ELEAGUE premier can easily have its narrative hijacked by the thrill of the unknown. There’s no shortage of excitement around hypotheticals for the majority of teams in attendance. Olofmeister returns to FaZe. STYKO and Golden stand-in for Cloud9. Tarik joins MIBR. Draken and snax’s second events with their new rosters in Fnatic and Mousesports respectively. Of the eight teams in attendance, only three can be pegged as totally understood and quantified entities. It may be easy to lose track of these more sure-fire sides in Na`Vi, Astralis and Liquid and chase the hype of the new.
Don’t go running down that rabbit down the hole.
The chaotic clash of new sides serves only as the rumbling background noise to the two front-runners looking to collide in a Bo3 during playoffs. ELEAGUE Premier can be looked at in many different ways, but on-paper it can only be defined by the Na`Vi versus Astralis match-up.
Astralis sit in Group A, Na`Vi group B. Both teams have challenges before they face each other, but more eyes will be on how Na`Vi are able to deal with the pressure of group B. The eastern European’s will be facing the three most explosive, righteously aggressive and unrelentingly forward teams in the top eight. There is mousesports, who live and die by the sword of their enabling system and entrying IGL ChrisJ; Fnatic, with a draken-charged CT-side and even looser T-side than Mouz; and the once Mike Tyson-esq FaZe who will be welcoming the master of map pressure, Olofmeister, back into their wings.
For Na`Vi to face the giants in Astralis once again, like Hercules, they first most overcome a series of great tests. Should they pass the gauntlet of loose systems though, they have the platform to define themselves as world beaters. If they make it into the playoffs and force a Bo3 against Astralis, their opportunity to turn the tide of history will manifest.
At the tournament prior to ELEAGUE, ESL One Cologne 2018, Na`Vi stopped the CS:GO world by beating Astralis in a close Bo3 in the semi finals. Astralis were set on winning their third straight event and earning the rarely seen hatrick of 250k+ LAN wins. The Cathedral of Counter-Strike in Cologne was denied the baptism of its Gods. Na`Vi would go on to win Cologne 2018 and now ELEAGUE presents a miraculous opportunity to do the same.
On the other side of the coin, this Astralis’s chance to quell a revolution. Na`Vi showed that the Danes can collapse like any side when on the back foot. However, Na`Vi’s series win hinged on magical moments that repeat themselves in the same way lightning strikes in the same spot. Na`Vi’s core had career highlight performances to the level that there primary weapon in S1mple didn’t even truly need to fire.
Astralis were beaten on their own maps and by a Na`Vi that hadn’t even needed to wield its main win condition. One can imagine Astralis won’t let this happen again. The Danes, a side who has totally evolved the nature in which teams prepare for tournaments will now have the valuable data of a loss to reconfigure their game. While Na`Vi are riding high on form and the opportunity for greatness, the drive for revenge and to reassert themselves as the best from Astralis may be even stronger.
Confidence can lead to complacency and Astralis are a team which thrive on punishing mistakes. Na`Vi’s margin for error against a hyper-aware and once again hungry Danish roster is as small as it's ever been.
Regardless of the result though, the Na`Vi versus Astralis match spearheads the hype of ELEAGUE Premier. Should the two meet again, at any point in the tournament, we have the beginnings of CS:GO’s 2018 marquee matchup emerging. Both sides pose such interesting questions to each other, and the dialogue fills out games in a way closer to a jiu jitsu match than video game.
Each side drives each other to its peak level and creates some of the most elite rounds CS:GO has even witnessed.
Do not get lost in the roster moves.
Get lost in the mere potential of play between these two sides.