed to make the expected waves online, disappointingly finishing in last place at StarSeries. Astralis have been slowly sliding down the hierarchy of Danish talent, with both Heroic and Dignitas posting more positive results and flaunting better form tournament to tournament. Both of these sides will have to prove their worth in New York to justify their place in the top ten and the addition of new talent.
SK Gaming are a unique case as they haven’t played in an actual LAN since winning ESL One: Cologne 2016, this is due to Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga being unable to play due to a major surgery and the team refusing to attend LANs with a stand-in. With coach Wilton ‘zews’ Prado have since left the side to join Immortals, whether or not this will have a major impact on the side remains to be seen. Despite their current placing as the number one team in the world based off results alone, they need to resurrect some of that insane Brazilian form to remain atop the CS:GO kingdom.
The qualifiers for EU and NA threw up some intriguing results. In Europe, Astralis managed to comfortably beat the three hardest teams in the online bracket – Dignitas, EnVyUs, and Faze – in consecutive fashion to earn themselves a spot in New York. This is surprising considering their traditionally ‘rocky at best’ performances in an online environment, hinting at a newly found confidence in the integrate of young aim talent Markus ‘Kjaerbye’ Kjærbye.
Even with the sudden roster change of removing Damian “daps” Steele for Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz, the games were still nail-bitingly close in typical North American fashion. With Optic winning the series they not only proved how unreliable online form is to be used as a metric, but also upset one of the most consistent and well-regarded teams in their region.
With all the unknowns heading into ESL One: New York, should make for a gripping tournament as fans and analysts alike potential watch dynasties crumble and challengers rise.